Part of successful weight loss is understanding that losing body fat is not an overnight process. The aggressive approach that some crash diets use can contribute to problems with slowing metabolism and weight regain over time.
For example, a recent, well-publicized study by the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, investigated 14 previous contestants from the popular weight-loss television show “The Biggest Loser” (2). On average, the contestants lost 130 pounds during the show, yet they ended up regaining nearly 90 pounds over the next six years.
One of the reasons the subjects gained their weight back may be due to metabolic rate. Metabolic rate is a measure of how much energy the body burns each day.
Following the competition, the contestants’ resting metabolic rates were an average of 610 calories lower than expected compared to a normal metabolic rate for a person of the same weight, age, and gender.
The contestants’ resting metabolic rates further decreased to 704 calories lower than expected at a six-year follow-up. These former “The Biggest Loser” contestants had been left with a drastically slowed metabolism that likely contributed to their weight regain after the TV show.
Lose Weight Steadily and Surely
There are ways to beat back the problem of slowing metabolic rate as a result of weight loss. Some clues come from the National Weight Control Registry, which has collected information on more than 10,000 individuals who have successfully lost more than 30 pounds and kept it off for a year or more.
What’s the secret of those who can keep the weight off in the long run? The registry found that, on average, people who successfully maintain their weight-loss exercise for one hour per day, are moderate about cutting calories, and don’t go on crash diets.
In addition, the researchers found that the longer a person was able to maintain weight loss, the less likely they were to regain those shed pounds over time. The result suggests that maintaining weight-loss results can get easier with time.
6 Weight-Maintenance Tips
So what can you do to maintain your hard-earned weight loss? Here are 10 tips based on the habits of people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off:
- Exercise every day. It doesn’t need to be strenuous or a gym workout. A total of 45 to 90 minutes of physical activity per day is enough to help keep weight off (2). Activities like walking, gardening, or playing with your kids are a fun, simple way to add in some exercise.
- Eat breakfast. Nearly 80 percent of registry members report eating breakfast every day of the week (2). Only 4 percent report never eating breakfast. Registry members also report a lower frequency of eating at restaurants and rarely eating fast food.
- Train with resistance. Lifting weights two to three times per week can increase and support metabolically active muscle tissue. Not only will strengthening your muscles make everyday activities easier, but it can also help you improve your overall health (3).
- Follow a diet high in quality protein. You should also include fresh fruits and vegetables with plenty of fiber and good fats. Greater protein intake from quality sources low in calories like whey-based shakes helps to prevent age-related muscle loss, manage appetite, maximize exercise performance, and promote weight control (5).
- Stick to it, and be consistent. Weight-loss maintenance gets easier over time. After individuals have successfully maintained their weight loss for over two years, the chance of longer-term success greatly increases (4). Sticking with successful weight-management and exercise strategies has benefits for long-term health in addition to helping you keep off excess pounds.
- Use convenience as a tool. Many people find making healthy choices and planning meals with the right balance of nutrients to be a challenge, especially when managing a busy schedule. Using meal replacements with high-quality whey protein and a balance of nutrients—such asIsaLean® Shakes and IsaLean Bars—are a convenient way to help support your health and weight-loss goals (5).
- Fothergill E, et al. Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition.Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 May 2. [Epub ahead of print]
- Wing RR & Phelan S. Long-term weight loss maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jul; 82(1 Suppl):222S-225S.
- Wycherley TP, et al. A high-protein diet with resistance exercise training improves weight loss and body composition in overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2010 May; 33(5):969-76.
- Phillips SM, Chevalier S & Leidy HJ. Protein “requirements” beyond the RDA: implications for optimizing health. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016 May; 41(5):565-72.
- Beavers KM, et al. Effect of protein source during weight loss on body composition, cardiometabolic risk and physical performance in abdominally obese, older adults: a pilot feeding study. J Nutr Health Aging. 2015 Jan; 19(1):87-95.