Whether you just reached a weight goal or are happy with your current weight, maintaining it may sound difficult. In the end, it comes down to good habits, and adopting a healthy lifestyle and committing to it doesn't have to be hard. We talked to experts in nutrition and fitness, who shared nine key rules for maintaining a healthy weight.
Keep scrolling to read on about kick-starting healthy habits that will help you keep excess weight off.
1. Don’t diet.
Kimberly Gomer, RD, Director of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa stresses that dieting shouldn’t be on the top of your mind at all times. Instead, focusing on a healthy lifestyle and making small changes like getting enough sleep, embracing exercise, and eating more veggies and whole fruits.
2. Make subtle changes in your eating habits.
“Before you even begin making dietary or food modifications, think long and hard about how you are going to eat long term for sustainable weight loss,” says Jennifer Christman, RDN, LDN, corporate dietitian at Medifast. “Making smaller diet changes can really add up for lasting impact. For example, replace sugary sweetened beverages with water or other zero-calorie beverages like seltzer water.”
3. Have a plan.
Meal prep is no joke—there are Instagram accounts dedicated to the art of planning out a week's worth of food. And it's totally worth it because it will keep your eating habits on the right path, and it will get in the way of any temptation you may have to order take-out during a busy week. Gomer says, "If you make time to grocery shop and buy healthy foods, you aren't stuck with opting for a last-minute fast food meal."
4. Eat often—and well.
Dr. Caroline Cederquist, M.D, founder of bistroMD, reminds us that eating a well-balanced meal with protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats will satisfy you, keep you full, and easily help you maintain your weight. "Many people aren't eating enough protein throughout the day. Rather almost all of it is at night with dinner. I recommend 25–30 grams of protein at each meal, which translates into 4–5 ounces of chicken, fish, or other meat or one cup of Greek yogurt or a scramble of one egg and three egg whites."
5. Resistance training is your best friend.
John Rowley, certified trainer and founder of UX3 Nutrition says that the best exercise for weight control is resistance training. “The reason for this is resistance training stimulates muscle growth. Since muscle burns more calories than fat even at rest, your muscle will get and keep you lean.” Implementing the King TUT method is Rowley’s go-to, “It means ‘Time Under Tension.’ The way you do this is by intentionally making sure your muscle is involved in the entire movement. You would raise the bar to a count of one and then slowly lower it using only your target muscle to at least a count of 3.”
6. Don’t be distracted while you eat
Gomer says it is important to be mindful not only of what you eat, but while you eat. “When you eat, your stomach has stretch receptors that signal your brain when you are full. In order for that signal to work there are two key factors: you need time and you can’t multitask.” It takes 15 to 20 minutes for the brain to get the signal that you’re full and if you’re multitasking it makes the signal dysfunction. “So treat yourself right – sit at the table – slow down your eating – and stop when you feel light and comfortable, not stuffed.”
7. Say no to bad carbs.
Rowley simply puts it as, "Weight control equals carb control—if you want to control your weight you have to control you carb intake, period." It doesn’t mean you can’t have carbs ever again, it means to eat the right carbs. Our favorite healthy carbs include sweet potatoes, bananas, and quinoa. "Get most of your carbs from vegetables, legumes and beans, whole grains, and fruits in that descending order,” says Cederquist. "Most people in the U.S. eat their carbs in the exact opposite order: lots of processed grains and sweets and very few vegetables, which leads to an unhealthy diet," she explains.
8. Challenge yourself with a new workout.
A new workout is always a good idea not just to switch things up and keep gym-going exciting, but it can help you learn how to work out different areas and maybe discover something new to keep you motivated. Yoga is a great way to improve strength, balance, and flexibility while reducing stress, while a Pilates class can help you target specific areas that you feel need some workout attention. Whichever type of workout you choose, be sure that it's effective for meeting your personal goals and also keeps you motivated.
9. Portion control is a major key.
Christman stresses the importance of reducing overall portion sizes but advises against going too low. "Too drastic of a reduction in portions can set you up for extreme deprivation and failure long term. Try using smaller plates or meal replacements to naturally reduce portion sizes for overall lower calorie intake." In addition, implementing good habits like eating every two to three hours will also help make portion controlling more manageable.