Got a question about diet and nutrition? Ask our resident dietician, Darlene Paluf, RDLD.
Darlene is a dietician who has specialized solely in weight management for over 20 years. She has a degree in medical dietetics from Ohio State University and has worked both in the hospital setting and in private practice. She was head dietician of the Mt. Sinai Weight Management Program in Cleveland, and is now in partnernship with Dr. Berkeley. In addition to an active clinical practice, Darlene is currently involved in a research project on the use of investigational medications in the treatment of weight loss and maintenance.
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Question from Bri, August 24, 2008:
Why do crash dieters gain back the weight they lose? Science show as that cutting calories, no matter hw restrictive, will make metabolism go down and once you up your caloric intake, it will come back up. Crash dieters do gain some water weight back, but really...why would you say a crash dieter who lost 80/90lbs in 6/7 months gain back all the weight they lose OTHER than a little water weight and maybe some general weight - a few pounds - as the metabolism adjusts? The only true explanation I can find is binging, or not eating healthy when you return to a normal diet. Is there another explanation? Just trying to see if there is one or if it's pure human choice and behavior that gains those pounds back.
I'm doing some reasearch on this, and can't understand why people say crash dieters gain back a lot of weight. It seems human behavior is the culprit but wanted to ask a dietician if its something more than that. If you don't binge, wouldn't you be abe to stabalize your weight after crash dieting for a few months?
From Darlene Paluf, RDLD: "In my experience, a crash dieter is someone who eats a very restrictive caloric diet. A crash dieter usually eliminates many foods, feels deprived and hungry often. Some people can sustain this starvation mode for several months, but it can then lead to binging. In your example of someone losing 80/90 lbs., in order to maintain this new weight, calorie needs have to be much lower with a smaller body. If people do not truly change their behaviors, both food choices and physical activity, they will gain their weight back."
From Barbara Berkeley: "If I understand your question, it is the following: Is there some sort of hormonal or metabolic event that causes dieters to inevitably regain? If not, do we blame regain on lack of control over behavior? Many researchers have puzzled over the question of whether changes in intestinal hormones, stomach hormones, cellular mechanisms or brain chemistry might cause the body to return to its original weight. Thus far, there has been no definite answer to this question. You mention the fact that metabolism (the rate at which the body burns calories) goes down during dieting but comes back to normal after the diet is over. There is even debate about this question. What is known is that metabolism does slow down during a diet. Some people have proven that metabolism goes back to normal after the diet is over, but others disagree. The one thing that is certain is that your metabolism burns fewer calories when you weigh less. This is important, because when you were bigger, you were able to eat alot more and stay at a stable weight. At a new, lower weight the amount you will be able to eat without regain is much less. Because most people don't appreciate this, the go back to eating "moderately", which is too much for their new size. Then they regain.
The other comment I want to make refers to "crash" dieting. When people severely restrict themselves and knock weight off very quickly, they don't have time to prepare for the long term commitment of maintenance. This is the problem with diets during which people eat in ways that have nothing to do with reality (all cabbage soup, all grapefruit, etc..)
Hope this helps!"