If your weight has a lot in common with a yo-yo – they both go up and down – then you really need to cut the string and diet right this time.
Just because you may have lost and regained weight a time or two in the past, you haven’t hurt your metabolism. Yes, you can lose weight and keep it off this time.
A study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center proved that so-called yo-yo dieters DO NOT suffer a long-term effect on their metabolism – or on their ability to lose weight later in life.
The study looked at 439 “overweight to obese” women who were placed into one of four groups: reduced diet, exercise only, reduced calorie plus exercise, and a control group (no intervention). After a year, both the diet-only and diet-plus-exercise groups lost 10% of their weight, which happened to be the goal result.
The researchers then compared the women’s history of yo-yo dieting to whether or not they succeeded on the diet or diet-plus-exercise programs. They found even those who had lost and regained more than 10 pounds repeatedly were still successful – and that’s encouraging news for all dieters.
What successful losers do to maintain
Since being established 20 years ago, the National Weight Control Registry has tracked more than 10,000 successful weight-loss maintainers. The registry has documented the behaviors that are the best predictors of success. The top 4 ways to lose weight and keep it off:
- Keep moving. The study shows that 90% of weight-loss maintainers make time for deliberate activity (about 1 hour daily). The best predictor of permanent weight loss is indeed activity. The metabolism study showed that both diet and activity are essential.
- Eat breakfast: A significant 78% of successful maintainers eat breakfast daily; most of them eat a lot of cereal and fruit.
- Stay aware: Registry members monitor their weight frequently. About 44% of them report weighing themselves daily, and 31% weigh in at least once weekly. As soon as you see the number on your scale inching upwards, it’s time to take action.
- Fade to black: Unless you’re using your TV time to do some sit-ups or walk on the treadmill, hit the off button and get off the couch! About 62% of registry members watch less than 10 hours of TV per week!
So why do people regain lost weight? Inactivity, diet, and stress are the top three culprits.
5 ways to keep the weight off permanently
- Burn baby, burn! We’re busy at work, school, commuting, but over time it takes at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, weekly to maintain weight loss. Or you can try a combination of the two. That’s doable – 150 minutes a week equates to merely 22 minutes a day. Put it on the top of your priorities list, so you never have to “go on” a diet again.
- Reset the thermostat! As we age, our metabolism slows. Therefore, we need fewer calories to maintain our weight. But by building some lean muscle with regular resistance training – at least three to four sessions weekly – your body can burn more calories. Don’t worry about lifting heavy weights. Here are a few ways to keep your body’s furnace humming.
- Eat yourself thin! Starvation diets have a boomerang effect. The more rigid and restrictive the diet, the more likely you are to “go off” the diet once you see the scale hit that magic number. Make your diet what you usually eat and drink on a regular basis. The diet that helps you achieve weight loss can be the diet that you stay on permanently – as long as it’s balanced and varied.
- Overcome challenges! A common complaint for dieters is that life gets in the way. A lot of us find that we’re too busy to shop and cook healthy meals. But hey, that’s life! There are simple solutions. You simply have to adopt one or more. There’s no crime in using frozen meals and pre-packaged snacks – they’re very effective in helping people lose and maintain weight loss! Click here to learn how to choose healthy frozen meals. Also, save time and eat proper portions with pre-washed and pre-cut salads, fruits, meats and dairy products.
- Manage your stress! Stress causes chemical changes that can slow metabolism and lead to weight gain. Stress-triggered weight loves to accumulate around the belly. When you’re stressed, you may eat more carb-heavy foods, since they promote the release of serotonin, which is a “calming” hormone. It’s a vicious cycle. Overeating then causes more stress! Nip it in the bud. Skip the food and use activity to ease your stress. Regular activity helps lower stress. So too does relaxation, meditation and rest.
Susan Burke March is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, who as chief nutritionist for eDiets promotes the dietary health and wellbeing of consumers worldwide.