Keeping off the pounds you worked hard to lose may not be as difficult as you'd expect, particularly if you follow six weight loss strategies.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that roughly 20% of overweight people who lose at least 10% of their initial body weight are able to maintain the loss for at least a year.
"There is a general perception that almost no one succeeds in long-term maintenance of weight loss," notes the study, led by Rena Wing. "However, research has shown that 20% of overweight individuals are successful at long-term weight loss."
The investigators looked at the weight loss strategies of more than 4,000 members of the National Weight Control Registry in the United States, who lost an average of 33 kilograms and maintained the loss for more than five years.
Among the successful bulge battlers, there were six common approaches to weight loss maintenance:
Be physically active
Both men and women reported that being active helped them maintain their weight loss, with men burning off 3,293 calories a week through physical activity and women trimming 2,545 calories. Popular activities cited included walking, cycling, weightlifting, and aerobics.
Eat a low-calorie, low-fat diet
Weight loss winners said they consumed an average of 1,381 calories per day and only a quarter of those calories came from fat. Moreover, they went out for meals less than three times per week and less than one of those meals was at a fast food restaurant.
Breakfast every day
Starting off the day with breakfast has been shown to boost your metabolism, helping you avoid the temptation of eating late in the day and consuming more calories. More than 75% of the registry members reported eating breakfast every day.
Keep tabs on your weight
Nearly half of the registry members who successfully shed pounds said they weighed themselves regularly. Regular trips to the scale helped to keep tabs on any weight fluctuations and indicate the need to correct them.
Eat well on weekdays and weekends
Most of the participants reported eating the same way, both during the week and on weekends. However, nearly four in ten were stricter at adhering to their diet during the week. The researchers concluded those who were more consistent about eating patterns had better success at maintaining their weight loss.
Don't be deterred by gaining an extra pound or two
It was common for the participants to gain an extra pound or two along the way. But those who ensured those pounds didn't add up quickly were the best at keeping the weight off.
The researchers write that the "National Weight Control Registry members provide evidence that long-term weight loss maintenance is possible and help identify the specific approaches associated with long-term success."
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