You worked hard to lose weight, and you aced it. Now comes the next challenge: keeping it off. Most likely you heard about the
study earlier this year that found 13 of 14 contestants had regained substantial amounts of weight within six years. (Here: the Truth About Weight Loss After the Biggest Loser
.) Suddenly, headlines were blaring that rebound weight gain was inevitable. Here's the thing, though: It's simply not true. The
contestants are unusual because they lost extreme amounts of weight, which is hard to maintain over the long term. Among people who lose more modest amounts of weight (i.e., the majority of us), 60 percent keep most of it off, according to the latest research. All it takes is some strategic diet and exercise tweaks, says Caroline Apovian, M.D., an obesity specialist at Boston University School of Medicine.
First, understand how weight loss changes your body. (Aside from all the health benefits
, that is.) When you lose a significant number of pounds, your body goes into "starvation mode." Your system slows its production of leptin, a hormone that suppresses your appetite, while at the same time pumping up your levels of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you hungry, says Louis J. Aronne, M.D., the director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian and the author of
The Change Your Biology Diet.