Chances are good that you've been on some kind of weight loss program over the years. After all, the older we get, the harder it is to shed those unwanted pounds. But in a recent study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, older women who regained the weight gained it back in fat instead of muscle.
In fact, the top investigator for the study said the body composition of some of the women was worse than it was prior to their weight loss. The reason? When women lose weight, the researcher said, they also lose lean mass. Although most women will eventually gain the weight back, the researcher said, most of that regained weight is fat.
Most Women Regained Weight
As part of the study, 78 postmenopausal women were evaluated. Their average age was 58, and all participants had lost about 12% of their weight through a dieting program. At the end of the weight loss program, the women's change in body mass composition was written down and compared muscle with fat components. That was measured again six months and 12 months later, and none of the women were on a weight loss program.
Once the study concluded, 68% of the women had regained at least some weight by the time of their six-month followup. Another 76% had regained weight by the time of the 12-month followup. Sixteen percent weighed more at their 12-month followup than they did at their baseline weight, while 24% of the participants continued to lose weight.
Of the participants who regained weight, about three quarters had gained more than 4 pounds the following six months. By the 12-month checkup, 85% of participants had regained weight. Those who gained weight where then evaluated to determine the type of body mass that led to their respective weight gain.
Important To Keep Weight Off
Thinking about a new weight loss program? Consider this: According to the study, fat is regained much faster than muscle. When the study began, the weight loss was comprised of one-third muscle and two-thirds fat. The weight regained, though, came in mostly as fat, with 81% fat compared to just 19% muscle.
The younger you are, one of the researchers said, the more likely you are to regain weight at the same proportion as when you lost it. Older women, though, have a harder time. According to the study, older women didn't regain the muscle that they had lost during the first phase in the same way.
The study suggests that women who are post-menopausal should steer clear of losing muscle mass and replacing it with fat. That might mean surgery is the best option. But the study's findings may differ in men or with younger women. It's still yet another reasons why it's important to lose weight - and keep it off.
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