Keeping the Weight Off

Losing weight is hard enough. Keeping it off presents its own challenges. Between 80 and 85 percent of those who lose a large amount of weight regain it. One theory why is that people who decrease their caloric intake to lose weight also decrease their metabolic rate, making it more difficult to burn calories and lose weight over a period of months. A lower metabolic rate likely makes it easier to regain weight if you resume a more normal diet. For these reasons, we don’t recommend extremely low-calorie diets and rapid weight loss programs.

Instead, work toward losing no more than one or two pounds per week. Incorporating long-term lifestyle changes will increase the chance of successful long-term weight loss.

Working toward achieving a healthy weight for your height can lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, reduce stress on bones and joints, and ease the workload on your heart. Which is why it’s important to not only lose the weight but maintain the loss to gain health benefits over a lifetime.

Keeping extra weight off requires as much effort and commitment as losing weight in the first place. Reaching your weight loss goals require changes in diet, eating habits, exercise and, in extreme circumstances, surgery.

Strategies to Keep Weight Off

The steps you take to lose weight can also help you keep the weight off:

  • The support systems that helped you take weight off can also help you keep it off. A study conducted by the National Weight Control Registry found people who lost weight and continued bi-monthly support group meetings for one year maintained their full weight loss. Study participants who didn’t regained almost half of the weight.
  • Studies show that even non-rigorous exercise like 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.
  • Diet and exercise are vital strategies for losing and maintaining weight. A study by the National Weight Control Registry found that nearly all of 784 study participants who had lost at least 30 pounds, and had maintained that loss for one year or longer, used diet and exercise to not only lose the weight, but also to maintain the weight loss.
  • Once you reach your desired weight, you can try gradually adding about 200 calories of healthy, low-fat food to your daily intake for one week to see if weight loss continues. If it does, you can add more calories of healthy foods to your daily diet until you determine the right balance of calories to maintain your desired weight. It may take some time and keeping track of what you’re eating to figure out how adjusting your food intake and exercise levels affect your weight.

Continuing to use healthy behaviors can help you maintain weight. Be aware if you’re eating as a response to stress, and use exercise, activity or meditation to manage stress instead.

Returning to old habits doesn’t mean failure. Paying renewed attention to dietary choices and exercise can help you continue behaviors that maintain weight loss. Identifying situations such as negative moods and interpersonal difficulties and incorporating methods other than eating to cope with them can prevent you from slipping into old habits.

Weight Cycling

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 such as high blood pressure, gallbladder disease and high cholesterol. However, these studies are not conclusive.

You can avoid weight cycling and maintain healthy weight through 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 someone who hasn’t gone through a weight-loss cycle. Most studies show that weight cycling doesn’t affect the rate at which your body burns fuel, and a previous weight cycle doesn’t influence your ability to lose weight again. In addition, weight cycling doesn’t increase the amount of fat tissue or increase fat distribution around the stomach.

Always consult your physician for more information.

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