10 proven ways to lose weight and keep it off

10 proven ways to lose weight and keep it off

Follow 10 habits of successful (weight) losers.

Below is how members of the NWCR (National Weight Control Registry) lost an average of 72.6 lbs and kept it off. The information comes from 6 research articles describing NWCR members’ eating, exercise, and other habits to lose weight and keep it off.

Eating habits

1. Limit calories and fat

2. Eat 5 small meals a day and start with breakfast

Break up your calories throughout the day. Eat 5 small meals a day or 3 meals and 2-3 healthy snacks throughout the day.

Eat breakfast

Of 2,959 members surveyed:

Cereal (hot or cold) and fruit is the most common breakfast among NWCR members. 13 quick, healthy breakfast ideas

3. Monitor your food intake

Track your food to lose weight.

4. Eat consistently throughout the year

NWCR members who followed consistent eating patterns throughout the year were 1.5 times more likely to maintain their weight and maintain more weight loss.

Weekdays vs. weekends
  • 59% of members follow similar eating patterns during the week and on the weekends.
  • 39% are stricter during the week compared to the weekends.
Holidays vs. non-holidays
  • 52% of members are stricter during non-holiday times as compared to holidays.
  • 45% eat similarly on holidays and during vacations as they do the rest of the year.

The greater the inconsistency in members’ eating habits, the greater the risk of gaining weight.

5. Limit restaurant meals

NWCR members limit their restaurant eating to 3 meals (average) a week. Less than one meal a week comes from a fast food restaurant.

Exercise habits

6. Exercise 60 minutes a day

90% of members exercise to lose and maintain their weight. On average, they exercise approximately 60 minutes a day.

The most common form of exercise is walking. (Members walk approximately 28 miles per week).

7. Burn 2600 calories a week

On average, members burn 2621 calories a week through exercise. In actuality some members burn less than 1000 calories and some burn more than 3000 calories.

Range of calories burned

Of 3683 members:

  • 25% report burning less than 1000 calories per week through exercise.
  • 75% burn more than 1,000 calories a week (the minimum amount recommended)
  • 52% burn more than 2,000 calories a week.
  • 35% burn more than 3000 calories per week.

Members who get more exercise maintain a greater amount of weight loss. How to increase your exercise

Other habits

8. Weigh yourself weekly

75% of members weigh themselves at least once a week.

At a one year follow-up, members who started weighing themselves less frequently were more likely to gain weight than those who continued to weigh themselves regularly.

Weighing yourself can help you catch small weight gains before it gets to be overwhelming. Rules for weighing yourself 

9. Watch less than 10 hours of TV a week

  • 62% of members watch 10 hours or less of TV per week.
  • 36% watch less than 5 hours of TV per week.

Members who watched 10 hours or less of TV each week burned 576 more calories each week than those who watched more TV.

Many people claim they don’t have time for exercise. You can make time by limiting your TV time. With the abundance of ‘screens’ in today’s society, focus on limiting all screen time outside of work (movie, smart phone, pad/tablet, computer, and TV screens).

10. Don’t give up

It’s never too late to start losing weight and it’s never too late to get back on track. You can lose weight if you were overweight as a child, if your parents are overweight, or if you’ve failed in the past.

91% of NWCR members have failed at their weight loss attempts many times. In fact, members have lost an average of 270 lbs in their lifetime before successfully losing weight and keeping it off.

Rena R Wing and Suzanne Phelan. Long-term weight loss maintenance. Am. J. Clinical Nutrition, Jul 2005; 82: 222s-225s.
Raynor D, Phelan S, Hill JO, Wing RR. (2006). Television Viewing and Long-Term Weight Maintenance: Results from the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity Research, 14, 1816-1824.
Klem, M.L., Wing, R.R., McGuire, M.T., Seagle, H.M., & Hill, J.O. A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1997; 66: 239-246.
Butryn, M.L., Phelan, S., Hill, J.O., & Wing, R.R. Consistent Self-monitoring of Weight; A Key Component of Successful Weight Loss Maintenance. Obesity 2007; Vol 15, No12.
Wyatt, H.R., Phelan, S. Wing, R.R., and James O. Hill. Lessons from Patients Who Have Successfully Maintained Weight Loss. University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Center for Human Nutrition, Denver CO, Brown University, Providence, RI. Published in Obesity Management April 2005.
Catenacci, V.A., Ogden, L.G., Stuht, J., Phelan, S., Wing, R.R., Hill, J.O., & Holly R. Wyatt. Physical Activity Patterns in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity 2008; Vol 16, No 1.

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Stephanie Averkamp

About the Author was created by Stephanie Averkamp, a recognized health and fitness professional and sole-author of the content on this website. Stephanie's approach to weight loss emphasizes making small, realistic, and permanent lifestyle changes. Read more...

Stephanie Averkamp

Our Approach: Short-term solutions (like dieting) are unrealistic and ineffective because at some point they end. As soon as a diet or program ends, so do the results. Permanent weight loss is a journey; it's not a race or competition and there is no finish line. Read more...