Seven strategies to avoid weight gain, approved by experts

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Losing weight is a challenge. But as anyone who has successfully lost weight knows, avoiding weight regain is a real challenge.

This is true no matter what method you follow to lose weight. For example, studies show that people who follow a very low-calorie diet (between 800-1,200 calories per day) regain between 26% and 121% of their lost weight five years after treatment. People who follow behavioral weight control programs (like WW, formerly Weight Watchers) regain between 30-35% of their lost weight after one year.

Even people who use weight loss drugs, such as Wegovy, have been shown to regain about two-thirds of the weight they lost one year after stopping the drug.

There are many reasons why we regain the weight we lose. First, maintaining weight loss is less rewarding than seeing the number on the scale go down while you lose weight. This makes it difficult to maintain motivation and continue to maintain your weight.

Second, it’s often difficult to maintain the lifestyle changes we’ve made to lose weight – especially if these changes are unrealistic and difficult to stick to long-term (such as a very low-calorie diet or cutting out whole food groups).

Third, weight loss can cause an increase in the production of hunger hormones – and can even slow down digestion. These changes can make it harder to stop overeating and can contribute to weight regain over time.

But while weight regain may be a common experience, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a number of evidence-based things you can do to prevent it in the long run:

1. Prioritize Balanced Nutrition

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Focus on a diet rich in a variety of nutrients. Incorporate lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables into your meals. This balanced approach not only provides essential nutrients but also helps in controlling hunger and reducing cravings.

2. Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the eating experience. Eat slowly, savor each bite, and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. This practice can prevent overeating and help you enjoy your food more, ultimately supporting weight management.

3. Stay Physically Active

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Regular physical activity is key to preventing weight gain. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week, as recommended by health experts. Incorporate a mix of cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility exercises for a well-rounded fitness routine.

4. Maintain a Regular Eating Schedule

Having a consistent eating schedule helps regulate your metabolism and prevents overeating. Try to eat meals and snacks at the same times each day. Skipping meals can lead to extreme hunger and poor food choices later on, so aim for regular, balanced meals.

5. Get Adequate Sleep

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Quality sleep is essential for weight management. Poor sleep can disrupt hormones that regulate hunger and appetite, leading to increased cravings and overeating. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to support your overall health and weight maintenance efforts.

6. Manage Stress Effectively

Chronic stress can lead to emotional eating and weight gain. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as practicing yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in hobbies you enjoy. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can also help reduce stress levels.

7. Stay Hydrated

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Drinking enough water is vital for overall health and can aid in weight management. Sometimes, thirst is mistaken for hunger, leading to unnecessary snacking. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, and consider hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables to help meet your needs.

By incorporating these expert-approved strategies into your daily routine, you can effectively prevent weight gain and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Remember, consistency is key, and small, sustainable changes often lead to the best results.

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