By Geoffrey R. Harris, MD
What are the eight behaviors that are shared by people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept the weight off for more than a year? Read on to find out the keys to maintaining a healthy weight.
At a recent meeting sponsored by the American Diabetes Association, Suzanne Phelan, Ph.D. presented information about losing weight and maintaining weight loss. Dr. Phelan, from Brown University, recently reviewed data from the National Weight Control Registry to identify the common habits of individuals who had successfully lost weight and kept the weight off for over a year. She studied a group of over 5500 people with an average age of 46 years old. The group was 77% female, and 89% of the group achieved weight loss through diet and exercise, 10% through diet alone, and 1% from exercise alone. Furthermore, 45 percent of the study participants lost weight on their own, while the other 55% joined formal weight-loss programs.
After studying the dietary habits of the most successful dieters, Dr. Phelan identified eight common strategies for losing weight and keeping the weight off:
Eat a low-calorie, low-fat diet. Energy intake in the group averaged 1,385 kcal (calories) per day with 27% of the calories coming from fat. Dr. Phelan observed that meal replacement products helped many individuals and offered a lower calorie alternative to conventional foods.
Engage in regular physical activity. Calories burned during exercise averaged 2,545 calories per week for women and 3,293 calories per week for men.
Limit television viewing. Over 62% of the group watched fewer than 10 hours of television every week.
Check your weight on a scale regularly. Forty-four percent of the group weighed themselves daily, and people who stopped weighing themselves regained weight.
Keep a consistent diet. Around half of successful individuals ate the same way on weekends and holidays as they did during the week.
Limit variety in your diet. Keep fewer types of food on hand. Select one or two brands of crackers, cereal, or snack foods.
Eat breakfast. 78% of the group ate breakfast regularly
Limit fast food. The people who successfully maintained weight loss ate fast food less than once a week.
These weight management tactics probably don’t come as a big surprise–these strategies are the backbone of many diet and fitness programs. The problem is finding a way to incorporate these habits into a daily routine. There are many successful weight management programs that can help people lose weight and become healthier. One new plan came out this past December, when Superfoods Rx published an encouraging program that helps explain the importance of serving size, includes many delicious recipes, lets people enjoy the whole food benefits of the SuperFoods, and will help improve your relationship with food. You can check out the SuperFoodsRx Diet by Wendy Bazilian, Steven Pratt, and Kathy Matthews at your local bookstore or library or online at www.superfoodsrx.com.