Food for Thought

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Keeping it off. 
From high protein to low-fat, from eating right for your type to eating like a caveman, any calorie deficit diet (burning more calories than you eat) will help you lose weight. The main game is maintaining that weight loss – converting your old eating and lifestyle patterns into new and healthy ones you can live with for a lifetime.

Don’t be tempted to measure success by the number of dress sizes dropped or belt notches tightened. It’s a real achievement to lose 5% of your initial weight in whatever time it takes. If you do want to lose a bit more, take the pressure off for 3 months before you restrict calories again. This will give your body time to adjust to its new engine size. And it will give you practice in learning to listen to your body’s natural signals for feeling hungry and feeling full. An alternating weight loss/weight maintenance pattern like this will help you become a full-time weight maintainer. In theory, preventing weight regain should be a lot easier than losing weight. But, if anything, it is the most critical stage. Regaining weight after you have been on a diet is all too easy. Here’s why.

Your body fights back. Food-seeking behaviour is wired into our brains to make sure we survive when our energy intake is low. So, despite your good intentions, hormones fly into action to stimulate your appetite and encourage food intake.

At your new weight, your body is a smaller engine and it needs less fuel (calories) to run. And if you lost weight rapidly and without exercising, then chances are you also lost proportionally more muscle, making your engine size even smaller.

Another reason why it can be so hard to maintain weight loss is that your resting metabolic rate (RMR) has dropped so your energy expenditure declines by as much as 10%. This is how nature helps animals adapt to the environment in which they live. If food is scarce, the body reduces engine revs so it can get by with less fuel.

The aim of the international PREVIEW study currently underway is to find out the best methods (through diet, exercise and behavioural modification) of helping people with pre-diabetes maintain weight loss and keep diabetes at bay. “Volunteers for this study will have their own team of professionals dedicated to their weight loss and weight loss maintenance, all free of charge,” says Prof Jennie Brand-Miller. “If you live in Sydney (Australia) and are interested in taking part, see below for details for applying or for finding out more about it.”

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