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The Science of Weight Loss

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Sustainable Behavior Changes
vs. Rapid Weight Loss Rebound

Typical diet programs can produce short-term results, but adherence to dieting behavior and results falter over time. In contrast, Retrofit is a program that is designed specifically to deliver slow, steady weight loss through behavior changes that can be sustained for life.

Nutrition Drives Initial Weight
Loss Phase

Initial weight loss is driven largely by modifying nutrition patterns. Fitness becomes increasingly important when maintaining weight loss. A healthy mindset provides the foundation for habit development in both the initial weight loss and long-term weight maintenance phases.

Mindset Drives Adherence to
Healthy Behaviors

The Retrofit curriculum reflects the crucial role of mindset during both the weight loss and weight maintenance phases. Nutrition receives greater emphasis during the initial weight loss phase, whereas during weight maintenance the focus on fitness increases.

Increased Muscle Mass Aids
Long-Term Weight Stability

This graph shows an actual client's pattern of weight loss (blue) and lean mass gain (orange). The average Retrofit client steadily loses 1/2 to 1 pound each week and gains an average of 2 to 3 percentage points in lean muscle mass during the program. The range of lean muscle mass gained was large — from modest 1-point changes to heroic gains exceeding 15 points. Increases in muscle mass result in a higher calorie burn rate, which is important to long-term weight loss maintenance.

Our Advisory Board

Our Advisory Board

Retrofit is proud to have some of the leading researchers in weight management on our founding team. Collectively our advisory board members have worked with over 40,000 weight loss clients across the country.

Selected Advisory Board Member Publications:

Kushner RF, Kessler S, McGaghie WC. Using Behavior Change Plans to Improve Medical Student Self-Care. Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. 2011 May 25. PUBMED

Hernandez TL, Sutherland JP, Wolfe P, Allian-Sauer M, Capell WH, Talley ND, Wyatt HR, Foster GD, Hill JO, Eckel RH. Lack of suppression of circulating free fatty acids and hypercholesterolemia during weight loss on a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. Am Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010 PUBMED

Kushner RF. Tackling obesity: is primary care up to the challenge? Archives of Internal Medicine. 2010 Jan 25; 170(2):121-3. PUBMED

Hill JO, Peters JC, Wyatt HR. Using the energy gap to address obesity: a commentary. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009 Nov;109(11):1848-53. PUBMED

Kushner RF, Choi SW. Prevalence of Unhealthy Lifestyle Patterns Among Overweight and Obese Adults. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) 2009 Oct 29. PUBMED

Catenacci VA, Hill JO, Wyatt HR. The obesity epidemic. Clinics in Chest Medicine. 2009 Sep;30(3):415-44, vii. PUBMED

MacLean PS, Higgins JA, Wyatt HR, Melanson EL, Johnson GC, Jackman MR, Giles ED, Brown IE, Hill JO. Regular exercise attenuates the metabolic drive to regain weight after long-term weight loss. American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2009 Sep;297(3):R793-802. PUBMED

Stroebele N, de Castro JM, Stuht J, Catenacci V, Wyatt HR, Hill JO. A small-changes approach reduces energy intake in free-living humans. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 PUBMED

Bahr DB, Browning RC, Wyatt HR, Hill JO. Exploiting social networks to mitigate the obesity epidemic. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.). 2009 Apr;17(4):723-8. PUBMED

Mechanick JI, Kushner RF, Sugerman HJ, Gonzalez-Campoy JM, Collazo-Clavell ML, Spitz AF, Apovian CM, Livingston EH, Brolin R, Sarwer DB, Anderson WA, Dixon J, Guven S, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, The Obesity Society, American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, The Obesity Society, and American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery medical guidelines for clinical practice for the perioperative nutritional, metabolic, and nonsurgical support of the bariatric surgery patient. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) 2009 Apr; 17 Suppl 1:S1-70, v PUBMED

Hill JO, Peters JC, Catenacci VA, Wyatt HR. International strategies to address obesity. Obesity Reviews. 2008 Mar;9 Suppl 1:41-7. PUBMED

