You worked hard to lose weight, but your scale won’t budge. It’s normal to question whether you will ever be able to lose weight.
Do you give up?
Even if you try every known way to lose weight, like cutting back on calories and carbs while eating more protein and staying active, the number on the scale might not move. When this occurs, it is disheartening.
In this article, you will find out how other people have successfully lost and maintained weight and whether you should give up or keep marching on. Despite the widespread belief that losing weight is impossible, we all know people who have done so.
In 1994, Rena R. Wing and James O. Hill created the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) to understand better people who have achieved and maintained healthy weight loss. More than 4,000 people have willingly signed up for this registry after successfully losing at least 30 pounds and maintaining their weight loss for at least a year. People who want to join the registry must complete questionnaires about their efforts to lose weight and keep it off. Their weight and weight-related habits are tracked on an annual basis after that.
Participants in the registry report a mean weight loss of 33 kilograms, with a minimum weight loss of 13.6 kilograms, for a mean period of 5.7 years. At their heaviest, the participants had a body mass index (BMI) of 36.7 kg/m2 and are now down to 25.1 kg/m2. Therefore, these people are incredibly successful by any measure.
It is commonly believed that almost no one can keep their weight down for good. However, studies show that about 20% of overweight people can achieve and maintain long-term weight loss (defined as a 10% reduction in body weight and maintenance of that reduction for at least one year). The National Weight Control Registry participants show that losing weight for life is possible. The NWCR documents the methods used by those who have successfully lost and kept off a significant amount of weight.
The first pillar is to monitor weight and food intake daily.
Self-monitoring is tracking one’s eating and exercise routines and giving oneself feedback. Self-monitoring makes you more aware of your actions and results. It can be both a sign of success and a warning system. Self-monitoring techniques include:
- Keeping food diaries
- Regular self-weighing,
- Keeping an exercise log
- Using a pedometer, accelerometer, and
- Utilizing metabolic monitoring equipment
Regular self-monitoring is linked to successful weight loss because it increases cognitive restriction, which is the amount of control over overeating behaviors that you are aware of. Over 44% of participants in the NWCR report weighing daily, and 31% report doing so at least once a week. If these people keep track of their weight regularly, they will be able to notice any small weight gains and start making healthy changes to their lives.
The second pillar is habit number two: consistent daily activity.
Any program for weight loss or weight maintenance must include physical activity. You must engage in daily physical activity to improve your fitness and general health. If you spend most of the day sitting still, no matter how hard you work out in the gym for an hour or two, your health and fitness won’t improve.
Most NWCR members are physically active (1 hour a day, every day). Men use an average of 3293 kcal per week, while women use an average of 2545 kcal. This amount of exercise is the same as walking quickly for an hour a day or doing another moderate-intensity activity. Seventy-six percent of participants said they walked as their primary activity. Twenty percent of those polled say they lift weights, twenty percent cycle, and eighteen percent do aerobics. Participants in the registry also reported tracking their activity regularly.
Regular exercise has many benefits, including producing hormones that improve mood and sleep. Whether playing a sport or going to the gym, working out for an hour every day will improve your health and quality of life.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. You should exercise more to lose weight, keep it off, or reach particular fitness goals. Reduced sitting time is also crucial. Your risk of metabolic issues increases with the number of hours you spend sitting each day. When you work out, you should use a weight or level of resistance that makes your muscles tired after 12 to 15 repetitions. Start small and move slowly. When you first start exercising, proceed carefully and with caution.
The third pillar is eating a low-calorie, low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.
Most of the time, how well you lose weight depends on what you eat and how much you eat. The people in the registry ate an average of 1,381 kcal daily, with 24% of those calories coming from fat. Most registry members who have lost weight keep it off by sticking to a low-calorie, low-fat diet.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015–2020, adult men and women over the age of 18 should aim for 130 grams of carbohydrates or 45 to 65 percent of their daily caloric intake.
A high-carb diet is not necessarily harmful. What matters more is the type of carbohydrates you consume, with a preference for whole grains over processed carbohydrates and sugar, which can cause inflammation and be a factor in conditions including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and insulin resistance.
According to research, eating a high-carb diet with lots of dietary fiber can aid in weight loss. In July 2016 study published in the journal Age and Ageing, researchers looked into the Okinawans, who are living the longest lives worldwide, and their high-carb, low-protein diet. Only 9% of people who follow the Okinawan diet eat protein, and most carbs come from sweet potatoes. This shows that a high-carb diet is compatible with living a long and healthy life, depending on how many carbs are eaten.
The fourth pillar is to eat breakfast every day.
The advice to avoid skipping breakfast is sound. But research has found more reasons why the “most important meal of the day” should be on the list. By eating breakfast, you are letting your body know that there will be no shortage of calories throughout the day. When you don’t eat breakfast, your body learns to save energy rather than use any calories.
Nutritionists have long said breakfast is an essential way to start your day. They tell us that it helps improve our thinking and performance at work and our well-being in numerous other ways.
Seventy-eight percent of registry participants report having breakfast every day. Cereal and fruit are the go-tos for a morning meal. Whether you have diabetes or not, eating breakfast can help keep your blood sugar in check. Your mood may become more agitated, cranky, or anxious because your blood sugar drops and rises.
Studies in recent years have linked breakfast to heart health. According to a 2017 Journal of the American College of Cardiology article, skipping breakfast increases the risk of atherosclerosis. Because of the accumulation of plaque, your arteries begin to shrink and harden at that point. Heart attack and stroke are potential outcomes. Also, these people were more likely to have bigger waists, be heavier, have higher blood pressure, and have higher cholesterol.
The fifth pillar is to maintain a consistent eating schedule.
There is a link between sticking to a diet all year and gaining weight in the long run. When dietary restrictions are lifted, the likelihood of losing self-control increases. People who follow the same diet strategy, however, are more likely to succeed in keeping the weight off over the long term.
To keep the weight off, maintain a regular eating schedule during the week and on the weekends. The NWCR study showed that individuals who reported eating the same amount of food every day of the week had a 1.5 times higher likelihood of maintaining their weight over the next year than those who reported religiously adhering to a diet during the workweek.
The sixth is to use mistakes as opportunities for improvement.
Humans make mistakes. Even when you’ve reached your ideal weight, there will inevitably be lapses in discipline. When you face challenges, you can either go back to eating poorly because of a breakup with a significant other, losing your job, or another big disappointment, or learn how to respond to slip-ups. Even a good thing can cause you to stray from your new eating habits, like starting a relationship with someone who doesn’t follow your way of eating. You feel ashamed of yourself after a few weeks and a few pounds. You cannot squeeze into your new garments.
The recovery strategy starts by getting off the guilt trip since it will only encourage more bad eating. Reduce your food consumption instead until you can control your desires. The key is recognizing mistakes early on to prevent more significant weight gain.
More than 90% of the sample said their overall quality of life, energy level, mobility, general mood, and self-confidence improved with weight loss. To achieve these results, aim to reduce your calorie consumption, increase the calories you burn while exercising, or do both. Diet fads and “quick solutions” are unlikely to be effective. Instead, focus on losing no more than one to two pounds per week through a healthy diet and regular exercise.
The results of the registry show that the following six ways are the most likely to keep weight off over time:
- Intense daily exercise
- A low-calorie, low-fat diet.
- Eating breakfast daily
- Regular self-monitoring of weight.
- Consistency in eating
- Recognizing “slips” before they lead to larger regains.