How to Avoid Post Diet Weight Gain

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Fat loss is hard enough, but keeping it off can be even harder.

Take notice of some of your friends that have gone on diets over the years or who have experienced some significant weight loss.  Research says that as many as 80% of them are going to gain all of the weight back within one year.

Before you go blaming will power motivation, self control, that’s not always the case for this sort of weight gain.  According to a new study by the New England journal of Medicine, hormones related to hunger are disrupted by extreme dieting and weight loss and can remain at these altered levels for at least a year. [1]

Some can even argue maintaining fat loss is harder than losing it.

In this article I’m going to discuss why this happens and give you a few tips about how to avoid it.

What happens to your body when you diet

As I mentioned earlier, about 80% of the people that experience fat loss will regain it within a year.  Out of the people that don’t rebound, a large percentage of them still will within the next few years.

When you first start a diet, your metabolism has an adjustment period where it has to work extra hard to function off of dramatically fewer calories than it was used to consuming previously.

This new caloric deficit becomes the normal for your body so it has to resort to using tissues from your diet for energy, and this is where the fat loss effect comes from.  Eventually, when your body adapts, it becomes more efficient so that you don’t break your tissues down to nothing.  [1]

Calorie Compensation and Weight Regain

One of the main issues with weightloss is a concept known as adaptive thermogenesis.  This relates to what I mentioned before about your body getting used to its new baseline calories and learns how to function at that level.

What most people don’t understand is that your body changes go deeper than those you can see coming off your belly or your jawline. When people come off of an extreme diet and then start eating at the same level as before, the effects are even worse because now that your body has adapted to a new diet, it can’t keep up with all of the additional calories you’re giving it!


Assume you have been eating a diet of around 1800 calories a day to lose fat.  You see some great success with it after about two months and decide now you are going to stop restricting yourself and start trying to put some muscle mass on your now lean physique.

You start eating around 2400 calories, a day.  Your body is going to be shocked and isn’t going to know how to adapt to all of these calories so quickly.  The result, its going to store them away somewhere to use for late.  Where is it most likely going to go? Your belly, your chest, your face, your fat storage areas.

Increased caloric intake is of course necessary after a diet, but it must be done in a way that is closely controlled and reduces the effect of excessive weight gain.

Steps to a successful Diet

Before I tell you how to deal with and avoid post diet regain altogether we have to make sure that we diet in a way that we never really have the desire to stop dieting.

Unfortunately most people don’t want to go out of their way to transition into a healthy eating lifestyle.  Its not so difficult if you think about it.  You don’t have to eat chicken and rice every night unless you enjoy doing that, but you cant eat an entire roll of Oreos when you get home from work, you know?

Most people view dieting like so:

1. Huge calorie restriction

2. Restricting the foods you love

3. Never giving yourself a break

Those are the three biggest diet pit falls.

A true diet is sustainable.  Is something you can do for a long period of time and at the end of the day, makes you feel as if you aren’t missing out.

When people restrict their calories and the foods they love, what happens when you do decide to indulge?  Do you stray from your diet entirely and binge? Do you feel a strong sense of guilt that throws you off your healthy diet forever?

I suggest rather than eliminating or restricting, you enjoy in moderation, or choose lower calorie versions of your favorite foods.

Is a flourless chocolate cake better than a regular one?  Maybe not, but it beats never having chocolate cake for the rest of your life right?

Taking a controlled break from your diet will actually be good for you.  It gives you a mental break, keeps you motivated, and it will actually give your metabolism a break from the restriction.

Maintenance after dieting

This is arguably the most important phase of your physique transformation journey.

Maintenance phase is simply the transition between a caloric restriction, to eating more calories on a regular basis.

To do this properly, all you would do is increase your caloric intake from your diet about 20% every 2 weeks.

This gets your body used to the new influx of calories and is one of the number 1 things you can do to prevent any post diet regain.

One of the other things you can do to make sure your successful with your maintanence phase, is to monitor your progress every single day.  Preferably In the morning before you eat or drink and after you go to the bathroom.

By doing this you will be able to monitor your progress and see how your body responds to certain foods and eating patterns.

To evaluate how you are doing, if your weight is going up at a steady pace of 1 pound per week, consider sticking with that as you will be much more likely to be gaining more muscle than fat.  Anything more than that should signal a reduction of your calories.

Avoid post diet weight regain

Dieting is never easy in the beginning.  Keeping the weight off is never easy.  Now you understand, what causes post diet regain, and are armed with the knowledge to keep it off permanently.

Instead of jumping into a bulking phase or all out binge, slowly raise your calories during a maintenance phase for a few weeks before trying to put on any muscle.

If you want more information about fat loss, I recommend downloading my infographic I call the 5 secrets of fat loss a 1 page cheatsheet where I cut out all of the nonsense surrounding fat loss.  Ill give you 5 steps you can take today to save you months of trial and error.

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Rosenbaum, M., & Leibel, R. L. (2010). Adaptive thermogenesis in humans. International Journal of Obesity, 34, S47-S55.



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