Why Dieting Alone Simply Doesn’t Work
Have you found that what seems like endless days of dieting slowly yield fewer and fewer incremental pounds lost? Today, we will discuss why obese patients who try to embark on dietary restriction alone have difficulty maintaining their weight loss progress and often end up regaining their weight.
Restricting your caloric intake is the fastest way to lose weight, certainly at the beginning of your dietary program. Avoiding ingesting calories in the first place is far easier than burning them off later, either through exercise or resting metabolic activity. However, the human body is incredibly adaptable and will make changes to compensate for this reduced caloric intake. The body, which has considered your higher weight as normal for years, will work hard to maintain what it wrongly believes to be an equilibrium. We now know that the body develops a sort of set point. It will adjust the metabolism and how it stores fat to maintain that setpoint. Dieting alone is often insufficient to break through and continue losing weight long-term.
Further, as we lose weight, our bodies require fewer calories. This means that you may need to consistently readjust your caloric intake during the weight loss process.
Enter Our Good Friend, Exercise
Exercise is an amazing and essential partner to any diet and weight loss program. Cardiovascular exercise works out the heart to keep it in great shape, but strength training allows us to build all-important muscle that enables us to burn more calories, even at rest. Much like our diets, however, how and when we exercise also makes a difference in the effectiveness of this routine. Exercising too much or too little can both be detrimental, but even doing the same exercises on the same parts of the body day in and day out can slow down our muscle development and caloric burn. Once again, we may hit a plateau that ends in frustration and ultimately quitting the program.
Does Bariatric Surgery Make Sense?
Bariatric surgery may be an option for patients who have had difficulty losing weight with diet and exercise alone or who have not seen long-term results even with weight loss medications. Indeed, bariatric surgery works not only to restrict the amount of food that patients can eat but, in many cases, like the duodenal switch or gastric bypass, to limit the number of calories absorbed by the sensitive lining of the small intestine. Further, some bariatric procedures like the duodenal switch and gastric sleeve remove a production center of the hunger hormone known as ghrelin which assists patients in eating less and losing weight over the course of the first few years after surgery.
The X Factor
Beyond what you read in the medical literature, there is an X Factor to the bariatric surgery process that is hard to put a finger on. For one, most bariatric patients have come to a realization: They want and need to change. They may or may not have hit rock bottom, but that is secondary to the fact that they have set their sights on a new and improved lifestyle, knowing that surgery can help them get there. They have also finally, maybe for the first time in their lives, admitted that they need help from someone else to lose weight and get back to a healthy state, primarily for themselves but also for those around them. This takes a lot of courage; it requires setting aside ego, and that does not come easily.
But bariatric surgery most certainly is not for everyone, and there are plenty of medical weight loss programs available to patients who need them, including the one here at MASJAX. However, bariatric surgery is the only proven long-term solution to obesity that we currently have. Patients can explore whether this option might be right for them by watching our online seminar or attending an in-person seminar at our offices.