Losing weight is often in the lead of many people's minds at the beginning of the year. But if weight loss was your goal for 2019, chances are that you have now probably experienced some challenges.
It's because it's not an easy task to stick to a strict calorie-intake diet in modern environments – where tasty, high energy foods are attractive and readily available.
Dieting is also made particularly difficult by our body's rapid response to decrease in food intake, but in contrast to lack of response to overeating.
This will be a familiar experience for many who have experienced almost instantaneous increases in hunger when dieting.
Most people will also have experienced how easy it is to attend holidays or other occasions.
For example, a main course meal at a British full-service restaurant will likely contain more than half of the calories required for a full day.
Overeating not discovered
Our latest research has shown that overeating is poorly detected in humans, even when energy intake is increased to give a surplus of more than 1,000 calories a day.
In this study, over-measurement by 150 percent of required daily calories did not change the participants' appetite.
We tested this by looking at appetite ratings and levels of specific hormones known to regulate appetite, as well as controlling food intake by participants during the next day.
Our results showed how the body does not adapt to account for these extra calories.
This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, because in environments with limited access to food overeating when food was available to our ancestors, they would increase their chances of survival by keeping them burned until food was restored.
This shows that it is important to pay attention to calorie intake because short periods of inadvertent overeating may be sufficient to cause weight gain or weight loss.
In fact, some evidence suggests that increases in body weight during the festive period are maintained throughout the rest of the year. And can also be responsible for incremental annual increases in body weight.
Likewise, overeating on a weekend can easily interrupt a strict diet that is maintained on weekdays.
But understanding how easy it is to overwhelm does not mean that weight loss cannot be achieved. In fact, it can help with weight loss by paying more attention to dietary choices.
Don't forget exercise
Despite our body weight bias for weight gain, proper diet and lifestyle changes will produce and maintain weight loss if this is the desired goal.
Exercise can often be overlooked as people seek "the best diet for weight loss". But becoming active is still important if you want to lose weight – and especially to maintain long-term weight loss.
Exercise can supplement dietary changes and help minimize the increases in hunger experienced by dieting alone.
This is because exercise does not cause an increase in hunger to the same extent as dieting, despite the fact that energy consumption for weight loss is also created.
In fact, hunger is reduced when exercised intensively, which can help to avert hunger pangs while increasing energy consumption.
The importance of exercise to maintain weight loss was also recently highlighted by participants from the US TV Weight Loss Competition. The biggest loser.
Tracking participants for six years after the show showed that the people who maintained their weight loss had increased their physical activity by 160 percent.
While those who regained their lost had only increased physical activity by 34 percent.
Flexibility is needed
Whichever diet you choose, it is likely that you need some flexibility – as most diets will require some compromise.
Maybe, for example, you are invited to a meal at a restaurant for a special occasion, or there is a holiday party with extra dining.
Being aware that your body is unlikely to respond to the increased calorie intake means you can adjust your behavior to avoid or compensate for any overeating, for example, by paying more attention to food selection in the days before or after one. apartment or increasing your training levels to counter any profits.
What all this shows is that we should not ultimately rely on feedback signals from our body to detect calorie intake levels. Instead, conscious diet and lifestyle behavior monitoring is more than sufficient to counteract our body's natural weight gain bias.
And by appreciating this need for conscious monitoring, it can help you achieve the desired weight loss goals in the coming year.
Kevin Deighton, Reader in Nutrition and Metabolism, Leeds Beckett University.
This article is re-released from the conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.