Excerpt: 'The Skinny: On Losing Weight Without Being Hungry'

Expect to Gain a Little Back I've got some more news that you probably won't like. Most people gain back about 10 percent of their total weight loss. In other words, if you lost 20 pounds, you can expect to regain 2 to 3 pounds. If you lost 100, you may regain 10. Although few if any diet authors will admit it, everyone who loses weight regains a little. It's normal and it happens to almost everyone no matter how closely they follow their dietary and fitness regimens.

Why does it happen? You've transformed your body from one with chronically high levels of the fullness hormone leptin and low levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin to the opposite. Now leptin is low and ghrelin is high. These low leptin levels are, in part, what caused your plateau. As leptin levels drop, so does thyroid hormone, reducing metabolism so you burn fewer calories. Low leptin levels also allow hunger hormones to enter the brain unchecked.

We don't yet know all of the physical reasons why this happens, but regaining just a few pounds seems to increase leptin levels above some threshold level we haven't been able to identify, and brain chemicals stop sending out so many "eat more" and "burn less" signals.Your appetite and your metabolism reach a "truce," and your weight plateaus. Your body reaches an equilibrium that it can maintain.

Skinny Secrets for Staying Skinny To maintain your weight loss after you gain that initial 10 percent, do the following.

Keep moving. Continually look for ways to add more lifestyle walking to your daily repertoire. It's the best way I know of for overcoming plateaus and for maintaining weight loss. It's one of the few strategies that seem to help prevent low leptin levels from making your muscles more efficient. As a result, your metabolism can no longer act as such a brake on your weight loss. Some of my patients have plateaued, started a regular exercise program, and then experienced a new onset of weight loss to a lower plateau.

Exercise also helps overcome occasional overeating. Whenever you overdo it, your body has to decide what to do with the extra calories. If your muscles are "metabolically active" from exercising, calories will be sent to your muscles to be burned rather than to your fat cells to be stored. When researchers from Brown University and the University of Colorado studied longtime weight maintainers, they discovered that people who tended to regain weight got lax on their exercise hab-its.Those who kept the weight off tended to increase exercise as they maintained, with the average maintainer moving for sixty minutes a day, mostly through walking and light- intensity activities such as housework and gardening.

Weigh yourself regularly. Researchers from Cornell University asked a group of freshmen women to weigh themselves daily. They asked another group of women to weigh themselves just twice at the beginning of the semester and at the end. At the end of the semester, the women who weighed daily gained no weight, whereas the women who didn't weigh gained between 4 and 8 pounds.

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