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Why is it hard to reverse the holiday weight gain?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 21, 2012 at 11:38 PM

Is Stephan Guyenet correct in this regard? (Refer to: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2012/11/why-do-we-eat-neurobiological.html)

Something I've noticed over the years is that when you make an animal gain fat by giving it a fattening diet, and then return it to the original healthy diet, it will lose most of the excess fat but frequently retain a portion of it (22, 23). Similarly, in human overfeeding studies, after subjects return to a normal diet, they'll spontaneously undereat for a while, lose most of the excess fat, but if you read the studies carefully you find that they often hang on to a fraction of the excess fat indefinitely (24, 25). The piece of evidence that pushed me over the edge was a study showing that half of annual weight gain in the US occurs during the 6-week holiday period (26). People gain weight during the holidays by voluntary (non-homeostatic) overeating, lose a little bit of it in January, but hang on to most of it indefinitely.

Guyenet seems to propose that the body fat set point gradually increases over the few weeks of holiday overfeeding. Though he is probably talking about the average American who is leptin-resistant, it seems a little extreme (too simplistic) that a few weeks of overfeeding would increase the body fat set point permanently...Can you offer counter arguments to explain this phenomenon? If Guyenet is correct, are leptin-sensitive folks immune to the effects of short-term overeating on body fat set point?

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on November 22, 2012
at 03:02 AM

When you said you lost weight and kept it off for 1.5 years and that it could be done again I inferred that you'd experienced some long term retention and or rebound gain. Fair enough though that that isn't whaat happened for you... Re paleohacers though, I daresay most have overfed and in trying to get back to a a preivous weight that accords a little with what Guyanet is getting at. (There is big possibility I'm misintereptering this I admit..)

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on November 22, 2012
at 02:41 AM

No. Its been 20 years since I weighed what I weight now. Guyenet talked about people intentionally overfed in a study so that they can lose weight almost back to their original weight. We here on paleohacks, on the other hand, are not overfeeding ourselves like human lab rats, we are usually losing weight back to some long past set point. Apples and Oranges to what Guyenet is talking about.

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on November 22, 2012
at 02:08 AM

Wouldn't your use of the past tense support some of his point?

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on November 22, 2012
at 01:11 AM

I lost 55 pounds on paleo and kept all but 5 off for 1.5 years. I suspect that means what Guyenet talked about means diddly squat, since it doesn't apply to any of us that lost alot of weight. We did it once we can do it again. But then, Guyenet only bases his discussions off of reseach based on SAD fatties. Can't blame him, there are no controlled studies of healthy paleo eaters...

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4 Answers

3
35deaf0f101526bb113ea69f79934f2b

(436)

on November 22, 2012
at 02:06 AM

I have observed that I can lose all of the weight I want while eating healthy.

I did observe something kind of similar to this in college... but over a longer time period. I would gain 15 pounds, diet and lose 5-10 pounds, eat a lot again. I got into this cycle where by the end of Sophomore year, I was up to 145 pounds (I'm 5'8). My problem was more mental. I truly thought that my high school weight was no longer achievable and I mentally settled for an average American weight. I finally kicked the weight gain habit and have weighed in the 125-130 range for 2 years.

I agree that this applies to the behavior of those on SAD. My weight fluctuates a bit but when I set my mind to achieve a certain weight, I am absolutely able to without holding on to 5 extra pounds.

2
3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

on November 22, 2012
at 01:12 AM

I lost 55 pounds on paleo and kept all but 5 off for 1.5 years. I suspect that means what Guyenet talked about means diddly squat, since it doesn't apply to any of us that lost alot of weight. We did it once we can do it again. But then, Guyenet only bases his discussions off of reseach based on the metabolic behavior of SAD fatties. Can't blame him, there are no controlled studies of healthy paleo eaters...

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on November 22, 2012
at 02:08 AM

Wouldn't your use of the past tense support some of his point?

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on November 22, 2012
at 03:02 AM

When you said you lost weight and kept it off for 1.5 years and that it could be done again I inferred that you'd experienced some long term retention and or rebound gain. Fair enough though that that isn't whaat happened for you... Re paleohacers though, I daresay most have overfed and in trying to get back to a a preivous weight that accords a little with what Guyanet is getting at. (There is big possibility I'm misintereptering this I admit..)

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on November 22, 2012
at 02:41 AM

No. Its been 20 years since I weighed what I weight now. Guyenet talked about people intentionally overfed in a study so that they can lose weight almost back to their original weight. We here on paleohacks, on the other hand, are not overfeeding ourselves like human lab rats, we are usually losing weight back to some long past set point. Apples and Oranges to what Guyenet is talking about.

0
B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 07, 2013
at 12:44 AM

As a low-carber, I find that I can easily put a few pounds on over the holidays (according to the scales), but I think that they're usually just due to me refilling my liver glycogen stores. It can usually rempty it easily enough.

0
Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 22, 2012
at 05:36 PM

I'll counter-argue what you propose first. There's nothing gradual about holiday weight gain. It isn't hard to add 2 lb/week of fat stored and end up 12 pounds up in 6 weeks. There is no setpoint so to speak. A person's weight hovers on a balance between consumption and metabolism.

As far as Guyenet's argument for entrenched gains I'm not sure. It is far easier for me to gain 2 lbs than lose 2 lbs at a level near my minimum weight. I know that with concerted effort I can get the last 2 lbs off. I also know that the tradeoff is to eat considerably below setpoint for a couple weeks, with the demon ghrelin dogging me with hunger pangs. I'm still hanging on to 2 lbs gained 6 months ago, only noticed after I quit taking a diuretic (which was artificially depressing my weight). I don't have the motivation to deal with it right now, which supports Guyenet's argument. But over the last 5 years I've been able to keep off all of the holiday gains Guyenet refers to without any special motivation. If a person is unconcerned about their weight he's probably right.

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