WEIGHT MAINTENANCE: 3 Hormones That Make It Easy to Regain Weight Once You’ve Lost it!
Once you’ve changed your eating habits and reached your ideal body weight, there’s a new challenge, keeping it off. The reality is most people who successfully lose weight gain it back. Not that you’re destined to regain the weight you lost but there are physiological factors that work against you after losing weight including the effects of hormones that control your appetite and metabolism. Here are the key hormones that make it harder to maintain your weight after losing it.
You’re probably already familiar with leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells that tells your brain what your energy status is. When there’s plenty of fat energy stores around, leptin sends a signal to a portion of your brain called the hypothalamus. This signal says you’re well fed. As a result, your appetite is subdued and you aren’t tempted to raid the refrigerator or the nearest vending machine.
Why does leptin make it easier to put weight back on? Leptin levels drop when you take in fewer calories, skip a meal and when you lose weight as your body senses low energy stores. When this happens, you wage a battle with hunger. To make matters worse, leptin affects your metabolic rate too. When leptin levels are low, your metabolism slows down. So you have two things conspiring against you when your leptin levels drop – increased hunger and a slower metabolism. Not a good combination.
Once you’ve lost weight and resumed a less restrictive diet, do your leptin levels return to normal? Not necessarily. Researchers at the University of Melbourne found a group of obese people who lost an average of 14% of their body weight still had low leptin levels a year after stopping a low-calorie diet. Other bad news. The participants gained back half of the weight they lost even though they followed a maintenance diet.
Leptin isn’t the only major hormone that controls your appetite – there’s ghrelin too. Ghrelin might best be called the “hunger hormone.” It’s secreted by the lining of the stomach and small intestine and plays a role in controlling hunger on a short-term basis. When you haven’t eaten a meal for a while, ghrelin levels rise and they fall after eating. But ghrelin has a longer term impact on weight control too. Research shows that ghrelin levels over a 24-hour period are higher after a person loses weight. That leads to an increase in appetite and makes it hard to avoid overeating. Ghrelin is another player that works against you when you’re trying to maintain your weight after losing it.
Hormones produced by your thyroid, T4 and T3 control your metabolic rate. T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone and it goes down with calorie restriction and after you’ve lost weight. As you might expect, this slows down your metabolic rate so you burn fewer calories. One reason thyroid hormone levels drop is your body adapts to a lower calorie diet by slowing down the rate it uses energy. That kind of adaptation can make your life harder.
A study showed another possible reason thyroid hormone levels drop after weight loss. You have toxins safely sequestered inside your adipose tissue. Here, it’s stored without harming your body. When you lose body fat, these toxins are released into the bloodstream. Researcher found that organochloride compounds released from fat cells with weight loss seems to decrease levels of T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. This causes a drop in metabolic rate that makes it easier to regain the weight you worked so hard to lose.
How Do You Fight Your Hormones?
Even though appetite hormones like leptin and ghrelin make it more difficult to control your appetite, you’re still in control. The best kept secret for weight maintenance is exercise – both aerobic and resistance training. Research consistently shows that people who exercise are more successful at maintaining a lower weight once they lose it. When you resistance train you get the added benefit of increasing your lean body mass. This helps to offset any slowdown in metabolism as a result of the weight loss. Some studies also show that exercise helps with appetite control, especially high-intensity exercise.
Here’s another suggestion. Keep a food journal so you become aware of mindless eating and snacking. It’s easy to let down your guard after you’ve reached your goal weight and go back to your old eating habits. As a result, the pounds slowly creep back on.
It’s also important to weigh twice a week, first thing in the morning, and make modifications to your diet based on your weight. Take a proactive approach – respond quickly to weight changes, exercise regularly and keep a food journal to keep you on track. You can be a successful loser and keep it off. It takes discipline, motivation and self-awareness but it’s worth it.
For more fitness tips, contact our fitness director/personal trainer, Noelle Lusardi, at stepaheadwellnesscenter.com.
Tantalize your taste buds with these easy-peasy sandwiches that are bursting with flavor and brimming with nutrients!
Grilled Pineapple & Chicken Buns
Makes 4 sandwiches: 333 calories per sandwich. Save 100 calories by swapping out the bun and enjoy chicken filling over a leafy green salad.
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices fresh pineapple
4 (1.5-ounce) whole wheat hamburger buns, toasted
1-2 teaspoons Light mayonnaise (optional)
4 large basil leaves
1. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper. Place chicken on grill pan coated with cooking spray; grill 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until done, brushing occasionally with lime juice. Grill pineapple 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until browned.
2. Spread mayonnaise on bottom halves of buns, if desired. Top each with 1 chicken breast half, 1 pineapple slice, 1 basil leaf, and 1 bun top. Serve immediately.
Roasted Red Pepper & Tuna Roll-Ups
Makes 4 servings; 130 calories each.
