How to keep weight off?

How to Go Back to Normal Eating After Weight Loss or a Diet

Weight loss isn’t easy. In addition to a regular workout plan with Aaptiv, weight loss also typically requires a stricter diet than you may be used to.

Once you’re in a groove, though, habits start to form and your weight loss plan becomes second nature. Then, the hard part becomes returning to a regular eating pattern and maintaining the loss.

When you’re in a short-term, rigid pattern of eating, the normal pitfalls of everyday eating aren’t as much as a problem. You’re on a roll, seeing the weight fall off, and the diet keeps your choices controlled.

But once you’ve reached your goal weight and are looking towards transitioning towards a normal way of eating after weight loss, it’s much more difficult to navigate food choices.

The most successful way to maintain your weight loss is by making lifestyle changes that work for you. The transition from dieting to regular eating can be difficult. But the following tips on eating after weight loss will help you successfully transition to a healthy maintenance diet.

Eat mindfully.

Incorporate conscious eating habits at meals. Make a pact with yourself that you’ll avoid mindless eating. This includes the kind of snacking that is so off the radar that you don’t even remember how much you eat. Mindful eating allows you to better process your body’s signals and stop when your body says it’s full. To do this, make mealtime the main event. Set the table, turn off the television and phone, and just enjoy the meal. Take the time to honor the food and all that it took to bring it to your plate. Think about how it was grown, harvested, and prepared.

Slow down your eating and savor each bite. Allow yourself to think about the aroma, texture, and taste of the food. Set your utensil down between bites as you chew, and stop for a drink after several bites.

Mindful eating may be a challenge for you, as we tend to eat on the run and value quick meals in our culture. Be patient and give yourself time to learn how to change a lifetime of eating habits.

Expect setbacks.

Yep, there will times when you just couldn’t say no to the extra helping of cake, you had just a little too much to drink, or you lost your control at the appetizer table. That’s life. Learning how to handle dietary slips and get back on track is probably the most essential tool for maintaining weight loss.

When you do have a bad food day, be done with it when your head hits the pillow. You can always start fresh the next morning. Those three donuts are history. Holding onto any feelings of guilt associated with your diet will only derail your self-esteem and determination. Chalk them up as a delicious detour and get back on the healthy eating train. Besides, now that your normal diet consists of healthy food, those donuts (or whatever your slip food was) probably left you feeling lousy–a good reinforcement to stay on track.

Avoid rigid eating after weight loss.

Kris Bennett, RDN, CD, the outpatient dietitian at Watertown Regional Medical Center in Wisconsin reminds us to avoid an overly restrictive diet. “Restricting or avoiding some foods are common pitfalls,” says Bennett. She explains that when someone restricts a certain food, they tend to crave it, and may even overeat other foods trying to avoid the one they crave. They may also eventually binge on the craved food.

Allow for small, portion-controlled amounts of favorite foods during the week. If you budget in your diet for that food and don’t make it a daily habit, you’ll find it won’t have the power to derail your healthy eating.

Keep a food journal.

The last thing you probably feel like doing after a diet is writing down what you eat. Keeping a food journal during the first weeks of maintenance, though, can make the difference between success or failure. Writing down everything you eat makes you stop and take the time to really pay attention to your diet. And keeping a record is vital for making changes to your caloric intake if the scale starts to creep up.

Portion control is your friend.

The typical serving size for foods such as bagels, muffins and restaurant meals has steadily increased over the past decades. So how do you determine what’s a normal serving size? Learn to estimate by comparing to other objects. For example, one cup is approximately the size of a tennis ball and a serving of meat or fish should be the size of a deck of cards.

Determine the actual content size of your bowls and cups by filling your serving ware with water and measuring it, or use dry foods like oatmeal or rice to fill and measure. When adding oil to a dish while cooking or dressing always take the time to measure it out instead of just pouring.

