Why most riders don’t sustain long term weight loss
Achieving weight loss isn't the challenging part, maintaining it long-term is where most riders fail.
Studies and research conducted over many years has shown that around 80 to 95% of those who diet and achieve a weight loss goal gain the weight back within a two-year period.
There is a lot of research out there so go and do your own searching but that is a staggering statistic! Obviously, study to study varies but typically it has been found that a minimum of 55% of those who lost weight put it back on.
So that then begs the question as to why maintaining weight loss is so hard?
For most of us when we go on a diet we think of it as a period of restriction and deprivation. If you’ve ever been on a diet before or tried to lose weight have you restricted or banned certain foods? I know I certainly have and all of my clients at some point in their life have also tried this method too.
The problem here is that this is an incredibly restrictive approach and makes fitting your life in around weight loss an extremely stressful task. Within a short space of time this is going to be hard work but also gets incredibly boring. Banning the foods you like or sticking to a specific group of food for a long period of time will eventually have you fed up and bored and it’s not going going to be something you can maintain.
Ask anyone who's done weight watchers or slimming world for a maintained period of time how they feel about pasta? As they ate it 24/7 they can no longer stand it!
During a weight loss phase we restrict our calories to make sure we are in a deficit. Once the weight loss goal has been achieved you no longer need to remain in this deficit. A lot of people do not realise this and struggle or try to force themselves to stick to their deficit calories and then fail!
What you need to focus on once you’ve achieved your goal is the calories your body needs to now maintain your weight. Obviously, this depends on how much weight you've lost but typically your maintenance calories are going to be higher than your deficit calories therefore meaning you can eat more and make it easier to stick to in the long run. So make sure you always recalculate your calories at the end of a weight loss phase!
Your metabolic rate will play a role here as well, when you lose weight your metabolic rate reduces which is how much energy is used at rest. This is because your body is losing weight and your body goes into a state of alarm and tries to protect you by lowering your metabolic rate. This means that you’re going to burn fewer calories at rest so again being mindful of being on correct maintenance calories and moving more is going to be essential.
Often it can be a mindset barrier that leads us to regain the weight. If gaining the result felt like a really taxing process it’s not going to be something you think about fondly. Sadly after all your hard work the F it mentality can come in as it’s been such an enjoyable and negative process for you you can't continue with it anymore. This is where focusing on long-term sustainable changes is key and not banning certain foods or removing your social life when you are in a weight loss phase.
Remembering this is a work in progress is important too! It’s completely normal to have weight fluctuations and across times the years, as you age, your body shape and weight will change! It’s not just because you achieved a big goal the hard work is over, it’s a constant task you have to put the effort into so remember that.
Keep exercising and training too. If you’ve ever gone on a diet you probably added exercise alongside your approach. Many of us think exercise is the main catalyst for weight loss but you now know a calorie deficit is. However, it’s important you find a way of exercising you enjoy so that you can stick to it long-term. If you suddenly stop exercising or training or equally just become less active you are going to gain more weight as you are expending less energy! Play around and find different sports or activities you enjoy and find what works for you.
Whatever you do from an activity/exercise point of view the key here is to be consistent and keep your activity level high enough.
From my experience working with many different riders who have had weight loss goals over the years, both male and female, is that most people think they have to follow a particular diet or plan in order to lose weight. It’s not the method you use it’s a calorie deficit that gets you the weight loss! Make sure what you are doing with your diet approach is something that works for your life.
When you’re in a weight loss phase you should still be able to go out and enjoy social dinners with friends or family, eat food you like and be happy with what you’re eating. If you feel restricted or deprived it’s never going to work.
Second of all find an activity or exercise you actually like! Yes high-intensity interval training may be fantastic for weight loss and running has great benefits too but at the end of the day if you don’t enjoy it you’re not going to follow through with it for the next few years. So make sure you're doing something that you genuinely find fun & enjoyable.
This is your priority – follow something you enjoy & a sensible, non-restrictive approach and it’s going to make life alot easier to maintain!
I hope these tips help & if you're struggling to maintain your weight loss feel free to reach out!