How to maintain your weight after losing weight


Due to the yoyo effect, we often quickly put on weight again after a successful weight loss. Here you will learn the causes and what helps against them.

What is the yoyo effect?
Most of us are probably familiar with this: no sooner are we happy to have finally lost a few excess kilos than a few weeks later we suddenly find ourselves almost back at our original weight. This is due to the so-called yo-yo effect, which means that after a diet we often return to our original body weight or even weigh more than before.

Why does the yoyo effect occur?
Originally, the yoyo effect was a practical protective mechanism of the body. In earlier ages, when there was not enough food, the body would draw the energy it needed from the body's reserves and shut down the metabolism. As soon as the famine was over and there was enough food again, the body replenished the reserves. It has thus to this day quasi even the goal of getting back to the initial weight. In the meantime, the yo-yo effect is mainly fueled by short-term diets, in which people fall significantly below their basal metabolic rate in calories before returning to their usual (and often unhealthy) way of life.

What is the basal metabolic rate anyway?
Basal Metabolic Rate and Total Metabolic Rate help us determine how many calories we should generally consume each day:

Basal Metabolic Rate: also called resting energy requirement. It indicates how much energy your body uses each day at rest to maintain its vital functions. It is determined by factors such as gender, age, and weight, but is ultimately individual to each person.
Total metabolic rate: The total metabolic rate is also referred to as calorie requirement and is made up of the basal metabolic rate and the so-called performance metabolic rate. This is the amount of energy that is burned through daily exercise.

Tips against the yoyo effect
Since, as mentioned, the body is designed to replenish reserves after a "famine", it is not always possible to completely avoid the yo-yo effect. With a few tips, however, it can at least be significantly reduced:

1. pay attention to calorie requirements
For lasting weight loss without the yo-yo effect, it is important to maintain a daily calorie deficit that should lie between the basal metabolic rate and the total metabolic rate. Expert: inside recommend to end up about 300 to 500 calories below the total metabolic rate. Please never eat fewer calories than your basal metabolic rate suggests - this will only shut down your metabolism and cause cravings to set in.

2. find the right diet
Much better than a short-term diet is a long-term dietary change, where you still give your body all the nutrients it needs. This way you avoid not only the yo-yo effect but also ravenous appetite, which is known to quickly shake motivation. A varied and balanced diet includes, for example:

  • Complex carbohydrates (for example, in potatoes, beans, quinoa, and whole-grain products).
  • protein (for example, in eggs, poultry, fish, legumes, and dairy products)
  • healthy fats (for example, in avocado, oils such as canola oil or olive oil, or walnuts)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • plenty of water (preferably at least two liters a day)
  • Make sure that you eat enough protein. 

The effect: proteins are the motor for your muscles, which in turn help to burn fat. In addition, protein keeps you full longer than carbohydrates.

Extra tip: It's best to cook your own meals - that way you always know what's in your food. Need any ideas for recipes? You'll find plenty of healthy recipes that are quick to make and delicious here!

  • If you can, cut out stimulants like alcohol, fast food, and sweets completely from your diet. 
  • If you don't want to give them up completely, that's perfectly fine - as in so many things, it's the amount that makes the poison. 
  • Allow yourself a piece of chocolate or a handful of chips every day, if you are otherwise consistent. This will help you avoid cravings and make it easier to stay on the ball.

3. do not neglect sports
Diet and sports go hand in hand for long-term weight loss without the yo-yo effect. That's why many people work out several times a week in the gym to lose weight. But if you stop exercising overnight, you can fuel the yo-yo effect simply by reducing calorie consumption. Of course, it's best to stick with it and continue to work out two or three times a week. If you want to do less, do not stop the sport abruptly, but reduce your units slowly and adapt the amount to your diet.

4. create islands of rest
While short-term stress can drive us to peak performance, it tends to have negative health consequences in the long run. Obesity can be one of them, plus there are many people who turn to sweets or salty snacks when stressed. This also promotes the yo-yo effect. That's why it's important to create space for relaxation in your everyday life: Take some time every day to do what feels good to you. For some people, this means relaxed reading in the bathtub, for others a walk through the woods. Relaxation exercises such as meditation or yoga also help to reduce stress.

5. sleep enough
The body needs enough sleep so that we can get through the day fit and full of energy. But there are also good reasons why we should avoid sleep deprivation when losing weight and maintaining our desired weight:
  • When we don't sleep enough, the body releases more of the hormone ghrelin. And this not only stimulates appetite but also blocks fat loss.
  • In 2019, a study published in the "Journal of Neuroscience" proved a connection between lack of sleep and the reward center in the brain. According to the study, people who don't sleep enough are more likely to reach for sweets or fatty foods like fast food.
  • Too little sleep leads to fatigue during the day and, as a result, less exercise in many cases, which in turn reduces calorie needs.
  • Most people need about seven to eight hours of sleep per night, but in general, the need for sleep varies from person to person.

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