Bennett has her clients use aids such as choosemyPlate.gov as a guide for meal portion size. It takes the guesswork out of portions and makes it so much easier to determine how much you should be eating after weight loss.

Eat only when you’re hungry.

Pay close attention to your body’s signals to learn the difference between real hunger and stress or boredom eating. Try to determine whether your body is feeling actually hungry (your stomach is growling) or your hunger is a response to an emotional cue. This can be a difficult thing to determine at first. It may take time to learn true hunger cues versus old stress response eating habits. The first step is becoming mindful of the cues, avoiding an immediate response (such as grabbing a donut and eating it before thinking about whether you’re truly hungry), and making healthier choices.

If food has been a source of emotional comfort, you’ll need to find positive replacements for it. It can be very helpful to work with a counselor who is experienced in emotional eating disorders. She can offer tools for successfully replacing emotional eating with healthier choices, and provide the support needed as you make this transition.

Eat protein at each meal.

Protein can help you curb your appetite because it reduces a hormone responsible for hunger, helping you feel full sooner and stay satiated longer. Include at least 20 grams of protein in every meal. Make sure your snacks also include protein to help give them staying power.

Ideally, protein will make up about 30 percent of your daily diet. Choose lean, low-fat sources (like these), such as fish, lean cuts of meat and poultry, and low-fat dairy. Most adults aren’t getting enough protein in their diet and need to up their intake, especially as they age, so make it a key part of every meal.

Get your sleep.

Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can disrupt your body’s hunger signals. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, your body becomes less glucose sensitive. The hunger hormone ghrelin is increased, while the appetite control hormone leptin is decreased. There’s an increased risk of obesity in people who don’t get adequate levels of sleep. So, if you have a hard time getting in eight hours of sleep each night, try making the following changes.

  • Stay as consistent as possible with the time you go to sleep and get up. Don’t sleep extra on weekends thinking that it’ll help you catch up. That’ll just disrupt your brain’s sleep schedule.
  • Shut down all electronic screens several hours before bedtime.
  • Make your bedroom sleep friendly by adding blackout shades if outside light is a problem. Remove any other sources of light (electronic alarm clocks, phone chargers).
  • Try wearing earplugs if you’re sensitive to noise. There are several types of earplugs available, so try them out to find ones that are comfortable.
  • Turn down the room temperature. Research has shown that keeping the temperature between 60-67 degrees at night improves sleep quality.
  • If you can’t sleep, make it a rule that the kitchen is off limits after your evening meal. Rewarding not sleeping with food can create a bad habit.

Calories do count.

Finding your daily calorie maintenance level is a bit of a dance. But with patience and time, you’ll find your sweet spot. Keep in mind that everyone has his or her own unique metabolism and number of calories needed to maintain weight. Someone who is more active, for example, should take in more calories than someone who is less active.

The road to successful weight maintenance is through making positive lifestyle changes and staying consistent with those changes. It takes time to change lifelong patterns, so be patient with yourself, and keep your workouts consistent with your Aaptiv app. And if you backslide, remember you can get back on track your next meal.

The Secrets to Weight Control After Dieting

Congratulations! You’ve reached your weight-loss goal. Whether you were counting calories or sticking to a low-fat diet, it’s now time to switch from weight loss to weight control. How can you maintain your healthier, slimmer body?

Weight Control: Why Is It So Hard?

“Your brain has a very accurate system of knowing how many fat cells you have, and even how fat those fat cells are,” says Ken Fujioka, MD, director of the Center for Weight Management and of nutrition and metabolic research at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, Calif. “When you’re dieting, the brain knows the body’s fat cells are decreasing and it wants to get them back, even after you’ve reached your goal weight,” explains Dr. Fujioka.

The brain has a number of ways it tries to regain its fat cells. One is to slow the body’s metabolism so it can hang on to fat more easily. Another is to make you think about food more. “Your brain is constantly telling you ‘eat, eat, eat,'” Fujioka says. “It will also deny that you are regaining weight, even if your clothes are getting tight. You need reliable ways to counteract these messages.”

