Your efforts to shed some weight are paying off. Here are some ways to keep the pounds you've lost from creeping back.
Keep a healthy eating routine
Changing your eating routine helped you lose weight, so hang on to those healthier habits and make them part of your lifestyle. A simple eating routine, such as pairing fiber and protein at every meal and at snack time, will help you stay focused on foods that are filling and lower in calories.
Everyone should strive to eat every 3-4 hours, 4-5 times per day – even if you are watching your weight. Studies show that levels of the stress hormone cortisol rise when we go longer than 3 hours without eating, and high levels of cortisol signal the body to store fat. Also, eating frequently helps keep hunger in check so you are less likely to overeat at and between meals.
Stay physically active
Regular exercise helps burn calories, but for weight control strengthening activities that build and preserve lean muscle mass are especially beneficial. A pound of muscle burns about 35 – 50 calories per day, so by adding 10 pounds of muscle to your frame you can burn 350 – 500 more calories per day – which is like burning off about a pound of fat every seven to ten days.
Avoid emotional eating
Many of us have deep emotional ties with food and eating, but it is important to understand that the only problem eating solves is hunger. Preempt a binge by doing what you can to avoid unnecessary stress, fatigue and boredom. Also, sidestep rather than act on a craving for comfort food. Deal with problems and feelings head-on, start a project, go out for a walk, or pick up the phone and call a friend. Visualize yourself as the slim, in control person you want to be.
Get enough sleep
Did you know that sleep deprivation affects hormones in a way that tells the brain we’re hungry even if we’ve just eaten? Ghrelin is the hormone that stimulates appetite, while the hormone leptin signals the brain when we are full. When you are well rested, these hormones work in balance, and when you are not, they don’t. A healthful night’s sleep is typically about 7.5 hours, so make quality sleep part of your weight maintenance plan.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with fiber and The F-Factor Diet. Follow Tanya on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and subscribe to her free weekly weight loss newsletter.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.