Dieting is merely controlled starvation. Our body does not like to be starved and much prefers to sitting happily in homeostasis, and will therefore start up a range of physical mechanisms to slow weight loss.
Your body’s self-defence mechanism
Once you start to restrict energy your body goes into high alert and turns on self-defence mechanisms. Though we live well in the 21st century our body’s internal systems still have not evolved past caveman days, and so when energy is restricted your body believes you are in a famine.
As a result, your body does everything to conserve energy, including storing fat, increasing your appetite and slowing your metabolism just like it would in a famine hundreds of years ago. You are therefore fighting an internal battle with your body, a battle which is very hard to win!
Your body’s set-point
Your body likes to stay at homeostasis and this is referred to a ‘set point. Genetics play a large part in determining the weight at which our bodies tend towards, and this depends on bone structure, metabolism, musculature, and much more.
Your set-point is the weight your body sits comfortably at and is likely to be different to what you would LIKE it to sit comfortably at. This creates a challenge when your body sits comfortably at 22% body fat, but you don’t like what you see in the mirror.
All attempts to diet are going to be pushing against your bodies natural desire and will active the self-defence mechanism leading to a vicious cycle where you are fighting against your own body.
Your NEAT Non Exercise activity thermogenesis plummets. Again your body thinks you’re going to be in a famine so it goes into shut-down to conserve energy. You will fidget less, walk less, and use less energy in your daily life. You will feel sluggish, tired and needing to rest more often and therefore be using less energy in your daily life.
All of this happens subconsciously so much that you may not even know it is happening.
In fact, your body is so determined to stay at this set-point that in an energy deficit or a diet, your fat cells are prepped and ready to store fat just in case there is another famine.
Which means as soon there is an energy surplus your fat cells will start to store the excess energy, leading to the rapid fat regain AND overshoot.
Each time this happens your body becomes more and more adept at storing fat, meaning each time you diet it will be harder and each time you stop dieting you will store fat quicker AND are more likely to end up a higher weight than when you started.
The next time you decide to lose weight using the exact same methods as before, these methods won’t work as fast or as well, in turn leading to more drastic behaviour and restrictions.
This is why people who yo-yo diet often end up much heavier.
In short, your body makes it hard to lose weight but easy to regain it, each time you decide to diet you are more likely to end up even heavier than when you first started.