Sometimes life just isn’t fair. Maybe your high school crush asked your best friend to the prom. Or a big job promotion went to your colleague who excels at doing nothing…. Or perhaps you lost weight, gained a few pounds back, and got stuck with “rebound fat”!
Yes, rebound fat. I know it does doesn’t sound very scientific, but this phenomenon has been observed in real research studies. Rebound fat happens when you regain lost pounds and those pounds come back as more fat and less muscle.
In one study researchers focused on post-menopausal women who had lost about 25 pounds. After 1 year, many (over 70 percent of the participants) had regained at least some of the weight back. Looking at data on the regainers, they found a change in body composition. About 30 percent of the weight lost was muscle, however the proportion of weight they gained back as muscle was only 20 percent.
It may sound discouraging, but there is a bit of good news here. First, ‘rebound fat’ may not happen in all instances of weight regain. And the data also show that eating protein can help preserve muscle. One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that by consuming more protein during weight loss, you’re less likely to lose muscle in the first place.
The Bottom Line: When you cut calories to lose weight, make sure you consume enough protein (in grams) to equal roughly half your body weight (in pounds). So if you are 150 pounds, aim for about 75 grams of protein in your diet.
For a list of protein-packed snacks, check out this list.