Why is it so easy to regain weight after a diet?

easy weight gain






Body fat is one of the great equalizers of human kind.


Rich or poor, black, white, brown, yellow, green or purple excess body fat does not discriminate and will gladly take up residence on whomever it can.


To most mortals losing body fat rarely comes easy. We all know that coaxing our body into letting go of its precious energy reserves requires a change to eating habits. As much as I would like to believe that I can eat “whatever I want, whenever I want it” and still lose significant fat pounds the truth is its simply not possible.


Many of the people who come to see me know this all too well and have struggled with losing the same 5 or 10 pounds for years.


When asked, I have discovered that these same people have tried a variety of diet approaches with surprisingly similar results. The most popular diet approaches include;



The Zone

The Ducan Diet

The Eat Clean Diet

Paleo diet

Glycemic Load Diet



Weight Watchers

South Beach


Raw Food


These diets differ on many levels (and some are definitely better than others) but they all have one thing in common- they all cause you to reduce calorie intake and that is why they all work. Which one will work best for you depends upon one thing only- your ability to actually follow it.


Personally, I have evolved my diet approach over the past few years. With increased demands on time, an evolution of my priorities and an increased desire to enjoy the many great foods this world has to offer I find extreme dieting to be completely unrealistic.


What I look for now is a way to balance my love of food with my desire to always stay in great shape. I have absolutely no desire to allow myself to fall into the trap of waking up one morning only to look down and find that I can no longer see my feet (or other vital parts of my anatomy).


You may think I am joking but sadly, I am not. I just read a British study which revealed that in a survey of 1,000 British men aged between 35 and 60 years, 33 percent are unable to see their penis when they stand upright and look downwards.
I am guessing that this was an anonymous survey…



What determines weight loss success?

As stated, nearly any diet approach will work for losing body fat but what about keeping the weight off? What is the common denominator amongst those individuals who are able to sustain their weight loss achievements?


The answer is simple- the people who keep the weight off are the people who exercise.


In a study conducted at the University of North Carolina researchers discovered that exercise is the most important factor in long term weight loss success and that higher levels of activity were far more effective.


The researchers discovered a “magic” number that provided the best results- 2500 kcal/wk.


The study found that individuals who sustained a weekly 2500 calorie activity goal had significantly greater results than those who did less.



What does 2500 kcal/wk look like?

The amount of calories your body burns during activity will range based upon your present body size. Here is a quick reference guide:


Activity (1-hour duration) Weight of person and calories burned
160 pounds (73 kilograms) 200 pounds (91 kilograms) 240 pounds (109 kilograms)
Aerobics, high impact 533 664 796
Aerobics, low impact 365 455 545
Aerobics, water 402 501 600
Backpacking 511 637 763
Basketball game 584 728 872
Bicycling, < 10 mph, leisure 292 364 436
Bowling 219 273 327
Canoeing 256 319 382
Dancing, ballroom 219 273 327
Football, touch or flag 584 728 872
Golfing, carrying clubs 314 391 469
Hiking 438 546 654
Ice skating 511 637 763
Racquetball 511 637 763
Resistance (weight) training 365 455 545
Rollerblading 548 683 818
Rope jumping 861 1,074 1,286
Rowing, stationary 438 546 654
Running, 5 mph 606 755 905
Running, 8 mph 861 1,074 1,286
Skiing, cross-country 496 619 741
Skiing, downhill 314 391 469
Skiing, water 438 546 654
Softball or baseball 365 455 545
Stair treadmill 657 819 981
Swimming, laps 423 528 632
Tae kwon do 752 937 1,123
Tai chi 219 273 327
Tennis, singles 584 728 872
Volleyball 292 364 436
Walking, 2 mph 204 255 305
Walking, 3.5 mph 314 391 469

Adapted from: Ainsworth BE, et al. 2011 compendium of physical activities: A second update of codes and MET values. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2011;43:1575.



One last point- there is more to calorie expenditure than formal exercise activities. Before you get discouraged by the numbers above remember NEAT or Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis can account for 350 calories burned per day (or higher).  This is the reason why it is always a good idea to park in the furthest spot, take the stairs instead of elevator etc, etc. There are many ways for you to increase your NEAT without doing any formal exercise activities.


These findings support what I have also observed- people who exercise are always more successful at sustaining fat loss than those who choose to only alter their diet. Besides the increased calorie expenditure, exercise also releases those feel good endorphins you may have heard about (making exercise an excellent prescription for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Finally, I have also observed that exercise supports a healthy diet. For some reason I find it harder to justify eating junk when I know I am busting my butt in the gym- it just feels counter intuitive and not in alignment with my goals.









This post was written by

Bruce – who has written posts on Cutting edge muscle building and fat loss secrets.
bruce krahn is a best-selling author, writer, researcher, personal trainer and professional speaker. he has coached people for two decades both in person and online. he created this site to be an honest source of useful, practical information you can use to improve your health, build muscle, lose fat and get the lean body look.

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bruce krahn is a best-selling author, writer, researcher, personal trainer and professional speaker. he has coached people for two decades both in person and online. he created this site to be an honest source of useful, practical information you can use to improve your health, build muscle, lose fat and get the lean body look.

2 Responses to “Why is it so easy to regain weight after a diet?”

  1. jane says:

    I agree, exercise is so important to keeping the fat off.

  2. Eileen says:

    I agree completely with your article.
    I have followed this principle most of my adult life. But what about people who are unable to exercise due to arthritis?

Leave a Reply to jane