It’s a conundrum most people face: You’ve started exercising regularly and overhauled your diet. After a few months, you finally reach your weight loss goals, whether you're down 10, 20, or 30 pounds. But slowly, the number on the scale starts to creep back up, and you end up right back where you started. What's going on?
The truth is that your body quite literally fights against losing weight, explains Bruce Y. Lee, M.D., executive director for the Global Obesity Prevention Center at John Hopkins University. That’s because when you start dropping pounds, your body perceives it as a threat to your survival. In order to “protect you,” it slows your metabolism down to fight the weight loss, he explains.
It goes way back to our caveman days, when food was more scarce, says Wendy Scinta, M.D., president of the Obesity Medicine Association. The part of your brain that controls your appetite has been around for a very long time, while obesity, in comparison, is a new epidemic that our bodies haven’t evolved to fight just yet.
Research suggests that losing weight, especially very quickly, can easily lead to weigh re-gain, says Dr. Lee. “If you rapidly lose weight, you can rapidly gain that weight back,” he adds.
The good news is, there are some things you can do to combat the vicious cycle. Here are six reasons why the pounds are piling back on–and what you can do to get back on track right now.