October 25, 2014

View as List 5 Keys to Weight Control

  • 5 Keys to Weight Control

    Why do some people successfully lose weight and keep it off, while so many others fail? The National Weight Control Registry—which has collected information on nearly 5,000 people who have maintained at least a 30-pound weight loss for five or more years—may have some answers. According to the Registry, successful maintainers employ five key strategies.

  • 1

    A Balanced Diet

    woman with hands full of cherries

    Successful maintainers eat a low-fat, “good” carbohydrate diet. The low-carb craze has not influenced them. On average, they get most of their calories (55 to 60 percent) from carbohydrates and 24 percent of their calories from fat; the rest is from protein. (Participants who consume lower-carb diets have regained the most weight, possibly because they replace carbs with fats.) Successful maintainers emphasize “good” carbs—fruits, vegetables and other high-fiber foods—not high-sugar carbohydrates.

  • 2

    Calorie Consciousness

    woman checking cereal box labels

    Successful maintainers know that total calories count, no matter what diet they choose to follow. Whether the calories come from carbs, fat or protein, a calorie is a calorie—and calorie intake remained roughly the same (estimated at about 1,800 per day) for maintainers who were studied between 1995 and 2003.

  • 3

    The Breakfast Habit

    bowl of cereal and berries

    Eight out of 10 successful maintainers eat breakfast every day. This habit may help them better manage calories during the day, says James O. Hill, Ph.D., cofounder of the National Weight Control Registry. They also eat often—an average of five smaller meals and snacks a day.

  • 4

    Self Monitoring

    woman on medical scale

    Successful maintainers weigh themselves at least once a week; some more frequently. And many on occasion return to the practice of keeping a food diary, writing down all of the foods they eat and the amounts.

  • 5

    Physical Activity

    asian woman riding a bicycle

    In line with current guidelines, successful maintainers carve out time every day for planned exercise, but they also look for ways to get more activity during the rest of the day. They engage in lots of physical activity—60 to 90 minutes daily. Walking is their number one activity.

  • 6

    Take-Home Advice

    finish line

    Most people who become successful maintainers have failed several times before. Hardly anyone “gets it right” the first time around. It may take a few rounds before you succeed—so don’t give up. Remember, successful maintainers live in the real world. While they tend to eat most meals at home, they do eat out nearly three times a week, on average, and even visit fast-food restaurants about once a week. No surprise: Ninety percent of the participants report that life is better after weight loss. They report better energy, mood and confidence. So it gets easier. If you can keep the weight off for two years, chances are you’ll keep it off long term.