Maintaining Weight Loss
Benefits of maintaining weight loss
While losing weight is difficult for many people, it is even more challenging to keep
the weight off. Most people who lose a large amount of weight have regained it 2 to
3 years later. One theory about regaining lost weight is that people who decrease
the amount of calories they consume to lose weight experience a drop in the rate their
bodies burn calories. This makes it increasingly difficult to lose weight over a period
of months. A lower rate of burning calories may also make it easier to regain weight
after a more normal diet is resumed. For these reasons, extremely low calorie diets
and rapid weight loss are discouraged.
Losing no more than 1/2 to 2 pounds per week is recommended. Incorporating long-term
lifestyle changes are needed to increase the chance of successful long-term weight
Weight loss to a healthy weight for a person's height can promote health benefits.
These include lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, less
stress on bones and joints, and less work for the heart. It is vital to maintain weight
loss to obtain health benefits over a lifetime.
Keeping extra weight off takes effort and commitment, just as losing weight does.
Weight loss goals are reached by a combination of changes in diet, eating habits,
and exercise. In extreme circumstances, people turn to bariatric surgery.
Weight loss maintenance strategies
The strategies that encourage weight loss also play an important role in maintenance:
Support systems used effectively during weight loss can contribute to weight maintenance.
According to the National Weight Control Registry, 55% of registry participants used
some type of program to achieve their weight loss.
Physical activity plays a vital and essential role in maintaining weight loss. Studies
show that even exercise that is not rigorous, such as walking and using stairs, has
a positive effect. Activity that uses 1,500 to 2,000 calories per week is recommended
for maintaining weight loss. Adults should try to get at least 40 minutes of moderate
to vigorous level physical activity at least 3 to 4 times per week.
Diet and exercise are vital strategies for losing and maintaining weight. Ninety-four
percent of the registrants in the National Weight Control Registry increased their
Once the desired weight has been reached, the gradual addition of about 200 calories
of healthy, low-fat food to daily intake may be attempted for one week to see if weight
loss continues. If weight loss does continue, additional calories of healthy foods
may be added to the daily diet until the right balance of calories to maintain the
desired weight has been determined. It may take some time and record keeping to determine
how adjusting food intake and exercise levels affect weight. A nutritionist can help
Continuing to use behavioral strategies is necessary to maintaining weight. Be aware
of eating as a response to stress. Also, use exercise, activity, or meditation to
cope instead of eating.
A temporary return to old habits does not mean failure. Paying attention to dietary
choices and exercise can help maintain weight loss. Identifying situations, such as
negative moods and interpersonal difficulties, and using alternative methods of coping
with such situations rather than eating can prevent returning to old habits.
Weight cycling is losing and regaining weight multiple times. Some studies suggest
that weight cycling, also called "yo-yo dieting," may result in some health risks.
These include high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, and high cholesterol. However,
these studies are not true for everybody. The best strategy is to avoid weight cycling
and to maintain healthy weight through a commitment to increased physical activity
and healthy eating.
One myth about weight cycling is that a person who loses and regains weight will have
more difficulty losing weight again and maintaining it compared to a person who has
not gone through a weight-loss cycle. Most studies show that weight cycling does not
affect the rate at which the body burns fuel. Also, a previous weight cycle does not
influence the ability to lose weight again. In addition, weight cycling does not increase
the amount of fat tissue or increase fat distribution around the stomach.
Always talk with your healthcare provider for more information.