Do you struggle to lose weight and keep it off? If so, the lessons learned by researchers at the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) can help you meet your goals.
Scientists associated with the University of Colorado, Brown University and the University of Pittsburgh founded NWCR in 1993. They decided to explore the behaviors of individuals 18 years and older who have successfully maintained a weight loss of 30 pounds or more for a least one year.
The Registry collected weight-loss wisdom from more than 4,000 individuals. Here are some of the highlights:
Ninety-two percent of the participants limited their intake of specific foods
Limiting your intake of certain foods is far simpler than cutting them out altogether; you will feel less deprived.
Participants consumed an average of 1,400 calories per day
Their daily food intake was very similar—approximately 24 percent of their calories came from fat, 19 percent from protein and 56 percent from carbohydrates.
Successful NWCR participants did not eliminate entire food groups from their diet
They didn’t follow fat-free or carbohydrate-free regimens. Nor was an extremely low caloric level the choice of these individuals. At 1,400 calories, you can eat well, stay healthy and feel satisfied.
On average, participants ate five small meals a day
What is your usual meal schedule? Do you skip meals? Skipping a meal can promote overeating later in the day. Five small meals a day may seem like a lot, but these are small meals, and eating this way, you will rarely feel hungry and you should not feel deprived.
Seventy-five percent of the participants weighed themselves at least once a week
There are different theories about weighing. Some believe that weighing yourself daily is excessive and can be discouraging, as your weight may fluctuate due to your fluid intake, rate of digestion, time of the month (for women) and other factors. But keeping track of your progress can be motivating. Try weighing in once or twice each week.
Few home scales are as accurate as those found in medical offices, so don’t allow a disappointing weigh-in to ruin your day. Instead, use your scale to monitor trends. Focus less on the exact number and more on whether your weight is headed up or down.
About one-third of the participants found weight maintenance challenging, one-third described it as moderately difficult and one-third found it easy
Don’t be discouraged. Remember, these folks maintained their healthy weight loss for more than one year, regardless of the difficulty. Let that inspire you. You can do it, too. Find ways other than food to reward your successes. When you’ve met or maintained your goal for one week, go see a movie. After a successful month, buy yourself a small gift. You deserve it.
Forty-two percent of the participants reported that maintaining their weight loss was easier than losing the weight
That’s almost half of the participants. The odds are good that you will be in this group. Don’t give up. You CAN do it!