One of the struggles that come with weight-loss is keeping the weight off long-term. Statistically, many individuals will gain the weight back within two years. This may be due to rapid weight-loss from meal replacements, and hence, the individuals will gain the weight back after stopping usage of the meal replacements. Or, the weight gain can be from being less diligent with planning out each meal, or engaging in fewer physical activities, or losing motivation in general.
However, this does not have to be the case. The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is an ongoing research study that follows over 10,000 individuals with long-term, successful weight-loss. About 80% of the participants are women averaging 45 years old and weighing 145 pounds, while 20% are men averaging 49 years old and weighing 190 pounds. Most of these individuals have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept the weight off for at least five and a half years. However, these are just averages. The amount of weight lost ranged from 30-300 pounds and have been maintained from 1-66 years! Aside from the initial detailed questionnaire, the NWCR follows-up with each participant every year to examine the behavioral characteristics, psychological traits, and maintenance strategies of these successful individuals. Below are some statistics on habits that these successful weight-loss maintainers have developed.
98% Modified their food intake to a low-calorie and low-fat diet. The average calorie intake of theseindividuals was 1,381 calories per day. Keep in mind that this was just an average of all participants. The calorie intake for each individual varied depending on their weight and daily metabolic needs. In general, the diets higher in protein and lower in carbs will help maintain a stable sugar level, and the protein will help build calorie-burning lean muscle.
90% Participated in 60-90 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on average per day. The most commonly reported physical activity was walking (77%). This is probably because walking is one of the easiest if not the simplest way to get moving. It can be done almost anywhere and with any companion.
78% Eat breakfast everyday. This way, the body is not trying to play catch-up with hunger later on in the day. Most individuals also ate three meals and 2-3 snacks per day. The small, frequent meals help keep metabolism healthily busy throughout the day. These weight-loss maintainers picked nutritious foods that were mainly fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, and the majority limited their overall fast foods, sodas, and juices intake.
75% Monitor their weight at least once a week. Stepping on the scale every day or at least once a week helps keep the string short, so there is much less or no yo-yo dieting. Seeing the number regularly results in quicker reaction to reduce calories and increase exercise. The individuals used the information to change that day’s or week’s behavior, and hence, they were able to take action to maintain their desired weight.