How to Avoid Weight Loss Crash and Burn

Lots of diets promise quick and easy weight loss. But what do you do afterward? Instead of rapid weight loss, focus on slow changes that result in sustainable weight management

By John Casey
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Gary Vogin, MD

Perhaps uppermost among all the unpleasant parts of weight loss is the fact that it is so easy to fall off the diet wagon and gain weight back.

"You really, really work at dieting and drop all these pounds, then you want to eat something and just enjoy it without worrying about how many grams of fat it has or how many calories," says Catherine Gush, 43, a medical assistant in a doctor's office in Craig, Colo.

It's that moment when all the hard work, irritability, and delayed gratification come up against the pleasure of the pint of gourmet ice cream in the freezer and the strip of fast-food joints along the highway.

"You see the food, and you ask yourself, 'What's the point?'" says Walt Stock, 39, an automotive repair technician in Latrobe, Pa. "At least if I eat the food I know I'll feel better for a while, and I'll eat it sooner or later, so it might as well be sooner."

This is what some dietitians and doctors call "diet dropout." And it is often a result of dieters' unrealistic goals.

Even when under medical treatment for weight problems, "patients tend to hit a plateau after about three to six months of treatment or when they've lost about 5 to 15 percent of body weight," says Louis Aronne, MD, associate professor of medicine at Cornell University's Weill Medical College who specializes in the study of obesity. "They stop losing weight, and their appetites return. It causes a lot of frustration, even for patients who are very motivated."

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