If you believe preventing weight gain means eating less and exercising more, you’re not the only one. Hundreds of millions of people have tried this method for decades, and where has it gotten them? Sorrow. Guilt. Shame.Frustration. And weight gain.
That’s right. Cutting calories not only causes most people to regain the weight but to also gain an extra few pounds. They end up heavier than when they started! And if you’ve ever lost weight on a traditional diet and kept the pounds off for more than a few years, you’re one of the lucky few. Research shows 97% of dieters regain everything they lost within 3 years — plus several more pounds.
Doctors and weight loss “gurus” and nutritionists know these statistics or similar ones, and yet they push the same old solution for preventing weight gain. Just cut calories, they’ll tell you. Be more active. You’ve got this!
But no, you don’t. And you never have. You’ve struggled with your weight for years or decades. You’ve tried every new diet as soon as you heard about it. The Grapefruit Diet. The Cabbage Soup Diet. Weight Watchers. Nutrisystem. You approached every new diet with enthusiasm. This time will be different, you told yourself. This time it will work.
Preventing Weight Gain Never Worked
But it didn’t work. You were hungry and miserable during every diet. But you stayed with it because the weight just seemed to melt off at first. But within a few weeks, it slowed down to almost nothing.
Though you felt as if you were starving yourself, the scale never reflected your struggle. You were lucky if it showed a quarter of a pound weight loss in a week. You couldn’t believe it. Didn’t the experts say a calorie deficit of a certain number of calories per week would yield a certain number of pounds lost? Apparently, they forgot to tell your body that “fact” of weight loss.
Nevertheless, you kept trying — only to end up with the same results time after time. You have become a desperate yo-yo dieter who doesn’t know what to do. You know that being overweight or obese increases your risk for many serious health problems and diseases. You’ve read these statistics too many times.
Preventing Weight Gain is Important for Health!
More than 70% of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese, according to the Centers forDisease Control and this increases their risk for many terrible health problems.
In fact, obesity is the contributing factor for a majority of health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Actually, obesity and type 2 diabetes are interrelated. Approximately 90% of those who are obese will develop type 2 diabetes and approximately 90% of diabetics are obese. You’ll rarely find one without the other, which is why the terms “diabesity” has been created to show the symbiosis between these two conditions.
Both obesity and type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health problems. Here are a few of the health risks for each of them.
Health Risks Linked to Obesity
- Some Cancers
- Fatty Liver Disease
- Gallbladder Disease
- Sleep Apnea
- Heart Disease
- Abnormal cholesterol/triglyceride levels
Health Risks Linked to Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
- Abnormal cholesterol/triglyceride levels
- Heart Disease
- Neuropathy (Nerve Damage)
- Eye Disease (Retinopathy, Cataracts, Glaucoma)
- Gallbladder Disease
- Gum Disease
The good news is that these health problems do not have to occur. Preventing weight gain long term is very possible, and it’s not as difficult as what you have been led to believe.
Preventing Weight Gain is not about Eating Less and Exercising More to Create a Calorie Deficit!
The even BETTER news is that preventing weight gain does not involve eating less and exercising more. The old calorie-deficit mantra of weight loss that almost everybody has been following for the past few decades is not only wrong, it is also harmful to the body and to the goal of long-term weight loss.
The calorie-deficit theory of weight loss assumes the body actually counts every last calorie, treating each calorie the same no matter from which food it comes. Nothing could be further from the truth! Your body metabolizes calories from each of the macronutrients — carbohydrates and dietary fiber, fat, and protein — differently.
For instance, your body easily digests and stores carbohydrates as fat, but it cannot store fiber as fat. Your body burns more calories to digest protein than any other macronutrient, and protein is almost impossible for the body to store as fat. As you can see, a calorie is not the same as any other calorie.
Rather than being like a scale — where calories in equals calories out — the body is like a thermostat. It regulates your calorie intake and output around your setpoint weight, that range of 10-15 pounds that your body thinks you should weigh based on signals from your brain, digestive system, and hormones.
If your calorie intake increases, your body simply burns more calories so that ideally you’ll never become too fat or too thin. But if the system is broken, the hormones cannot send or receive correct signals. They become dysregulated, and the result is an elevated setpoint weight. This is the weight your body defends, the weight you always keep going back to every time you stop dieting.
Two Ways of Preventing Weight Gain
There are only two ways preventing weight gain is possible.
- Keep eating a low number of calories the remainder of your life. But even this isn’t sustainable because you will have to keep eating fewer and fewer calories with each subsequent year to maintain that weight loss.
- Lower your setpoint weight. When you do this, your body will automatically balance your weight at your lower setpoint weight. No starvation and no calorie counting necessary.
Causes of an Elevated Setpoint Weight
There are many causes of an elevated setpoint weight. Almost everything you do either lowers your setpoint weight, however slightly, or raises it. Here are the most common causes of an elevated setpoint weight.
