How to maintain lasting weight loss?

Engaging in a weight loss process can be very stimulating. Indeed, the figure on the scale can go down quite quickly by modifying certain eating habits, which can be motivating.

However, after about 6 months, several people reach what is called a plateau . At this point, the weight loss slows down considerably and eventually stagnates. If this phenomenon can demotivate many people to maintain healthy eating habits, it is important to know that this phase is completely normal . If you maintain an active and healthy lifestyle during this time, this may actually be a sign that you have reached your natural weight.


This is a great accomplishment! But be careful, the process of healthy weight management doesn’t end when the extra pounds are gone. The challenge now is to maintain that natural weight . And that’s quite a challenge! Indeed, the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES) carried out in the United States from 1999 to 2006 found that only 17% of overweight or obese adults surveyed reported having maintained at least 10% of their weight loss during a year.


In order to maintain an optimal state of health in a sustainable way and to prevent the appearance of chronic diseases linked to excess weight.

How do you define maintaining lost weight?


While a weight loss of the order of 5 to 10% of the initial weight during the weight loss phase can improve the health of people who are overweight or suffering from obesity, the many biological mechanisms that intervene through following can lead to a slight gain in weight.


So, although there is currently no consensus, some experts define maintenance of weight loss in adults as:


Long-term weight loss of approximately 3% of the initial weight .

In short, it is normal for a slight gain in weight to occur following a weight loss process. However, adopting a healthy lifestyle will prevent you from regaining all the lost pounds, and that in a sustainable way.


The pitfalls to avoid when the weight is stagnant


The main trap to avoid is to completely cut out certain types of food, certain nutrients considered “bad” or even certain meals. As the alchemist Paracelsus would say, “it is the dose that makes the poison”. Anyway, it is well known, the bans lead most of the time to overconsumption. And the food variety tastes much better!


Trying to completely eliminate fat from your diet? Warning!

According to a prospective randomized study of participants between the ages of 40 and 50, the group who had a restricted calorie intake combined with a moderate fat intake was more likely to maintain the lost weight compared to the group who ate a low-calorie diet. fat.


Tempted to eat a light lunch or skip it altogether? Warning!

According to a 2012 randomized clinical trial (n = 193), the group of participants who ate a high-carbohydrate and protein-rich breakfast maintained more weight loss and had less cravings for foods high in sugars or fat, compared to to the group of participants who ate a low-carb lunch. In addition, skipping breakfast is not a good way to maintain a healthy weight , on the contrary.


Behaviors associated with low weight gain


In addition, the adoption of certain behaviors would be associated with a reduction in the risk of regaining weight, such as:

  • to go to bed early,
  • eat little fast food,
  • eat nutritious breakfasts ,
  • drink few sugary drinks and use water to hydrate,
  • practice physical activity on a regular basis,
  • eat a diet rich in fiber, whole grains and fruits and vegetables,
  • reduce the portions of their meals,
  • maintain healthy lifestyle habits , etc.


Although these courses of action are interesting, no cause (diet) and effect (maintenance of lost weight) link can be established here since these studies only observe a relationship between lifestyle habits and weight. of study participants.


Other facilitators to maintain the lost weight in the long term.


Not only diet, but also physical activity is a crucial component during the weight maintenance phase. Indeed, if the American College of Sports and Medicine (ACSM) recommends practicing 150 minutes of exercise per week in order to maintain an optimal state of health, it is recommended to:


Increase your level of physical activity to more than 200 minutes per week to prevent weight gain, which corresponds to a minimum of 30 minutes per day of moderate activity.

Some studies also show that the development of a positive body image of oneself, self-regulation skills and self-efficacy are associated with better maintenance of lost weight in the long term. This can be explained by the fact that people who have a positive image of themselves tend to be more kind to their bodies and have confidence in their abilities.


In addition, the support of family, friends and healthcare professionals can be other helping factors. To this end, nutritionists are health professionals recognized as specialists in human nutrition, who can help you in your process of healthy weight management.


The key: integrate healthy eating habits and regular physical activity into your lifestyle


Maintaining healthy eating habits as well as a high level of physical activity remains without a doubt the best way to maintain lasting weight loss.


Moreover, according to a review of the literature comprising 45 controlled and randomized studies, people suffering from obesity who had engaged in a process of weight loss had an easier time maintaining the lost weight when they followed an intervention. combining the improvement of eating habits and the practice of physical activity .


In order to be able to maintain the lost weight, the healthy habits that you have acquired during your weight loss phase must be able to be incorporated into your lifestyle not only for the next year, but for your entire life !


Here are some examples of strategies that combine the pleasure of eating and being active with the maintenance of a natural weight  :

  • Use the bike or walk for trips;
  • Use steps instead of elevators and escalators;
  • Enjoy discovering a variety of different fruits and vegetables as well as new whole grains every week;
  • Replace juices and soft drinks with homemade drinks containing little sugar: add a few slices of fresh fruit, frozen fruit or mint leaves to your water;
  • Enjoy cooking and eating with the family without a screen (television, cell phone, tablet, computer) as well as being outside.

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