Diet is one of the initial ways people try to lose and maintain weight. Various ads and schemes promise shortcuts to lose weight quickly. People often look for ultimate weight-loss diets in an urge to lose weight and feel more confident.
No doubt, diets are helpful for weight loss but they are only effective in the short term. Eight out of ten people regain lost weight after some time. It affects not only their weight but also their self-esteem.
This blog covers how the aftermath of a diet increases your weight and decreases your self-esteem. Keep reading to know what you can do instead.
Hunger and Appetite
We eat every day, from breakfast and lunch to dinner with some snacks in between. Sometimes we actually feel hungry and at other times we are just lured by a picture or a thought of food.
Hunger is a physiological process where a part of your brain (hypothalamus), glucose levels and certain hormones work together to produce sensations of hunger at regular intervals. At such times, your stomach growls and results in hunger pangs.
On the other hand, your appetite – a desire to eat, differs from hunger and can make you eat even when you are not hungry. This is triggered when you see or think of food and start craving a snack.
These facts sound interesting and there is a process behind them. So let’s understand the science behind hunger.
Obesity and Weight-Loss
Obesity is a multifactorial disease that makes you gain weight and ultimately affects your health. Many aspects like genetics, environmental settings, socio-economic and physiological factors play a role in causing significant weight gain.
The excess fat associated with obesity is connected to health complications like hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, infertility, cancer, etc. As a remedy, weight loss is often suggested as the primary obesity treatment.
As weight gain is mostly related to energy consumption and energy expenditure, exercise and diet are two primary methods to lose weight. With diet, you add or restrict food items in your diet to lose weight. Additionally, with exercise, you try to burn maximum calories and lose excess fat.
In the weight loss process, you make extreme changes to your diet and exercise to adjust your body’s functions and lose all the excess weight.
However, do you know that some physiological changes occur during weight loss that might cause weight to regain?
The Aftermath of an Obesity Diet
According to several studies, obesity interventions can lead to rapid weight loss followed by weight regain.1
After losing some weight, 80% of people regain some or all of it in a year or so. It is because of the biological changes that take place in the body when you follow a strict diet.
When you choose a diet and restrict calorie intake, your body does not get the number of calories it used to get. It gets confused between intentional weight loss and acute insufficiency. Soon, it gets into a protective mode where it lowers your metabolism and stimulates appetite to preserve stored fat.
Strict obesity diets involve adding and restricting certain food items from your diet. When you lose weight and excess fat percentage, there is a disturbance in the concentration of certain hormones in your body. The satiety hormone, leptin, decreases and the hunger hormone, ghrelin, increases. As a result, you feel hungrier, eat excess calories and eventually gain weight.2
Regaining lost weight is common and it would be best to know how to keep it off.
We have a separate blog where you can learn more about the science behind weight regain and what you can do to keep it off.
It is crucial to opt for certain lifestyle management tips to keep the lost weight at bay. It is because the lost weight comes back with decreased self-esteem.
Let’s learn how the consequences of diets affect your self-esteem.
Obesity Diets and Self-Esteem
Obesity or excess fat is a medical problem that many people battle with. As is commonly observed in human behavioral psychology, we seek the fastest and easiest solution to a problem. We want to lose fat quickly and reach the ideal weight. This is why we are attracted by strict diets that promise quick weight loss.
No doubt, diets can help you lose weight but they are only effective for a short term. When you restrict calorie intake, your body eventually loses fat. However, after a certain point, the biological changes in your body backfire. A change in your metabolism, hormones and energy expenditure levels opposes further weight loss.3 You start to eat more and no longer can stick to a strict diet.
As a result, you gain lost weight and sometimes more. There is a decrease in your self-esteem with increased weight as weight loss failures have a negative psychological impact.
We have all heard that we can lose weight by eating right and exercising well, which is not entirely true. Other factors like genes and environmental settings influence weight gain too and are not in our control. So, by believing in “one treatment suits all,” we set high hopes, but when we gain weight in spite of our best efforts, it deals a blow to our self-esteem.
What Can I Do?
The number one step you can make towards weight loss is to set realistic goals. When you set realistic weight loss goals, you can indeed achieve them and stay in the right frame of mind. Avoid strict diets and strenuous exercises that ask you to make huge changes in your lifestyle.
Remember, obesity treatment starts with small, long-term healthy habits.
You can start by eating healthy and indulging in physical activity every day. If you choose easy lifestyle management tips that you can follow and stick to, you can lose weight safely and keep it off.
In conclusion, your self-esteem is a relationship between you and your thoughts. Keep yourself happy, appreciate your efforts and be happy for every little achievement.
If nothing is working, consult an expert to know what obesity treatment might work for you. Experts often suggest the best diet for obesity patients.
- Hall KD et al, Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity. Med Clin North Am. 2018;102(1):183-197.
- Polidori D et al, How Strongly Does Appetite Counter Weight Loss? Quantification of the Feedback Control of Human Energy Intake. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2016;24(11):2289–2295.
- Greenway FL. Physiological adaptations to weight loss and factors favouring weight regain. Int J Obes (Lond) 2015;39(8):1188–1196.
- Berthoud HR et al, Blaming the Brain for Obesity: Integration of Hedonic and Homeostatic Mechanisms. Gastroenterology. 2017 May;152(7):1728-1738.