2 6-ounce cans of tuna packed in water (drained)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup jarred roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1. In a medium bowl, combine the tuna, pepper, olive oil, peppers, basil leaves, and vinegar. Spread the mixture on a 100-calorie wrap, roll, or sandwich thin for a 230 calorie sandwich.
One more year is coming to a close, the pads come out and the resolutions begin. January is actually the busiest time in the fitness and gym industry. February and March are probably the quietest with most people having given up on the weight loss and fitness effort…well until the bikini time comes around again. Setting New Year’s weight loss resolutions is no different than setting other goals. Your goals need to S.M.A.R.T, in other words: Simple-Measurable-Achievable-Realistic-Timely, but most importantly you need to have the desire and willpower to work hard towards your targets. In this article we share 7 tips for setting your New Year’s resolutions in such a way so they are achievable and realistic.
1. SET LIFE GOALS
Instead of making a resolution list of the things you want to do make a list of the things you want to have and/or achieve in your life. For example a resolution list of the things you want to do could look like this:
Resolution List 2012
1. Lose weight
2. Join the gym
3. Change my job
Instead think ‘what do I want to have in my life’? For example:
Life Resolution List 2012
1. Look good and feel healthier
2. Be happier in my job
3. Be less stressed
Then think how you can achieve each one of them. Weight loss and exercise can then be a process of achieving to look good and feel healthier but is not the end to all means. In addition, there are other ways to achieve your goal such as eat healthier, or cut down on takeaways and sweets.
If you just concentrate on losing weight you will join the gym and get the next diet regime in the hype of the times. Then you will soon lose sight of why you are torturing and depriving yourself from food. No surprise most gym memberships are sold in January to never be used again by February with maybe small exceptions when preparing for the bikini season.
2. COMPARE YOUR LIST WITH LAST YEARS
What did your resolution list look like last year? Do you automatically list the obvious things which are expected to be in your list? For example I used to be a smoker and for about 10 years in the top of my list was I will cut smoking. Smoking was bad for me and I knew I had to give up so every year I expected myself to try and stop smoking and then feel depressed as I had failed myself.
In addition think why you didn’t follow your last year’s resolutions. Did something affect you? Did something change? Finding the reasons why you didn’t do what you wanted last year it may be a way to help you avoid the same mistakes or help you plan for this year.
3. BE REALISTIC
Christmas and New Year can be emotionally charged times. The end of an era and the beginning of a new one it can make us make decisions based on emotions and not reality. Don’t forget to also ask yourself if you are realistic in what you want. My resolution could well be finding a gold bucket at the end of a rainbow but no matter what I do it may not quite reach fruition.
4. GET OFF THE DIET WAGON.
Another problem with concentrating with dieting is that you are likely to grab the next diet regime, book etc that looks good. Does it work? You may lose some weight in a few weeks but you will have to stop dieting at some point and then what? Have a break until the next diet or is it that you never stopped.
The weight loss industry is a very lucrative business and it does bank on the fact that you are looking for quick solution. I will go back to my first point which says make life goals and not a dieting commitment. Therefore, weight loss would be part of the life changes you want. Undoubtedly not everybody can do it by themselves, however try to pick that weight loss solution which will help you to learn about healthy eating, give you tips for your everyday life and support in what you are trying to achieve.
5. GET SUPPORT
Studies have actually shown that people who have support tend to lose more weight and adhere to diet regimes. Support which comes from your immediate family environment is always the best. However, if for any reason you can’t make that work support could come from friends, weight loss buddies, and even weight loss clubs and online weight loss services.
There are plenty of choices out there so you can find the one that works for you.
6. MOVE EVERYDAY
Physical activity and exercise is a bonus for your health and weight management. Make a pledge to move every day. You don’t have to necessarily pay big monthly subscriptions to a gym. Make a pledge to move a little bit every day.
Go for a walk, or run in the park, go shopping and walk around the shops, have a spring clean, play a game with the kids, have a swim and so on. All you need is commitment and imagination.
7. START LIVING
Once you set your life goals and resolutions all you have to do is start living. This is my new year’s mojo. Stop dieting and start living. I am sure I’m not the only one who says that but I am loving it.
The holidays are a time to indulge in delicious food, but too much snacking and calorie-filled beverages can lead to major weight gain come January. There is a way , however, you can enjoy your favorites without all that fat. iMag went to registered dietitian Sari Greaves, who has tricks to keeping trim throughout the holiday season.
Tip # 1: Practice Damage Control
This is not the time of year to go on a strict diet; it's a time to try to maintain your weight.
Tip # 2: Bring a healthy dish to the holiday party
Here are some easy potluck contributions:
- Hummus platter with vegetable crudite
- Mixed green salad topped with any type of beans and balsamic vinaigrette
- Shrimp cocktail
- Quinoa with vegetables
Tip # 3: Jazz up your grains
It's easy to give your grain dishes more of a nutritional boost. Quinoa, which is an easy pot luck idea mentioned above, is a whole grain that is high in protein (which will help you feel full on fewer calories). By stretching this dish over vegetables you slash half the calories and add nutrients.
