How to maintain weight?

12 Steps to Manage Your Weight

You’ve just lost weight and you don’t want to see that number go back up on your scale. Although gaining the weight back might feel inevitable, it doesn’t have to be. In fact a recent analysis by the National Weight Control Registry found long-term weight maintenance is possible — if you follow these key behaviors. Below, 12 tricks from dietitians and successful dieters who were able to lose and weight and keep if off.

  1. Build more lean muscle. Maintain, or even increase, your metabolism by continuing to build lean muscle. “Muscle has a higher metabolism than fat does,” explains Emily Banes, RD, clinical dietitian at Houston Northwest Medical Center. If you don’t yet train with weights, add this type of exercise to your overall program now. If you do, increase the amount of weight you’re working with to keep yourself challenged.
  2. Fight off hunger with more filling foods. A three-year University of Pittsburgh study of 284 women between the ages of 25 and 45 found that those who avoided weight gain the best were the ones whose meals kept them feeling full. “Keeping that feeling of fullness can be done with foods high in fiber — think fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein,” says Jenna Anding, PhD, RD, of the department of nutrition and food science at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
  3. Avoid temptation. The University of Pittsburgh study also found that women who best controlled their weight were good at resisting the temptation to binge on forbidden treats. This doesn’t mean never indulging in a gooey dessert again, but rather picking — and limiting — your moments. There are many ways to avoid daily temptations, including planning ahead when eating out, eating out less, and banning your worst weaknesses from the house.
  4. Count calories. Another hallmark of successful weight maintenance, according to the University of Pittsburgh study, is regularly counting calories. Use a journal such as My Calorie Counter to keep a running total throughout the day if that helps you keeps track of calorie consumption. In the weight-control survey, the women who were most successful at less than 1,800 calories a day and limited fat intake.
  5. Plan your meals in advance. A maintenance diet has a lot of the same components as a weight-loss diet. Having a meal-by-meal plan that you can stick to, although it has more calories than your diet plan did, can act as a guide to keep you on track.
  6. Consider adding minutes to your exercise plan. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week, but emphasize that the more you exercise, the better able you are to maintain a weight loss. Participants in the weight control survey walked for at least 60 minutes daily — or burned the same calories with other activities — so aim for 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity every day.
  7. Measure your portions. According to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) study of more than 4,000 U.S. adults, the biggest factors in success were measuring portions and fats, the most caloric foods, in particular. This doesn’t mean you have to carry a food scale everywhere you go, but using it as often as possible at home will teach you how to eyeball portion sizes at restaurants and immediately know how much to eat, and how much to take home in a doggie bag.
  8. Weigh yourself daily. The same CDC study reported that people who weigh themselves once a day are twice as successful at keeping off lost weight as those who don’t step on the scale as often. Daily weigh-ins, which can be discouraging when you’re on a diet, can be a boon during maintenance; they let you see, and stop, any slow creep upward as soon as it happens.
  9. Include dairy in your diet. According to a study of 338 adults, those who ate three or more servings of low-fat dairy daily were more likely to keep off the weight than those who ate one serving or less. For women in particular, this has the additional benefit of improving bone health.
  10. Let your plate be your guide. When you can’t count calories or measure portions accurately, Banes recommends using the “plate method” as a way to control the amount you’re eating. A great tip for dieters, it works just as well for people on a maintenance plan. Simply put, when you serve yourself using this method, at least half your plate should be vegetables and the remaining space should be divided evenly between lean protein and whole grains. If you go back for seconds, limit yourself to vegetables, fruit or low-fat dairy.
  11. Watch less TV. In the National Weight Control Registry Survey, dieters who watched fewer than 10 hours of TV a week were more successful in maintaining weight loss than those who spent more time vegging out in front of the tube. And less TV time might have other benefits, too — an analysis from the Harvard School of Public Health found that too much TV can raise your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and death.
  12. Eat breakfast. They call it the most important meal of the day for a reason. In the survey, women who regularly ate breakfast were more successful with long-term weight loss than those who skipped the first meal of the day. It’s best to eat similar healthy choices regularly (think oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and fresh fruit) and always start out with a good breakfast to avoid splurging or overeating on special occasions.

Now that you know the secrets to long-term weight-loss success, get started with your weight management program today!

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Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and well-being.

