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While losing weight is difficult for many people, it is even more challenging to keep weight off. Most individuals who lose a large amount of weight regain it two to three years later. One theory about regaining lost weight is that people who decrease their caloric intake to lose weight experience a drop in their metabolic rate, making it increasingly difficult to lose weight over a period of months. A lower metabolic rate may also make it easier to regain weight after a more normal diet is resumed. For these reasons, extremely low calorie diets and rapid weight loss are discouraged.
Losing no more than one to two pounds per week is recommended. Incorporating long-term lifestyle changes will increase the chance of successful long-term weight loss.
Weight loss to a healthy weight for a person's height can promote health benefits such as lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, less stress on bones and joints, and less work for the heart. Thus, it is vital to maintain weight loss to obtain health benefits over a lifetime.
Keeping extra weight off requires effort and commitment, just as losing weight does. Weight loss goals are reached by changes in diet, eating habits, exercise, and, in extreme circumstances, surgery.
The strategies that encourage weight loss also play an important role in maintenance:
Continuing to use behavioral strategies can help maintain weight. Be aware of eating as a response to stress and use exercise, activity, or meditation to cope instead of eating.
A return to old habits does not mean failure. Paying renewed attention to dietary choices and exercise can help sustain behaviors that maintain weight loss. Identifying situations such as negative moods and interpersonal difficulties and incorporating alternative methods of coping with such situations rather than eating can prevent relapses to old habits.
Weight cycling is losing and regaining weight multiple times. Some studies suggest that weight cycling, also called "yo-yo dieting," may result in some health risks such as high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, and high cholesterol. However, these studies are not conclusive. The best strategy is to avoid weight cycling and to maintain healthy weight through activity and healthy eating.
One myth about weight cycling is that a person who loses and regains weight will have more difficulty losing weight again and maintaining it compared to a person who has not gone through a weight-loss cycle. Most studies show that weight cycling does not affect the rate at which the body burns fuel and a previous weight cycle does not influence the ability to lose weight again. In addition, weight cycling does not increase the amount of fat tissue or increase fat distribution around the stomach.
Always consult your physician for more information.