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Does dieting lead to greater weight gain in the long term

sofrancessofrances Member, Premium Posts: 120 Member Member, Premium Posts: 120 Member
I'm not advocating this view, but its one you often hear in the media: that "diets don't work" and in the long term cause you to gain more weight than if you never went on the diet in the first place. Is this just "fat logic", or is there something to it?
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Replies

  • AndreaTamiraAndreaTamira Member, Premium Posts: 49 Member Member, Premium Posts: 49 Member
    Well, maintaining is hard. If nothing else than because at some point you stop counting every calorie you eat and then things nay sneak in again.

    From my personal experience, though, while I gained back weight after my last weight loss I never gained back as much as I originally lost (112 kg down to 70 something, slowly back up to low 90s then maintained that for a while before deciding to give weight loss another try.) That I did not continue to gain more was due to the first round of weight loss helping me to learn at least SOME good habits.

    I dont think my experience of "partial gain back" is that unusual either. And I DO know people who just kept their weight off, too.

  • freda78freda78 Member Posts: 172 Member Member Posts: 172 Member
    To lose weight when you have a lot to lose, and I was 20 stone at the start, you have to diet. Don't see there is any other way when you are as huge as I was.

    I am no longer obese and am DETERMINED never to get that big again but am still over-weight, with a stone and a half to go to get my BMI in to "normal".

    But yes, in the past I lost weight as I have always been fat, right from childhood, but it was always for an event and after the event I just let it drop again. This time it is because I want to be fitter, I want to buy clothes from the normal store and I, frankly, do not want to die before my time.

    So that is why I think this time, although I never got as fat as I was a year ago before, I will keep it off. Each time I drop below another stone I am determined I will never go above that level again. NEVER.

    But I am realistic and know I am never going to be thin, I might never even get to the middle of the normal weight band for my height, but during the last year I have made a huge effort to understand calories and understand how many I can eat. This is why I think calorie counting is the way to go to keep the weight off and why I think WW and diet plans that give you "free foods" are the spawn of the devil as they avoid teaching you the very lesson that needs to be learned.

    So will I keep the weight off? I hope so..... I really do hope so..... As being obese is not fun.
    edited September 8
  • Diatonic12Diatonic12 Member Posts: 6,363 Member Member Posts: 6,363 Member
    Rebound weight gain with friends.

    It begins and ends in the head. The appetite control center is located in the brain and not the stomach. Removing most of a stomach won't fix the appetite control center. With dieting or WLS you can still eat it all back.

    Between another brand new diet and New Year's optimism is I can't fool myself realism. Between gung-ho and ho-hum is building the ability to get fit under real life conditions. You will have to or you'll keep starting over and over and over again.

    Life happens. To all of us.
    Throw that massive rationalization and excuse out with the bathwater.

    There's no such thing as the right time to begin. You're going to have to rid yourself of the sedimentary ;) lifestyle. Sitting on the couch at the speed of zero will turn you into granite. Like a rock.

    Constant stops and starts only builds the skill of pausing. Your brain doesn't care what you do. The brain doesn't care if you want to live with hitting the pause button mentality for the rest of your life. It will ruin your health and fitness goals. Your dream weight will remain that elusive butterfly, always out of reach.

    It's not about willpower or motivation. It's about skills and tools. MFP is a tool. Use it. Start tracking your data points. Stop reading dieting dogma. It will only lead to more dieting mind warp. How you speak to yourself matters.

    Learn how to talk to yourself during the inevitable rough patches. Don't depend on others around you to constantly prop you UP. It's exhausting for them. Take full responsibility for yourself. Constant stops and starts,always going on another break because after all, Life Happens....will result in short term success followed by long term frustration and eventually just giving up.

