If you were fat in the past and lost the weight, are you hungrier now?

What I’m asking is this: I used to be 100 pounds heavier, then I lost it. Now I think my stomach is still stretched from being fat in the past and that makes me hungrier now then I used to be, and I eat more and have weight problems even now.

Am I right that my stomach might be ‘stretched’ from being fat in the past, and that having a ‘stretched’ stomach could cause me to be hungrier than I used to be?

No. Hunger is unrelated to stomach fullness. It’s a function of blood sugar levels and other biochemical stuff.

But, is it possible that having been fat in the past changed by biochemicals (or anything else about my body or mind) in such a way that I’m more prone to getting fat now?

I was heavier in the past - about 40 pounds or so - and I rarely feel hunger any more. I lost the weight about 10 years ago, and just a small amount of food fills me up. If I tried to eat what I did back then I would probably be sick.

When I started losing weight it was difficult, and I was afraid I would go back to overeating like I had been, but once I got past the first month the hunger pretty much disappeared and has never really come back.

There was a pretty interesting NY Times article about this recently:


Damnit, I think I’m stuck in the ‘fat trap.’ How do I get out?

Well, I am having success with a low carb diet, but if you really want to raise your leptin, I would recommend you spend three days eating minimal fat, around 120g of protein and eat your maintaince intake in low GI carbs.

Make it as boring as possible so it doesn’t become a habit.

As for in general… any diet that doesn’t rely on starvation should be sustainable long term

Exercise like crazy? Just sayin’…

Note that I am now -51 pounds in 2 years, and yes my stationary bike was a key to that.

One thing I’ve found helpful is to shift my eating schedule around a bit because what was working isn’t working anymore. Instead of three discrete meals and no snacks, I’m eating three smaller meals and eating my fruits and vegetables as snacks instead of with meals. This keeps me going throughout the day and I don’t feel any hungrier.

Of course, I think I’ve hit that “post-dieting syndrome”, so I need to figure something else out if I’m going to lose those last 15 lbs.

MsRobyn, proud loser of 85+ lbs.

sandra nz’s pointing you to that cite is spot on. While ultrafilter is not quite right (stretching of the stomach does lead to a sense of fullness, causes release of various neuropeptides, and is involved in fullness, whereas normal ranges of blood sugar variation has very little to do with it in real life), the major factors involve other metabolic set points that involve gut-brain communication and what gets called “settling points” in academic circles, and those may be long lasting indeed. There is exciting research that points to inflammatory and receptor mediated brain changes as where lots of that happens.

How do you get out? The answer was in that article as well:

Those who succeeded long term did so with the application of long term strict discipline. Regular exercise, especially including some fairly intense exercise in the mix, strict portion control, and avoiding any extremely “highly palatable” foods (that means any of the junk stuff - soda, sweets, chips, fast food …)

Yes a diet relatively high in protein (20 to 30% of total energy, which for many will end up being, as suggested, about 120g) from low and healthy fat sources (fish, chicken, legumes, nuts, seeds, lean meats including game meats if such is your wont …) and fiber from lots of real vegetables and fruits, is a big part of that. Surrounding yourself with people who are supportive of that, not undermining it with “Oh just one piece!” or otherwise leading you astray.

It is difficult to keep it all off, but it is not impossible. The first part of long term success is recognizing that you can never let up. You are not on a diet; you now have a highly disciplined way of living.

Good luck!

The only thing we know of that will work is time. Keep fighting the fight to stay trim, and eventually your body will “reset”. Maybe. We really don’t know yet, but research is being done.

Fact is, fat never really goes away. It’s a long molecule off of which are hung many smaller molecules. When you lose fat, you lose the short molecules. That long molecule stays in your body, waiting for more short molecules to fill it up again. I visualize it as a closet rod, waiting for full hangers. When you diet, you lose the full hangers, and so your butt takes up less space, but the empty closet rod is still there, still pumping out hormones sending signals that “hey! I got room here! Where’s the fat?!”