Weight Control: The Strategies

Start thinking of weight control as the next, lifelong phase of dieting. Here are the guidelines you want to practice every day:

  • Exercise is critical for weight control. Exercise is a very important way to keep the weight off. “Studies show that people who have dieted and successfully maintained their ideal weight exercise around five hours a week,” says Fujioka. “To maintain a weight loss, I recommend people exercise at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week and do strength training twice a week,” says Jim White, RD, a registered dietitian and national spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. You can split your exercise sessions into segments, for example doing two 30-minute workouts on a day that you’ve planned an hour of exercise. “In fact, this can have a better effect on your muscle metabolism,” says White.
  • Write it down. Experts recommend writing down what you’re eating. “You can tell for yourself whether you’re doing well or need to pay more attention,” Fujioka says . “Counting calories is a great way to help yourself keep track of your food intake.”
  • Weigh yourself. Another important means of weight control is to get on the scale. “Seeing your actual weight on a scale is a good way to combat the brain’s message that you need more fat cells,” Fujioka notes. If you see your weight increasing, you know you have to work a little harder. Women’s weight tends to fluctuate a few pounds a month because of menstrual cycles, but if your weight goes up beyond five pounds or so, it’s time to regain control by cutting calories, adding more exercise, or both.
  • Eat breakfast. The National Weight Control Registry, which tracks more than 3,000 Americans who have achieved a weight loss of around 60 pounds and kept it off for about six years, found that eating breakfast is an important factor in keeping off weight. Eating a healthy breakfast makes it less likely that you’ll overeat during the day.
  • Stay motivated. “We all need to constantly challenge ourselves to stay motivated,” says White. “Give yourself a goal like a special date, a party, or other social event to help you maintain your weight loss.” Rewarding yourself is another good motivator. “Any kind of reward is good, other than food, of course,” he adds. “Buy some new clothes, a CD, a fitness gadget — whatever motivates you to stick with your program. Some people even take a trip as a reward.”
  • Stay accountable. Find other people who are trying to keep their weight off. By sharing tips, success stories, and struggles, you’ll find it easier to maintain good nutritional and exercise habits. If no one nearby is trying to keep off lost weight, try an online weight-loss group.

Weight Control: It’s a Lifestyle

Remind yourself that eating well and being active are lifelong methods of keeping yourself healthy by lowering your risk of serious disorders like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, certain cancers, and other health problems.

“The healthy habits you learned while dieting shouldn’t disappear once you’ve lost the weight,” says White. “You can eat a little bit more, of course, but don’t stop living that active, healthy lifestyle.”

THE QUESTION

Once I reach my weight-loss goal, how much food can I add to my diet so I don’t regain?

THE ANSWER

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As a dietitian in private practice, I am often asked this question. My clients want to know how different their diets will be once they reach their weight goal. My answer is usually the same: not much. That’s because the eating habits you adopted to lose weight must be the same ones you employ to keep those pounds off. (I’m assuming, of course, you’re following a weight-loss diet that’s balanced and sustainable for the long-term rather than an unbalanced, overly restrictive plan.)

How much food you need to maintain your target weight will depend, to a large extent, on how physically active you will be. If you ramp up your exercise level, you can eat a little more food. If trips to the gym become less frequent, you’ll need to cut back.

Exercise aside, you may still need to make slight adjustments to your diet to maintain your weight. But I emphasize the word slight. As you approach your goal weight, your rate of weight loss will likely slow down. This is common and absolutely normal.

As your body becomes smaller, it burns fewer calories to perform its tasks than it did when you were heavier. If you add too many calories back to your food plan, pounds can creep back quickly.

That said, if you find weight continues to fall off after you’ve reached your goal, your diet was probably too low in calories. In this case, you’ll have more leeway to increase your daily food intake.