    The brain will encourage you to quit faster than a rattlesnake can bite you.
  • threewinsthreewins Member Posts: 625 Member Member Posts: 625 Member
    The average weight loss for people who join up to places like here is zero, so that means yes, some will gain in the next year but if the average is zero roughly an equivalent number will lose weight.
  • sal10851sal10851 Member Posts: 62 Member Member Posts: 62 Member
    Over consumption of energy with no energy expenditure causes weight gain. No matter what you eat, low carb, high carb, fat carb, low fat, high fat, green, lean or in between. If you eat to much of it you gain weight. Diets don't work because they don't change your eating habits and when you leave that diet you gain the weight back. You can eat perfectly healthy balanced meals but if you eat more than what your body requires for energy you gain weight. The trick is to eat low calorie dense foods to fill you up and help with hunger. They are called fruits and vegetables. They are varied in color and they grow trees and some even come from the ground! It's those things they put between the burgers and some are used for toppings on pizza. If you eat way more of those things you feel fuller for longer and does not leave too much space for pizza and burgers. When you lower the amount of energy you consume you will use your excessive energy and you will lose weight. Once that happens most people think that it's over and go straight back to the pizza, burgers, and beers. It's ok to eat those things in moderation. Unfortunately moderation has been lost in our society.
  • sijomialsijomial Member Posts: 16,956 Member Member Posts: 16,956 Member
    I'll agree with the statement that "diets don't work"...assuming that the "diets" that are being referred to are temporary, restrictive, regimented ways of eating that are not sustainable in the long term.

    I think that many people who try these kinds of "diets" do lose weight, but are so miserable that they eventually revert to their old way of eating. When they see the scale start to go back up, they just say, well *kitten* it, I guess I can't lose weight...and they give up. At least that's been what I've seen from friends and family.

    I lost weight and have maintained it by making permanent changes to the way I eat and exercise. It's not always easy, but it's sustainable for the rest of my life.

    Purely to illustrate why general statements as in the OP are of no real use to an individual my experience was just about the diametric opposite to what your experience and yet we have both been successful.

    I'll agree with the statement that "diets don't work"...assuming that the "diets" that are being referred to are temporary, restrictive, regimented ways of eating that are not sustainable in the long term.
    I went on a temporary restrictive diet (at a sensible rate of loss). It was intended to be sustainable for a limited time period only.

    I think that many people who try these kinds of "diets" do lose weight, but are so miserable that they eventually revert to their old way of eating. When they see the scale start to go back up, they just say, well *kitten* it, I guess I can't lose weight...and they give up. At least that's been what I've seen from friends and family.
    I picked my method of weight loss to be as least miserable as possible.
    When I see the scale go up I take action to head off the trend continuing to rise.
    I know I can lose weight.
    Yes I've also seen many people lose weight and regain it again, maybe they simply don't care enough to remain vigilant?


    I lost weight and have maintained it by making permanent changes to the way I eat and exercise. It's not always easy, but it's sustainable for the rest of my life.
    I lost weight and have maintained that weight loss for over 7 years and didn't need to make any permanent changes to my diet, it just had to be made smaller for a while. I eat the same foods now as I ate before I lost weight. The overall size of my diet is larger than before though as my CO is higher than it used to be. See no reason why what I do can't be sustainable for life as my diet has coped with many changes in the last few years - positive and negative.
  • sijomialsijomial Member Posts: 16,956 Member Member Posts: 16,956 Member
    It's interesting to hear other people's stories...no one has the same experience or the same path to long-term success.

    Total agreement from me.

    It's where articles suggesting one path or one outcome for everybody fail badly.
    "Diets don't work" really should be "there are potential pitfalls to xxxx" but that doesn't make a snappy headline.
  • chocolate_owlchocolate_owl Member Posts: 1,479 Member Member Posts: 1,479 Member
    A quick Google search tells you 80% of the people who have lost weight regain that amount or more; that comes from a 2005 study that estimated 20% of people who lose 10% or more of their body weight successfully keep it off: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/82/1/222S/4863393

    From this 2018 study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5764193/ ):
    Substantial weight loss is possible across a range of treatment modalities, but long-term sustenance of lost weight is much more challenging, and weight regain is typical. In a meta-analysis of 29 long-term weight loss studies, more than half of the lost weight was regained within two years, and by five years more than 80% of lost weight was regained. Indeed, previous failed attempts at achieving durable weight loss may have contributed to the recent decrease in the percentage of people with obesity who are trying to lose weight and many now believe that weight loss is a futile endeavor.
    To sum up: on average, people aren't gaining MORE weight in a 5 year period (though it's possible they do over a longer period), but they aren't succeeding with maintenance either.

