Want to lose weight and keep it off? When researchers studied the habits of individuals who have lost 30 or more pounds and have successfully kept the weight off, here are the tried-and-true strategies and habits they uncovered.
- Successful weight loss maintainers changed both caloric intake and expenditure in order to create a calorie deficit.
- Maintainers eat a low-fat (25% or less), high-carbohydrate, low-calorie diet (average 1500 calories each day).
- They frequently self-monitor. Forty-four percent weigh themselves once per day and 31% weigh once per week.
- Exercise regularly. On average, women who successfully lose weight and keep it off expend 2545 calories through physical activity per week, which is equal to about 1 hour of moderate intensity physical activity (i.e. brisk walking) per day.
- Seventy-five percent of successful maintainers use walking as their primary form of exercise. In addition, 20-25% also weight lift.
- Successful maintainers usually accumulate 200 or more minutes of physical activity per week.
- Eat regular meals, including breakfast. Maintainers eat an average of 4.87 meals per day.
- Maintainers eat out, too! The average maintainer eats fast food no more than once per week and eats out at other restaurants for another 2.5 meals per week.
- Avoid fried food. Maintainers substitute low-fat for high-fat choices often.
- Reduce portion sizes and frequency of snacks.
- To control caloric intake, maintainers limit their consumption of calorie dense foods such as cheese, butter, high-fat snacks, fried foods, and desserts to less than once per week.
Wing R, Hill James. Successful Weight Loss Maintainance. Annu. Rev. Nutr. 2001; 21: 323-41.