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Hopeful study on metabolic adaption

sofrancessofrances Member, Premium Posts: 120 Member Member, Premium Posts: 120 Member
I have a bad habit of looking at scientific articles on obesity, which usually leaves me feeling very depressed. But I happened upon this recent study that was quite hopeful in some respects, so I thought I would share.

I'm not scientifically or statistically trained, but the upshot appears to be that metabolic adaption is small (~50 calories on average) and goes away within a year or two. Also, the degree of metabolic adaption did not appear to predict the level of weight regain.

To me, that provides some hope that its not a case of battling your body forever - rather, if you can do it for a year or two, it ought to get easier after that.

(I realise that its not very scientific of me to cherry pick a study with a result I like, but I'm not a scientist, so I'll take my hope where I can find it! :) )
edited August 14


  • JthanmyfitnesspalJthanmyfitnesspal Member, Premium Posts: 2,448 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,448 Member
    A quick look at that study shows the difficulty in determining anything about human physiology! Their straight-line fits in Figure 1 A and B demonstrates that the variation between the individuals is much larger than the overall mean trend. This could be due to individual physiology or behavior. I like to think it's behavior, since that is something you can control. This, once you've lost some weight, stay active and keep your TDEE high.
  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 17,948 Member Member Posts: 17,948 Member
    So that is interesting and specific to just the RMR being measured.
    In women of certain age and BMI.
    But good news at least even on extreme diet.

    But not accounting for the TDEE as a whole either.

    Here's another take with variances depending on how the diet was done. This current study actually referenced this one.

    I also see in the conclusions an awful lot of emphasis disproving that this is mechanism for weight regain.
    That's fine, I never thought it was means to get back up to a weight the body wanted, setpoint theory.
    Rather, it's just a side effect that can occur.
    And it could make dieting and maintenance harder for awhile until body has recovered.
  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 17,948 Member Member Posts: 17,948 Member
    NovusDies wrote: »
    That actually holds with much of what I have read. MA is the latest boogeyman but there is really not much to it for most people who are trying to lose weight. The problem would be nailing it down to 50 calories because CI and CO are not as easy to get that precise.

    The other thing that can happen for some people is that when they enter maintenance their TDEE goes up because of the extra calories so some people continue to lose weight (slowly) for a month or two while they get their numbers nailed down better.

    I am usually reassured when I read scientific journals (not that I can follow them completely either) because they almost always reinforce that common sense rules. Eat less and as you can move more. A lot of what the internet hyperbole is about are things that happen but are too insignificant to give alarm. Around these parts we call that "Majoring in the Minors".

    Common sense tells me that if I want to succeed at maintenance I need to be vigilant and have gone through permanent habit and mindset changes. If I think once the weight is gone I am done, I am in HIGH risk of regaining.

    And that common sense used during the diet to adjust as needed to match results, kept up in maintenance.

    Even if someone came out of an extreme diet with some MA - if they used that approach and kept it up in maintenance - they would never gain that much before correcting the issue.
    Logging or not.
  • speyerjspeyerj Member Posts: 898 Member Member Posts: 898 Member
    @sofrances - I've got no scientific study to provide, but my own experience certainly shows that elevated hunger subsides overtime. When I think about how hard it was in the beginning to eat at a 1000 calorie deficit vs how it was 12 months later - it was night and day. I really do believe it gets easier over time. Maybe because we learn what foods we find most satiating and we develop better strategies for helping us stay on track. But I suspect that eating at a deficit for an extended period of time likely changes the way our bodies produce and process the hormones leptin and ghrelin making adherence easier overtime. If anyone knows of a study on that, I'd be interested.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 16,500 Member Member, Premium Posts: 16,500 Member
    Interesting link.

    Like some others, I haven't really seen the point of worrying about MA - what could I do about it, once it's there, so why waste time/energy on worry? Habits are the big deal IMO, both identifying sustainable ones, then grooving them in.

    As far as perceived hunger, there are a lot of variables involved, certainly some hormonal factors but also issues of food choice, habit, pure psychology, other non-food habits (sleep, stress management, whatever). I don't know whether there's a study or studies suggesting that people with more MA have higher cravings/appetite than people who've lost weight but have lower degrees of MA.

    I know that some people in threads here sometimes appear to assume that people with bigger calorie budgets experience less hunger/cravings than people with smaller calorie budgets, regardless of the reason for the bigger budget (body size, exercise, random chance, less MA, etc.). I don't see why higher needs would mean lower appetite, personally: It would make more sense in survival terms if the need and the hunger tracked along together.

    For sure, psychological sense of deprivation (on a smaller budget) could be a factor in compliance. (Some of my weight gain had to do with keeping up with a larger husband out of yummy-food envy, for example. 😆).

    There's not much a person can do about MA, except increase exercise, increase NEAT, and soldier on . . . at least I haven't seen any signs that "metabolism boosters" do anything major, and while there are reverse dieting advocates, I'm not sure what the research says (if anything). Anecdotally, it seems like some people's TDEE is more sensitive to deficit than others, but that's not data.

    Personal experience: After quite a while in maintenance (I'm almost at 5 years), my appetite seems a little bit less pointed than early on, and my maximum enjoyable capacity seems finally to have declined a bit. None of that made the earlier period truly unmanageable for me - though I recognize that I'm an n=1 and others' experience may differ. Food choices, nutrition, and managing the non-food side I mentioned earlier, were all helpful along the way, in my personal perception.
  • sofrancessofrances Member, Premium Posts: 120 Member Member, Premium Posts: 120 Member
    @MadisonMolly2017 I read somewhere that exercise can help regulate sensitivity to sateity signals, so that might explain the 10k steps thing. I'll post the study if I can find it.
  • psychod787psychod787 Member, Premium Posts: 3,626 Member Member, Premium Posts: 3,626 Member
    sofrances wrote: »
    @MadisonMolly2017 I read somewhere that exercise can help regulate sensitivity to sateity signals, so that might explain the 10k steps thing. I'll post the study if I can find it.

    Study you might be referring to.
  • sofrancessofrances Member, Premium Posts: 120 Member Member, Premium Posts: 120 Member
  • MadisonMolly2017MadisonMolly2017 Member Posts: 6,414 Member Member Posts: 6,414 Member
    Thank you @psychod787 ... good one & led to. Whole bunch of other great studies, too!

    How are you doing?
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