Study sheds light on how to achieve permanent weight loss

by TMP Editor on October 6, 2011

Achieving your weight loss goals brings about a wonderful sense of accomplishment. But it’s important to be aware that keeping the weight off after losing it could require an even higher level of personal discipline. You can learn how much from other successful dieters who participated in a recent study documenting the most effective weight maintenance approaches.

exercise key to permanent weight loss

Why some dieters succeed

In an article published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Researchers at Penn State University said that “Approximately one third of weight lost is regained within one year, and the remainder is typically regained within three to five years.” In a study examining why some people keep the weight off and other gain it back, they found that some of the techniques used by people who successfully maintain weight loss are quite different from those techniques used to lose weight.

The research team conducted telephonic surveys of 1,165 adults who had achieved their weight loss goals and maintained the results. Weight loss success was defined as losing 30 pounds and keeping it off for a year. Based on the data gleaned from successful dieters, researchers identified 36 practices for successful weight loss and maintenance.

Why most dieters fail

Armed with that knowledge, the researchers then conducted a national telephone survey of overweight people (with a BMI of 25 or higher) who had tried to lose weight and keep it off. About 11percent reported successfully losing weight, defined as losing at least 10 percent of body weight, and 21percent of those people maintained their new weight for at least a year. The researchers asked them how frequently they employed the 36 practices: “often or very often” or “seldom or never.”

Common sense prevails

The results of the survey? Not surprising. People who lose weight successfully and keep it off participate in weight loss programs, reduce sugar and carb intake, eat healthy snacks, don’t skip meals and exercise regularly. When it comes to exercise, switching up a fitness routine to keep it interesting helped people lose weight. However those who kept it off adhered to a consistent fitness routine—possibly because by the time the weight loss goal has been achieved, they have narrowed down the fitness routine that works best for them.

The Penn State study confirmed the efficacy of four commonly recommended strategies not necessarily associated with weight loss that are essential for weight maintenance:

Eating a diet rich in low-fat proteins

Following a consistent exercise program

Rewarding yourself for dieting and exercising

Reminding yourself of why you need to keep weight off

The real difference maker
The basic principles of weight loss and maintenance are the same: eat a healthy diet and increase your exercise. People who lose weight and keep it off tend to eat healthier and exercise more than the average American. They also shift their mindset from actively losing weight to long-term, permanent lifestyle changes.

The bottom line? Reading between the lines of the research parameters and scientific method in the Penn State study simply confirms that the real difference maker in the transition from weight loss to weight maintenance could simply be personal motivation.

Source: MSNBC, Emax Health, TIME

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