10 Tips for Keeping the Weight Off

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10 Tips for Keeping the Weight Off

Weight is difficult to lose, but often even trickier to keep off. According to a study published in the journal Obesity, after six years, most contestants on “The Biggest Loser” regained much of the weight they had shed during the competition.

There are two big reasons it’s difficult to keep weight off. First, studies show that most people have trouble sticking with lifestyle behavior changes for more than about six months.

“When a person first adopts a weight-loss regimen, they tend to be highly motivated and often make major diet and lifestyle changes,” says Stephan Guyenet, PhD, author of “The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat.” “As time goes on, the restrictions and inconveniences of these changes start to wear them down, and they feel increasingly tempted by old habits.”

Second, the brain’s starvation response can thwart our best efforts.“Our bodies are programmed to try to hold onto every pound they can,” explains Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, and author of “Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer,” “so our biology fights weight loss.”

How can you avoid this fate? Here are 10 tips that address both issues.

1. EMBRACE A SUSTAINABLE EATING PLAN

“A diet is something most people go on and go off,” Ansel says. “If you want to keep that weight off for good, that means you have to stick with new eating habits for the long haul.” Keri Glassman, RD, agrees. “Excess weight comes when you fall completely off the track because you dieted too hard, without creating healthy habits,” she says. “This is the downward spiral of yo-yo dieting.”

2. EAT WHOLE FOODS, LOW IN CALORIES AND FAT

“Simply prepared whole foods, like fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, meats, yogurt, eggs, potatoes and whole grains — with few added fats, sugars or other flavorings — appear to dampen the starvation response,” says Guyenet. He also recommends integrating lots of protein, since protein “helps to control appetite and sustain metabolic rate in the face of fat loss.”

3. MAKE HEALTHY EATING THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE

“The human brain is highly reactive to its surroundings, and particularly to food cues, so controlling your food environment is critical in this regard,” says Guyenet. “Get rid of most visible foods in your home and workplace, and make sure that any foods that are visible are consistent with your goals. Banish the worst offenders — such as ice cream and chips — from your house completely. If these foods aren’t available, not only is it difficult to eat them, but you’ll actually crave them less.”

4. SLOWLY MAKE SMALL TWEAKS

Sweeping changes can be difficult to maintain over the long run. For many people it’s easier to make an incremental change, solidify that habit, then make another change. Possible tweaks include eating smaller portions, limiting alcohol, switching to whole grains and eating more fruits and vegetables, says Ansel.

5. EAT BREAKFAST

A large majority of successful dieters eat breakfast, such as cereal and fruit, says Michael W. Smith, MD, medical director and chief medical editor at WebMD.

6. ACCEPT THAT YOU NEED FEWER CALORIES

“Our metabolisms are largely a function of our body weight, so if you lose weight, your metabolism will naturally slow down,” Ansel says. “That means that your new thinner self will require fewer calories than it used to, so you won’t be able to eat as much as you did before you slimmed down.”

7. DROP THE IDEA OF A “CHEAT” DAY

Keep your nutrition consistent, even on the weekends, says Smith. “You can splurge a little then, but consistency in this area pays off.”

8. USE THE SCALE

The scale can help keep you in check, says Smith. Weigh in at least weekly, and know that the number will fluctuate by 1–2 pounds from day to day. But, if it changes more than that, you need to dial it back. “Once you get in the 2–4-pound and above range,” he counsels, “it gets harder to reel yourself back in.”

9. GET RESTORATIVE SLEEP

“Insufficient sleep impacts the brain circuits that regulate body fatness, favoring higher appetite and fat gain,” says Guyenet. “Conversely, getting enough high-quality sleep supports lower appetite and leanness.”

10. EMBRACE THE POWER OF EXERCISE

“In addition to the fact that physical activity burns calories, it also helps to maintain the brain circuits that regulate appetite and body fatness, leading to easier weight loss maintenance in most people,” Guyenet explains.

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  • Patti Weber Jakoubek

    The suggestion for what to eat for breakfast (#5), directly contradicts incorporating more protein (#2) to help suppress appetite. The breakfast describe is mainly carbohydrate based, and would leave me with a blood sugar crash and “the shakes” by mid-morning without incorporating some protein. We have incorporated homemade oatmeal at times, but we add protein powder to the mix to give it a boost.

    • Henry Aarvold

      Totally agree. “Breakfast cereal” is an appalling choice for any meal of the day alone the first! Eggs and avocado or salmon is a much better idea.

