Embarking on a weight loss program needs long-term commitment and persistence. Many dieters have experienced the yo-yo effect of good initial results in losing weight, after which the weight loss stopped, and gradually the weight was gained back. Often dieters blame themselves for their lack of success or are criticized for a lack of self-control.
The “plateau effect” has been discussed and documented before, and now an Australian study has found that “it is not just you”. After initial success and weight loss the human body is designed to strongly resist attempts to lose weight. Dr. Neil King from Queensland University of Technology does research on appetite regulation and energy balance. He conducted studies on groups of people who were overweight and obese people. He found that weight loss from exercise and calorie restriction stops at a certain point, and this plateau remains firmly in place for a prolonged time, despite continuing dieting and exercise.
In the first study 30 obese men and women from Britain took part in a 12-week, laboratory based exercise program in which they exercised five times a week. The second study observed the weight loss in 200 Australian men who were enrolled in a commercial weight loss program, which involved both an exercise program and dietary advice. Although both groups followed different plans, their weight loss still plateaued. The first group averaged a loss of 3 kg during the first 8 weeks, and weight loss in the next 4 weeks was markedly reduced (0.7 kg). The second group had a variable pattern of weight loss, but it, too, showed a plateau.
Researchers believe that the human body is designed to cope with famine. As a result there is a built-in mechanism responsible for weight loss resistance. It may be a source of frustration to people on a weight loss program in a society where there are no food shortages, but it is meant to be a lifesaver in times when there was a shortage of food.
For the person who wants to lose weight it involves taking a closer look at the caloric output. Longer exercise times, higher intensity or cross training can combat the plateau effect, but patience is also needed along with the determination to carry on with the program.
More information about weight loss: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/weight-loss-and-diet/
Reference: The Medical Post, October 10, 2006, page 19
Last edited November 1, 2014