When you think of the average weight loss diet, most play to our emotions by promising rapid, effortless results. The reality is that weight / fat loss usually requires the breaking of bad habits and creation of positive habits, which will rarely ever be rapid or effortless endeavors.
With any weight loss diet plan you have to ask yourself two questions:
Can I see myself eating like this for at least the next 1-2 years? (aka is it sustainable)
Is there an obvious maintenance phase for after I’ve reached my goal?
If you cannot answer YES to both, it’s worth either looking for a more suitable alternative, or seeking help from a fitness professional.
There’s nothing wrong per say with a “12 week diet plan”, but what happens after these 12 weeks? In the vast majority of cases unfortunately the answer is regaining the weight loss, and sometimes more. Other negatives such as a slower metabolism and increased hunger levels resulting in bingeing or eating disorders can also occur.
From here it’s all too easy to get into the negative feedback loop of crash dieting. How many people do you know that always seem to be on a weight loss diet?
It’s important to understand that the body needs some time to stabilise at a new weight. Your body literally has to adjust everything to cater to your new weight. The volume of blood, the size of your organs and your skin to name a few. This all takes time, the easier path for your body to take is to regain the weight loss and get back to “normal”.
The greater the weightloss, the greater the time the body needs to adapt and stabilise.
A new (Feb 2017) study confirmed the importance of the maintenance phase and reported that most people regain weight at a rate of about 2 to 4 pounds per year.
In this study obese participants lost an average of 16 pounds in 16 weeks. 1 year after this initial weight loss those that were offered some advice for their maintenance phase regained 1.5lbs. Those without any maintenance help regained 5lbs.
This is a significant difference and likely to compound year after year. Results would obviously relate to the quality of the planned maintenance phase. In the study group visits and individual phone calls were used.
Where possible I would always recommending building your support team and not being afraid to ask for help from those more qualified.
With a little patience, a sustainable nutrition plan and a well planned maintenance phase, realistically you can break the mold. Regain no weight and continue to improve in the future.