As you grow older, if you continue eating the same types and amounts of food but do not become more active, you will probably gain weight. That’s because your metabolism (how your body gets energy from food) can slow with age, and your body composition (amount of fat and muscle) may be different from when you were younger.

The energy your body gets from the nutrients in the food you eat is measured as calories. As a rule of thumb, the more calories you eat, the more active you have to be to maintain your weight. Likewise, the reverse is also true—the more active you are, the more calories you need. As you age, your body might need less food for energy, but it still needs the same amount of nutrients.

How Can I Keep a Healthy Weight?

Many things can affect your weight, including genetics, age, gender, lifestyle, family habits and culture, sleep, and even where you live and work. Some of these factors can make it hard to lose weight or keep weight off.

But being active and choosing healthy foods has health benefits for everyone—no matter your age or weight. It’s important to choose nutrient-dense foods and be active at least 150 minutes per week. As a rule of thumb:

  • To keep your weight the same, you need to burn the same number of calories as you eat and drink.
  • To lose weight, burn more calories than you eat and drink.
  • To gain weight, burn fewer calories than you eat and drink.

Share this infographic and help spread the word about healthy diet and exercise.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Weight

  • Limit portion size to control calorie intake.
  • Add healthy snacks during the day if you want to gain weight.
  • Be as physically active as you can be.
  • Talk to your doctor about your weight if you think that you weigh too much or too little.

What Should I Eat to Maintain a Healthy Weight?

Choose foods that have a lot of nutrients but not a lot of calories. NIA has information to help you make healthy food choices and shop for food that’s good for you.

How Much Physical Activity Do I Need?

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. You don’t have to do that all at once—break it up over the whole week, however you like. If you can’t do this much activity right away, try to be as physically active as you can. Doing something is better than doing nothing at all.

The benefits of exercise aren’t just about weight. Regular exercise can make it easier for you to do daily activities, participate in outings, drive, keep up with grandchildren, avoid falls, and stay independent.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer. Think about the kinds of physical activities that you enjoy—for example, walking, running, bicycling, gardening, housecleaning, swimming, or dancing. Try to make time to do what you enjoy on most days of the week. And then increase how long you do it, or add another fun activity.

Learn more about exercise and physical activity from NIA’s Go4Life, which offers a variety of free, evidence-based resources for older adults in one convenient spot.

Read about this topic in Spanish. Lea sobre este tema en español.

For More Information on Maintaining a Healthy Weight

President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition
1-240-276-9567

U.S. Department of Agriculture
1-202-720-2791

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
1-301-592-8573
[email protected]
www.nhlbi.nih.gov

This content is provided by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure that it is accurate, authoritative, and up to date.

Content reviewed: April 29, 2019

Sometimes an athlete needs to trim a few pounds to get ready for competition, especially for sports such as rowing and wrestling which have weight classes. The practice of cutting weight — a dramatic weight loss in a short period of time — is not a healthy way to reach this goal and isn’t recommended for young athletes.

Some athletes believe that cutting weight will improve their athletic performance, but dramatic and fast weight loss often has the opposite effect. Over-exercising to quickly lose weight uses up stored muscle fuel and may leave athletes depleted when it comes time to compete. Extreme dieting or calorie restriction makes needed nutrients, such as carbohydrates, sparse. And fasting, or not eating for an extended period, may lead to dehydration and loss of strength and stamina.

Other ways to hasten weight loss such as wearing a rubber suit, “sweating it out” in a sauna or taking diuretics may lead to dehydration. While dehydration will result in weight loss, it also may negatively affect athletic performance. Fluid losses exceeding two percent body weight can interfere with cognitive function and aerobic exercise performance.

Healthy Ways to Manage Weight

The secret to making weight cutoffs is staying at a healthy weight all season long. Follow these six tips to safely stay ready for competition.

