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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Weight Control


woman wearing jeans several sizes too large, indicating weight lossHelpful tips to maintain weight loss

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Barton County, University of Missouri Extension


People who have lost weight know that once the weight is lost, it can be difficult to keep it off. Only about one in five people who are successful at losing 10 percent of their body weight are able to maintain the loss for one year. People who do maintain their weight loss have some healthy habits in common.


The first healthy habit of weight loss maintainers is that they lose their weight gradually — about 1 pound per week. People who have lost weight and kept it off have had success with a low-calorie, low-fat diet. Fat has 9 calories per gram, but protein and carbohydrates have only 4 calories per gram. A person can actually eat more food for the calories when eating more protein and carbohydrates. To lose 1 pound of weight per week, one must consume 500 less calories or burn 500 more calories per day than normal.


People who maintain their weight loss eat at about the same time every day and they stick to the same basic foods in their diet — they also eat breakfast. Breakfast eaters are less likely to be overweight. Research shows that people who eat breakfast tend to eat less throughout the day than people who don’t. They also take in less total dietary fat. Breakfast eaters consume more fiber. Fiber helps people feel full longer, which is very important for someone decreasing their intake.


Physical activity is also an important part of weight loss maintenance. To maintain weight loss, a person should exercise at a moderate level for 60 to 90 minutes per day. Both aerobic and strength training exercises that increase heart rate are recommended. Monitoring weight closely on a weekly or daily basis and immediately losing extra weight is another way to maintain weight loss.


Some people say that it is easier to lose the weight than to maintain the weight loss. Practicing these healthy habits can help assure success.


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Last update: Thursday, March 22, 2012