    Hall, the author of the 2018 study, also wrote the (in)famous Biggest Loser study in 2016 claiming that the contestants (morbidly obese people who lost weight rapidly) underwent significant lowering of RMR that lasted 6 years after their weight loss. He also published a study of type 2 diabetics in 2016 claiming this:
    It was discovered that weight loss leads to a proportional increase in appetite resulting in eating above baseline by ∼100 kcal/day per kilogram of lost weight—an amount more than threefold larger than the corresponding energy expenditure adaptations.
    Biggest Loser: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.21538
    Appetite Increase: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.21653

    I don't take the things Hall writes as Great Truths by any means. He seems to have an agenda in his research, and his methodology is hardly perfect, but I do think there is something to the idea that maintenance is about more than enacting your "lifestyle change" habits. There's enough anecdotal evidence on these forums that many people are HUNGRY in their first year or so of maintenance. I know I was, and I ended up giving up on having that bikini-model body and let myself set a slightly higher maintenance range so I'd stop being a hangry witch. (I'm here at my highest weight ever losing again, but it's not the "diet," it was not coping well with suddenly having chronic pain and not being able to exercise.)

    Education and expectations certainly play a factor. My husband lost 110 lbs on a crazy restrictive diet once upon a time, gained 45 lbs back, and has maintained that weight for a few years. My SIL has lost over 100 lbs before and gained more than that back; she finally did WLS at the beginning of this year because she didn't feel she could lose and maintain weight loss any other way. My mom has been yo-yoing for the past 10 years, but the overall trend is upwards. None of them are very knowledgeable about sustainable weight loss and the kind of work maintenance requires.

    I believe that losing weight and maintaining it is a very doable thing - I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe that. But I also think it's much, much harder than those women's magazines with before and after photos ever tell you. I think the vast majority of people lack education, expect it to be a much easier process than it is, aren't prepared to deal with the mental barriers, the social pressures, the constant vigilance, the effects on appetite, and (in some cases) the amount of exercise needed to maintain that weight long enough for it to become a more natural process.
    edited September 9
  • NovusDiesNovusDies Member, Premium Posts: 8,320 Member Member, Premium Posts: 8,320 Member
    I don't believe that success indicates that one path to a calorie deficit is inherently better than a road not taken. I believe we are all dealing in "good enough". I would imagine there are 10 different ways I might have sustainably lost my weight. No doubt one of them might have even been easier than the path I chose. It is also possible that if you subtract or add 3 or more years to when I started that the earlier or later version of me might not be able to do it the exact same way I have. I caution people about this on a regular basis. Never assume because you lost a bunch of weight before that you know what this version of you needs to do it now.

    One of the safer suggestions is to lose using the habits you believe you will want to continue into the future. This is especially true for a person like myself that has lost weight for 2.5 years. A lot of life has happened in the time I have been losing and at each turn, good or bad, I just make my decisions like I believe I will for a long time.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 16,474 Member Member, Premium Posts: 16,474 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    I'll agree with the statement that "diets don't work"...assuming that the "diets" that are being referred to are temporary, restrictive, regimented ways of eating that are not sustainable in the long term.

    I think that many people who try these kinds of "diets" do lose weight, but are so miserable that they eventually revert to their old way of eating. When they see the scale start to go back up, they just say, well *kitten* it, I guess I can't lose weight...and they give up. At least that's been what I've seen from friends and family.

    I lost weight and have maintained it by making permanent changes to the way I eat and exercise. It's not always easy, but it's sustainable for the rest of my life.

    Purely to illustrate why general statements as in the OP are of no real use to an individual my experience was just about the diametric opposite to what your experience and yet we have both been successful.

    I'll agree with the statement that "diets don't work"...assuming that the "diets" that are being referred to are temporary, restrictive, regimented ways of eating that are not sustainable in the long term.
    I went on a temporary restrictive diet (at a sensible rate of loss). It was intended to be sustainable for a limited time period only.

