Only one in five overweight people manage to lose weight in the long term, according to Harvard studies (Gettyimages)
When a person manages to lose weight, the next step can be the most problematic: maintaining it. According to experts, it is at this moment that the challenge arises. It is that to preserve the achievements it is important to avoid the so-called “rebound effect”. That is why a Harvard expert listed 5 keys to not regain lost weight.
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The so-called rebound effect is the impossibility of maintaining body weight and consists of gaining several kilos again at the end of a diet, even more than those lost while eating little (and probably badly). Nutrition specialists warn that this phenomenon is even more common in the famous “magic diets”, which are usually presented as restrictive plans that promise immediate results.
The first step to avoid this phenomenon, according to experts, is to make a change in habits, since only one in five people who lose weight manage to maintain it for the next 12 months. Richard Joseph, a physician at the Center for Weight Control and Wellness at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, USA, and a member of Harvard Medical School, stated that the secret is in the brain, since the psychological aspect is the key to staying slim and healthy.
It is necessary to limit high-calorie foods and sugary drinks, control portions, and follow a consistent eating plan throughout the days (Getty)
As explained by Dr. Joseph in a column published by Harvard Medical School, “most of us can achieve successful weight loss in the short term. But those who jump from one fad diet to the next often experience the metabolic roller coaster known as yo-yo dieting that spikes hunger hormones, lowers metabolic rates, and causes a vicious spiral of weight loss followed by recovery.”
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A scientific work, which included a meta-analysis of 29 studies on long-term weight loss plans, showed that the majority of people had recovered half of the weight lost in two years and, after five years, more than 80% was recovered. of the weight lost. “This means that, according to our best estimates, only one in five overweight people manage to lose weight in the long term,” said the expert.
The psychological aspect is the key to staying slim and healthy (Getty Images)
After analyzing data from 4,000 people, Harvard experts found that at least 10% had maintained body weight loss for at least a year. As they were able to determine, the common strategy was to incorporate a broad pattern of healthy eating. Exactly the opposite of the concept of “living on a diet.”
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It is for this reason that specialists advised not to eliminate hypercaloric or ultra-processed foods, but to reduce them to a minimum or eat them sporadically. Otherwise, it could further increase the desire to consume them. “Tactics include various energy-reducing behaviors: limiting high-calorie foods and sugary drinks, controlling portions and following a consistent eating plan throughout the days, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption , in addition to being physically active for at least one hour per day,” he said.
In this sense, he pointed out that this behavior implies more energy expenditure and fewer calories, as a habit of life. That is why he affirmed that “the most important determinants of maintenance are those that cement behavior changes. Proper weight loss psychology is critical to regulating the physiology that supports weight loss.”
The eating plan must be thought of in the long term, with a change in habits in everyday dishes (Gettyimages)
That discipline that was applied at the time of weight loss, is the same that experts point to to maintain it. In Joseph’s words, “we have only recently begun to assess the psychological and cognitive determinants of weight loss maintenance. We all have anecdotal evidence from family, friends, and colleagues. But it is difficult to systematically collect, process and analyze qualitative experiences”.
“Those who have high self-confidence (believe in their ability to perform certain behaviors) for exercise in particular are more successful in maintaining weight loss,” said the Harvard expert. It is that discipline and self-control are essential to face daily activities without losing sight of eating behavior.
In a recent scientific study, behavioral strategies were identified in a group of more than 6,000 people who had lost an average of 20 pounds and had not regained it for at least a year. Those who achieved this goal of “maintaining” recommended two essential tactics: perseverance in the face of obstacles (or setbacks such as birthdays, family gatherings, stressful situations) and consistency in monitoring eating behaviors.
The behavior should be aimed at expending more energy and consuming fewer calories (Getty Images)
To avoid the rebound effect, the expert pointed out that it is essential to overcome the barriers that come from family customs, the social environment and the food industry. Self-control and not losing sight of the fact that maintaining weight is a matter that is at stake in every food we consume, without becoming obsessed, is essential. In other words, it is a delicate balance between enjoying and self-regulating.
“Weight loss requires being comfortable with discomfort: the discomfort of occasionally feeling hungry, exercising instead of stress eating, honestly deciphering reward-seeking versus actual hunger, and resisting the lure of ultra-processed foods.” , remarked the specialist in weight control.
And he concluded: “To help each other achieve health and weight loss in our modern environment, we need to learn and practice the psychological tools that help us not only accept, but ultimately embrace, this inevitable discomfort.”
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