The role of body composition in weight loss and regain
When you start a diet to lose weight something strange happens. Your body isn’t all that happy about getting rid of your fat. Instead, you begin to lose lean tissue, such as muscle and bone density.
A research study conducted in Denmark and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in May 2002 found that when men dieted, less than 60% of the weight lost was fat. The rest were lean tissues. When the men regained weight, only 24% of the weight they regained was lean tissue; more than 75% of the weight regained after weight loss was more fat. That means that for people yo-yo dieting (living in a cycle of losing weight and gaining it back), their body’s lean tissues are gradually being replaced by fat.
The same research showed that the image for women is even worse! During the diet, 35% of the weight lost was lean tissue, initially less than for men. BUT when regaining weight only 15% was lean tissue. When the women lost and then regained weight, lean tissue did not regain enough: 85% of the weight regained was fat!
In this way, slimming diets damage body composition and, consequently, health! Even though scientists reported this in 2002, it took until 2011 for this to hit the mainstream headlines. Since then, name brand diets have continually failed and the same problems are still perpetuated.
Looking a little deeper into the issues of how body composition is key to preventing weight regain, the facts are clear: the vast majority of people who deliberately lose weight gain it back! Regardless of how much weight is lost, research shows that 95% of total weight is regained within 5 years. The same research links weight regain to body composition. So what is going on?
The crux of this problem lies in the different ways that lean tissue cells and fat cells function in the body.
Every cell in your body has a specific function: nerve cells, brain cells, heart cells, skin cells, even fat cells all have a particular job to do, and are programmed to do it! Now we don’t need to understand all those functions, we just need to understand two things. Lean tissue cells burn energy: they use the calories from the food we eat. Fat cells store energy, burn none of the calories we consume. Therefore, the fewer lean mass cells we have, the fewer calories our body can burn before they are stored as body fat.
Let’s do some simple math! Imagine a body that needs 2,000 calories a day just to function. It takes away some lean tissue through the diet and at the end of the diet the body needs less than 2000 calories a day to function because it has fewer cells capable of burning energy. Resuming the same eating pattern as before the diet means that the body simply can not You use as many calories as before the weight loss diet and have to store the excess as fat. Presto, the body easily, and often quickly, stores more fat as soon as a weight loss plan ends and normal meal service resumes!
Being aware of this makes all the difference, both during and after the weight loss program.
By choosing a weight loss program that preserves your lean tissues, you can ensure that your body composition doesn’t suffer. By maintaining lean tissues during weight loss, you ensure that your cells are able to burn calories from the food you eat. So when you have reached your goal weight, your body will still need the same amount of calories after the weight loss program as it did before.
Have you ever been on a diet where it seems harder and slower to lose weight as you go? That’s possibly an indicator that you’re losing significant amounts of lean tissue. As you follow your program, your body is able to tolerate fewer and fewer calories before weight loss begins to stall, stop, and even reverse. Your body can only get rid of real fat slowly – the faster you lose weight, the faster you lose lean tissue instead of fat! To break this cycle of weight loss and regain, you simply need to avoid unhealthy plans that promise massive and rapid weight loss – don’t exercise discipline during your weight loss program and you’ll pay the price later in pounds of fat! recovered!
Once you reach your target weight, you still need to consider the Type of food you eat, although you can have more! By knowing which nutrients slow the rate at which calories are released into the body, you can ensure that your lean tissue cells can consistently use the energy from those calories to fuel their various functions before it is stored as fat again.
There are multiple factors involved in healthy weight loss and healthy weight regain. In short, the amount of calories is not the only factor to consider: the composition of those calories is crucial to preserve, or even promote health through weight loss.