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17 Ways to Prevent Weight Gain

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By Brianna Elliott

Unfortunately, many people who lose weight end up gaining it back.

In fact, only about 20 percent of dieters who start off overweight end up successfully losing weight and keeping it off in the long term (1).

However, don't let this discourage you. There are a number of scientifically proven ways you can keep the weight off, ranging from exercising to controlling stress (1).

These 17 strategies might be just what you need to tip the statistics in your favor and maintain your hard-won weight loss.

Why People Regain Weight

There are a few common reasons why people gain back the weight they lose. They are mostly related to unrealistic expectations and feelings of deprivation.

  • Restrictive diets: Extreme calorie restriction may slow your metabolism and shift your appetite-regulating hormones, which are both factors that contribute to weight regain (2).
  • Wrong mindset: When you think of a diet as a quick fix, rather than a long-term solution to better your health, you will be more likely to give up and gain back the weight you lost.
  • Lack of sustainable habits: Many diets are based on willpower rather than habits you can incorporate into your daily life. They focus on rules rather than lifestyle changes, which may discourage you and prevent weight maintenance.

Summary: Many diets are too restrictive with requirements that are difficult to keep up with. Additionally, many people don't have the right mindset before starting a diet, which may lead to weight regain.

1. Exercise Often

Regular exercise plays an important role in weight maintenance.

It may help you burn off some extra calories and increase your metabolism, which are two factors needed to achieve energy balance (3, 4).

When you are in energy balance, it means you burn the same number of calories that you consume. As a result, your weight is more likely to stay the same.

Several studies have found that people who do at least 200 minutes of moderate physical activity a week (30 minutes a day) after losing weight are more likely to maintain their weight (5, 6, 7).

In some instances, even higher levels of physical activity may be necessary for successful weight maintenance. One review concluded that one hour of exercise a day is optimal for those attempting to maintain weight loss (1).

It's important to note that exercise is the most helpful for weight maintenance when it's combined with other lifestyle changes, including sticking to a healthy diet (8).

Summary: Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day may promote weight maintenance by helping balance your calories in and calories burned.

2. Try Eating Breakfast Every Day

Eating breakfast may assist you with your weight maintenance goals.

Breakfast eaters tend to have healthier habits overall, such as exercising more and consuming more fiber and micronutrients (9, 10, 11).

Furthermore, eating breakfast is one of the most common behaviors reported by individuals who are successful at maintaining weight loss (1).

One study found that 78 percent of 2,959 people who maintained a 30-pound (14 kg) weight loss for at least one year reported eating breakfast every day (12).

However, while people who eat breakfast seem to be very successful at maintaining weight loss, the evidence is mixed.

Studies do not show that skipping breakfast automatically leads to weight gain or worse eating habits (13, 14, 11).

In fact, skipping breakfast may even help some people achieve their weight loss and weight maintenance goals (15).

This may be one of the things that come down to the individual.

If you feel that eating breakfast helps you stick to your goals, then you definitely should eat it. But if you don't like eating breakfast or are not hungry in the morning, there is no harm in skipping it.

Summary: Those who eat breakfast tend to have healthier habits overall, which may help them maintain their weight. However, skipping breakfast does not automatically lead to weight gain.

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