  • Schedule Eating
    Believe it or not, the best way to keep an athlete’s appetite satisfied and provide important nutrients to muscles is to eat with a routine. Try to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at about the same time each day, and work in nutritious snacks in between. Never skip meals, as this may promote hunger and lead to poor food choices and overeating.
  • Balance the Food Groups
    A variety of foods are important to a healthful diet and peak performance. Make sure to include low-fat or fat-free dairy or other calcium-rich foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein foods in everyday eating and at each meal. Load up half your plate with fruits and veggies and you’ll naturally balance some of the other items on your plate with lower calorie options, just make sure to limit sources of added sugars and solid fats. A balanced eating plan not only offers necessary nutrition, it also may help you feel more satisfied.
  • Trim Away Extra Calories
    Fried foods carry a lot of extra calories with little nutritional benefit. Instead, choose more filling options, such as a baked potato instead of French fries or potato chips.
  • Tackle the Treats
    Soda, candy and other desserts are often high in added sugars. While these items may fit into an active athlete’s eating style, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend keeping added sugars under 10 percent of our daily calories. Limiting sources of added sugars may also help maintain a competitive weight.
  • Snack Smart
    Foods that contain both carbohydrate and protein are good bets for keeping your body fueled. If you are snacking more than once or twice a day, you may want to pay extra attention to the types of foods you’re eating or you could be getting too many calories from snacks. Be smart with snacks — let them top off your energy tank, offer important nutrition and, above all, don’t let them take over your diet. Try these nutritious snack options: an apple and peanut butter; Greek yogurt; whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk; a protein bar; or raw vegetables and cheese.
  • Eat Mindfully
    When you’re hungry, it’s easy to overeat. Pay attention to your internal fullness cues while you eat and focus on your food rather than a screen. Eating appropriate portions will help you stay on track with your overall calorie intake.

Remember, if you’re carrying some extra weight, work on gradually losing it through the season rather than all at once before a competition or weigh in.

HEALTHY WEIGHT CALCULATOR

Is your weight healthy? Use the calculator below to find out. If your actual body weight falls within 10% (above or below) the weight calculated, you are within a healthy weight range!

Note: Please be advised that this calculator is not intended for those under the age of 18, under 5 ft. tall and 7 ft. tall and over. This is due to the fact that those under the age of 18 are most likely still growing and weight fluctuations are to be expected. If you are under the age of 18, less than 5 ft. tall and 7 ft. and over, please do not use the calculator. You will receive an inaccurate weight. Thank you for your understanding.

This is only an estimate and is meant to give an idea of what to aim for. If you do not match this weight exactly, don’t be alarmed. Please note that this guideline does not account for increased muscle mass, pregnancy, illness, etc.

Try comparing this number with your Body Mass Index (BMI). If you are above your recommended healthy weight and BMI, you may want to consider changing your lifestyle to incorporate healthier eating habits and increased physical activity. You can also check the Body Weight Planner Calculator from the National Institutes of Health. Remember, always consult your physician first.

As far as a maintenance mode, the key thing I try to remember is that exercising and eating should enable you to live your life, not the other way around. When I’m tracking food, I try to really stick to it, but when I’m not, I try to see food for exactly what it is—nutrition, fuel, sometimes enjoyable, sometimes broccoli and kale. What can you do? That’s it. It all lets you pursue exercise, which makes you feel really good in your day-to-day life, and the way those things fit together is important, but that is all. As someone who used to have days-long spirals about eating a brownie (thanks to the relentless inescapable programming from society about How a Woman Should Look and Be) and has come a long way, I can tell you that if you think much more about food than that, it has more power over you than it deserves.

When not trying to gain muscle or lose body fat, I’m never trying to hold perfectly steady at a precise number of pounds. I mostly stop weighing myself altogether. Our weight can fluctuate a few pounds every day just from water, salt, and carbs, so there is never any point in me getting attached to a single number. And even more to the point, if that number goes up beyond a reasonable doubt, I don’t stress because I know that it can go down again, because it has before. After a lot of work, I’ve gotten detached enough from how I look that there is no static “best” weight or look.

I also know that the way to lose body fat is not through extremes, starving as much as possible or working out as much as possible, but through moderation and taking care of myself. So, to answer your first question about whether you always need to be tracking—no. That would be like prison and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I mean, no one could actually achieve the balanced diet we should be getting without paying a little bit of attention (“Did I eat some vegetables today?,” and so on). I typically keep a rough mental tally of how much protein I’ve eaten, just because that’s the most important building block for muscles. But logging and calculating and trying to hit specific numbers day in and and day out for eternity is too rigid of an existence. You need to live, too! “Really you shouldn’t need to track what you eat forever,” Jennifer Case, Ph.D., R.D., and nutrition consultant for Renaissance Periodization, tells SELF. “For sustainable weight loss, meal choices during the calorie restriction phase should be developed in such a way that food and drinks that you consume daily are something you can maintain for long haul. It needs to be a true behavior modification, not a quick fix or a crash diet that does not have sustainable meal choices.”