    • Cortney Harp

      Yes! Cereal? No… what poor advice.

      About weight: I wish I stayed within a 1-2 pound range. Day to day, I fluctuate by 3 pounds or more. If you workout hard and eat whole foods that are bulky, you’ll fluctuate. Plus factoring in gender can make a difference too.

    • Robin

      I think the point was to eat something for breakfast and not skip it. They also say to rest more “whole foods”. Yes, fruit! And “cereal” doesn’t necessarily mean eat a bowl a Fruit Loops every morning. Lol

      • Robin

        Ugh, “eat” not “rest”

    • Chris

      I also add a scoop of vanilla flavored protein to my oatmeal in the mornings and it is a sweetner so I don’t have to use sugar. It also helps with hunger control. I’ve gone from a size 42 jeans to a 36-38ish 5 months. Cut down on the bad carbs and up on the good ones with fruits and veggies, exercise, and some kind of cardio has really helped me. I also have bad knees, and messed up disk from L1-L5 in my back. You just have to find what your able to do and stay with it.

  • Ashish Chandrashekhar

    Absolute rubbish if an article. Fats are more satiating than carbs. And would give you sustained energy provided they are the right kind of fats. Also breaking a fast is necesssary but not necessarily in the morning. The less often you eat food the less your insulin spikes and less the hunger response. Lots of out dated bro science in here. Having tried all these tactics had never worked for me till I started intermittent fasting and Keto diet. These are the strategies that has help me loose fat and keep it off.

    • Don Morran

      Totally agree, AC! Do what works for you.
      My mother was adamant about my eating breakfast. As soon as I left home (52 years ago), I stopped that crap. A cup of coffee or glass of juice & I’m good.
      “Clean” eating is boring and difficult to maintain forever. If I want a donut, I eat a donut. Man, it’s good! I just don’t eat half a dozen. Self-control is more important.
      Exercise might make you stronger, but you can’t exercise your way to weight-loss heaven. (See previous paragraph.) Having a neurological problem in my leg and a bad back, I can’t do anything beyond walking across the room. No exercise for me; I can’t.
      Who needs a scale? That’s a crutch for people who want to boast about weight loss. Go by the way your clothes feel and fit. If you need to punch a hole in your belt to make it smaller, you’re on the right track. Trouble buttoning your shirt over your tummy; you’re on the wrong track. Oh, did I tell you? I lost 35 pounds. And, I’ve kept it off for 6 years. BUT, my waist went down 6″. That’s more important to me.
      Again, do what works for you; not what someone TELLS you will work.
      Too, I’m very skeptical of someone who maintains a ‘dairy free’ site. Maybe she’s lactose-intolerant, fine, say so. Just don’t get a hard on against something just to be fashionable.

      • Ashish Chandrashekhar

        Agree Don. Great progress on weight loss. Keep it going.

      • Aless

        I’m with u.. I have lost 20 lbs. . have a bad back and neck, once the weather gets nice .. walking. I use to do Planet fitness and know my limitations. Think I will go back, just wanna tighten up a bit.. but yes, the way ur clothes fit is the best result .

      • Don Reitsma

        Well said. Some are not so fortunate as you to have that kind of self comtrol when it xomes to one donut though. In Canada there is a Tim Horton’s donut shop on almost every corner now! LOL!

  • Ann Krinard

    I agree with just about all of these recommendations. Rest, breakfast,exercise, whole foods, fewer calories , small tweaks, less alcohol (like none!) and the best one…. Embrace a sustainable eating plan!!!
    Great advice here. If including cereal is the worst advice on the list, big deal.

  • Don Reitsma

    The article should be renamed the 10 best ways to regain all the weight you lost.

    “Get used to less calories” is like saying “get used to semi-starvation”. Really? Use willpower for the rest of your life while you struggle against hunger? Get serious. This why there is only a 3% success rate with low calorie / low fat diets – they don’t work for the vast majority of people. People must be insane because they keep trying the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

    Because you weigh less reduces your BMR but it doesn’t mean you will eat less. It just means you are burning less calories at rest. If you still have a high fasting glucose level and you weigh less it will take longer to bring it down. This is the major problem with maintaining weight loss. You need to bring your blood sugar level down as well.

    Low fat and use protein to feel full? Again, just ridiculous as protein pushers try and sell you that it is just as satiating as fat. It is more than carbohydrates but certainly not more than fat.

