Losing weight is the first half of the battle; keeping the weight off is the next challenging part of the equation. Maintaining your new, healthy weight is the end goal here, which is why we spoke with the experts who share their top-recommended tips to keep the weight off for good. Keeping excess stress at bay, getting sufficient beauty rest, and incorporating fruit or veggies into every meal you consume are all key players in staving off extra weight. Read on to learn more, and next, don’t miss 13 Tips To Lose 10 Pounds Quickly.
Choosing whole foods over processed foods is always the smart way to go to fuel your body and support your weight loss efforts. Processed foods usually have more preservatives, added sugars, saturated fat, and trans fat, which are culprits that make weight gain easy. According to Melissa Mitri, MS, RD, nutrition writer and owner of Melissa Mitri Nutrition, “A diet full of processed food also increases your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Aim for 80% of your diet from whole foods and 20% from convenience or processed foods that are in a package or container.”
Did you know that how you sleep can impact how efficiently your body will keep the weight off? “Poor sleeping patterns can cause an increase in calorie intake and reduce your motivation to exercise,” Mitri explains. She suggests getting seven to eight hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep on a nightly basis. You may even want to consider implementing a calming winddown routine into your evening.
When the goal is to maintain your new, healthy weight, keeping up a calorie deficit is crucial. A calorie deficit is essentially torching a greater number of calories than you consume, and “maintenance” means the numbers are basically the same amount. “This prevents unwanted weight gain after you reach your goal weight, and keeps the pounds off for good,” Mitri tells ETNT.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be a difficult, drawn-out process. Simplifying this process will work wonders for your physical and mental health!
“Meal planning can help you eat more nutritious meals and keep weight off,” Mitri says. “I see many people often make meal planning complicated, but keeping it simple is key for sustainability. You can do this by using ingredients that can be used in multiple dishes, such as rice, mixed vegetables, or grilled chicken, and utilizing leftovers often.”
You’re likely already aware that stress can have detrimental effects on your body; it can even lead to weight gain. Therefore, it’s important to keep your stress levels low. “Stress can be a hidden factor in why you aren’t able to maintain your weight loss,” Mitri explains. “It has been studied for its negative impact on your food intake, dietary preferences, decision-making, and more. It is important to have stress relieving techniques in your back pocket, such as meditation, deep breathing, and going for a nature walk.”
Beverages like lemonade, iced tea, and soda may taste good, but they’re jam-packed with sugar and hundreds of unnecessary calories. If you aren’t mindful of how much you’re drinking, the calories can add up quickly and result in weight gain. Rather than drinking your calories, Mitri suggests choosing healthier alternatives such as flavored and sparkling water or herbal teas if you’re in the mood for a refreshing sip.
Making meal decisions “on the fly,” as Mitri puts it, is a major no-no if you want to keep your weight down for good. If you have a busy schedule, plan in advance and meal prep. Not having fresh foods readily accessible makes it much easier to opt for less-than-healthy options. “I like the rule, ‘make it once and eat it twice’ for a quick meal prep hack. For example, when cooking dinner, make an extra serving or two for lunch the next couple of days,” Mitri suggests.
This pro tip is an excellent way to get impulse eating under control. The Nutrition Twins®, Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RD, CDN, CFT, members of our Medical Expert Board, explain, “While this may seem like common sense, much of snacking and impulse eating occurs when standing in the kitchen or in front of the pantry. It’s easy to pop open a bag of chips or a sleeve of cookies and devour it. However, just the act of sitting and plating food, helps to make the experience more mindful and prevent overeating. Our clients achieve long-lasting weight loss by making an intentional life-long habit of sitting down to eat.”
Keeping satisfying, healthy snacks on hand can make you feel like you’re indulging and help you avoid reaching for unhealthy options like sugar-packed granola bars or ultra-processed candy bars. “Sugary granola bars and vending machine candy bars are made from processed ingredients and are high in sugar, which causes a blood sugar spike, followed by a crash that triggers the release of the belly fat hormone, cortisol. These options don’t provide the body with nutrients and the processed ingredients are usually devoid of the satisfying combination of protein and fiber, so they leave you hungry soon after,” The Nutrition Twins tell us.
If you need some inspiration, they love keeping KIND’s Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt bars in their gym bags and at their desks since they pack a mean protein and fiber punch. They also boast nutrient-dense ingredients such as almonds.
Performing “portion check-ups” is always a good idea—especially when you’re dining out. “Our perception of a portion size can quickly be skewed by being exposed to oversized portions, (aka portion distortion), especially at restaurants,” The Nutrition Twins explain. “It’s easy to eat the amount that’s served and lose sense of what an actual portion should look like. So our portions typically get bigger over time if we don’t pay attention.”
In order to avoid this, every two weeks, break out your measuring utensils to check what your portions are in order to stay on the right track. Being mindful of healthy portion sizes will keep the weight off for good.
You heard that right! Carbs can be your friend when you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off. It’s all about choosing the right, healthy ones and making sure to keep your portion sizes moderate. “It only takes one-half cup to two-thirds cup of a wholesome, high fiber carb, like sweet potatoes, brown rice, oats, etc., at each meal to give your brain fuel to prevent cravings for sugar and doughy carbs, as well as feelings of deprivation,” The Nutrition Twins explain. “These slower-digesting carbs will keep you on track. You’ll keep weight off long-term as you feel satisfied and prevent the urges to binge from restriction.”
When you feel the weight creeping back, it’s time to re-assess your plate. Get into the healthy habit of making sure half of your plate is filled with steamed vegetables. This will fill you up with fiber, few calories, and anti-inflammatory nutrients, The Nutrition Twins tell us. “You’ll be less hungry and have less room in your stomach for the heavier carbs and fattier items, so you’ll prevent excess calories from making their way to your mouth,” they add. Just make sure the vegetables are steamed and you’re not using any butter or oil to cook them.
Last but not least, if you want to keep the weight off for good, “keep an eye on the fats,” The Nutrition Twins say. Fats such as olive oil, avocados, cream sauces, and butters have the tendency to add up in calories really fast, which can lead to excess fat in your midsection. “Maintaining weight loss requires keeping the portions of fat sources in check. If weight starts creeping back on, check your fats,” The Nutrition Twins add.