If you tend to quickly regain the pounds you’ve lost though changing your eating and exercise habits, you might be biologically doomed to fail at long-term weight loss. According to a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity, eating a high-fat diet over a long period of time damages a biomechanical process in which the stomach tells the brain that it’s full. Even when you return to a healthy weight, the mechanism does not correct itself, and you’re likely to pack the pounds back on.
The study was performed on two groups of mice. One group ate a low-calorie diet made up of 7% fat; the other group ate a high-calorie diet that included 60% fat. After 12 weeks, obese mice were fed a normal diet and although they lost weight at first, they went on to increase their food intake, matching it to the high-fat diet.
“The stomach’s nerve response does not return to normal upon return to a normal diet,” says study author Dr. Amanda Page. “This means you would need to eat more food before you felt the same degree of fullness as a healthy individual.”
Adds Page: “We know that only about 5% of people on diets are able to maintain their weight loss, and that most people who’ve been on a diet put all of that weight back on within two years.”
Further research will look at whether this nerve damage can be reversed.
If you’re looking to lose a lot, start by correcting your bad habits–for good. Read 5 Habits You Can Kick Right Now.