Science-backed strate­gies that will keep you at your happy weight.

Shape (Singapore) - - Summary -

You’ve worked hard to lose weight, and you aced it. Now comes the next chal­lenge: keep­ing it off. Most likely you heard about the Big­gest Loser study last year that found 13 of 14 con­tes­tants had re­gained sub­stan­tial amounts of weight within six years. Sud­denly, head­lines were blar­ing that re­bound weight gain was in­evitable. Here’s the thing, though: It’s sim­ply not true.

The Big­gest Loser con­tes­tants are un­usual be­cause they lost ex­treme amounts of weight, which is hard to main­tain over the longterm. Among peo­ple who lose more mod­est amounts (for ex­am­ple, the ma­jor­ity of us), 60 per cent keep most of it off, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est re­search. All it takes is some strate­gic diet and ex­er­cise tweaks, says Dr Caro­line Apo­vian, an obe­sity spe­cial­ist at Bos­ton Univer­sity School of Medicine.

First, un­der­stand how weight loss changes your body. When you lose a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of kilos, your body goes into “star­va­tion mode”. Your sys­tem slows its pro­duc­tion of lep­tin, a hor­mone that sup­presses your ap­petite, while at the same time pump­ing up your lev­els of ghre­lin, a hor­mone that makes you hun­gry, says Dr Louis J. Aronne, the di­rec­tor of the Com­pre­hen­sive Weight Con­trol Cen­ter at Weill Cor­nell Medicine and New YorkPres­by­te­rian, and the au­thor of The Change Your Bi­ol­ogy Diet.

The good news: You can of­ten lose up to 10 per cent of your body weight with­out trig­ger­ing that hor­mone change, Dr Aronne says. So a 68kg woman can shed around 7kg and keep them off with lit­tle to no re­sis­tance. But even if you’ve lost more than that, main­tain­ing your new weight is doable with these science-proven tech­niques.

Re­vise your calo­rie count

Once you’re in main­te­nance mode, you can eat more each day than when you were di­et­ing. But you can’t have too much more, be­cause your to­tal en­ergy ex­pen­di­ture – the num­ber of calo­ries you burn do­ing things over the course of the day – has dipped dis­pro­por­tion­ately, so that a 10 per cent weight loss low­ers your meta­bolic rate by 20 to 25 per cent.

For­tu­nately, there’s a way to fig­ure out how much you can eat and still stay slim – by us­ing the US Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health body-weight plan­ner (go to body­weight­plan­ner).

Plug in your “be­fore” stats and then, when it asks for your goal weight, give your cur­rent num­ber. It will cal­cu­late how many calo­ries you can con­sume based on that in­for­ma­tion.

From there, you may need to do a lit­tle cus­tomis­ing. See how you do at that new calo­rie count: Sub­tract a lit­tle if you find your­self gain­ing back weight, or add a bit if you’re rav­en­ous, says Dr Amy Roth­berg, the di­rec­tor of the weight-man­age­ment clinic at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan. Ex­per­i­ment un­til you find what works best for you.

Eat more plant pro­tein

Boost­ing your pro­tein in­take helps you main­tain mus­cle mass, which keeps your me­tab­o­lism hum­ming. But the kind of pro­tein you eat makes all the dif­fer­ence. Fill your diet with more beans, chick­peas, peas and lentils along with an­i­mal pro­tein.

A re­cent study pub­lished in The Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Nu­tri­tion found that eat­ing ¾ cup of these foods daily helped peo­ple main­tain weight loss by mak­ing them feel sa­ti­ated. “Beans and lentils help keep your in­sulin lev­els steady, which pre­vents the hunger spikes that can cause overeat­ing,” says Dr David Lud­wig, a weight loss spe­cial­ist at Har­vard Med­i­cal School and the au­thor of Al­ways Hun­gry?

Ex­er­cise smarter, not harder

Daily work­outs are cru­cial. You need to be more ac­tive to stay at your new weight than you did to lose kilos be­cause your me­tab­o­lism is a lit­tle slower now, Dr Aronne says. But that doesn’t mean you have to go hard ev­ery day.

An hour of mod­er­ate ac­tiv­ity like brisk walk­ing or recre­ational ex­er­cise such as rid­ing your bike will keep the kilos off, says Dr Holly Wy­att, the as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of the An­schutz Health and Well­ness Cen­ter. (You can do 70 min­utes a day for six days a week in­stead, she says.) An hour may feel like a lot, but that amount is nec­es­sary to main­tain be­cause it gives you some­thing re­searchers call “meta­bolic flex­i­bil­ity”. This is your body’s

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