The Best Way You Can Fight Weight Gain after Weight Loss

Anyone who has tried to lose a substantial amount of weight knows that the true challenge often lies in keeping those shed pounds from creeping back on. The good news is that weight regain is not a foregone conclusion — there are strategies you can use to make your weight loss permanent.

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 Metabolic adaptation

Several factors impact your ability to keep weight off for good, says endocrinologist Bartolome Burguera, MD, PHD.  One of the main factors is your basic metabolic rate, or how many calories your body burns while at rest.

“You start losing weight and the basic metabolic rate goes down from 2,000 to 1,600, so unless you burn 400 more calories by exercising or you eat 400 calories less, you will not be able to continue to lose weight,” Dr. Burguera says.

The human brain is wired to protect the body from starvation, Dr. Burguera says. So when you decrease the amount of calories you consume, your brain’s natural reaction is to try to stop your body from losing more weight.  This is called metabolic adaptation.

A recent study followed the progress of contestants who lost a substantial amount of weight on a popular weight-loss reality television show. Researchers wanted to see if the contestants would be able to keep the pounds off.

At the beginning of the show, the contestants had normal metabolisms for their size. When the show ended, however, the contestants’ metabolisms had slowed dramatically. Their slimmed-down bodies were not burning enough calories to maintain their smaller sizes. This often happens at the end of an intense dieting period.

But the researchers were surprised to find that the contestants’ resting metabolic rates did not return to a normal rate even six years later.

As a result most of the contestants had re-gained weight — some of them gained back every pound that was lost on the show, and then some.

Keeping it off for good

Metabolic adaptation is important, but it’s merely one indicator of why it is so difficult for people to keep weight off, says Dr. Burguera. He did not take part in the study.

Anyone who is trying to lose weight will have better success if they treat their weight as a chronic health condition, and not a one-and-done approach, he says.

“We need to understand that obesity is a chronic disease. In order to treat a chronic condition, you have to offer chronic therapies,” Dr. Burguera says. “So trying to become very physically active, eat a very little amount of calories — that’s short term.  You cannot do that long term.”

Dr. Burguera recommends a five-pronged approach to lose weight for good:

  • Appetite control
  • Physical activity
  • Healthy diet
  • Stress management
  • Adequate sleep

The 5 Worst Breakfast Foods for You

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The best breakfast foods give you fuel in the tank for energy that lasts. They boost your metabolism, fight disease and help you keep your weight down. The worst breakfast foods do the opposite. They lead to mid-morning crashes, wreak havoc on your metabolism, encourage disease and cause weight gain.

You shouldn’t skip breakfast — doing so can make you gain weight, lose energy and think poorly. But you should skip the worst breakfast options. If you see these five foods on the menu, run the other way.

Doughnut and pastries: A recipe for weight gain

Doughnuts will cost you 250–550 calories, but the 20–50 grams of sugar in each is the real problem. With such a huge amount of sugar in a small package, your body pumps out lots of insulin to accommodate. A huge blood sugar peak leads to an even bigger sugar crash. This extreme up-and-down leaves you hungry soon after your breakfast — and you’ll crave more refined carbs. It’s a vicious cycle of unhealthy eating that starts with the first doughnut

Sausage biscuit: Hypertension’s helper

The sausage biscuit is basically a saturated fat and sodium bomb nestled in a trans fat sleeping bag. If your blood vessels could talk, they would plead, “Please don’t do it to us!” as you place your order at the fast-food drive-through. The sky-high sodium in the highly processed sausage can make your blood pressure surge. If you have hypertension, it may increase your risk for stroke. Nitrates and nitrites in sausage have been linked to increased risk of certain cancers, too

Flavored non-dairy creamer: A coffee disaster

If you think non-dairy creamer is a healthy option, think again. Many non-dairy creamers simply swap saturated fat for trans fat (check the label for “partially hydrogenated” oil), plus sugar and artificial sweeteners. Trans fat increases your risk of heart attack and stroke by increasing LDL cholesterol. Predictions say decreasing trans fat consumption by even a little could help prevent more than 10,000 deaths a year. To perk up your coffee, try unsweetened vanilla almond milk, low-fat milk or a small amount of chocolate milk instead

Bright, sugary cereals: A rainbow of hyperactivity

Those magically colored kids’ cereals aren’t such a bright choice. The FDA has noted that food dyes may contribute to hyperactivity in children with ADHD, even if not in other children. A 2012 study backed up that idea but said more research is needed. The UK and EU has banned food dyes in food manufacturing; perhaps you should ban the fake stuff from your breakfast table. Even if food coloring’s effects aren’t fully understood, these cereals are usually loaded with sugar — empty calories for your little ones.

