Science Reveals the Secret to Keeping the Weight Off for Good

Losing weight is half the battle—the other half is keeping it off. Once you've put in the hours and the effort, you want to make sure all your hard work isn't wasted.

New research highlighted by Body+Soul sheds light on just what it takes to keep the weight off once you've lost it. Findings from a Danish study suggest that if you're able to maintain your goal weight for 12 consecutive months, keeping the weight off will get easier. What happens at the 12-month mark is your body adapts to its new norm and hunger follows suit.

During the study, researchers tracked the hormone levels of 20 obese individuals who for two months were on a strict low-calorie diet, losing an average of 13% of their body weight. After the initial two months, the individuals adopted a less extreme weight-maintenance diet for a year, and their weight remained the same.

After the subjects' initial weight loss, the hormone ghrelin—which makes you feel hungry—spiked by 23%. "Yep, that's your body's survival instincts kicking in, trying to protect you from dropping the pounds," notes the article. With time, and commitment to the reduced but less extreme diet, ghrelin levels dropped back down. Additionally, two hormones that help you feel full—GLP-1 and PYY3-36—steadily increased in their subjects during their year after the initial weight loss.

How does this translate into our own pursuit of our ideal weight? Once we've worked hard to get down to the size we desire, long-term maintenance is just as important to the formula as losing the weight. Continuing a healthy diet of smart portion sizes and full of the nutrients you need will keep the weight off as your body adjusts, and 12 months is the magic mark for change.

Surprised by this finding? Share your thoughts on the study with us, and let us know if you have any tips for keeping the weight off once you've put in the work.