Published On: Sun, Apr 17th, 2016

Maintaining Weight Loss Gets Easier After One Year, Study

If people can keep a lower weight for 12 months, they retrain their body to accept it -- making the loss easier to maintain.

weight loss fat man

 

Maintaining a stable weight loss is the biggest struggle for obese individuals, yet new research from University of Copenhagen have allowed researchers new insights into the complex processes involved in obesity and especially weight loss in obesity. It is now possible to offer overweight people a clearer understanding of how to sustain weight loss.

“This study shows that if an overweight person is able to maintain an initial weight loss — in this case for a year — the body will eventually ‘accept’ this new weight and thus not fight against it, as is otherwise normally the case when you are in a calorie-deficit state, ” says Associate Professor Signe Sorensen Torekov.

The study showed it takes about that long for two hormones regulating appetite to adjust to a lower “set point” for body weight after weight loss. Before these hormones adjust to the new normal, the body fights the lower weight, making it more challenging to maintain weight loss, similar to the difficulty associated with attempting to change the eating and exercise habits that led to obesity.

“The interesting and uplifting news in this study is that if you are able to maintain your weight loss for a longer period of time, it seems as if you have ‘passed the critical point, ‘ and after this point, it will actually become easier for you to maintain your weight loss than is was immediately after the initial weight loss, ” Signe Sørensen Torekov,  “Thus, the body is no longer fighting against you, but actually with you, which is good news for anyone trying to lose weight.”

 

Appetite inhibiting hormones

The main finding in the study revealed that after one year of successful weight loss maintenance, the researchers were able to demonstrate that it takes about that long for two hormones regulating appetite to adjust to a lower “set point” for body weight after weight loss. Before these hormones adjust to the new normal, the body fights the lower weight, making it more challenging to maintain weight loss, similar to the difficulty associated with attempting to change the eating and exercise habits that led to obesity.

 

Maintain your weight loss

The researchers recruited 20 obese but healthy people, who lost 13 percent of their weight during an 8-week low-calorie diet. The participants were then entered into a maintenance program for 52 weeks, with researchers monitoring plasma levels of glucagon-like peptide 1, peptide YY, ghrelin, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide and glucagon each week.

During the study period the participants completed three meal tests — before weight loss, immediately after weight loss and after 52 weeks of weight loss maintenance, where blood samples were collected after fasting as well as postprandially and subsequently analysed.

Over the course of the year, the researchers found the levels of GLP-1 and PYY, which inhibit appetite, increased while ghrelin, a hunger-related hormone, increased immediately after weight loss but returned to normal levels.

The increase in ghrelin was directly related to the body thinking it required more food to maintain it’s previous weight, researchers said, but the other two hormones increased over time as the body accepted the participants new base weight.

“This study shows that if an overweight person is able to maintain an initial weight loss — in this case for a year — the body will eventually ‘accept’ this new weight and thus not fight against it, as is otherwise normally the case when you are in a calorie-deficit state, ” Torekov said.

 

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