How come some people successfully lose weight and keep it off, while so many others fail?
That’s what the National Weight Control Registry has been looking into for over a decade. Begun in 1994, the registry has amassed information on nearly 5,000 people who have maintained at least a 30-pound weight loss for five or more years. Periodically, they are interviewed to see what makes them able to stick to their goals. According to Dr. James Hill, the registry’s co-founder, these successful maintainers share several key strategies:
They eat a high-carb, low-fat diet.
The low-carb craze hasn’t influenced these successful maintainers. On average, they get most of their calories (55 to 60%) from carbohydrates and 24% of their calories from fat; the rest is from protein. They emphasize “good” carbs–fruits, vegetables, and other high-fiber foods–not high-sugar carbohydrates.
They are conscious of calories.
Successful maintainers know that total calories count, no matter what diet they follow. Whether the calories come from carbs, fat, or protein, a calorie is a calorie.
They eat breakfast.
Eight out of 10 successful maintainers eat breakfast every day. This may help people better manage calories during the day, says Dr. Hill. They also eat often–an average of five smaller meals and snacks a day.
Successful maintainers weigh themselves at least once a week; some more frequently. Many occasionally still keep food diaries.
They engage in lots of physical activity–60 to 90 minutes a day. In line with the new government guidelines, successful maintainers carve out time every day for planned exercise, but they also look for ways to get more activity during the rest of the day. Walking is their No.1 activity.