At the start of the new year, many consumers pledge to lose weight as a way to boost their health; however, keeping the weight off can be very difficult.
Now, researchers from California Polytechnic State University have found that the key to keeping weight off is to be strategic about the process. Their study proved that maintaining weight loss is easier when consumers choose healthier foods, track their food intake, and allow themselves to feel encouraged by their progress.
“People who maintained their successful weight loss the longest reported greater frequency and repetition in healthy eating choices,” said researcher Suzanne Phelan. “Healthier choices also became more automatic the longer people continued to make those choices. These findings are encouraging for those working at weight loss maintenance. Over time, weight loss maintenance may become easier, requiring less intentional effort.”
Putting strategies into practice
The researchers went straight to the source for this study by evaluating the habits of those who have successfully lost weight and kept it off. The team compared these consumers to those who have struggled to lose a significant amount of weight for over five years.
Participants completed surveys tracking their typical weight loss behaviors, as well as what they did to try to keep the weight off.
After tracking over 50 behaviors and strategies for weight loss maintenance, the researchers found that three were the most common among the participants who were successful in their weight loss process: tracking food, choosing healthy foods, and maintaining a positive attitude.
Keeping a record of food eaten throughout the day helps keep consumers accountable for their choices. With a countless number of free apps available on smartphones, tracking food has become easier than ever.
Staying on track
Losing weight can be a difficult process, but the researchers want to encourage consumers to stay the course. The longer these habits are put into practice, the more natural they become in day-to-day life. When that happens, consumers will see better weight loss outcomes.
“Successful weight loss is associated with a variety of health benefits,” said Phelan. “The improved quality of life observed among the successful weight losers in this study may serve as an important motivator for people working at long-term weight management.”