According to new research, dieting for 12 months is the key to keeping weight off for good.
Danish scientists claim that ditching bad eating habits for a year could trigger long-term chemical changes in your body, which will make it more difficult to gain pounds once the dieting stops.
Experts put 20 obese people on an exacting diet for 12 months, after which they noted participants were producing more of the hormone that suppresses appetite after eating. This left them feeling fuller for longer, and they were able to keep the weight they lost – around an eighth of their overall mass – off.
“It’s very difficult to fight the hunger,” Signe Sorensen Torekov, from the University of Copenhagen, said, according to The Times newspaper.
“It’s like a drug you’re fighting against. This would have been an excellent mechanism 50 years ago, but the problem now is that we have so much food available that we can eat all the time.
“We were able to show that you shouldn’t give up. If you’re able to keep your weight down for a year, then it shifts and it becomes easier.”
Another study conducted around the same time found that overweight people react differently to real food and inedible images of goods displayed on a computer screen than those at a normal weight. In this experiment, overweight and lean volunteers made similar choices when provided with food options in image form. However, when they were offered an all-you-can-eat buffet of real food, overweight people were more likely to go for calorie heavy, unhealthy items.
“There’s a clear difference between hypothetical food choices that overweight people make and the food they actually eat,” Lead researcher Dr Nenad Medic, from Cambridge University, concluded.
“Even though they know that some foods are less healthy than others and say they wouldn’t necessarily choose them, when they are faced with the foods, it’s a different matter.”