After weight loss, your body tells you to eat

As bodybuilders, we’ve all experienced rebound weight gain. After a long dieting-down phase or a contest, we “relax” a bit and take some much-needed rest, enjoying some of the foods that we’ve had to forgo for so long for the sake of our physiques. But have you ever wondered why it’s so easy – especially right after dieting down or a contest – to gain body fat back faster than ever before?

A study investigated this question by testing a group of male subjects and measuring circulating hormone concentrations, including ketone bodies, free fatty acids (FFAs), insulin, leptin, glucose and cholecystokinin, as well as feelings of hunger. All measurements were taken at the beginning and end of the clinical study. Researchers found that after eight weeks on a weight-loss diet and one week on a weight-maintenance diet, subjects had changes in hormone signals that activate hunger. In other words, researchers found that the body ramps up its signals to the brain to eat. The body goes into “overdrive” mode, convincing the brain that it’s hungry. Additionally, researchers found that after a prolonged period of caloric deficit, the body ups its production and output of various fat-storing hormones.


After dieting down or completing a contest, expect to be especially hungry, and expect to gain some body fat easily – it’s just how your body works. Just be sure to not overdo it: Don’t binge too much in the initial days following the end of the tough road. Realize that your hunger and body-fat gain are the result of hormones that, with time, will normalize. Stay conscious and disciplined because, after all, whatever you eat, you’re going to have to go to the gym to burn it off. Be hungry for food, but even hungrier for results.


Chearskul S, Delbridge E, Shulkes A, Proietto J, Kriketos A. Effect of weight loss and ketosis on postprandial cholecystokinin and free fatty acid concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1238-46.

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