Science Uncovers the Mystery Behind the ‘Yo-yo’ Effect of Weight Loss Woes

by D.C. Tworek, CPT, B.S. Nutrition

And you thought it was all your fault that you can’t keep the weight off?  New research shows that yo-yo dieting is not the only reason for your ever-changing waistline – weight loss, in general, causes your body to rebel against even the healthiest attempts to lose weight.

Australian researchers completed a study that determined your hormones undergo changes when you lose weight, changes that inhibit your weight loss efforts.  Of course, if you persevere and make it to the promised land, i.e., your goal weight, you may be disappointed to learn that these inhibitory hormones stay the course, threatening to botch your svelte new physique at a mere glance in the direction of a hot fudge Sunday.  Sounds like something out a horror movie?

Unfortunately, this is real life. The subjects studied lost ten percent of their body weight and kept some of it off for over a year.  Researchers measured hormone levels before weight loss, immediately following weight loss and after one year. Leptin, a hormone that at low-levels increases appetite, dropped by two-thirds immediately following the subjects’ weight loss.  A year later, levels dropped to one-third of what they were at the beginning of the study.  As subjects began to regain their weight, leptin levels rose.  Other hormones involved in hunger and appetite regulation, such as peptide YY and ghrelin, also fluctuated respectively, contributing to increased appetite.

With results like these, it is no surprise that only 10 percent of the population can lose weight and keep it off. One researcher attributes this occurrence to our metabolisms, resisting against the weight we want to be versus the weight we were meant to be.

In the meantime, experts don’t want you to take these results as a license to “throw in the towel” on your weight loss efforts, it just means, science has a lot to learn about obesity before they can offer more concrete solutions.


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