Do you know your Keto from your Paleo? Or your Dubrow from your Pegan? If the answer is yes, then you’re very likely to be on a weight loss journey or identify with general wellness, or perhaps you’re one of the lucky few or have been in such a battle, and have come out victorious, with quite a few kilos lost to show for it, perhaps a few times in your life, as it seems that many of us who do lose weight, only put it back on within a few months, and we start the battle once more. So why do we put on more weight than we perhaps should in the first place? And have scientists discovered the golden key to the weight mystery?
Obesity Is A Global Health Crisis
Obesity is “one of the most important public health problems facing the world today” according to the World Health Organization. With staggering figures of over 2 billion people being overweight worldwide and over 650 million of those being obese1, it’s only natural that the weight loss and weight management market size was valued at $192.2 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $295.3 billion by 2027. In addition, millions of dollars are being spent on funding scientific research on weight management, causes of obesity, and how to tackle it.
Factoring In All The True Aspects That Influence Weight Gain
Taking these figures into consideration means that 1 in 3 of us is overweight, and 1 in 11 of us is obese, so most of us have most likely tried to lose weight at some point, with the lucky few having kept this weight off, but sadly, scientific research involving analysis of long-term weight loss studies identified more than half of the lost weight to be regained within 2 years, and nearly 80% of the lost weight to be regained in 5 years! So, it is worth gaining a thorough understanding of why so many of us gain weight in the first place, as well as what leads to regaining this weight. Is it genetic? Is it biological? Psychological? Environmental? Are some of us just meant to be overweight, and no matter what we do, are we always going to bounce back to those figures in red? If that is the case, then just what is the point of depriving ourselves for a few months? Well, don’t despair! Scientists are spending thousands of hours and millions of dollars trying to find out the answers to all those questions.
Can a Diet Purely Geared For Weight Loss Potentially Hinder Our Health?
But the main principles which lie at the heart of those diets are not many; those are mainly counting calories of food consumed and sticking to a certain ‘magical’ figure, protein-based diets where carbohydrates are omitted or drastically reduced, and intermittent fasting. Such diets have proven successful in weight loss, but not without controversy, mainly due to those diets excluding major foods considered necessary for good health or causing such drastic and fast weight loss where vital organs are adversely affected, such as kidney function. But the main common denominator between them is that the weight lost for many is usually regained.
Biologically, our body burns calories based on our weight, so the less we weigh, the less energy our body uses, which mostly accounts for the rapid weight loss experienced at the beginning of a weight-loss regimen, followed by a plateau, which is when psychology and biology play an important role in subsequent weight regain. Apart from inspiration, how much physical activity we take part in, needs to be taken into consideration when deciding on how many calories we should be consuming to continue our weight loss journey. This apart from taking into account the necessity of curbing the increased appetite achieved by losing weight, which usually works against any motivation to maintain the regimen, as one feels that their willpower is being constantly tested and weakened.
The Underlying Links Between Genetics and Weight Gain
Genetically, studies have shown that there is a link between certain genes and weight gain as well as regain, as some genes are responsible for our metabolism, appetite, and other genetic factors which are linked to weight. The contribution of heredity towards development of obesity lies anywhere between 40-80%. Males and females appear to be affected differently by the presence of those genes when it comes to weight loss, weight maintenance and weight regain, and hormones appear to have a marked impact on how those genes affect us.
In fact, menopause impacts the way the body reacts to those genes, as there is evidence that estrogen can regulate certain genetic markers involved in weight regain6. Studies like the Diabetes Prevention Program and the Look AHEAD trials have identified carriers of certain genetic variants to experience greater weight loss with lifestyle intervention (fat gram, calorie, and physical activity goals) over a period of 4 years. These studies indicate the possibility to use genetics to our advantage when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off for good, so hurrah for science!
Unfortunately No Magic Pill For Optimal Weight Loss
So, the reality is that unfortunately there is no magic formula to losing weight and maintaining it happily, as there are many factors at play that we need to consider to achieve and maintain our desired weight. It is essential to know your genes, and metabolism, and further consult a professional or nutritionist before embarking on a new health regimen, as we are all unique, and therefore, there is no one-size fits all formula that can help us all in the same way. A varied and healthy diet, as well as regular exercise, are essential for everyone, but a greater understanding of our uniqueness physically, biologically, and genetically is essential to help us achieve a healthy weight that can ensure our health and well–being on a long-term basis.