hands holding fat over shirt

Why Gaining Weight After Losing It Is Completely Natural

woman looking at her thin belly

After losing weight, regaining weight is completely natural. The amount of weight and length of time it takes depends on multiple factors, including what type of weight you lost, how quickly you lost it, and your genetics and metabolism. This article will cover everything about gaining weight after losing it, why it happens, and what you can do about it.

Why is it normal to regain weight after losing it?

It’s normal for people who lose weight to regain a lot of that lost fat; in fact, 90 % of people who lose weight ultimately regain it1. Why does this happen?

Losing weight changes your biology. When you lose weight, your body senses starvation and goes into starvation mode. To ensure you don’t “starve” (as your body thinks), your brain starts slowing down your metabolism and making you hungrier than usual. So, when you start eating normally again, these factors make it easier to gain back all of that lost weight—and then some! Research shows that people tend to regain about 80% of the weight they initially lost within about five years2.

Many factors contribute to regaining weight, such as:

  • Biological
  • Psychosocial
  • Educational
  • Environmental

When you lose weight, you’re putting your body through many changes. These include decreasing your resting metabolic rate, increasing how long you can go without eating before feeling full, and changing hormone levels. All of these things work against you to ensure that when you gain back some fat, it is likely to stick around longer than if you hadn’t lost the weight in the first place. The more dramatic your initial loss was, the more dramatic your regain can be.

a plus sized woman sitting near her sofa, looking at a doughnut which she is holding with her right hand, a dumbbell in her left hand and a laptop, water bottle beside her

What treatment options can help you maintain results?

Once you’ve lost weight, you’ll want to find the healthiest and most effective way to keep the weight off.

There are several ways that this can be done.

If you’re looking for something more natural, talk to your doctor about exercise routines or diet changes that can help keep the pounds from creeping back up. However, suppose you’re looking for something more drastic. In that case, medical devices or surgical options such as gastric bypass surgery or Lap-Band surgery can help you maintain your figure.

Medications

There are many reasons why people struggle to shed those last few pounds. If you’re among them, talk to your doctor about medications that can help. Popular options include:

herbs and pills in cups and bowls
  • Wegovy: A medication that helps you lose weight by increasing your feeling of fullness. You can eat less without feeling hungry by targeting areas of the brain that regulate appetite and food intake.
  • Ozempic: A new drug that lowers blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. As an added benefit, people taking Ozempic often experience weight loss. 3.
  • Mounjaro: Another type of diabetes medication that lowers blood sugar levels and has been shown to help patients lose weight over time.

These medications belong to the GLP-1 medication family. GLP-1 is a hormone that helps you feel full, so when your levels are higher, you’re less likely to eat and more likely to lose weight. If you’ve tried and failed at dieting before, ask your doctor about prescription weight loss drugs. Combined with diet and exercise, these medications can help you achieve your goals without feeling hungry or deprived.

Over-the-counter medications or supplements, while highly marketed, aren’t regulated and can be dangerous. Make sure you consult your doctor before taking any new medication or supplement.

woman exercising in a classroom

Staying active

It’s important to stay active, even when you are dieting. Strive for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity at least three times per week.

Strength training exercises twice per week, such as those that use resistance, like dumbbells, or bodyweight exercises like push-ups, can help maintain lean muscle mass and help improve bone health. If you have high blood pressure, exercise can significantly reduce its effects on your body.

By staying active, you’ll help your body maintain a healthy metabolism. This helps keep your appetite in check and may prevent you from overeating when you don’t need to. Research shows that people who exercise regularly are more likely to eat less and maintain a healthy weight than those who don’t exercise4.

Changing diet and tracking meals

A poor diet can lead to regaining lost pounds, which is why changing your diet is crucial in maintaining a healthy weight. Keeping a food journal to track calories and nutrients can help you identify which foods are driving your hunger and cravings and, therefore, which ones you need to cut back on. Plus, it will make you more aware of what you eat throughout the day.

weights, healthy food and measuring tape

Tracking meals holds you accountable. If you gain weight, you’ll be able to tell if it is from your diet. If you didn’t change anything in your diet but gained weight, then it is possible some of that weight came from water retention or bloating. If your weight gain is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fatigue and low energy, it’s important to speak with your doctor as you may have a medical condition that needs treatment.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your ideal number, it’s important to get most of your nutrients and vitamins from whole foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and lean meats like fish and poultry. Eating foods that contain fiber can also help you feel full longer because fiber digests slowly. Gradually incorporating these food options into each meal can help you ease into long-term diet changes instead of going cold turkey.

Medical devices

If you have serious obesity and have tried other treatment options without success, your doctor may prescribe a medical device to help you lose weight. Medical devices vary in how effective they are at helping patients lose weight and keep it off over time.

Common weight loss medical devices include:

  • Gastric Bands – Bands that are surgically implanted around the stomach
  • Gastric Balloons – Temporary devices can include one, two, or three balloons that fill space in the stomach
  • Gastric Emptying System – A tube positioned in the stomach via an endoscope and a port placed against the skin of the abdomen

Medical devices intended for weight management include:

  • Oral Space Occupying Devices – This device is worn in the mouth during meals to limit bite sizes
  • Stomach Space Occupying Devices – Material that you swallow to temporarily occupy space in the stomach and help you feel full

Medical devices are a serious intervention and should only be used as an integrated treatment program. Talk to your doctor about whether a medical device might be right for you.

Why medical weight loss can help you keep the pounds off

Medical weight loss is the process of changing a patient’s diet, exercise routine, behaviors, and environment with the help of specially-trained doctors. Prescriptions may also be included to help either lose or maintain pounds. Medical weight loss differs from DIY options because these programs are tailored to your lifestyle and aim to change the habits that led to the initial weight gain. This option also provides a support system to help you stay on track and lose weight healthily.

Medical weight loss isn’t for everyone, but for many people, it can offer tremendous benefits. Once your body has reached its ideal weight, you may feel more energetic and healthier. You may even start to shed pounds with minimal effort.

Lifestyle changes are hard and take time, and many individuals who have lost a large amount of weight in a short time see a return to their original or higher body weights. Fortunately, with lifestyle changes and help from medical professionals, you can not only lose weight but keep it off! If you’re struggling with weight, consider medical weight loss to finally get rid of those stubborn pounds.

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References

[1] Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D. - Weighing the Facts: The Tough Truth About Weight Loss;

[2] Masters M. 67 Weight-Loss Statistics You Should Know. Livestrong. May 18, 2021. https://www.livestrong.com/article/13764581-weight-loss-statistics/;

[3] Diabesity: How Obesity Is Related to Diabetes. Cleveland Clinic. November 8, 2021. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/diabesity-the-connection-between-obesity-and-diabetes/;

[4] Carla E. Cox. Role of Physical Activity for Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance. National Library Of Medicine. Published in August 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5556592/;