7 Strategies for Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Once you’ve made it to your goal weight, follow these 7 steps to keep the pounds off for good.
By: Julie Upton, MS, RD, Getty Images
Keep the Weight Off for Good
Losing weight isn’t simple but it’s relatively straightforward: eat fewer calories than you burn off and the scale heads south. Keeping those lost pounds off, however, is more challenging than losing them, and why just one in five successful dieters are able to maintain weight loss long-term. Research is now focused on strategies that work for weight maintenance. Based on results of the largest study conducted of successful dieters, the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) and other studies, losing weight and keeping it off require very different strategies. Based on the most recent evidence, here are the 7 habits researchers have found are consistently linked to maintaining substantial weight loss for up to 10 years.
By: Julie Upton, MS, RD, Photo: Southern Living Farmers Market Cookbook
Have a Healthy Eating Game PlanYou’ve reached your goal weight. Now you just want to enjoy your favorite foods and splurge a little. Not so fast. Successful losers always keep their diet top of mind and rarely stray from healthy eating, even on weekends, during the holidays or special occasions. Exerting your self-control and some amount of dietary restraint is essential to keep pounds off. If you focus on eating quality foods, like fruits and vegetable and moderate amounts of lean protein and whole grains, it will be easier to keep calories in check. If you revert back to your old eating habits, before you know it, you’ll also be back at your heavier self.
By: Julie Upton, MS, RD, Photo: Lee Harrelson
Step on the Scale Every WeekNearly everyone will naturally gain weight if we don’t keep close tabs on it. Maintainers report weighing themselves once a week and once they see the scale head north, they have a plan to take the pounds off. If you don’t weigh yourself for weeks or months, you may be more likely to throw in the towel if you notice you’ve already gained more than five pounds so stay ahead of it.
By: Julie Upton, MS, RD, Photo: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Limit Eating Out and Drinking AlcoholEvery meal eaten out ups your odds of gaining back pounds. Successful dieters tend to take control over what they eat, preparing most of their meals and snacks at home. They eat out or have take-out no more than three times a week. Putting the brakes on booze is also important because beer, wine and spirits are not only calorie-rich, ethanol stimulates your appetite, chips away at your resolve to eat healthy and heightens the desire for high-calorie pleasurable foods.
By: Julie Upton, MS, RD, Photo: Corbis Images
Lose Weight the Right WayThe way you lose weight to begin with predicts how well you’ll be able to keep it off. Rapid-fire approaches using very low calorie diets, fasts or other highly restrictive approaches are the least effective. Because they are so unsustainable, you go right back to the way you used to eat and weight piles back on. In addition, when weight is lost quickly (more than 2 pounds per week) you lose a larger percentage of muscle mass and your metabolic rate plunges. Using reputable commercial weight loss programs are a better approach to help you maintain weight loss but developing your own personalized approach to weight loss provides the best results for maintaining that weight loss long-term.
By: Julie Upton, MS, RD, Photo: Corbis Images
Limit TV Viewing to No More Than 10 Hours a WeekWatching TV not only is linked to making us overweight it is also associated with weight regain after you’ve lost lbs. Nearly two-thirds of those in the NWCR spend no more than 10 hours a week watching TV compared to 28 hours for an average Americans. Experts suggest that the food and beverage ads and images on TV subconsciously boost hunger. In addition, many who watch TV also do so while mindlessly munching on high-calorie snacks.
By: Julie Upton, MS, RD, Photo: Beau Gustafson; Styling: Melanie J. Clarke
Eat a Protein-Rich Breakfast
One of the most consistent formulas for maintaining your leaner frame is eating breakfast. When it comes to what to eat for breakfast, some studies suggest that replacing poor-quality carbohydrates like sugary cereals, baked goods, bagels, pancakes, waffles with a breakfast with more protein like eggs, Greek yogurt or oatmeal with nut butter may help keep hunger and cravings in check.
By: Julie Upton, MS, RD, Photo: Randy Mayor
Exercise at Least an Hour a DayResults of the NWCR show that those who exercised for an hour a day, are more likely to maintain pounds off. The best type exercise for helping you stay slimmer is a combination of aerobic exercise, high-intensity interval training and strength training. Stretching after sessions is always recommended to maintain mobility and range of motion of your joints. Newer research shows that for torching calories and providing a metabolic boost, interval training (combining short bouts of high-intensity efforts followed by moderate effort) may be more effective than lower-intensity workouts.
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