Having trouble losing weight? Health experts answer the top weight loss questions, including how many calories to eat, how to avoid regaining lost weight, and how to beat the weight loss plateau.
Q. Why is it harder to lose weight each time you gain it back?
A. "Because no matter how you drop pounds -- whether it's through dieting, exercise, or a combination of both -- you will inevitably lose some muscle, and that slows down your basal metabolic rate," explains Jackie Newgent, R.D., a New York City based nutrition consultant. Strength training with weights throughout your weight loss period can help preserve a lot but not necessarily all of it. "Then, when you regain the weight, you'll most likely put on more fat than muscle, which reduces your percentage of lean body mass, leaving you with a slower metabolism than you had prior to the weight loss."
It's the well studied yo yo effect, and the only solution is to maintain your new weight with as much determination and diligence as it took to drop the pounds in the first place. In fact, some experts now contend that keeping your weight consistent -- even if you're carrying around a few extra pounds -- may be more important to preserving your long term health than slimming down. Chronic yo yo dieting throughout your life can cause damage to your heart.