After losing weight, most people regain most, if not all, of their lost weight back. Why? Although many of the techniques for weight loss are similar for weight maintenance, there are several strategies that have been identified as particularly important for maintenance. A recent study (Sciamanna, 2011) mentions the following points as key in maintaining weight loss.
You should consume plenty of lean protein sources (i.e., seafood, poultry, soy, beans). Protein, like fiber, slows the emptying of food from the stomach and helps prevent overeating. You should reward yourself for following your plan.
Non-food rewards are ideal, as you will feel satisfied without affecting your weight. Some examples might be treating yourself to a movie, buying yourself a new novel, or going to a concert with a friend.
You should remind yourself why you want to keep the weight off. If physical appearance is a reason for your desire to maintain a healthy weight, it may help to keep photos around of yourself at your desired weight. If your health is a factor, think about how your weight loss has affected your body (i.e., your cholesterol levels).
You need to maintain your exercise routine, and this is the one area where most people fall off the wagon. Exercising regularly will help you to burn off any extra calories you consume, thereby keeping your weight in balance.
In addition to these factors, a review of factors associated with weight loss maintenance identified the following dietary practices that are helpful in maintenance (Elfhag, 2005):
Reduced portion sizes: Choose My Plate is a great resource for portion sizes. Did you know that one portion of meat is roughly the size of a deck of cards?
Reduced frequency of snacks: Snack foods such as chips and cookies are often high in calories and fat and can add up quickly. If you need to eat a snack, choose foods such as fruit and whole grain snacks.
Less dietary fat: Fat has more calories per gram than carbohydrates and proteins and can put you over your caloric limit if consumed in excess.
To achieve lasting weight loss, it is necessary to effect a lifestyle change. This is the reason why fad diets are generally not successful in producing sustained loss. Remember, small changes that become habits are the key!
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