Top 10 Tips for Weight Loss & Weight Management
This post is also available in: French
Losing weight and keeping it off can be top of mind for many people. And for good reason: Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is important for your overall health and vitality, both now and as you age. Whether you are ready to embark on a weight-loss program, are currently working toward a goal, or want to maintain your hard work, here are 10 tips to keep you on track.
Build your dream team.
Don’t feel like you need to go it alone! Building a network of people you trust and feel comfortable talking to about your weight-loss journey can help make you more successful. Think about your main triggers and don’t be shy about asking for support, whether that is suggesting a change of venue when eating out to avoid temptation or enlisting a friend to exercise with. Don’t forget about building a relationship with your health care practitioner. Studies have shown that more frequent attendance at sessions1 and more sustained contact with the clinic2 improve weight loss success.
Set SMARTer goals.
Goal setting supports successful weight loss.3 Although you may have larger overall weight goals, e.g. lose 20 lbs., breaking this into a series of smaller goals can help you build behaviors you need to reach your target. Get SMART about building your goals by making them Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
Build in daily meal replacements.
Meal replacements (e.g. shakes) can be a valuable tool in your weight management toolbox. In clinical studies, people who used meal replacement products achieved greater weight loss than those that did not.4-5 More meal replacements (for example twice a day rather than just once) was also linked with more pounds lost and higher likelihood of achieving weight loss goals,1, 6 as well as more successful weight maintenance behaviors.4, 6,7 How does it work? Studies show that meal replacements help to control calorie intake throughout the day.8
Successful weight reduction and maintenance require pairing physical activity with changes to diet as an important part of their success. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity each week to support weight loss, while recognizing that greater levels of physical activity (225-420 minutes per week) leads to greater weight loss.9 And it is important to keep up new physical activity habits up even after you have achieved your goal weight. ACSM recommends 200-300 minutes per week to support weight loss maintenance.9 And it is not just body weight that benefits: Physical activity promotes overall good health and contributes to good cardiometabolic health and positive mood.
Personalize your diet.
Reducing your overall calorie intake lies at the heart of weight loss. Many different diets have been studied for weight loss, and they differ in the types of foods and amounts allowed. Although many individuals report that low-carbohydrate and ketogenic approaches contribute to weight loss success, the research shows that many diets support weight loss, and ultimately, the best dietary pattern for you is one that you can stick with, both during the weight-loss phase and in the long term.10 Successful weight loss and maintenance are associated with other small but important changes, including reducing sugar-sweetened beverages and generally watching your portion size.10
Track your success.
Simply tracking your body weight every day and looking at the results (e.g. through an app on your phone) can help you lose more weight, and continued self-monitoring can prevent weight regain.11-14 Tracking behaviors overall is helpful for weight loss success.3 From tracking body weight, physical activity, and food intake to stress and sleep patterns, tracking helps you post patterns of what’s working and what’s not to help you gain control over areas you may want to focus more on.
Don’t focus solely on the scales.
It is easy to get caught up with how much the scale number is changing; however, don’t get disheartened if the numbers are not moving as quickly as you may like. Shifts in body fat and muscle mass that occur when you start a diet and physical activity plan may not show up on the scales but are critical for your overall health. Changes in fat stored centrally are particularly important, so keeping track of measurements like waist circumference give you an insight into how your hard work is paying off.
Small shifts in body weight = big benefit for health.
Even a modest reduction of 3-10% of total body weight is sufficient to have a clinically measurable benefit for diabetes prevention, as well as symptoms of osteoarthritis, dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia, and hypertension.15
Follow your gut.
The microbiota in your intestine impact overall body weight control.16 Directly targeting the microbiome is now possible through precision probiotics, and clinical studies are highlighting that targeted probiotic approaches may have benefits for weight management.
Play the long game.
Weight management goes way past a 12- or 26-week weight-loss program, and building weight management behaviors into your normal everyday life is critical to help you keep the weight off. Returning to your previous ways of eating and lifestyle patterns will not support your new body. Remember that you have a smaller body size now, and your daily calorie requirement is likely also lower. Adaptive changes that occur with weight loss can make weight maintenance a challenge. However, despite these physiological changes, successful weight maintenance is possible. The National Weight Control Registry (MWCR), a US-based database founded in 1993, has provided insights into the habits of successful weight loss maintainers. What works? Continued dietary restraint, regular self-weighing, eating breakfast, higher rates of physical activity, self-monitoring dietary intake, self-limiting of sugar-sweetened beverages to limit total energy intake, and limiting TV viewing time (<10 hours per week).17-20
Ready to get started? Talk to your healthcare practitioner about what options would best suit your weight-loss goals.
- Wadden TA, Neiberg RH, Wing RR, et al. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009;17(4):713-722.
- Sherwood NE, Crain AL, Martinson BC, et al. Prev Med. 2013;56(3-4):171-177.
- Samdal GB, Eide GE. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2017;14(1):42.
- Heymsfield SB, van Mierlo CA. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003;27(5):537-549.
- Metzner CE, Folberth-Vogele A, Bitterlich N, et al. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011;8(1):64.
- Leader NJ, Ryan L. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013;21(2):251-253.
- Ames GE, Patel RH, McMullen JS, et al. Eat Behav. 2014;15(1):95-98.
- Levitsky DA, Pacanowski C. Appetite. 2011;57(2):311-317.
- Donnelly JE, Blair SN. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;41(2):459-471.
- Raynor HA, Champagne CM. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116(1):129-147.
- Crain AL, Sherwood NE. Ann Behav Med. 2017: doi: 10.1007/s12160-017-9917-x.
- Steinberg DM, Bennett GG. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(4):511-518.
- Bertz F, Pacanowski CR. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015;23(10):2009-2014.
- Pacanowski CR, Bertz FC. Sage Open. 2014;4(4):1-16.
- Cefalu WT, Bray GA, Home PD. Diabetes Care. 2015;38(8):1567-1582.
- Boulange CL, Neves AL. Genome Med. 2016;8(1):42.
- Catenacci VA, Pan Z, Thomas JG. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014;22(10):2244-2251.
- Thomas JG, Bond DS. Am J Prev Med. 2014;46(1):17-23.
- Wyatt HR, Grunwald GK. Obes Res. 2002;10(2):78-82.
- Raynor DA, Phelan S. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006;14(10):1816-1824.