Blog | Wednesday, February 10, 2016

On maintaining weight loss

Alex Hutchinson, who writes a wonderful column in Runner's World called “Sweat Science,” provided a very interesting column that relates to weight loss maintenance. We know that exercise can help with weight loss, but that you must also eat more carefully. This column, the Jute Diet, explains why exercise makes weight maintenance easier.

“What you see is that, above a certain level of physical activity, caloric intake increases linearly and weight is stable. For these workers, the body's ‘balance’ mechanism is functioning, and those who burn more calories also consume proportionately more calories.

But below a certain level of physical activity, the appetite balance breaks down. Caloric intake rises again, and these workers are the ones who gain weight. The researchers call this ‘the sedentary zone,’ and suggest that the regulation of food intake breaks down in this zone because ‘in his hundreds of years of evolution, man did not have any opportunity for sedentary life except very recently.’”

“To me, this picture helps reconcile some of the conflicting findings of diet and exercise studies. People who exercise a lot tend to see a direct connection between how much they exercise, how much they eat, and how much they weight (in line with studies that have repeatedly found that the more you exercise, the more accurate your appetite is at estimating how much you need to eat). They're on the right-hand side of these graphs. For people who don't exercise a lot, on the other hand, diet, exercise and weight are decoupled.”

I really do not think a great deal about my diet these days, but I do exercise almost every day. It appears that my exercise is helping me with maintenance. Since maintenance is traditionally difficult, this information is pure gold.

db is the nickname for Robert M. Centor, MD, FACP. db stands both for Dr. Bob and da boss. He is an academic general internist at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, and is the Regional Associate Dean for the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus of UASOM. He still makes inpatient rounds over 100 days each year. This post originally appeared at his blog, db's Medical Rants.