When fat strikes back

You worked hard to lose weight; now for the tough bit – keep­ing it off. Here’s our guide to the trick­i­est kilo­gain traps and how to swerve them

Women's Health Australia - - DECEMBER - By Vic­to­ria Joy

Lose weight (and keep it off!) with sci­ence-backed ad­vice that works

Fi­nally. You made it to your goal weight. The hard work is over. Isn’t it? Nope. Not based on re­search pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Phys­i­ol­ogy-en­docrinol­ogy and

Me­tab­o­lism, which found we’re hun­grier and have a stronger de­sire to eat for a year or more af­ter sig­nif­i­cant weight loss.

It’s not you, it’s sci­ence. De­spite your best ef­forts to eat more kale and fewer Krispy Kremes, your body ac­tu­ally wants to go back to its “set point weight” – the one it thinks is cor­rect for you – and will try very hard to push you back there. The good news? You can stay at the size you love with these strate­gies.

Your guns have gone AWOL

Here’s why: A study by the Uni­ver­sity of Copen­hagen found 20-some­things lose 30 per cent of their mus­cle strength af­ter just two weeks of not train­ing. Yikes!

Do it now: You only need three to five re­sis­tance ses­sions a week to main­tain mus­cle mass – but there’s a caveat. Those mus­cles of yours must also be con­tin­u­ally chal­lenged, so up your weights. Ac­cord­ing to the late leg­endary strength and con­di­tion­ing trainer Charles Poliquin, “Your free weights should be be­tween 65 and 80 per cent of the max­i­mum you can lift – so if you can lift 23kg once, use at least 16kg for rep work.”

Stay-slim tip: A trim­mer bod is also made in the bed­room. “Sleep di­rectly af­fects our ap­petite and hunger reg­u­la­tion, and a con­stant lack of sleep leads to in­creased lev­els of cor­ti­sol [known to in­crease belly fat] be­ing pro­duced by the body,” says trainer Sam Wood.

Cut­ting kilo­joules isn’t work­ing

Here’s why: Re­mem­ber that “set point” weight? Slash­ing too many kjs puts your body into star­va­tion mode, which sends its de­sire to cling onto your love han­dles into over­drive. Bi­ol­ogy is a bitch some­times.

Do it now: Cut 1250 kilo­joules off your daily 8700 al­lowance. That’s the sci­en­tif­i­cally proven amount to sus­tain­ably lose weight. It’s more eas­ily done with diet than ex­er­cise – 1250kj is equal to a large latte, but a 70kg woman would have to run flat out for 30 min­utes to burn the equiv­a­lent kilo­joules. “If you ditch just a bit of the [less nu­tri­tious] stuff, you won’t be hun­grier for it,” ex­plains nu­tri­tion­ist Sarah Wil­son. See ya, Star­bucks.

Stay-slim tip: Give your­self a new set of bound­aries that work for you, and your body. En­sure your kilo count stays within a 2kg ra­dius (fact: we can fluc­tu­ate by 2kg a week) of your happy weight and if it gets too low, or too high, you know to start ad­just­ing the kilo­joules. Sim­ple!

Your ap­petite’s in over­drive

Here’s why: Your brain likes you hav­ing some body fat – it acts as in­su­la­tion, is es­sen­tial for ovu­la­tion and fer­til­ity, and reg­u­lates your ap­petite. Low­er­ing your body fat level also de­creases your lep­tin (a hor­mone that keeps ap­petite in check) lev­els, mean­ing as you drop ki­los your brain gets sig­nalled to eat more to bring your weight back up. Hey, 11am ba­nana bread crav­ings you can’t ig­nore. This re­sponse can last for up to a year, a study in The New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine re­ports.

Do it now: Plan a cheat meal (note: not day) once a week. “En­joy­ing a small cheat meal each week helps proac­tively chan­nel the need for in­dul­gence and to stay mo­ti­vated,” says celebrity per­sonal trainer James Duigan.

Stay-slim tip: Wil­son rec­om­mends keep­ing your carb and sugar lev­els down in the build-up to your cheat meal. Fo­cus on pro­tein and veg through­out the rest of the day to reg­u­late your hunger-fu­elling, fat-mak­ing in­sulin lev­els.

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