NEWSFLASH! Scientists at the University of Melbourne made news recently when they announced that, contrary to popular belief, crash diets work just as well as more mainstream approaches.
Specifically, they found that people trying to lose weight on a 1500 calorie weight loss diet plan were more likely to get to their target weight than steady dieters, but that three years later both groups were equally as likely to have regained most of the weight. So, how do you come off a diet and not regain the weight? Here’s how. (Note: If you need to lose weight first, click here)
#1. ‘FEEL’ YOUR FOOD
make this it. Relearn how to pay attention to hunger and fullness signals and act on those appropriately. But also you before you decide to eat anything ask yourself, ‘What will this food feel like in my body?’ Imagine how it will make your body and mind feel afterwards. If the answer is tired, full, sluggish, guilty or any other negative feeling, don’t eat it. If every food you consume gives you energy and nourishment and makes you feel positive, you’ll find maintaining weight easier.
#2. ALWAYS HAVE SOME PROTEIN
If you don’t already know about the power of protein, research from New Zealand’s Massey University will make you sit up and take notice. They found that we eat more food and kilojoules overall if our daily protein needs aren’t met. It’s common knowledge that after you lose weight your body tries to take you back to the weight you were before by increasing levels of the hormone that makes us feel hungry and decreases those like leptin that make us feel full. Protein is satiating and therefore can help counteract some of this appetite increase. Have a palm-sized portion of meat, fish, eggs, dairy or plant proteins like beans, lentils or tofu at each meal.
#3. MOVE QUICK, MOVE OFTEN
Once you’ve lost weight your body subconsciously reduces the amount of fidgeting and incidental exercise you do so you burn fewer kilojoules. Counteract that by getting a pedometer, or a step-measuring app, and making a conscious effort to reach at least 10,000 steps daily. But do them briskly. University of Utah researchers investigating the correlation between how much people moved and how well they controlled their weight, found that every extra minute a day of higher intensity exercise someone did reduced their chance of being obese by five percent. Higher intensity exercise includes things like brisk walking or going up and down stairs.
#4. ‘RE-DIET’ ONCE A WEEK
This is a tip from the super-successful weight loss eating plan, The 3 Week Diet (see our review here). On this diet you reduce your kilojoule intake over the period of three weeks, eating sensibly the rest of the time. Once you’ve achieved your weight loss goal, don’t give up the idea completely, stick with it once a week. Not only does this help reduce kilojoules over the week, helping maintain weight loss, it helps you accept that control is something you need to do long-term to sustain things. You don’t need to be fasting to use the top, though. Going back on any healthy eating plan a week or two will help you break bad habits that are slipping in and remind you of how far you’ve come and what it takes to stay there.
#5. SPICE UP YOUR LIFE
If you’re eating out of boredom, not hunger, you will overeat. Try and create a full, enriched life. A fulfilled mind focuses less on the negative and it sees solutions not problems. This means next time you’re faced with something that might sabotage your weight loss maintenance efforts you’ll find it easier to find a way out.
#6. USE THE THREE PERCENT RULE
Weigh yourself weekly and if you do get to a point where your weight increases by 3 percent – or 5kg, whichever comes first – then go back on your diet plan for two weeks, or as long as it takes to get back to the weight you are aiming for. You may have to do this a few times a year to maintain things. That’s not a failure, it’s just an adaptation to your new body. Each time though, really try and focus on what went wrong and learn from those mistakes. If you do that, eventually the yo-yo’ing will stop.
#7. FORGET YOUR OLD LIFE
Every kilo you lose reduces the amount of energy your body burns day to day. So after losing weight you simply can’t eat as much as you did before and stay the same weight. Not to mention that whatever you were eating before was what triggered the weight gain in the first place. Don;t just relax back into your old habits, eat small servings and focus your diet around mostly low-kilojoule foods like fruit, vegetables and lean meats.
#8. SPOT YOUR VULNERABILITIES
Knowing you’re going to have setbacks is one of the most important things to remember. If you expect to be able to maintain your weight and eating habits perfectly all the time you put pressure on yourself that can lead to ‘all or nothing’ behaviors that cause weight gain. So, when setbacks happen, don’t beat yourself up – learn from experience. Try and spot your vulnerabilities – such as if you eat more when you’re stressed – and start developing strategies to counteract them.