Bill Lagakos recently tweeted a 1958 paper/lit review by Max Wishnofsky titled the Caloric Equivalents of Gained or Lost Weight. Max was pretty much a CICO proponent back in the day, but he made a big deal of the water weight associated with protein and carb storage, so changes in weight were very much related to whether they were related to loss or gain of fat, lean body mass or glycogen.
Because of this, Wishnofsky writes about the importance of keeping protein in low-cal diets high (emphasis mine):
It must be stressed that it is fundamental that the protein content of the low-calorie diets employed in weight reduction be kept high. If they are so low as to permit appreciable negative nitrogen balances, there will be considerable loss of water. This will result in a decrease in the caloric equivalent of 1 lb of body weight lost and consequently a more rapid rate of loss in weight. This, is, however, a spurious loss because it has no permanency. After the desired weight loss has occurred and the patient has been placed on a diet adequate to maintain caloric equilibrium, the protein stores which have been depleted during the period of negative nitrogen balance will be replenished. For every pound of protein replenished there will be an increase of four pounds in body weight. Thus, even though the patient is in caloric equilibrium, he will continue to gain weight until the protein stores have been completely restored.
What struck me about the highlighted passage above was how similar it was to something Dr. Greg Ellis said a couple years back on a Jimmy Moore podcast (emphasis mine):
[After weight loss,] the fat tissue itself sends out very, very strong signals trying to make you eat. And they’re almost impossible to overcome … you start laying down body fat at a tremendous rate.
But you also want to increase your lean body mass. But the fat mass will increase up to 150% of what it was before the lean body mass gets back to where it was, and your hunger is not going to turn off until then.
What I said back then:
In other words, when you go off your diet and start piling on the pounds (again), they don’t necessarily go back on the same way they came off … you’re far more likely to put on more fat first.
So if you keep going until your lean mass is restored, by the time your weight stabilizes, you’re likely to have gained more weight than you lost.
For some of us, this “lose, then gain more” (pictured at right) feels very familiar … and is meaningfully different from the gradual gain that others experience over longer periods of time (left).
If a lean body mass setpoint existed, it’d explain a lot given how the typical person behaves after a traditional weight loss diet, i.e., back to being a mostly sedentary SAD eater. Not an ideal way to put any lost LBM back on!
Moral of the story? Maybe “after losing weight, lift some weight!”