Simply spending too much time dieting, regardless of weight changes, has negative effects. According to Case, “regularly restricting certain foods or total calorie intakes can result in extreme cravings and binge-eating behaviors, which can lead to disordered eating behavior,” as well as increased fatigue and lethargy caused by your metabolism adapting to your lower body weight. Case explains that we simply cannot be dieting all the time; taking time to maintain is good and important for both your body and brain.

As someone who’s come a long way from obsessing about eating one brownie for days before and after, and whose heavy-lifting journey certainly helped, I can say that your goals or deliberate lack thereof should not dictate whether you eat the things or not, or how much. You should be able to eat the things, if you want, within reason.

If your relationship with food is fraught such that you can’t eat in moderation or to satiety without either tracking rigidly or losing control, it’s not a problem with the circumstances or existence of the food, and not a problem with you; it’s that food means much more to you than is probably healthy, and your relationship with it is requiring more than a simple cupcake, or a dozen of them, can give. This kind of thing is definitely something a therapist can help with. Again, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you, but unpacking this dynamic that’s developed will certainly help food become less of an unknown to you.

Casey Johnston is the editor of the Future section at The Outline and a competitive powerlifter with a degree in applied physics. She writes the column Ask a Swole Woman for SELF. You can find her on Twitter: @caseyjohnston.

Letters to AASW are edited for length and context, and the content of each AASW column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of SELF or SELF editors.

13 Ways to Maintain Your Weight Loss

You’ve probably heard that 95 percent of all diets fail. In other words, almost everyone who loses weight eventually regains it. This isn’t true, but it’s easy to understand why so many of us believe it.
The problem isn’t really with diets. It’s with a lack of guidance after your diet. Christopher Sciamanna, M.D., discovered this the hard way. After losing 30 pounds, he described his new, lower weight as “shockingly challenging” to maintain.
Luckily for him—and for the rest of us—Dr. Sciamanna had the perfect job for learning how to deal with this challenge. He’s a physician and research scientist at Penn State University’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. He and his colleagues decided to study weight-loss maintenance.
For the past two decades, this field of research has focused on a single group of people: those who choose to join the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). To qualify, they have to lose at least 30 pounds and keep the weight off for at least a year.

And when experts study NWCR participants, their efforts reveal this bleak checklist of post-diet strategies that nobody enjoys:
1. Exercise at least an hour a day, almost every day
2. Follow a low-fat, low-sugar, low-calorie diet
3. Eat more or less the same stuff all the time
4. Minimize TV watching
5. Eat breakfast
Ugh (mostly). You can understand why dieters continue searching for alternatives, and why dieters and nondieters alike believe permanent weight loss is virtually impossible.
But it’s not. Dr. Sciamanna’s team found that more than a third of those who lost at least 5 percent of their initial body weight kept it off. About a sixth of those who lost at least 10 percent were able to do the same.
These results should be encouraging. Remember, even if you fall short of your original weight-loss target, permanently downsizing 5 to 10 percent of your girth offers substantial health benefits, and almost certainly improves your appearance as well.
To keep weight off, you have to adjust. You’ll require skills and practices that are different from the ones you used to drop the pounds in the first place.
“Maintenance requires a specific focus,” Dr. Sciamanna says. “It’s like an exit strategy to a war. Once you lose weight, it’s not ‘mission accomplished.’ You need to rethink how you’re going to maintain the weight loss.” Here are three ways to keep lost pounds off for good.
Find your new normal. When you begin a weight-loss program, says Dr. Sciamanna, you’re willing to make enormous, zero-to-60 changes. A drive-thru addict might quit cold turkey. A careless chowhound might start weighing his food and tracking his calorie intake religiously.
“But at a certain point you want your old life back,” he says. “There’s a huge fatigue that sets in. How long do you want to spend on that one problem?” You can’t literally have your old life back, because that’s how you gained so much weight in the first place. But you can create a “new normal” with these three practices. Of course, sometimes you feel ravenous even though you just finished lunch; in that case, some food ingredients could be sabotaging your waistline.

You wouldn’t make a major purchase without sitting down and analyzing your finances and developing a financial management plan. The same is true when it comes to weight loss. Did you know the biggest reason people fail at sticking to weight loss diets is simply that they did not make a weight management plan?

