The real keys to staying lean throughout life

If losing weight may prove to be already complicated, there is something even more difficult that is not given so much attention: not to gain back the lost pounds.

Weight recovery is one of the most frequent consequences among those who have been on a diet, and is that there is something more complicated than achieving the ideal weight: maintain it. “Multiple systems in your body conspire against you to regain lost weight,” says Michael Rosenbaum, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University.

There are, however, effective methods for counteracting this hateful yo-yo effect that bodies experience. Analyzing data from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) – a corpus of data from more than 10,000 people who have lost at least 13 kilos and maintained their weight for at least a year – experts have discovered that there are ways of not going back to Gain weight after a loss. Of course, losing weight and keeping it are two different things.

What are the keys to staying lean?

1. Move each day

According to Holly Watt, associate director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado (Denver), “the most successful dietitians simply moved more.” As the specialist confirms, “when you are active, you fight the tendency of your body to regain lost weight.” Ninety-five percent of the cases that were successful and witnessed by the NWWR practiced an average of 60 minutes of daily exercise.

When you are more active, you feel better about yourself and you better choose what to eat

In addition, physical activity activates biological systems that are of great help: hormones such as epinephrine, which prevents the accumulation of fat, are emitted about 24 hours after exercise.

But there are also psychological factors: “When you are more active, you feel better about yourself and you better choose what to eat, going to healthier foods”, says Wyatt. As a recent Sanford University School study showed, good habits encourage each other.

2. It is important to maintain the musculature

One collateral damage to weight loss is that muscle mass is often lost too. The more muscle you conserve (or more muscle toning), the faster your metabolism will go, and the harder it will be to regain your lost pounds.

If you practice resistance training (using weights or your own body weight) two or three times a week you can increase the number of calories burned, up to 100 more each day.

3. The Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet, which includes fruits and vegetables, wheat, pulses, nuts and healthy fats (such as fish and olive oil) is beneficial for the heart, but it is also vital to stay at the ideal weight. A Harvard University study shows that this type of nutrition can help raise energy levels, so you will naturally burn up to 20% more calories during the course of the day. In addition, it is a very varied diet that is easy to maintain in the long run.

4. The scale

We are accustomed to weighing ourselves while we carry out the diet, but this habit is just as important when we have already reached the desired weight and we want to stay in it. A research by the NWCR showed that dieticians who stopped using the scale again gained up to twice as much weight as those who continued to control their kilos. “You cannot stay in a healthy range if you do not know the numbers in which you move,” Wyatt notes. For this, it is highly recommended to establish a red line, a point from which your weight is unacceptable.

5. The importance of breakfast

It’s a myth, but it’s true. If you’re tempted to start your day with a cup of coffee, keep in mind that 78% of those who managed to lose and maintain their weight never skipped breakfast. “Many people do not eat enough at breakfast,” says nutritionist Angela Lemond, who remembers that breakfast “is a meal, not a snack.”

6. Do not try to eat only healthy foods

An occasional concession, besides keeping you very healthy mentally, distances you from the overwhelming binge. That is why experts advise having a flexible vision with food, and following the rule of 80/20: while the bulk of what you eat is healthy, 20% of your consumption may be more caloric foods. As the old proverb says, there is no poison, but doses.