There is no perfect formula for finding the right calorie level to maintain a weight loss: It’s a process of trial and error. Experiment by adding foods to your diet in 100-calorie increments. Once every two weeks, add 100 calories to your diet. For instance, if you were following a 1,600-calorie weight-loss diet, start by increasing to 1,700 calories a day. After a few weeks, if your weight is holding steady, bump up to 1,800.

When you find your weight increases at a certain calorie level, you’ll need to cut back by 50 to 100 calories – or add more exercise to your weekly routine. Some people will learn quickly how many calories they can get away with while others will need to experiment longer.

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When adding 100 calories worth of food to your diet, focus on nutritious foods like whole grains, fruit, legumes, yogurt and lean protein. If you add foods that come from a package (e.g. crackers, breakfast cereal, granola bars), read the nutrition label to determine the serving size for 100 calories.

Start by adding foods that you miss in your diet, be it an extra serving of fruit at breakfast, a soy latte with lunch, a larger portion of pasta at dinner or yogurt and berries for dessert. Use the following guide to help you identify what 100 calories worth of food looks like.

How much food is 100 calories?

Protein Foods

Lean chicken: 2 ounces

Salmon: 2 ounces

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Tuna: 3 ounces

Eggs: 1 large

Cheese: part skim 1 ounce

Chickpeas: cooked 1/3 cup

Lentils: cooked 1/2 cup

Milk & Milk Alternatives

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Milk, skim or 1 per cent: 1 cup

Yogurt, 1 per cent MF: 1 cup

Soy milk, unflavoured: 1 cup

Starchy Foods

Cereal, e.g. Bran Flakes,

Cheerios: 1 cup

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Oatmeal, cooked: 3/4 cup

Pasta, cooked: 1/2 cup

Air-popped popcorn: 3 cups

Rice/quinoa, cooked: 1/2 cup

Whole grain bread: 1 slice

11 Healthy and Effective Ways to Keep Weight Off

As an added bonus, your metabolism also gets a nice boost from eating these foods. It takes more energy to burn whole foods. “Avoid starchy, processed high-fat foods that are loaded with toxins that cause a buildup of inflammation. This—combined with stress—creates elevated cortisol levels and promote the storage of fat in the abdomen,” Dr. Petre adds.

Lower those cortisol levels with our fitness app, Aaptiv. We have running, strength training, yoga, meditation and more.

Work out first thing in the morning.

You might not be a morning person. But, just like the saying, the early bird gets the worm (even when it comes to weight loss). There’s plenty of research to support the idea that working out in the morning is more effective for weight loss than working out in the afternoon or evening.

One study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that women who exercised in the morning had less desire for food than those who’d skipped out on an a.m. workout. Additionally, researchers found that the morning exercisers were more active overall than the group who did not work out. In addition to helping keep the weight off, morning workouts also come with a myriad of health benefits. One of them is reduced the risk of diabetes, according to a study published in the Journal of Physiology.

Aaptiv can help you crush your morning workouts. Learn more here.

Count fiber, instead of calories.

It might sound like slashing calories is the easiest way to ensure you will keep weight off. However, this isn’t always the case. In fact, cutting too many calories from your diet, or working out too much, may do the opposite. “Hormonal mechanisms will actually increase your appetite and slow down your metabolism to compensate for the large calorie deficit,” says Dr. Adams. Counting fiber instead of calories may be your key to keep the weight off. “Foods high in fiber are very filling. often time-consuming to eat and have fewer calories per bite than most other foods,” he says. Try incorporating high-fiber foods (or supplement with this), such as the skins of apples, pears, and plums; as well as non-starchy vegetables like peas, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, into your diet. You will feel more satisfied while consuming less food overall.

Stay hydrated.