Loaded bagel: An invitation for diabetes

Your body works hard to keep you functioning at night. Don’t thank it with inflammation-causing calories in the form of a bagel loaded with cream cheese or butter. Except for the occasional 100 percent whole grain option, most bagels are 300–500 calories worth of starch. Slathering on cream cheese or butter adds more calories and saturated fat. Diets high in refined carbohydrates have been linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so don’t make bagels a regular morning meal.

Our home health agency based out of Irving, TX works with your physician to educate you on your recommended diet. 

Is It Normal to Get Depressed or Anxious as You Age?

Mental health issues can be tied to medical problems

Despite what people may believe, anxiety and depression are not a natural part of aging — and no one has to accept them.

In fact, mood and anxiety disorders become less common as people age. But detection rates are also lower among older adults. They’re less likely to seek assistance for mental health issues.

So it’s important for those around them to pay attention and offer help if they see a problem.

“The risk of being complacent with thinking mental health changes are part of the normal aging process puts the physical health of millions of people at risk,” says behavioral health expert Justin Havemann, MD.

The truth is, medical illness is closely tied to mental health problems in older adults, Dr. Havemann says.

“Patients who suffer from psychiatric illness – particularly undiagnosed and untreated dementia, depression, and anxiety – experience worse medical outcomes and lesser quality of life than those who don’t,” he says.

Who struggles with major depression?

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that only between 1 and 5 percent of older adults living in the community struggle with major depression. Those estimates rise to 13.5 percent for people who require more constant care and 11.5 percent for older hospital patients.

Older women are more likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders. Older men tend to develop more substance abuse problems, Dr. Havemann says.

However, the CDC reports that less than 30 percent of older adults who need treatment actually receive it.

What puts people at risk?

Most older adults are not depressed, Dr. Havemann says.

But those with a medical illness that impacts mobility and quality of life are most at risk. The following conditions, in particular, can prompt a mood disorder:

  • Heart disease

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

  • High blood pressure

  • A disability

  • A new medical illness

  • Poor self-perceived health

Dr. Havemann says pre-existing depression and anxiety, as well as bereavement – which naturally occurs more often with advancing age – also contribute. Increasing insomnia also is a factor.

Brain-body changes can cause depression that occurs for the first time later in life.

If blood flow is restricted, blood vessels may stiffen and block normal flow to the brain over time. The resulting vascular depression increases the risk of heart disease, stroke or other vascular illness.

Depression can also appear alongside other ailments more prevalent later in life, including:

  • Diabetes

  • Cancer

  • Heart disease

  • Parkinson’s disease

Medications that treat chronic conditions also may cause depression.

Signs that point to mood disorders

In most ways, signs of depression and anxiety are the same for older and younger adults, Dr. Havemann says. But older people are likely to report them differently.

Rather than feeling sad or overwhelmed, older adults report:

  • Cognitive problems

  • Loss of interest in activities

  • Loss of concentration

  • Nagging aches and pains

  • Digestive problems

Like younger adults, older adults have suicidal thoughts. But, while younger people may focus on hurting themselves, older adults may wish they wouldn’t wake up in the morning.

Older men are more likely to commit suicide than older women. But periodic suicide screenings are a critical health assessment for everyone in this age group, Dr. Havemann says.

3 types of depression

Older adults can experience three types of depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health:

  • Major depression: Symptoms are severe enough to interfere with work, sleep, study, appetite and enjoying life. Individuals can experience single or multiple episodes of major depression.

  • Dysthymia: Persistent, mild depression that may last two years or longer.

  • Minor depression: Symptoms are less severe and don’t last as long.

What to do about changing behavior, attitudes

Older adults – like those in any population – aren’t all the same, Dr. Havemann says.

So it isn’t possible to pinpoint normal mental health levels and behaviors that apply to all or even most people. Family members, friends and caregivers should take note when behaviors and attitudes change.

If you notice changes, there are several things you can do to help:

  • Never ignore suicidal comments.

  • Call 911 if you suspect someone is in crisis.

  • Offer support and encouragement.

  • Listen carefully.

  • Invite someone who might be dealing with depression or anxiety out for walks.

  • Involve them in other activities.

  • Remind them that depression will lessen with time and treatment.

  • Offer to visit their doctor with them.

If you or someone you know has symptoms of depression or anxiety, don’t just accept it as inevitable. Working with a doctor can offer hope and improve quality of life.