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Your Body's Response to Weight Loss Makes It Hard to Maintain Your Progress

The tug-of-war of weight management

Losing weight and maintaining it is hard because of how your body responds to weight loss: After losing weight, the body tries to put it back on. While healthy eating and increased physical activity are important, for many people it may not be enough to keep the weight off.  

Following weight loss, the body’s metabolism slows down and appetite hormones change—making you feel more hungry and less full. 

Transcript

Why is it so hard to keep the pounds off? Well, there’s more to weight management than meets the eye. People may see results when they limit calories, by reducing the size of meals, for example. And find ways to increase physical activity, like taking regular walks around the block. But the body reacts to weight loss by trying to regain weight, making weight management a constant tug-of-war. Metabolism slows down and gets more efficient, requiring fewer calories to do its job. Hormonal signals can also change. The body increases a hunger hormone, called the ghrelin hormone, which tries to get you to eat more calories. And the hormones that tell the brain it's time to stop eating, the “feeling full” signals, decrease. These are just some of the factors that make weight regain so common.

This response to weight loss can make weight management as challenging as actually losing the weight.

Did you know your brain is responsible for when and why you eat?

It's true. Every day, the brain receives signals from a team of hormones produced by different parts of the body, such as your stomach and intestines, called appetite hormones. Both your brain and these hormones contribute to the reasons why you eat—for hunger, for pleasure, or simply because you decide to.

For hunger

Your brain responds to appetite hormones that tell you it's time to eat.

"I feel hungry. It must be time for lunch."


For pleasure

Sometimes, even when you're not hungry, signals to your brain may cause you to eat.

"Dinner was great. But now I'm craving something sweet."

"My friends are snacking. Why shouldn't I?"


It's a choice

Instead of eating for hunger or pleasure, you make a choice to eat.

"I need to eat breakfast by 7:30 so I'm not late for work."


Remember the "team of hormones" we talked about earlier? For people trying to lose weight and maintain it, changes in appetite hormones after weight loss can make things tricky.

That's because after you lose weight by eating fewer calories, your levels of appetite hormones can change. An increase in the hunger hormone, called ghrelin, and a decrease in hormones that help you feel full, including glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), peptide YY (PYY), cholecystokinin (CCK), amylin, insulin, and leptin, may signal your brain to cause you to eat more.

This can contribute to weight regain.

Hunger hormone increases, fullness hormone decreases

But there are steps you can take to manage your weight. Work with your health care provider to discuss treatment options like reducing calories through healthy meal planning, increased physical activity, counseling, prescription medicines or bariatric surgery.

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Do you know the truth about treatment for excess weight?

Partnering with your health care provider, rather than trying to lose weight on your own, may help your chances of success. Take this short quiz to find out how much you know about the role your health care provider can play in your weight management.

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Question 5

Most people have no problem maintaining weight loss once they achieve it.

Correct! Maintaining a healthy weight is difficult because of how the body responds to weight loss. Only 1 in 10 people is able to keep weight off for more than 1 year. Partnering with your health care provider may help you achieve success. If you want to find a health care provider who specializes in weight management, use the Obesity Care Provider tool on this website.

Oops! Not quite. In fact, only 1 in 10 people is able to keep weight off for more than 1 year. How the body responds to weight loss makes it difficult to maintain, but partnering with your health care provider may help you achieve success. If you want to find a health care provider who specializes in weight management, use the Obesity Care Provider tool on this website.

Most health care providers believe they shouldn’t need to actively contribute to a patient’s weight-loss efforts.

Correct! In fact, 7 in 10 health care providers believe that they should actively contribute to their patient’s weight-loss efforts. You may find that your health care provider has not been as proactive as you’d like. When this happens, it can be helpful to make the first step. If you'd like to find a provider near you who specializes in weight management, the Obesity Care Provider tool on this website can help.

Oops! Not quite, 7 in 10 health care providers believe that they should actively contribute to their patient's weight-loss effort. You may find that your health care provider has not been as proactive as you'd like. When this happens, it can be helpful to make the first step. If you'd like to find a provider near you who specializes in weight management, the Obesity Care Provider tool on this website can help.

People who partner with a health care provider can lose 5x more weight than those who follow a self-directed program.

Correct! Advice from health care providers has been proven to have a positive impact on weight-management efforts. In 1 study, people who partnered with a health care provider lost 5x more weight than those who did not. While healthy eating and physical activity are important, they may not be enough to keep weight off. You can help manage this by adding on other types of treatment, such as counseling, prescription medicines, or bariatric surgery that can help make your plan even more effective.

Oops! Not quite. There was 1 study that showed people who partnered with a health care provider lost 5x more weight than those who did not. Advice from health care providers has been proven to have a positive impact on weight-management efforts. You can also talk to your health care provider about different types of treatment, including counseling, prescription medicines that have proven to be effective for weight loss, or bariatric surgery.

Bariatric surgery is the only medical treatment option available to help people manage excess weight.

Correct! There are treatment options today to help people with excess weight including lifestyle changes and prescription medicines. Since weight loss can slow down metabolism and impact appetite hormones that make you feel hungrier and less full, adding a prescription medicine that can help decrease appetite and increase fullness may be an option. You and your health care provider can explore treatment options to develop a weight-management plan that works for you. The TrueWeight® Report on this website can help you start the conversation.

Oops! Not quite. Bariatric surgery is not the only option to manage excess weight. Since weight loss can slow down metabolism and impact appetite hormones that make you feel hungrier and less full, adding a prescription medicine that can help decrease appetite and increase fullness may be an option. There are several prescription medicines for weight loss and weight management that have been proven effective in clinical trials. Use the TrueWeight® Report on this website to start the conversation and develop a plan that's right for you.

There are many treatment options available that can help people lose excess weight.

Correct! There are many prescription medicines for weight loss and weight management. After being studied in clinical trials, these treatments have been proven to be effective. Talk to your health care provider about whether they are right for you and develop a weight-management plan together.

Oops, not quite. There are several prescription medicines for weight loss and weight management. Although healthy eating and physical activity are important, they may not be enough to keep the weight off for some. You can discuss whether they are right for you with your health care provider.

Health Care Provider and Patient

Team up for success

Losing weight is a challenge, but maintaining these results can be just as hard. Talk to your health care provider about treatment options that may help.

Get started now
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