Why is it so easy to regain weight (and how to prevent it)?

Dietitian Susie Burrell shares her top tips to maintain your goal weight.

For those of us who go the hard yards to lose weight, it is incredibly frustrating to see the dreaded kilos creep back relatively easily. As annoying as this is, it should not be unexpected, simply because it is much, much easier to overeat than it is to undereat.

Even more relevant is that losing weight quickly, often as the result of restrictive diets that slash calories and carbohydrates inevitably results in a loss of muscle mass. This, when coupled with insufficient resistance training leads to a reduction in metabolic rate over time, meaning we need fewer and fewer calories.

So, when we stop dieting and eat more, it is very easy to regain weight. Despite these potential barriers there are some simple ways to take control and keep on top of your weight, for good.

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1. Keep tabs on the scales

Of all the data we have to show the key strategies that are proven to help prevent weight regain, regularly checking your weight is at the top of the list. The simple act of keeping tabs on the scales is one of the easiest ways we can put a stop to weight gain early, as it is much easier to lose a kilo of two than it is to lose several.

And if the thought of hoping on the scales too often completely freaks you out, even measuring your waist regularly will be a step in the right direction.

2. Limit treats

Successful weight loss as a result of tight calorie control can lend itself to treating ourselves with extra food once we have achieved our goal. Here a common scenario sees little extras slip into our day because we feel as if we deserve it after all our hard work.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying higher calorie, treat style foods but the key is to limiting these to set occasions so they do not gradually slip into your diet and become part of your daily intake. Here give yourself a couple of occasions each week to indulge rather than indulging daily on little extras.

3. Add in a weekly fast

There is growing scientific evidence to show that there are numerous health benefits associated with having longer periods of time without eating, or even occasional low-calorie days to give the body a chance to reset a number of hormonal systems that are used to being constantly flooded with glucose.

Specifically, when it comes to weight control, including a low-calorie day or going for 16 plus hours without food every so often helps to remind you what real hunger actually feels like so you put a stop to mindless munching and rather eat only when you are genuinely hungry.

4. Know your risky habits

Some of us know that alcohol is our Achilles heel; or it may be savoury snacks like cheese and dips that lures us in, or the sweet tooths may have no control when it comes to chocolate, ice-cream and sweet biscuits, whatever your food loves are, making a plan to be able to indulge and enjoy them occasionally without overdoing it on too regular a basic is the key to weight control.

Here, knowing that you cannot buy an entire block of chocolate as you know you will eat it all; or know you cannot stop at just 1-2 glasses of wine so need to only drink once or twice a week are some examples of habit management. Once you have established these personal limits for yourself, it will be much easier to keep your diet on track each week.

5. Strike the right exercise and movement balance

To prevent the loss of muscle mass that naturally takes place as we age, and the gradual reduction in metabolic rate as a result, the key is to factor resistance or strength training into our weekly exercise regime.

Whether this via lifting free weights at the gym, participating in a weights class or using your own body weight to do exercises such as push ups and sit ups at home, maintaining muscle mass and even gaining it is a key step in preventing weight gain as we age. In addition, the average adult will need to also move at least 10000 steps every day to help keep on top of their weight.

6. Change something, change everything

The human body is exceptionally smart, and it gets used to any food and exercise routines we introduce very quickly, over time becoming more and more efficient at conserving energy. This means that one of the best things you can do to keep your metabolic rate firing is to change your food and exercise routines regularly.

Whether this is the times you eat, the calorie load of your different meals, the number of meals you eat or the type and timing of your exercise, the more you mix things up, the better it is for your body.

Susie Burrell is a dietitian and nutritionist and holds a Master’s Degree in Coaching Psychology. Susie is the resident dietitian on Channel 7’s Sunrise and has been a dietitian in Sydney for more than 20 years.