The study cited in this NY Times piece has a very small sample size (just 14 participants), but it adds an insight I had not seen before.
Adopting a more healthy diet is crucial for a person trying to lose weight initially. However, once the pounds are lost, exercising often becomes the key to keeping the weight off going forward. One reason for this is the study’s participants showed slower metabolism after their initial weight loss. Basically, your body is disagreeing with your new healthier state by burning 500 fewer calories per day. Exercise can be used to offset this.
For the successful stories among the study participants, the amount of daily exercise they did was more than the recommended amount normally seen.
On average, those who managed to maintain a significant weight loss had 80 minutes a day of moderate activity, like walking, or 35 minutes a day of vigorous exercise, like running.
The catch with so much physical activity is it can lead to injuries. Each of us must still listen to our bodies and know when to ease off.
Another takeaway is we can become more understanding of why people regain weight they have lost. A large factor is the body’s natural reaction. It is not an indictment of that person’s commitment to being healthy.
The idea that people who regain lost weight are necessarily slothful and gluttonous is an unfortunate stigmatization that is not based in fact.
Source: Gina Kolata at NY Times