Every year, millions of people make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, yet end up failing within a few short months. Why? They had no long-term plan in place to keep them on track. In addition, many people just jump in headfirst without carefully working toward their end goals. You cannot go from eating how you want to a restrictive diet overnight and expect to stick with it long term.

Sure, there are weight-loss programs, fad diets, diet foods, diet snacks, and so on that you have probably tried over the years. Unfortunately, the same is true with these weight-loss solutions. Eventually, you tire of them and return to your former habits. Any weight you did lose quickly fades away.

How can you effectively lose weight? With the right weight management plan. Plus, you don’t need to spend tons of money on weight-loss programs, expensive gym memberships, or other weight-loss gimmicks to achieve long-term weight-loss goals!

Step 1: Establish realistic weight-loss goals.

The first step in developing a weight management plan is setting realistic goals. A realistic goal you could strive for is to lose one to two pounds of fat per week. This might not seem like a lot when you want to shed fifty pounds, but it is the healthy way to lose weight and keep it off.

Step 2: Make a commitment to yourself.

In order to be successful at weight loss, you have to be committed. Commitment requires making a promise to love yourself no matter what happens on your weight-loss journey. You need to keep in mind you will have good days and bad days when you might slip up. This is okay, and you need to remind yourself to not feel guilty. Instead, accept it and move on.

Step 3: Find what motivates you.

Everyone is motivated by something different. Discovering what your motivations for weight loss are and how you can tap into these to help provide encouragement is important. You should be losing weight for yourself, first and foremost. If you are not doing it for yourself, it can create an internal struggle.

Step 4: Start a food and exercise journal.

You will need a baseline or starting point to begin your weight-loss journey. The best way to establish this is by recording in a journal what you eat and how much you currently exercise. It is a good idea to do this for a week or two prior to starting your weight-loss plan.

Your food and exercise journal will help you identify your current eating habits to determine what needs to change. It will also help uncover if you are already doing certain things right that may not need to be changed at all.

Step 5: Determine your daily caloric intake.

You can use your food journal to help you determine how many calories you are currently eating every day. The goal for effective weight loss is to reduce your daily caloric intake so you are burning more calories than you are eating.

For instance, if you are currently eating 3,000 calories a day, a good starting point is to cut this to 2,500. Once you start to lose weight, you can revisit this and reduce the amount gradually to continue to help promote healthy weight loss.

Step 6: Determine what types of exercise are best for you.

Not everyone likes doing the same types of exercises. You don’t need to lift weights or run on a treadmill to be physically active. You could swim, walk, ride a bike, ice skate, go bowling, or do other things that you enjoy. Additionally, do not overlook any household chores that could count toward exercise like mowing the yard, vacuuming, mopping, and dusting. You will want to make sure you are getting at least thirty minutes of exercise three to four times a week.

Step 7: Develop new daily meal plans.

You will want to spread out your daily caloric intake into three meals and two or three snacks. One of the biggest things you may not know is that eating smaller portions of food throughout the day is better for your body and digestive health. Your body has time to break down the food, convert it into energy, and use it, rather than storing it away as fat.

Make sure to include a well-balanced diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and rice, and lean meats or other proteins, along with the vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats your body needs. To help give you an idea of a daily meal plan, here is a sample you can use and alter to fit your needs:

  • Breakfast: Drink a Betty Lou’s protein shake and eat a half cup of fresh fruit or mix the fruit in with your shake.
  • Mid-Morning Snack: Enjoy a Betty Lou’s organic nutrition bar along with a full cup of water.
  • Lunch: Eat a turkey or tempeh sandwich on whole grain bread, with reduced-fat mayo, lettuce, tomato, and a white low-fat cheese, like Swiss or a sliced vegan variety. You can also eat a single serving of baked potato chips or low-salt pretzels.
  • Mid-Afternoon Snack: Enjoy some Betty Lou’s Nut Butter Balls and a quarter cup of low-fat plain yogurt (look for dairy-free varieties) or cottage cheese.
  • Dinner: Enjoy a single serving of lean meat or beans, some freshly steamed vegetables, and a quarter cup of brown rice.
  • Evening Snack: Eat a single pack of your favorite Betty Lou’s All Natural Alpsnack and drink a full cup of water.

The secondary objective of creating daily diet and meal plans is to ensure you are eating something every two to three hours. Additionally, your evening snack should be eaten at least three hours or more before you go to bed.

