When it comes to losing weight, it is not quite as simple as “calories in minus calories out,” or burning more calories than you consume. In fact, research shows that only one in five dieters are successful in losing weight and keeping it off. But don’t get discouraged! With the right tools and advice and a strong support system, maintaining weight loss is easier than it sounds!
Follow these seven tips to keep weight off for good:
Seek an expert
For people who are committed to cleaning up their diet, but aren’t sure where to start, meeting with a dietitian might be the right move. A registered dietitian (or R.D., for short) will take a thorough look at your current eating habits, daily schedule, stressors, and snack triggers to help you come up with an overall nutrition plan. Many find that meeting with a specialist provides accountability, so it's easier to stay focused on your goals.
A 2013 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that people who received eight nutrition-coaching sessions over six months lost on average 5 percent of their starting body weight. To connect with a dietitian in your area, you can search the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.
Employ the small change approach
When it comes to making dietary changes, if you expect to see any significant results in a day, a week, or even a month, you’ll set yourself up for failure. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a colorful salad full of different vegetables to your daily diet or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As your small changes become new habits, you can continue to add more healthy changes to your diet.
Nothing is off limits
Try not to think of certain foods as “off-limits.” When you ban certain foods or food groups, it is natural to want those foods more, and then feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. If you are drawn towards sweet, salty, or unhealthy foods, start by reducing portion sizes and not eating them as often. Later you may find yourself craving them less or thinking of them as only occasional indulgences. Regardless, know that you can have them, but only in moderation and only when the portion size is appropriate.
Downsize your dinnerware
Change plates to lose weight! By switching from a 12-inch plate to a 10-inch plate, you’ll cut calories by 22 percent. According to the Small Plate Movement (yes, this is an actual movement!), if your typical dinner on a 12-inch plate is around 800 calories, switching to a 10-inch plate alone can facilitate 18 pounds of weight loss in one year. Still, it is important to keep in mind that what is on your plate is the most important factor. Switching from a 12-inch plate full of macaroni and cheese to a 10-inch plate full of that same macaroni is not enough. As a general rule of thumb, fill half of your plate with veggies, a quarter with a lean protein source (such as turkey, fish, or lean beef), and the last quarter with high-fiber whole grains (like brown rice or barley).
Keeping weight off is work. It involves planning ahead to have the right food on hand, keeping food with you to prevent you from becoming too hungry, cooking instead of eating all meals out, and so on. But you don’t have to devote hours and hours every day to planning. Pick one day a week to cook your meals in advance and freeze them. In addition to cooking in advance, planning out what you’ll eat each day of the week is not only a great way to ensure you have the food you need on hand, but it also cuts down on those “what should I eat” moments.
As a general rule of thumb, devote Sundays to food shopping and meal prepping. On a typical Sunday, I hard-boil a dozen eggs, grill chicken breasts, roast a variety of vegetables, and wash and chop raw carrots, celery and peppers. Having healthy items on hand makes it that much more likely that you will reach for healthy items!
Eat protein at every meal
Diets higher in protein and moderate in carbohydrates are recommended to reduce total body fat. This type of daily diet also helps maintain lean muscle tissue and keeps you feeling full, while burning fat for fuel. Be sure to include healthy protein sources like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts and seeds, chicken, fish, beans, and lean beef at all meals and snacks.
Live life one day at a time
If your goal is to lose weight and/or sustain weight loss, focus only on what you can do each day, rather than worry about the future. Start every morning anew, and recommit to sticking to the plan one day at a time, day after day. This helps you maintain the energy and motivation you always need to bring to a new project.