    I think that many people who try these kinds of "diets" do lose weight, but are so miserable that they eventually revert to their old way of eating. When they see the scale start to go back up, they just say, well *kitten* it, I guess I can't lose weight...and they give up. At least that's been what I've seen from friends and family.
    I picked my method of weight loss to be as least miserable as possible.
    When I see the scale go up I take action to head off the trend continuing to rise.
    I know I can lose weight.
    Yes I've also seen many people lose weight and regain it again, maybe they simply don't care enough to remain vigilant?


    I lost weight and have maintained it by making permanent changes to the way I eat and exercise. It's not always easy, but it's sustainable for the rest of my life.
    I lost weight and have maintained that weight loss for over 7 years and didn't need to make any permanent changes to my diet, it just had to be made smaller for a while. I eat the same foods now as I ate before I lost weight. The overall size of my diet is larger than before though as my CO is higher than it used to be. See no reason why what I do can't be sustainable for life as my diet has coped with many changes in the last few years - positive and negative.

    Yet I'd still see what you do as finding what you believe will be a lifelong sustainable strategy, involving how you use your maintenance range and dietary adjustments. In practice, you've not treated "a diet" as a one time project that ends, followed by a return to exactly what you did previously (while you were gaining or had gained weight). the thing people think of as "going back to normal" after "a diet".

    Your particular weight-loss approach also involved - as far as I can tell - eating/exercising in generally the way you planned to do in maintenance, but at reduced calories (in your case, IIRC, via some variation on 5:2 IF). While you've changed your activity level, your posts on other threads make me believe that doing so was not driven primarily by desire to earn more calories, but by enjoyment and fitness improvement goals.

    I think what you did was great, used insight into what would be effective and easy for you personally, and all that good stuff.

    Lots of paths can work. I'm a skeptic about that "eat some super special combination of foods and eating schedule and do exercise that won't be continued long term, until goal weight is achieved", then "go back to normal". Many people seem to do that. Does it *never* succeed? Dunno. But it fails pretty often, if one reads the "I'm back" posts here, and looks at the stats.
  • sofrancessofrances Member, Premium Posts: 120 Member Member, Premium Posts: 120 Member
    To me there's a difference between "many people put the weight back on" and "diets cause people to end up at a higher weight than they would have been at if they had never dieted".

    Putting the weight back on means you are no worse off than before, except you probably spent a number if months at a healthier weight. Seems worth the risk. If diets themselves cause long term weight gain for many, that's a riskier proposition.

    Of course, makes no practical difference to me at this point, since I'm below my goal weight and trying to maintain, so I'm not facing a choice of "to diet or not to diet". But its a worrying thought nonetheless.
  • NovusDiesNovusDies Member, Premium Posts: 8,320 Member Member, Premium Posts: 8,320 Member
    sofrances wrote: »
    To me there's a difference between "many people put the weight back on" and "diets cause people to end up at a higher weight than they would have been at if they had never dieted".

    Putting the weight back on means you are no worse off than before, except you probably spent a number if months at a healthier weight. Seems worth the risk. If diets themselves cause long term weight gain for many, that's a riskier proposition.

    Of course, makes no practical difference to me at this point, since I'm below my goal weight and trying to maintain, so I'm not facing a choice of "to diet or not to diet". But its a worrying thought nonetheless.

    I am not sure what the statistic is for people who need to lose 50 pounds, lose 10, and maintain but remain obese. I do know that all the statistics say that getting to a goal and staying there for even 3 years is a very slim minority.

    I would argue that putting the weight back on does make you "worse". I would almost assuredly take a toll on your mental state. It is probably not good for your physical state depending on how many pounds are involved. If you need surgery the first time to remove excess skin it is certainly not a great idea to have to go through it again. I experienced numbness in my right leg as I gained a range of pounds. Once I was higher the numbness went away. When I started losing the numbness returned for a couple of months until I was lower. It does suggest that as body weight comes and goes there are things that shift. Or it could have been purely coincidence since I did not get it checked out but I do not think my theory if far-fetched.

    Since carrying weight is progressively deteriorating taking a "vacation" from your weight for several months to multiple years would likely be positive. Whether it is more positive or more negative at the end would be uniquely individual results.
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