Why Do You Regain Weight?

New research suggests how you can stop yo-yo-ing and finally keep the weight off.

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • How the gym improves your sex life

  • Don’t overthink your protein

  • Does muscle loss predict weight regain?

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How The Gym Improves Your Sex Life

It’s a topic most people won’t discuss, but sexual health is a key component of your overall health. 

Multiple studies suggest that consistent sexual activity (at least once per week) is linked to a longer life and less disease — with one study indicating it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 50 percent. 

The hard part is that as we age, sexual functioning can drop off. If you want to make sure everything is working correctly, you don’t need a supplement or prescription drugs. Instead, commit to a few gym sessions per week. 

Research on more than 6,000 men and women found a direct relationship between a commitment to exercise and sexual functioning. In particular, men were less likely to have erectile dysfunction, and women were less likely to have sexual dysfunction. The National Institutes of Health previously identified a strong relationship between sexual functioning and overweight or obesity.

We know that weight can be a big struggle. But remember, small changes add up in significant ways. The research suggests that people who did an hour and a half of cardiovascular exercise or three hours of outdoor work saw a 20 percent improvement in dysfunction.

Don’t Overthink Your Protein

Earlier this week, we shared why there’s little reason to worry about eating too much protein. But does the source of protein matter?

​Recent research suggests that plant-based and animal-based proteins might deliver similar results.

The study was fairly simple: participants were randomly assigned to either an omnivorous or plant-based diet. The scientists made sure the plant-based group ate plant-based protein high in leucine, an essential amino acid that plays a vital role in muscle growth but tends to be lower in vegetarian or vegan protein options.

The researchers found similar muscle gains and strength increases on the deadlift and squat for people following an omnivorous diet and a plant-based plan.

Regardless of your dietary preferences, the key to seeing results is making sure you eat enough protein to fuel your muscle and strength goals. Animal proteins have more essential amino acids, so plant-based diets usually need to eat a little more total protein to compensate.

Otherwise, it’s up to you what source of protein you want to enjoy. Good plant-based protein sources include beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu and tempeh, and nutritional yeast (there are many other options too). Supplemental protein options include things such as pea protein, soy protein, or mycoprotein (which is what was used in the study). 

Does Muscle Loss Predict Weight Regain?

For many people, weight loss is not impossible. Most people drop a few pounds or more. But keeping the weight off can feel like a losing battle. 

Research suggests that if you don’t want to regain the weight you lose, prioritize maintaining your muscle. 

Scientists compared weight loss and weight maintenance to people randomly assigned to one of three groups: diet only, diet with cardio, and diet with resistance training. The researchers paid close attention to muscle loss. The diet-only group lost about 21 pounds of muscle, the diet and aerobic group lost about 5 pounds of muscle, and the diet with resistance training group actually gained about 8 pounds of muscle (while losing fat) — despite dropping a significant amount of body weight. 

At a year follow-up, everyone gained back some of the weight they lost, but the resistance training group was less likely to gain back as much weight.

The researchers suggest that this happens because muscle loss is associated with increases in hunger and appetite. When you lose weight, hunger tends to increase until you return to your prior weight (if you’ve dieted, you’ve experienced this), and maintaining muscle can help fight against this biological process, which makes it easier to eat less. 

However, muscle loss doesn’t completely explain weight regain — it’s just one variable. If you want weight loss to last, prioritize strength training, build healthier habits, reduce stress and improve sleep, focus on foods that increase fullness (like protein and fiber), and build a more positive self-perception. 

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell