Friday, October 28, 2011

Regaining Weight after Dieting: Pounds versus Body Fat

A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, deals with a frustrating situation familiar to many dieters:  regaining weight afterward, sometimes with additional pounds as well.  A year after losing weight subjects in the study reported being as hungry as they had been immediately after losing the weight and hungrier than they had been before they started the diet.

I have been on many diets and been through this cycle many times.  During the past ten years, though, I’ve had more success at keeping the weight off.   In 1998 I had my body fat percentage measured at our local Y; it was 38, well into the too-fat category.  After that I started working to reduce body fat as well as weight and to improve muscle strength. 

When my body fat percentage got down into the mid-20’s an interesting thing happened.  I found that I was not getting hungry as often but when I finally did, it really hurt instead of just being mildly uncomfortable the way it had been before.  I started carrying protein bars around in case of emergency. I am now wondering whether there is something about losing weight without losing body fat that sets you up to regain. 

In order to burn fat I have to do cardio and lift weights at a fairly intense level; walking doesn’t work for me.  To strengthen my muscles for these workouts I started taking a protein supplements and proteolytic enzymes.  Stronger muscles and harder workouts burn both calories and fat, helping the entire process along. 

Why aren’t researchers on obesity paying more attention to body fat?

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