Donahoo W, Wyatt HR, Kriehn J, Stuht J, Dong F, Hosokawa P, Grunwald GK, Johnson SL, Peters JC, Hill JO. Dietary fat increases energy intake across the range of typical consumption in the United States. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.). 2008 Jan;16(1):64-9. PUBMED

Catenacci VA, Ogden LG, Stuht J, Phelan S, Wing RR, Hill JO, Wyatt HR. Physical activity patterns in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) 2008 Jan;16(1):153-61. PUBMED

Wyatt HR. Does insulin concentration modify the outcome of dietary intervention in young adults with obesity? Nature Clinical Practice. Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2007 Dec;3(12):802-3. Epub 2007 Sep 18. PUBMED

Catenacci VA, Wyatt HR. The role of physical activity in producing and maintaining weight loss. Nature Clinical Practice. Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2007 Jul;3(7):518-29. Review. PUBMED

Lifestyle Patterns Approach

Our wellness expert teams leverage the body of work that Retrofit Advisory Board members Robert Kushner, MD, MS, and Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, CSSD, captured in their 2009 publication of Counseling Overweight Adults: The Lifestyle Patterns Approach and Tool Kit. Client lifestyle patterns are identified with a 50-question quiz at the beginning of the Retrofit program, as well as at key intervals throughout the year. Each client's Retrofit weight loss expert team applies customized strategies to overcome the specific lifestyle patterns that are blocking weight loss success.

Lifestyle Patterns Approach Chart

The Dieting Data Problem

According to the Boston Medical Center, approximately 45 million Americans go on diets every year. Yet the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that over 200 million Americans are overweight or obese.

A body of work is building on the total costs of obesity to us as a nation, as well as the impact on the work place.

Prevalence of Self-Reported Obesity Among U.S. Adults

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However, for most commercial weight loss plans the data is very short-term when compared to the nation's long-term slide into obesity.

Read more . . .

Accountability is Key to
Behavior Modification

Dr. James Hill, PhD, a member of Retrofit's Advisory Board, is a co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). This database tracks over 10,000 people who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for over a year. Several of Dr. Hill's colleagues on the Retrofit Advisory Board have analyzed the NWCR members' strategies for long-term weight loss success. Their findings form the foundation of Retrofit's science-based approach.

One of the key research findings of the NWCR is that 75% of long-term weight losers weigh themselves at least once a week. Self-awareness and self-monitoring are essential behaviors for those who keep weight off long-term. That is part of the rationale for including wireless tracking devices in the Retrofit program.

Wireless devices

Each Retrofit client is held accountable to their weight loss goals by a team of 3 weight loss experts: a behavior coach, exercise physiologist and registered dietitian.

Skype Video Conferencing

Meetings with each Retrofit expert are held via video conference, thereby increasing the personal accountability between the client and his or her team. Video conferencing is increasingly recognized in the health care industry as a powerful way for patients to connect with healthcare professionals.

Find out more about How Retrofit Works.

Studies Show …

Significant weight loss in a short period of time is not only unsustainable, but stresses the system and creates other health risks. The National Weight Control Registry (a study of over 6,000 people who have maintained their weight loss for 5 years+) has put the pace of lasting, safe weight loss at a much slower 5-10% annually. This allows time for your new lifestyle habits to become permanent - and to create a sustainable foundation for additional weight loss.

  1. 1) 10% can lead to significant health improvements.
  2. 2) People don't have time to spend on weight loss.
  3. 3) Anyone can lose weight. Keeping it off is tougher.
  4. 4) Sleep is a key factor in any weight loss plan.
  5. 5) Cookie cutter approaches won't work for everyone.
  6. 6) Internet counseling can work as well as in-person counseling.
  7. 7) Stress can lead to weight gain.
  8. 8) Most people don't know what their calorie intake should be.
  9. 9) Phone calls help.
  10. 10) Short term diets don't work.

Studies Show

Just a 10% weight loss can deliver significant health improvements, such as bringing your blood ranges back to "normal."


Focuses on this crucial 10% first, teaches you how to maintain the weight loss, and then repeats the cycle if additional weight loss is desired.