New research by the universities of Exeter and Bristol suggests that repeated dieting may lead to weight gain because the brain interprets the diets as short famines and urges the dieter to store more fat for future shortages.
Have you ever wondered why people who try low-calorie diets often overeat when not dieting and, therefore, aren’t able to obtain weight management? This could be the answer.
The study, published in the journal, Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, is based on observations of animals such as birds and may explain how people who don’t diet learn that food supplies are reliable and don’t need to store so much fat.
Animals respond to the risk of food shortage by gaining weight, which is why garden birds are fatter in the winter when seeds and insects are hard to find.
The study shows, “If food supply is often restricted (as it is when dieting) an optimal animal — the one with the best chance of passing on its genes — should gain excess weight between food shortages.”
Dr. Andrew Higginson, Senior Lecturer in psychology at the University of Exeter, explains, “Surprisingly, our model predicts that the average weight gain for dieters will actually be greater than those who never diet. This happens because non-dieters learn that the food supply is reliable so there is less need for the insurance of fat stores.”
With the new year comes New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, do athletic training more often and set updated wellness goals. Unfortunately, the new year is also a time of fad diets to lose weight or find a “miracle diet” to improve weight management.
Fad diets, as their name implies, are short-term quick fixes that actually set many dieters up for weight-loss failure. If a diet or product sounds too good to be true, it is.
Unfortunately, there are no “magic” foods or pills that burn fat. No super foods or fitness products that will speed your metabolism to the point where “fat melts away” while you watch TV or sleep. And, some ingredients in supplements and herbal products can actually be fatal.
Life is already complicated enough. Limiting food choices or following rigid meal plans can be an overwhelming, distasteful task. With any new diet, always ask yourself: “Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, don’t do it.
So, how can people keep the weight off and improve weight management? It’s simple – exercise.
Regular physical activity is essential for good health and healthy weight management. The key to success is to find physical activities that you enjoy and then to aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity or athletic training every day. Make it a family endeavor! Exercise as a family. Play a quick game of basketball after lunch on a weekend, plan a pajama Zumba party in the living room or take the pets for a walk. You don’t have to use a Stair Master to get a great workout. You just need to use your imagination.
If you want to maintain a healthy weight, build muscle and lose fat, the best path is a lifelong combination of eating smarter and getting moving.
Doesn’t that sound better than a lifelong diet? And, it’ll benefit your long-term health and your kids’ health by showing them that childhood obesity can be avoided while having a little family fun. It’s a win-win!
Learn more about how Fitness for Health can help you create a customized fitness program or athletic training that is fun for the whole family (kids too) while helping to improve weight management and increase bone and joint health in the new year. Check out our weight management program for pre-teens and teens!