A new study says 12 months of dieting can permanently alter your physiology.

By Morgan Goldberg
Updated May 24, 2017
Healthy Chicken and Kale Salad
Credit: © Todd Porter & Diane Cu

According to a recent study, short-term diets don't work. That, in itself, should be news to no one. Research has shown, over and over, that people who lose weight by dieting tend to gain it back. But here's the interesting suggestion in a new report in the European Journal of Enocrinology: If you can deprive yourself of all kinds of delicious things for a full year, you might be able to stay skinny.

The problem with diets in general is that restricting caloric intake induces a surge in hunger-causing hormones. Cells begin to store more calories as fat as a survival method, since the body thinks it might not get enough food. This slows weight-loss progress and, once you're done with the diet, it means you'll probably gain back all that weight.

However, researchers at the University of Copenhagen believe that after 12 months of dieting, the body's chemicals adapt to override this effect. After a year, the body produces less of the hunger-inducing hormone Ghrelin and more of the hunger-suppressing hormone GLP-1. The result, if they're correct, is the dieter's holy grail: permanent weight loss.

This is not great news for us, since 12 months without ice cream sounds unbearable. But if you're gathering your willpower to try to get in shape, now you know how long you've got to make it last.