The answer is Yes and No. Thousands of studies have been conducted so far to find out how and why people gain and lose weight. There is no conclusive study laying out concrete steps one needs to take to lose weight, and, most importantly, preserve it.
In the short-run, dieting may be the answer. But it doesn’t work if you want to lose weight and preserve it for a long period of time. Some even argue that dieting actually has a negative impact since people are eventually adding more weight in many cases.
When weight loss becomes necessary, dieting is the first thing that comes to mind since people gain weight mostly due to overeating. It is only partly true. Disorganized lifestyle, stress, unhealthy injection of food or health problems could cause the way we gain weight. Although we feel our stomach craving for food when we are hungry, everything is decided by our brains.
Dieting is a multi-billion dollar industry, and companies are spending millions for ads promoting their product or diet programs. Some nutritionists are suggesting time-restrictive diets while others offer mindful eating. Since people are suffering while on a diet, many are wondering if they are really effective.
Yes, diets are effective in the short run. If you want to lose wait for the summer, you can do it by extreme dieting. But there is a likely danger that you will add more weight than you have now as soon as you break it. In the long run, you are either doomed to diet your entire life (and suffer, obviously) or devise a program that will help you lose weight (albeit slowly) and preserve it without suffering.
Neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt claims that diets don’t work because our brains are wired to gain our weight back. We can break this vicious cycle, she argues, if we eat only when we are too hungry. Over time, we will preserve our weight, our craving for high-calorie food will stop and our brain’s struggle to bring back our weight will be reset. It is perhaps the most promising program to solve our problem with life-long dieting.
Our brain is responsible for keeping our bodies healthy. We gain weight because our brains are basically perfect saving machines. If it realizes that we don’t take food (because we are on a diet), it orders the body to go into a fat-storing mode. Our metabolism (the process that ultimately burns our calories) slows down and most of what we eat is stored as fats for “rainy days.” Just imagine that there is huge snowstorm warning and you are stocking food at home since you may not be able to leave home for days. It is the same logic.
During initial weeks of a diet, you will most likely realize that you are not losing weight (or losing only 2 or 3 pounds). It is because the brain went into the fat-storing mode. If you insist on keeping up the diet, the brain will eventually give up and will order the body to burn stored fat.
Our brain is ultimately deciding how much energy we need and allocates it wisely. If we start exercising 10 minutes a day (hence burning 200 more calories a day) and stop exercising after 30 days, our brain will be programmed to burn 200 calories every day regardless if we exercise or not. Because we will fool our brain that our body needs to burn 200 additional calories every day. This will continue until our brain realizes that we don’t need to burn additional 200 calories.
No matter what we do to lose weight, it is always better to learn how our body works. It will help us figure out what is the best way lose weight.