Practice these simple, everyday food and fitness smarts to keep your hard-fought new weight.
You’ve just lost weight and you don’t want to see that number go back up on your scale. With these 10 tricks from dietitians and successful dieters, you’ll be able to maintain your weight with ease.
- Build more lean muscle. Maintain, or even increase, your metabolism by continuing to build lean muscle. “Muscle has a higher metabolism than fat does,” explains… Emily Banes, RD, clinical dietitian at Houston Northwest Medical Center. If you don’t yet train with weights, add this type of exercise to your overall program now. If you do, increase the amount of weight you’re working with to keep yourself challenged.
- Fight off hunger with more filling foods. A three-year University of Pittsburgh study of 284 women between the ages of 25 and 45 found that those who avoided weight gain the best were the ones whose meals kept them feeling full. “Keeping that feeling of fullness can be done with foods high in fiber — think fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein,” says Jenna Anding, PhD, RD, of the department of nutrition and food science at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
- Avoid temptation. The University of Pittsburgh study also found that women who best controlled their weight were good at resisting the temptation to binge on forbidden treats. This doesn’t mean never indulging in a gooey dessert again, but rather picking — and limiting — your moments. There are many ways to avoid daily temptations, including planning ahead when eating out and banning your worst weaknesses from the house.
- Count calories. Another hallmark of successful weight maintenance, according to the University of Pittsburgh study, is regularly counting calories. Use your calculator to keep a running total throughout the day if that helps you keeps track of calorie consumption. Maintaining weight loss is hard; it’s okay to be as careful as you were during the weight- loss phase of your diet.
- Plan your meals in advance. A maintenance diet has a lot of the same components as a weight-loss diet. Having a meal-by-meal plan that you can stick to, although it has more calories than your diet plan did, can act as a guide to keep you on track.
- Consider adding minutes to your exercise plan. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week, but emphasize that the more you exercise, the better able you are to maintain a weight loss. You should aim for 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Measure your portions. According to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) study of more than 4,000 U.S. adults, the biggest factors in success were measuring portions and fats, the most caloric foods, in particular. This doesn’t mean you have to carry a food scale everywhere you go, but using it as often as possible at home will teach you how to eyeball portion sizes at restaurants and immediately know how much to eat, and how much to take home in a doggie bag.
- Weigh yourself daily. The same CDC study reported that people who weigh themselves once a day are twice as successful at keeping off lost weight as those who don’t step on the scale as often. Daily weigh-ins, which can be discouraging when you’re on a diet, can be a boon during maintenance; they let you see, and stop, any slow creep upward as soon as it happens.
- Include dairy in your diet. According to a study of 338 adults, those who ate three or more servings of low-fat dairy daily were more likely to keep off the weight than those who ate one serving or less. For women in particular, this has the additional benefit of improving bone health.
- Let your plate be your guide. When you can’t count calories or measure portions accurately, Banes recommends using the “plate method” as a way to control the amount you’re eating. A great tip for dieters, it works just as well for people on a maintenance plan. Simply put, when you serve yourself using this method, at least half your plate should be vegetables and the remaining space should be divided evenly between lean protein and whole grains. If you go back for seconds, limit yourself to vegetables, fruit or low-fat dairy.
Now that you know the secrets to long-term weight-loss success, get started with your weight management program today!