You’ve probably already heard that drinking water helps you keep weight off. There’s some serious truth to this. “Research suggests that drinking eight to ten glasses of water (eight fluid-ounces each) a day can boost metabolism by 24-30 percent and suppress appetite,” explains Dr. Petre. If you’re not thirsty enough for this amount of H2O, chances are that you’re consuming too many other beverages, such as sugary sodas, juices, and alcohol. “Replacing those fluids with water helps your body stay hydrated. it can save calories, money, and even help protect and clean your teeth,” notes Dr. Petre. Not a fan of the plain water taste? Add a slice of lime or lemon. “A glass of water with lemon is a recipe for successful weight loss because of pectin fiber, which can help reduce hunger,” Dr. Petre adds.

Don’t try to lose 20 pounds at once.

“Suddenly cutting calories or ramping up exercise causes the body to go into famine mode and defend its calories,” explains Robert Herbst, personal trainer, weight loss and wellness coach, and powerlifter. “That’s why people who suddenly start eating only salads on New Year’s Day are starving and miserable a week later—and their resolution diet comes to a crashing halt.” Instead, he recommends that his clients aim to lose one pound every week by cutting out calories here and there, such as snacks or sugary coffees. “The body will feel comfortable and the gradual weight loss will add up.”

Aaptiv can help with your weight loss goals. Check out the newest classes added to the app today.

Incorporate more protein throughout the day.

“Protein requires your body to work a bit harder during digestion and absorption. And has a higher thermic effect (think calorie burning) than foods high in carbs or fat,” explains Dr. Adams. “Simply stated, increased protein in your diet over time leads to more calories burned during the digestion and absorption process.” While this won’t cause the scale to move quickly, he says that it just may help you keep weight off throughout the year without sacrificing satisfaction in your diet.

Cut out as much sugar as possible.

Even if you’re a sweet tooth, it’s wise to eliminate as much sugar from your diet as you can, especially if you’re trying to keep weight off. “Sugar has been linked to leptin resistance, which is the hormone that tells you when you are full,” explains Dr. Petre. “Bad bacteria also consume sugar and compromise your immune system. causes cell aging and a decline in tissue function and elasticity.” Heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes are just a few additional reasons to avoid it at all costs. She recommends reading food labels closely so that you know just how much sugar you’re really consuming.

Make your last meal of the day your smallest.

You may have heard that the whole “eating late at night causes you to gain weight” thing was just a myth. But there’s actually some truth to it. The bottom line is typically calories in versus calories out. This means when you eat during the course of a day is not as important as how much you eat overall. However, Dr. Adams recommends always eating in relation to the day ahead of you and your activity levels. “Most people are more active, and have more time in the day left, in the morning and noon. So those are the times of day when they should eat the most,” he says. “As the day progresses, your energy demands tend to decrease, so your intake should match that.”

Lift weights.

If you’re not already lifting weights, you might want to incorporate some into your exercise routine. You might be worried that weights will only, well, add on weight. But this is not always true when incorporated correctly. In fact, doing the opposite, for example, only partaking in high-cardio exercises, might be causing you to hold on to weight.

“Long bouts of cardio don’t help weight loss. The body sees them as a long and uncertain search for food. slows the metabolism to save calories,” explains Herbst. “Weight training raises the metabolism and builds muscle by causing tiny micro tears that the body works hard to repair over the next 48-72 hours. Additionally, the body builds additional muscle in anticipation of having to lift greater loads in the future.” The best weight-training movements that he recommends are complex multi-joint movements. These include squats, lunges, bench press, and deadlifts which use the major muscle groups.

Give yourself a break.

There’s a reason that most nutritionist and exercise experts warn against strict diets. As Herbst explains, the concept of not allowing yourself to consume so many things that your body wants to consume becomes a burden rather than the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. This inevitably causes you to burn out. “Anything done severely doesn’t work,” he says. “It’s the severity of famine which the body defends against.” Instead, he recommends eating a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, and watching the extraneous calories.

Surround yourself with a supportive environment.

