There is a reason why people say, “Diets do not work.” While dieting can be a viable strategy for losing weight in a short period of time, only long-term lifestyle changes can actually keep weight off. Anyone who has followed a short-term diet, only to return to their old habits afterward, has regained weight. Many diets are simple too restrictive to be used for weight maintenance. Fortunately, there are a couple of key strategies you can use to help make sure that your weight loss results stick.
1. Have enough protein every day.
Carbohydrates, particularly simple sugars, are quickly broken down for energy. Their presence in the body causes the pancreas to produce lots of insulin to break them down. Unfortunately, elevated insulin levels tend to stick around for awhile after the carbs are gone, which can lead to low energy, irritability, and cravings for sweet foods. Protein helps curb these cravings, keeps blood sugar levels stable, and improves satiety.
2. Get enough fiber.
In addition to protein, fiber is very important. While all sugar is treated the same way by the body, the context it comes in makes a difference. Fiber helps you feel full, and can reduce some of the sugar’s impact on your insulin levels. This can help you avoid taking in more calories than you use up.
Dieting alone can help you lose weight quickly, but it is not great for your overall health. Many people become frustrated when they realize that the number of calories they burn through physical activity is not as high as they hoped — a 200 pound adult burns about as many calories per mile of running as there are in a slice of bread — but there are benefits to exercise beyond raw calorie burning. To maximize the calories used, interval training (combining high intensity and lower intensity exercises) is the best bet. Regular workouts improve cardiac health, boost endorphins, and raise your metabolism, so you continue to burn more calories at rest. It is a great habit to get into not only for weight maintenance, but also for your overall health.
4.Be ready for disappointment.
Maybe you get the flu and cannot exercise for a week. Maybe there’s a month chock-full of birthday parties at the office, and you are surrounded by cakes. There are any number of reasons why you might slip up, eat unhealthily, not move as much as you should, and put on weight. Diets tend to come with a very “all-or-nothing” mindset — how many times have you heard someone talk about “breaking their diet”? In reality, diets cannot be broken. Setbacks are temporary, and you can get right back on track as soon as you choose to.
5. Limit T.V. watching.
The average American spends 28 hours per week watching television, during which they are not exercising, are bombarded with adds for foods and drinks, and are often snacking without thinking about it. Research shows that the combination of inactivity and being primed for overconsumption can make it much harder to maintain weight loss.
6. Manage stress.
High stress levels can have a ripple effect that makes it harder to stay healthy and keep weight off. Not only do people tend to crave high-calorie comfort foods when they are stressed, but stress can make it harder to sleep, which raises levels of hormones that promote weight gain. Cortisol, specifically, is a stress hormone linked to increased belly fat.
7. Weigh yourself regularly.
Some people do not weigh themselves, because they prefer to track how their clothes fit instead. There is some evidence, however, that regular weigh-ins can help you keep tabs on minor weight gain before it becomes a noticeable issue. The trick is to weigh yourself often, but not too often. Weighing yourself every day will show you minor fluctuations caused by water weight and big meals, but weekly will give you a much better idea of whether you’re slowly gaining, losing, or maintaining.
Weight loss can be a difficult journey, but keeping the weight off does not have to be. The right mindset makes all the difference. Making relatively minor lifestyle changes like limiting T.V. time, keeping your stress levels low, eating the right foods, exercising regularly, and being mentally ready to face the occasional setback can help you maintain your weight.