I eat smaller and predominantly vegetarian servings since 2.5 years, with less meat and cheese, I avoid refined flour, sugar and fat. I lost weight sharply in the beginning, but started to gradually regain kilograms with time – roughly 1/3 of the lost was returned, and I started to limit my servings keeping the same style of nutrition but still I don’t lose weight. Why is it so and how to lose the regained kilograms? (Zdravka 48y)

Dear Zdravka,

Your problem is quite common in real life and the dietary practice. The nutritional regimen with which you lost weight sounds balanced and healthy, and probably has been in contrast with your previous way of nutrition. That’s why your organism has reacted with “sharp” weight loss. Then, the so called “yo-yo” effect has occurred or a compensatory reaction of the organism to store kilograms. Yo-yo effect is the repeated loss and regaining of body weight, known also as the body weight cycle. When it is a result of a diet, it is called a yo-yo diet. The yo-yo effect may vary from weight losses or raisings with 3-5 kg in a single cycle to big changes, exceeding 25 kg. The faster the weight is reduced, the more pronounced the yo-yo effect will be. If the weight reduction is carried out step by step, the risk of yo-yo effect is lower.

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People following a weight-loss diet know very well that terrible moment when the hopes that the desired aim will be achieved collapse. In the beginning everything is well, the kilograms go away, but at a certain moment a blockage or the so called metabolic plateau occurs. Actually, this effect is expected and there is no reason to lose heart. The organism needs to adapt to the new way of eating and to achieve stability, and at hypothalamic level, where the center for weight regulation is situated, about three months of steady weight are needed by realizing and stabilizing the new value. In the presence of plateau it is necessary to act smart and to approach professionally as corrections are made in the choice of foods and physical activities. The sharp reduction of the total calories usually does not lead to something good. In order the diet to be chosen properly, it is better to make a consultation with a specialist in advance so the organism not to be stressed. Keeping the ideal weight is much more difficult than reaching it.

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Usually, the reduction of the calories from the daily menu with at least 300 more after the regimen is a well-known dietetic trick to maintain the achieved weight. In other words said, people who have followed a diet should consume 22% less calories from those who haven’t in order to keep their weight. This phenomenon may be explained with the effect which the reduced intake of food has upon muscles. The muscles of people on a diet need fewer calories to perform the same work compared to those of the people who don’t follow it. The age also has a significant impact. With aging the muscle mass is reduced together with the slow-down of our metabolism. As a result our body needs fewer calories to maintain our weight.

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If I have to give you a universal diet to achieve ideal weight and to keep it, this would be a diet rich in protein and poor in animal fat and carbohydrates. I recommend white meats, dairy products with reduced fats, fibers and less white bread and white rice which are rich in carbohydrates.

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This nutritional regimen has been proven in the course of time with hundreds of documented medical researches with children and adults with overweight. Of all nutritional regimens, those with foods rich in protein and poor in carbohydrates prove to be the most effective and long lasting. The weight return in them is at an average of 0.74 kg, while in others, for example with less protein and more fat – at an average of 1.67 kg.

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