We’ve all had dieting triumphs and weight-loss failures. Now researchers have discovered a seemingly foolproof way to lose weight and keep it off. If you can diet and maintain your goal weight for a year, this can prevent the number on the scales returning to your former weight.
Scientists have discovered that if you can persevere for 12 months, you will alter your body’s chemical makeup, making it easier to keep the weight off.
Previously, research has shown that dieting triggers a reaction in the body, which causes the ‘hunger hormone’ ghrelin to surge. Your body’s survival instinct will make it harder for you to lose weight.
However new Danish research, published in the European Journal of Endocrinology, has shown that it’s possible to overcome your natural resistance to losing weight by dieting for a year.
For the study, 20 obese people went on an intensive low-calorie diet for two months and managed to lose on average an eighth of their body weight. The participants then went on a less extreme weight-maintenance diet for a year and kept their weight stable.
The researchers discovered that the gherlin hormone spiked 23 per cent after the participants’ initial weight loss. Then over the course of the year the ‘hunger hormone’ levels dropped back down to a steady seven per cent. This shows that the body can adapt to its new weight.
“It’s very difficult to fight the hunger — it’s like a drug you’re fighting against. This would have been an excellent mechanism 50 years ago, but the problem now is that we have so much food available that we can eat all the time,” Signe Sørensen Torekov, associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Copenhagen.
“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,” she explained.
The findings show that it is possible to control your hunger levels and maintain a healthy body weight. The challenge is whether you can keep your weight stable for a year in order to give your body time to adapt to its new weight and chemical makeup.
After these findings, the NHS released a 12-week guide to help overweight or obese people with a Body Mass Index over 25 to lose weight. The guide is designed to help people lose the weight gradually with an aim of 1-2lbs a week.
According the four-month guide, it’s recommended that men aim for 1,900 calories a day and women aim for 1,400 a day. The diet plan offers week-by-week support, teaches you how to make healthy choices and encourages you to keep a log of your food-intake and exercise regime.