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Conventional wisdom tells us that losing extreme body weight can damage metabolism to the point that a weight regain will be insurmountably out of control.
I’ve never believed this to be true and I think it’s more likely a behavioral factor; those who lost and regained significant body weight probably used unsustainable weight-loss methods and then revert eventually to their old dietary habits, many with even greater dietary indiscrimination.
I know people who lost significant weight but kept it off permanently. Their metabolism has not failed them. Perhaps they gave their metabolism time to adjust and adapt to the new body weight and dietary intake.
And if losing weight dramatically is thought to be a metabolic hazard, then certainly this has not been shown to be true in the observation of many war survivors who came home skin-and-bone yet years later never fell victims to obesity or overweight. (This is not exclusive to concentration camp survivors of WWII, but inclusive to those of wars throughout history.)
The observation of severe weight loss and its after-effect goes beyond war and famine.
Take a modern-day example: Christian Bale’s amazing body transformation for his role in the 2004 movie The Machinist.
If it’s true what’s told to us about extreme weight loss and its corruption on metabolism, then what’s with Bale’s transformation from a walking ribcage in The Machinist to a muscular physique for his role in Batman and then again to an athletical body displayed in Terminator Salvation?
And what about his recent drastic weight loss again for his latest movie, The Fighter, in which he acts as a crack-addict ex-fighter?
And have you seen Bale’s latest interview post-movie? Back to his normal weight, healthy, once again, with a headful of hair and vibrant skin, and not a pound of excess fat.
Sure, Bale is a method actor with talent on the screen and in his resolve to assume the role of character, and he’s also a single example. But there are many examples of severe weight loss without the rebound or the evidence of a broken metabolism.
The point of this post is: the body is smart. It is flexible. It is adaptable. It is behavior that dictates how the body adapts. You just have to give the body a chance.