    There is only one way to keep the weight off with any degree of certainty and that is to stay full and at the same time reduce insulin levels. This means staying on a low carbohydrate high fat diet. You can exchange high fat for high protein but you will pay the price with more weight gain.

    Your thinking might have helped get you to being obese but physiolgy keeps you there so you’re not going to think your way out of it.

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    • Cath Burnett

      Completely agree, I am currently following the 8 week blood sugar diet (Dr Mosley), high fat, med protein, low carb, no sugar or alcohol (working brilliantly). The advice Dina is giving is so wrong and out of date it’s frightening, maybe she should read Dr Michael Mosley’s book or Dr Jason Fung’s `The obesity code` or Jimmy Moore Keto clarity. Sugar is the enemy not fat, processed carbs turn into sugar and are stored as fat, healthy fats are burned in our bodies for fuel. All this advice about low fat is wrong. Cereals (including normal porridge) are processed carbs, which will just turn to sugar give you a sugar dip in a couple of hours and make you hungry. Most fruit is high in sugar, same reaction. We can easily go without rice, pasta, potato, bread, grains, our bodies don’t need this processed rubbish. The truth is the diet industry is worth billions and the groups that are out there, get you eating the wrong food (now they have their own which is again full of sugar) so you are destined to fail. Believing that eating pizza, chips, sandwiches, diet yogurt, diet spreads, diet drinks, small bars of chocolate, wheat crisps is again setting you up to fail, it isn’t sustainable. All I can say is anyone reading this article should do some research from the authors I have mentioned.

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  • Greg Dahlen

    One thing that probably will help with weight loss is going to church. For instance, I go to daily Mass, and a person is supposed to fast one hour before going to Mass. I find this hour of fasting sets a tone for eating less during the day. I notice there aren’t many overweight people at church. Or at least not too overweight.

    • Elizabeth Ledesma

      Best comment! I’ll give it a try. Daily mass is at 8:30am. But, I’m leaving after the Homily. My priests always find a way to put women down in their Homily☹️

      • Don Reitsma

        That kind of stress will raise tour cortisol and result in weight gain so better iff to leave as you say!

      • Greg Dahlen

        In what way do they put women down?

  • Nancy

    I agree with most of these comments but I disagree with Don Reistma – I have been watching my calories for a whole 5 weeks (the world really does need a sarcasm font) and while very late to the “diet” world at age 47, I can say that I have done surprisingly well keeping to 1200 calories most days. I am generally only hungry within 30-60 minutes of my next meal. I admit the measuring (which I only do about 30% of the time) is tedious but well worth it. I have been far from perfect and I have eaten many “naughty” foods in the past 5 weeks, but within a much more restrained capacity and with a clearer understanding of what the impact of my food choices can be. We have been to the neighborhood pizza joint, split their amazing antipasto salad and had two slices each of thin deep-dish pizza, veggies only. Turns out the calorie hit wasn’t too bad and two slices of their delicious “real food” pizza have less calories than one slice of that $5 cardboard pizza out there. Win-win!! Going to Red Robin we ordered our usual sandwiches and counted out a serving size of french fries. Full & satisfied. Sadly their delicious 1300 calorie (!!!!) mud pie dessert did not make the cut. And I have lost 17 lbs in those 5 weeks. And my sugar has gone down to 180+ to about 155.

    • Don Reitsma

      Not sure what part you disagree with. Calories required is dependent on height for the most part. You’re probably not 6′ like I am, so if smaller can get by on less calories. As for me, I eat 2 meals a day and sometimes 1 and don’t get hungry eating less than 1900 calories a day with a 70% fat diet. When eating once a day it’s around a 1000 calories. On those days I might feel a bit hungry but just have a cup of tea or hot water and it goes away.

      You have made a great start and glad to hesr you didn’t have the mud pie! I hope you keep it up (no sarcasm).

      It’s not just about calories, but about losing weight and staying full until the next meal. If you’re doing that on 1200 calories a day then that’s great (no sarcasm).

      Look at your carb, protein, fat percentages. If you’re using myfitnesspal it is easy to track and set up as your goal along with calories. Your sugar is down so my guess is you have reduced your bad / processed carb intake.

      Eat lots of green veg and if you get hungry between meals eat an ounce of unprocessed full fat cheese (if you like cheese). The littlle Baby Bel cheeses are great for satiating and have no carbs.