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Articles January 2012 Issue

Secrets of Keeping Off the Weight You Lose

Despite the talk of “yo-yo dieting,” it is possible to lose weight and keep most of it off, according to new research on 3,000 participants in the National Weight Control Registry. Investigators led by J. Graham Thomas, PhD, of Brown University evaluated questionnaires completed by people who had been in the registry, which tracks successful dieters, for at least 10 years. About three-quarters were women and most were college educated. The goal was to understand how some people are able to keep off the pounds they shed.

The dieters originally weighed an average of 224 pounds before losing weight. They reported that they’d kept off an average 51 pounds of 69 pounds lost. It’s typical, says Thomas, for dieters to regain some of the weight they lose. But how were these participants able to succeed in maintaining so much of their weight loss?

In findings presented at a meeting of the Obesity Society, Thomas and colleagues identified strategies shared by those who’d kept off most of their lost pounds:

  • Eating breakfast regularly.
  • Walking about an hour a day, or burning an equivalent amount of calories by engaging in other activities.
  • Weighing yourself at least weekly.
  • Tracking food intake.
  • Counting calories and fat grams or using commercial weight-loss software to track intake.
  • Limiting eating out to an average of three times a week including all meals, while consuming fast food less than once a week.
  • Limiting food variety, mostly eating similar foods from week to week, and not splurging much on holidays and special occasions.
  • Watching fewer than 10 hours a week of TV.

The successful dieters averaged about 1,800 calories a day, with less than 30% of those calories from fats.

“I think these strategies are good basic advice,” says Susan B. Roberts, PhD, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Energy Metabolism Laboratory, who works with dieters as author of The I DietM www.instinctdiet.com. “As we see in our ‘I’ dieters, catching problems quickly is a major route to ongoing success, which is why regular weighing and tracking what you eat are so valuable.”

TO LEARN MORE: National Weight Control Registry, 196 Richmond St., Providence, RI 02903, (800) 606-NWCR (6927), tmnwcr@lifespan.org, www.nwcr.ws.

Comments (3)

the article doesn't state how many were actually able to keep the weight off, but I bet it wasn't many. The suggestions sure sound like they would work, but they sound almost impossible to do. There's got to be an easier way. SalsaBill

Posted by: william gregory | March 8, 2014 3:03 AM    Report this comment

Its not impossible if you WANT TO DO IT.

In order to keep it off you must change your life, which by itself is not easy, but it can be done.You cant simply diet, lose weight and expect keeping it off to be easy.It involves a mental change AND IT TAKES TIME. Also, once you reach goal you cant go back to the old way of eating. If you do you will gain every single lbs lost. The key is changing your life style to something you feel you can do the rest of you life, losing it slowly will allow you to do this, There is no quick easy fix, losing weight is a job that has to be done whether you feel motivated or not, In the long run the paycheck of good health is worth it.

Posted by: Samantha Jones | August 25, 2014 10:55 AM    Report this comment

I lost nearly 40 lbs in the past year by folliowing the 5:2 diet (also called the Fast Diet but really it is a slow diet). Popularized by Michael Mosley and PBS. Basically you eat & drink whatever you want 5 days a week and on 2 days a week limit your daily calories to 500 (women) or 600 (men). Plan includes intense exercise - I do spinning - 1 min daily. I add 1 hr daily walking the dog. Simple and it works. Have kept weight off, in fact still losing so will probably go to 6:1.

Posted by: the walters | September 6, 2014 6:25 PM    Report this comment

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