Tip # 4: Never go to a party hungry!
You never want to eat something too small or too large before the holiday party. Go for a dish that contains a little bit or protein and carbs and is under 200 calories. Try a small apple with a scoop of peanut butter or Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of nuts.
Tip # 5: Beware of your beverage intake
Limit yourself to 1 - 2 party drinks. One standard drink is a 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or an ounce-and-a-half of 80 proof liquor.
Sari Greaves works as a registered dietitian at Step Ahead Weight Loss Center in Central New Jersey where she provides nutrition counseling to a wide variety of patients seeking weight loss and healthy lifestyle modification. As a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, she appears regularly on television and has done interviews on ABC News, New York 1, MY9 News, NBC News, Fox News, CW11 News and Bloomberg News. She has been quoted in a variety of print and Internet publications including the Wall Street Journal, Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Food & Fitness Advisor, Self Magazine, Shape Magazine, MSN News, Men's Health Magazine, Women's Health Magazine, Prevention Magazine, Consumer Reports on Health, Fitness Magazine, Health Magazine among many others. You can email her at email@example.com.
The Tricks to Treating: Healthy Halloween Tips for You and Your Family
OCTOBER 26, 2011
by Elise Truman, MS, RD eligible
Chocolate bars, jelly beans, and taffy, oh my! Since January we’ve made strides to keep a healthy diet during the year’s festivities. We limited our chocolates on Valentine’s Day, we kept Easter dinner portions a reasonable size, and we held to a one hotdog maximum on the Fourth of July. But next thing we know its October and there are unavoidable candy
bowls tempting us everywhere we look.
And while it’s okay to occasionally indulge in a bite-sized treat, the problem lies when one turns to two and two turns to…well, you get the idea. Eventually, we find ourselves with unintentional weight gain and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! Meanwhile, the threat of an increase in hyperactivity and cavities in our children is giving us a bigger headache than our neighbor’s talking pumpkin.
Like in all things health and nutrition, careful planning is the key. Nutrition Lately has pulled together some simple tricks to help you and your family successfully ‘treat’ this Halloween.
TRICK: PREPARE THE TROOPS
Eating a healthy meal pre-‘trick-or-treating’ is your first defense against overindulging later. We often turn to candy first because our blood sugar is low and as a result we feel hungry. Before leaving home, serving a high-protein, high-fiber meal for you and family should keep temptations at bay for the next 2-3 hours.
A suggestion would be grilled chicken breast, wholegrain rice, broccoli florets, a glass of skim milk, and apple slices for dessert. Drinking plenty of water is also important for keeping cravings at bay. Revert back to your MyPlate guide for other suggestions and tips.
TRICK: BE THE NEIGHBORHOOD HERO
There are several alternatives to passing out candy on Halloween. Here are some suggestions that will make your neighbors both admire you and think twice about what they hand out next year:
TRICK: SET A POST-TREATING PLAN
When kids get home from trick-or-treating, allow them to use their newly acquired candy as a sort of currency. First, have kids pile through and choose favorites and non-favorites. Then, make a wager with them that for every piece of candy they fork over they get a penny or nickel. Then kids can use their newly acquired money to buy something (non-food focused) at the store. With the candy that is left, be sure to immediately stash out of sight. Allow kids to choose one piece a day and preferably after a meal.
TRICK: MAKE THE BEST CHOICES
Not all candy is created equal. When you do indulge, try to pick out the lowest calorie and sugar options available. Check out our list for some suggestions:
3 Musketeers Miniatures- 24 calories– WINNER!
Milky Way Mini- 28 calories
Snicker Mini- 42.5 calories
Two Twix Bars- 160 calories
Peanut Butter Pumpkin- 180 calories
Almond Joy/Mounds- 200 calories
Include dark chocolate when possible for an antioxidant boost
Choose hard candies, which you can’t eat as quickly
Opt for the sugar-free candies, if provided
For more nutrition tips, suggestions and family friendly recipes, visit Kids Eat Right.
In the recent Obesity journal, investigators outlined some of the ongoing research to find a specific connection between obesity and the increased risk of certain types of cancer. Although no direct link has been found as yet, the investigators believe that the link may have to do with the increased insulin levels found in obese patients, due to insulin resistance often found. This may increase the growth of some of the abnormal cells that are found in cancer. Also, more inflammatory cells are found in obese individuals and these may also lead to the growth and production of some of these cancers. What we do know, is that individuals with obesity and/or metabolic syndrome have an association with many serious medical conditions and cancer is among them. Exactly why we see an association with cancer is not known but we are getting closer to finding out the answer.
Unfortunately, the jury is still out but the search is ongoing with vigor!