Things That Cause Minor Increase in Setpoint Weight
- Toxins in Food
- Improper/Sustained Exercise
Things That Cause Major Increase in Setpoint Weight
- Starchy, Sugary Foods
- Antidepressants (SSRIs)
Things That Cause Extreme Increase in Setpoint Weight
- Chronic Stress
- Starvation Dieting
- Unbalanced Insulin/Cortisol
It is not possible to cover solutions for all the things that cause an elevated setpoint weight in this article. But we can offer solutions for some of the most common and controllable causes. And one of the most controllable causes is diet. Preventing weight gain can largely be accomplished through the foods you eat and the foods you choose not to eat.
Preventing Weight Gain with Healthy Foods
Here are some tips that will make preventing weight gain a cinch:
Whole foods. These are foods found directly in nature that can be eaten without processing; ie, plants you could have picked or meats you could have hunted yourself. In other words, they should be very minimally processed. Frozen vegetables are okay as long as they don’t contain preservatives, flavorings, breadings, etc. Canned meats, such as salmon and tuna fish, are also okay. Bread made from white or wheat flour, however, is not a whole food because you cannot pick a wheat stalk and eat it. Wheat is extensively processed before being made into bread.
Non-starchy vegetables. Try to select a variety of differently colored non-starchy vegetables, with an emphasis on dark leafy greens.
Green Smoothies. This is an easy and delicious way to enjoy several servings of vegetables at one meal. Simply put leafy green vegetables, such as spinach or kale, in a blender. Add several servings of additional non-starchy veggies, such as celery and carrots, along with a serving of low-fructose fruit (if desired.) Add cold water. Blend until smooth. Enjoy.
Nutrient-Dense Proteins: Research shows every time you consume protein, it sends signals to your short- and long-term satiety hormones. This means protein is not only filling, but it keeps you full for a long time. This keeps you from overeating, preventing weight gain.
Whole-Food Fats: Many people avoid eating fat because they believe it will cause them to gain weight. That is a myth. The truth is that your body needs dietary fat. It provides energy, is essential for the proper functioning of nerves and brain, helps make steroid hormones, and much more. If you replace starchy carbs and sugars with whole-food fats, your body will realize it prefers burning fat rather than glucose. Soon, it will start burning your fat stores!
Humanely raised, grass-fed meats. Remember that you’re eating whatever diet the animal was fed.
Home-cooked meals. Preparing meals at home enables you to control exactly what ingredients goes into your meals. You never really have control or awareness of the ingredients restaurants put in your meals.
Ultra-Processed Foods: These are manufactured foods containing processed starches, fats, sugars, and chemicals that elevate setpoint weight. If preventing weight gain is your goal, you’ll be amazed how quickly you can achieve it by cutting out ultra-processed foods.
Refined Carbohydrates and Sugars: Studies show refined carbohydrates and sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. This promotes weight gain and obesity.
Grains: Though the government and nutritionists have been singing the praises of whole grains for decades, they are not that good for your health or that good at preventing weight gain. Whole grains are not nearly as nutritious as their non-starchy counterparts, they make glucose levels skyrocket, and they are easily stored as body fat.
“Natural” Labels. The word “Natural” or “All Natural” on a label doesn’t mean it is a whole food. Always read food labels to see what ingredients are in the food. If you see ingredients you don’t recognize or cannot pronounce, it is an ultra-processed food.
Preventing Weight Gain with a Healthy Diet
Preventing weight gain with a healthy diet is easy. The food groups are easy to remember. There are no calories to count and no starvation dieting to endure. Here are my 4 food groups along with recommended daily servings.
- Non-Starchy Vegetables: At least 10 servings per day.
- Nutrient-Dense Proteins: 3-5 servings per day, 30-55 grams per meal.
- Whole-Food Fats: 3-6 servings per day
- Low-Fructose Fruits: 0-3 servings per day
The goal is to be so full of healthy foods, you won’t have room for unhealthy ones! You will truly eat more food and lose weight because you’re eating quality calories that heal your hormones. In truth, you will actually have a calorie deficit, but because you’re not hungry and because you ’re eating real foods and because your cells are getting plenty of nourishment, your body is okay with burning fat. It is okay with lowering your setpoint weight. See how easy preventing weight gain can be with a healthy diet?
Preventing Weight Gain with this Healthy Diet
There are other lifestyle changes you can make to help lower your setpoint weight. Here are a few of the most important ones.
Reduce Stress: It is imperative that you de-stress as often as possible. This can be as simple as walking along the beach or as complicated as learning to play the piano. (Anything that takes a great amount of concentration, such as learning a new skill, can be relaxing.) Meditation, TaiChi, Yoga, and playing with your dog or cat are all great ways to reduce stress.
Get Enough Sleep: Studies show sleep deprivation leads to weight gain. Try to get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
Perform “Smarter” Exercises: Eccentric exercises, in which you concentrate on the downward part of the exercise, uses all your muscle fibers. For this reason, studies show they are better at preventing weight gain than traditional exercises. Because they are so intense, you can only perform them for 10-20 minutes, once per week. With eccentric exercise, you really can exercise less and lose more!