Improve Your Health

How to Lose Weight – and Keep it Off

About The Author

Dr. Srividya Kidambi

Associate Professor and Interim Chief in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Clinical Nutrition

Medical College of Wisconsin/Froedtert Hospital

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Weight loss is a deeply personal journey – and it’s also a difficult journey. Many people take off a few pounds only to see the weight creep back on. But for many of us, finding a way to lose weight – and keep it off – is one of the best things you can do to improve your health and feel your best.

There are dozens of health conditions associated with being overweight or obese. Maintaining a healthy weight can help you avoid metabolic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It also helps protect against heart disease, acid reflux disease, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis and even fertility issues.

You may be tempted to try one of the popular fad diets for a quick fix. These diets can work – but only as long as you follow them to the letter. That’s because most of them drastically reduce the amount of calories you consume by eliminating entire food groups. This can be effective short-term but over time your body will fight back. A better approach is gradually reducing calories but still eating everything in moderation. As you lose weight, your resting metabolic rate decreases. This means you need fewer calories to maintain your weight. A common myth is that after losing weight you can go back to eating what you want. But the reality is you need to keep eating less to maintain your new weight.

The most efficient way to lose weight is to eat balanced meals, including a mix of lean protein, whole grains, vegetables, fruit and healthy fat. Exercise to burn calories, but do it more for its overall benefits for your heart, mental health and keeping muscles lean. Most people only burn 300-500 calories per workout, so don’t consider it a free pass for eating a cookie or two for the same number of calories.

Here’s something most people don’t realize: Those who work hard to lose weight will need to work hard to maintain it. That’s because your body will keep fighting to get back to its previous weight. So you’ll have to continue eating less and exercising more to avoid regaining the weight.

If you notice weight creeping back on, take a look at your diet. As time goes by, many people begin to slip and start eating more calories. For example, it could be as small as adding creamer to your coffee – just a little bit every day can add up to an extra 5-6 pounds of weight gain per year. Also take a look at your activity level. Doing an additional workout every week or even just adding a few 10-minute spurts of activity throughout the day can make a difference.

To learn more about sustainable weight loss, contact your primary care provider. To find a primary care provider near you, reach out to your health insurance provider.

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