Step 8: Get a food scale, measuring cups, and measuring spoons.

The key to reducing calories is learning portion control. All foods will have this information on their labels. You will want to weigh or measure out one serving size for anything you eat. With meats, a general serving size is around 3 to 4 ounces, which is about a quarter of a pound. For fresh fruits and vegetables, a serving is normally a half cup.

Get into the habit of doing this at the very start and stick with it. “Eye-balling” it doesn’t count, as we will tend to exceed a given portion size. Most people are surprised when they start weighing and measuring out food portions and seeing how much food it really is. Plus, if you are eating small portions every two to three hours, you will feel fuller faster.

Step 9: Set a start date to begin your new diet and exercise weight-loss plan.

In order to be successful, you need to establish a start date that is best for you. For instance, your family has a vacation planned in two weeks. While you may be anxious and ready to get started implementing your new weight management plan, it will be better to wait until after you return from vacation. This way, you can fully enjoy yourself and not feel guilty about what you eat.

On your start date, you will want to get a cloth measuring tape and record various body measurements in your food and exercise journal. Measure your hips, waist, chest, neck, and forearms. You can also weight yourself. However, it is ill-advised to solely base your progress on your weight.

Many people who do this get frustrated because, initially, their weight starts going down, but, eventually, it starts to go back up. The cause for this is not because they are regaining fat. Instead, their muscles are starting to gain mass. Muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue, so it means your weight could go back up. This is why you need to rely on your body measurements more as an accurate gauge of your weight loss.

It is also not a good idea to weigh and take measurements daily. This will not provide an accurate picture, either. As long as you are sticking to your diet and exercising for a half hour three to four times a week, you only need to record your body measurements and weight once a week.

Step 10: Reassess your goals and meal plan monthly.

You need to review your progress and make adjustments to your plan periodically. For example, if you are getting tired of the same flavor of Betty Lou’s organic nutrition bars, switch it up. The same is true with the meats, fruits, and vegetables you are eating. It is okay to modify your meals so you have a variety of foods and healthy snacks and you do not lose interest. Don’t forget to modify the types of exercises if you are finding it difficult to stick with the same old exercise routines, too!

By using these steps to create and implement a weight management plan, you are sure to reach your weight loss goals.

You can find a wide range of healthy snacks for work, protein shake mixes, organic food bars, heart-healthy recipes, and more at Betty Lou’s Inc. Please feel free to browse our website or contact us directly for further help and assistance by calling 503.434.5205 today!

All of our products are made with all natural ingredients; no refined sugars, artificial ingredients, or GMOs; and they are gluten-free!

5 Ways to Reach a Healthy Weight

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Diets aren’t the way to go when it comes to losing weight. That’s because they create temporary eating patterns — and, therefore, temporary results. Most dieters gain back any lost weight when they go back to their old eating habits.

So what’s the best way to drop excess weight? Create a new normal!

Weight loss is most likely to be successful when people change their habits, replacing old, unhealthy ones with new, healthy behaviors. Here are 5 ways to make that happen:

  1. Exercise. Regular physical activity burns calories and builds muscle — both of which help you look and feel good and keep weight off. Walking the family dog, cycling to school, and doing other things that increase your daily level of activity can all make a difference. If you want to burn more calories, increase the intensity of your workout and add some strength exercises to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even when you aren’t exercising.
  2. Reduce screen time. People who spend a lot of time in front of screens are more likely to be overweight. Set reasonable limits on the amount of time you spend watching TV, playing video games, and using computers, phones, and tablets not related to school work. Be sure to set aside enough time to exercise every day and get enough sleep.
  3. Watch out for portion distortion. Big portions pile on extra calories that cause weight gain. Sugary beverages, such as sodas, juice drinks, and sports drinks, are empty calories that also contribute to obesity. So choose smaller portions (or share restaurant portions) and go for water or low-fat milk instead of soda.
  4. Eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day. Fruits and veggies are about more than just vitamins and minerals. They’re also packed with fiber, which means they fill you up. And when you fill up on fruits and veggies, you’re less likely to overeat.
  5. Don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast kickstarts your metabolism, burning calories from the get-go and giving you energy to do more during the day. People who skip breakfast often feel so hungry that they eat more later on. So they get more calories than they would have if they ate breakfast. In fact, people who skip breakfast tend to have higher BMIs than people who eat breakfast.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD Date reviewed: October 2016

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