It is always easier to stick to your weight-loss goals when you have a support system in place to help motivate you to exercise and encourage you to stick to your diet goals when temptation strikes, explains Dr. Petre. This could mean enlisting the help of a gym buddy, joining a support group (like the Aaptiv community), or merely confiding in a close friend who will lend an ear when things get tough. Surrounding yourself with people who will help you from sabotaging your goals will go a long way.

Keep weight off


Healthy weight

Tips to help keep the weight off

Stick to lower-calorie eating – to lose weight you might have become used to eating less food. If you start increasing your calories, the weight might return.

Plan ahead – maintain your healthier eating habits regardless of changes in your routine, such as eating out, weekends or holidays. By planning ahead, you’re less likely to slip up.

Eat breakfast – research shows breakfast can help people control their weight: it can help you avoid getting too hungry and snacking on unhealthy food in between meals.

Stay active – if activity helped you lose weight, stick with it and make it part of the new you. If you’re just starting out, try walking more and build up your activity regime gradually.

Watch your weight – weigh yourself regularly, like once a week, so you can keep a close eye on any changes to your weight.

Get support – connect with other people on their weight loss journey on our popular Weight Loss forum on the HealthUnlocked online community.

Keep it interesting – variety is the spice of life, so if you feel yourself slipping back into your old ways, mix things up a bit: buy a new healthy cookbook, sign up for a fitness challenge, like a 5k fun run.

Set yourself goals – these can help motivate you into keeping up your healthy diet and exercise regime. For example, is there a special occasion coming up that you want to feel your best for?

Keeping It Off

On This Page

  • Watch Your Diet
  • Be Active
  • Stay on Course
  • Want to Learn More?

If you’ve recently lost excess weight, congratulations! It’s an accomplishment that will likely benefit your health now and in the future. Now that you’ve lost weight, let’s talk about some ways to maintain that success.

The following tips are some of the common characteristics among people who have successfully lost weight and maintained that loss over time.1

Watch Your Diet

  • Follow a healthy and realistic eating pattern. You have embarked on a healthier lifestyle, now the challenge is maintaining the positive eating habits you’ve developed along the way. In studies of people who have lost weight and kept it off for at least a year, most continued to eat a diet lower in calories as compared to their pre-weight loss diet.2 For more suggestions regarding a healthful diet, visit Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight.

  • Keep your eating patterns consistent. Follow a healthy eating pattern regardless of changes in your routine. Plan ahead for weekends, vacations, and special occasions. By making a plan, it is more likely you’ll have healthy foods on hand for when your routine changes.
  • Eat breakfast every day. Eating breakfast is a common trait among people who have lost weight and kept it off. Eating a healthful breakfast may help you avoid getting “over-hungry” and then overeating later in the day.

Be Active

  • Get daily physical activity. People who have lost weight and kept it off typically engage in 60—90 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week while not exceeding calorie needs. This doesn’t necessarily mean 60—90 minutes at one time. It might mean 20—30 minutes of physical activity three times a day. For example, a brisk walk in the morning, at lunch time, and in the evening. Some people may need to talk to their healthcare provider before participating in this level of physical activity.

Stay on Course

  • Monitor your diet and activity. Keeping a food and physical activity journal can help you track your progress and spot trends. For example, you might notice that your weight creeps up during periods when you have a lot of business travel or when you have to work overtime. Recognizing this tendency can be a signal to try different behaviors, such as packing your own healthful food for the plane and making time to use your hotel’s exercise facility when you are traveling. Or if working overtime, maybe you can use your breaks for quick walks around the building.
  • Monitor your weight. Check your weight regularly. When managing your weight loss, it’s a good idea to keep track of your weight so you can plan accordingly and adjust your diet and exercise plan as necessary. If you have gained a few pounds, get back on track quickly.
  • Get support from family, friends, and others. People who have successfully lost weight and kept it off often rely on support from others to help them stay on course and get over any “bumps.” Sometimes having a friend or partner who is also losing weight or maintaining a weight loss can help you stay motivated.

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