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How to lose weight for good: Diet for 12 months

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 17/04/2016 Telegraph Reporter

© Getty Dieting for a year is the way to prevent returning to your previous weight, scientists have found. 

Those who persevere with diets for 12 months see the pounds stay off, an experiment showed, because it changes the body's chemical make-up.

Scientific tests have previously found that dieting triggers a backlash from the body, leaving hunger-causing hormones to surge.

However, it appears that these so-called defence mechanisms can be overcome by dieting for a year, The Times reported.

Researchers in Denmark discovered that obese people who had shed an eighth of their weight on an intensive diet - and kept it off for at least a year - saw dramatic changes in the chemicals.

It suggests it is possible to defeat the body's natural resistance to losing weight.

Signe Sorensen Torekov, associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Copenhagen, said: "It's very difficult to fight the hunger.

"It's like a drug you're fighting against. This would have been an excellent mechanism 50 years ago, but the problem now is that we have so much food available that we can eat all the time.

© Getty "We were able to show that you shouldn't give up. If you're able to keep your weight down for a year, then it shifts and it becomes easier." 

It came as a separate study found that overweight people react very differently to real food and inedible images of snacks displayed on a computer screen.

In tests, both overweight and lean volunteers made similar decisions when given food choices in the form of images.

But it was another story when they were offered an all-you-can-eat buffet of real food including sandwiches, desserts, and drinks.

While lean and overweight participants were equally attracted to foods rated as tasty, the latter were more likely to go for the unhealthy, fattening items.

Lead researcher Dr Nenad Medic, from Cambridge University, said: "There's a clear difference between hypothetical food choices that overweight people make and the food they actually eat.

"Even though they know that some foods are less healthy than others and say they wouldn't necessarily choose them, when they are faced with the foods, it's a different matter.

"This is an important insight for health campaigners as it suggests that just trying to educate people about the healthiness of food choices is not enough. The presence of unhealthy food options is likely to override people's decisions.

"In this respect, food choice does not appear to be a rational decision - it can become divorced from what the person knows and values."

Impressive weight loss transformations

"I squeezed in fitness where I could.": <p><strong>Veronica Serrero, 33; Tennessee<br></strong><strong>Pounds Lost: 65<br></strong>Although she had a young son, Veronica was able to sneak in short <a href="http://www.redbookmag.com/body/health-fitness/news/a20696/the-workout-that-will-melt-away-fat-before-bikiniseason/">HIIT workouts</a> while he napped—which helped her drop one or two pounds per week (a healthy recommendation from the <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/">Centers for Disease Control</a>, especially for someone who's recently had a <a href="http://www.redbookmag.com/life/friends-family/news/a39728/c-section-photo-series/">C-section</a>, like Veronica). But as we all know, young kiddos don't stick to a set schedule, so oftentimes she found herself having to build exercise <a href="http://www.redbookmag.com/body/health-fitness/tips/a37830/best-way-to-lose-baby-weight/">into her regular routine</a> instead. "I'd do a quick YouTube video," she says, or go for a one- to three-mile walk in the jogging stroller she picked up. "Eventually, I started including my son in all my workouts," she says, "Because he enjoyed watching his mama jump around like a maniac!"</p> 23 dramatic weight-loss transformations

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