Losing weight is hard for many people, but it's even more challenging to keep the weight off. Many people who lose a large amount of weight have problems keeping it off over time. One theory about regaining lost weight is that people who eat fewer calories to diet also have a drop in the rate their body burns calories. This makes it harder to lose weight over a period of months. A lower rate of burning calories may also makes it easier to regain weight after going back to a more normal diet. For these reasons, you shouldn't follow a very-low-calorie diet or try for quick weight loss.
It's best to shoot for losing no more than 1/2 pound to 2 pounds a week. You'll need to add in long-term lifestyle changes to make it more likely that your weight loss will be lasting.
Getting to a healthy weight offers health benefits. These include lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, less stress on bones and joints, and less work for your heart. It's vital to get to and stay at a healthy weight to get the most health benefits over a lifetime.
Keeping extra weight off takes effort and commitment, just as losing weight does. You can reach your weight-loss goal through a combination of changes in diet, eating habits, and exercise. In some cases, people turn to weight-loss (bariatric) surgery. Medicines can also help you maintain your weight loss.
You can use the same tips to stay at a healthy weight that you used to lose your extra weight:
If you used a weight-loss program to lose weight, keep following it. According to the National Weight Control Registry, more than half of people in the registry used some type of program to reach their weight-loss goal.
Exercise is a key part of staying at a healthy weight. You can get results even with moderate exercise, such as walking or using stairs. Aim for activities that burn 1,500 to 2,000 calories per week. Adults should try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. You can break up your exercise time into smaller amounts each day.
Exercise pays off. Among people in the National Weight Control Registry, 94% got more exercise to help them reach their goal.
Add calories back in slowly. Once you have reached your weight-loss goal, you can try eating a few more calories. Try adding about 200 calories of healthy, low-fat food each day for 1 week to see if you continue to lose weight. If you do, continue to add calories from healthy foods until you have the right balance of calories to stay at your weight goal. It may take some time to do this. A nutritionist or dietitian can help.
Keep using behavioral strategies for staying at a healthy weight. Be aware that stress can make you want to eat more. Also use exercise and physical activity, or meditation to cope with stress instead of eating.
If you slip back into old habits, it doesn't mean you have failed. Instead, focus on your diet and exercise to help you get back on track. Also try to figure out what caused you to slip back and find other ways to cope.
Weight cycling is losing and regaining weight multiple times. Weight cycling is also called "yo-yo dieting." This cycling may raise certain health risks. These include heart disease, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, and high cholesterol. The best strategy is to reach and stay at a healthy weight through physical activity and healthy eating.
One myth about weight cycling is that a person who loses and regains weight will have a harder time losing weight later compared with someone who has not gone through a weight-loss cycle. Most studies show that weight cycling does not change how well your body burns fuel. It also doesn't affect how well you can lose weight in the future. Weight cycling also does not increase the amount of fat tissue in your body or affect whether fat ends up around your stomach.
Talk with your healthcare provider if you have questions about weight loss.