Right now, the only way we know for sure to get rid of those fat seeking cells is liposuction. It’s possible that medical science will find other solutions, but that’s going to take time.

I know someone who successfully used their past history with bulimia to deal with your situation. They would eat small to normal sized portions but occasionally overate, perhaps 1/week during weight loss. When they get to that state and felt over full after eating they would purge themselves. This related the feeling of being overfull to being sick which helped them break the pattern of not so much hunger but large portions.

This is an awful strategy, one that no medical professional would endorse and for good reason. If it works for this one person (and I don’t think it really does) it’s a fluke, nothing more.

That’s a dowright scary “strategy” and sounds more to me like she’s found a way to rationalize her bulimic behavior. I mean, yay and yippee that she’s got it down to once a week, but WTF?

If you really want to try an aversion therapy, try putting a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it when you overindulge. Or carry a bottle of nasty smelling stuff and sniff it when you get hungry. Or something else that doesn’t involve the risk of esophageal tears, tooth loss, electrolyte imbalance, cardiac arrhythmia, aspiration pneumonia and death.

I have lost a 100 lbs over the past 2 years - but happily no where near as ‘hungry’ as I used to be.

But, I can trigger insatiable hunger with bad habits:
carb only meals burn up fast and trigger ‘eat again’ signals.
solution, eat some protein along with carbs.

Eating at a surplus for too many days in a row (holiday week or something) can turn everything right back on. Body screams for more calories/mind screams to keep eating too much.

Due diligence needed not to let the body get accustomed to a big surplus of calories over a period. One or two days can be managed. I get a week out, yeah, my body turns back into the feed me monster, and it takes quite a large amount of effort to rein it in again.

There are significant problems with that approach. Don’t do it if you like having teeth- the stomach acid in vomit will erode your teeth, if you’re vomiting regularly like that.

Fat molecules don’t have “lots of little molecules hanging off them”; they are stored as triglycerides (three fatty acids complexed with glycerol); these are completely broken down when metabolized. It is true though that fat cells themselves (which are like any other cell just with areas that store fat) never disappear, and (possibly) increase in number with weight gain (but not decrease when it is lost).

It’s the fat cells.

When you put on fat, you increase the number of fat cells.

When you lose weight, you don’t lose fat cells (or only very slowly), they just get smaller. And they put out chemicals, like ghrelin, to make you hungry so they (the fat cells) can get big again.

Strategies that work - the more of these you do, the better your chance of succcess:

  1. Regular cardio exercise; follow each session within 30 minutes by a high-protein, low-carb snack (such as a protein bar or shake); this will help to keep you from getting more hungry later. By “regular” I mean at least 30 minutes of cardio effect at least 3 times a week.

  2. Eat high-protein, low-carb meals. Avoid refined carbs - refined carbs just feed the fat cells and make them want more.

  3. Keep track of your calories in and out. Overestimate your calories in, and underestimate your calories out. Don’t forget the calories out you get just for “breathing”, which is about 10 calories per pound on average. You can refine this number if you want by getting a metabolism test.

  4. Find and participate in some kind of support group, where you can learn about nutrition and other helpful information as well as get emotional support.

  5. You can add in muscle-developing exercises, as muscle mass burns fat more efficiently, but this should be secondary to the cardio for at least the first 5 years.

Losing weight is relatively easy; keeping it off is the real challenge and the real proof of your commitment. My case: highest weight 335 pounds; 8 years ago I started my weight loss and went down to 185, but I was not able to keep it there. By dint of 7 years of hard work I am now at 207, and I am still slowly losing using the above techniques.

Good luck,

I’m starting to wonder if being a little bit overweight might not be a bad strategy, either. I’ve lost 30 pounds, and I have another 30 to go, but I’ve hit an equilibrium now that seems pretty easy to maintain (I eat reasonably well, but don’t deny myself much of anything, and exercise daily). It would seem that my body likes this weight; another 30 pounds off would be great, but if that sends me into endless hunger and an iron-clad eating strategy for the rest of my life, I’ll take the extra 30 pounds.

Was the exercise too much or the eating restrictions too hard to handle?