How to avoid the rebound effect of the diets?

(versión en castellano: pinchar aquí)

As I explained in a document, diets low in calories and fat are doomed to failure: when food intake is reduced the body reacts by lowering its energy expenditure (metabolism) and as soon as the caloric intake is increased to reach normal values, we recover the lost weight (or more). I don’t explain this here in more detail because it is explained in the referred document.

Is it possible to avoid the rebound effect?

I think so. The key is that our body should not think it is starving and therefore the metabolism will not be reduced. How to make our bodies not to feel they are starving? It’s simple: by not starving them, i.e., giving our body as much food as it needs. Lose weight while at the same time our body has all the food it needs? Exactly. That’s the idea. When you adopt a diet very low in carbohydrates our body is not only fed by what we eat, but also by our own body fat. What does not come from one source will surely come from the other, but there will be no food shortage. As long as there is enough food, metabolism is not reduced and there is no reason to suffer the rebound effect.

At minute 1:04:21 in this video, a woman asks about the rebound effect.

Christopher Gardner answers first, explaining the rebound effect and advising that weight reduction should be slow to avoid it. That is the current «official» message and, in my experience, does not work. At minute 1:05:45 Gary Taubes starts by clarifying that he sees things from a different paradigm and explains that when the diet is low in carbohydrate your metabolism is not reduced so a rebound effect is not expected . Taubes refers to an article, which I think is this . In this article the participants lose weight with a reduced calorie diet and then several diets are compared on a weight maintenance phase. When individuals follow the low-fat diet total energy expenditure (TEE) is reduced by 423 calories while when they follow the low-carbohydrate diet, the reduction was only 97 calories. The diets were isocaloric, but each of them reduced metabolism in different amounts. In the right side of the figure below (from the article), you can see that the LF (low fat) diet caused a reduction of TEE much larger than the VLC diet (very low carb). However, that is the average outcome, but in some subjects the effect of both diets on the TEE was the opposite: metabolism was reduced more with the low-carbohydrate diet (note that each group of 3 points joined with lines in the graph belong to the same subject).


In conclusion, for most of us a very low carbohydrate diet can be the solution to lose weight and avoid the rebound effect.

I’ve been maintaining my weight for the last 7 months after losing 24Kg (52 pounds). But I will write about that in some detail in the next blog post.

A thorough analysis of the article can be found at Peter Attia’s Eating Academy.

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