It’s easy to become confused about weight-loss programs, especially since many are linked to specific products such as meal plans, dietary supplements, or exercise equipment. In contrast, the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is an ongoing study of people who have lost weight and kept it off, with or without help from any formal programs, and it offers some valuable tips.
Founded in 1994 by researchers at the University of Colorado in Denver and Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island, the NWCR has collected information from more than 6,000 people who have lost at least 30 pounds and maintained their weight loss for more than one year. Anyone who fits these criteria and is over 18 can become an NWCR member, joining the study and contributing information here
.Characteristics of Success
Among successful losers in the study, these are some common characteristics:
• 89 percent combine diet and exercise
• 98 percent exercise at home
• 40 percent exercise with a friend
• Walking is the most popular form of exerciseLessons Learned
There are many published articles summarizing various findings from the NWCR but one recent one, in the Health & Fitness Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, offers these seven tips for lasting weight loss:
1. Be active.
Aim to get about 200 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, which could be walking briskly enough to raise your heart rate for around 30 minutes daily. In the NWCR, 54 percent of people expend more than 2,000 calories each week on physical activity. You can get an idea of calories burned during different activities at NutriStrategy
2. Watch less television.
On average, Americans watch about four hours of television daily but among those in the NWCR, about 63 percent watch fewer than 10 hours per week.
3. Enjoy a low-calorie, low-fat diet.
The average NWCR member consumes 1,380 calories per day, and less than 30 percent of these calories come from fat. Keep in mind that caloric needs vary, depending on your size and activity level, so this doesn’t mean you can only eat less than 1,400 calories daily.
4. Keep your diet consistent.
Rather than splurging on holidays and weekends, those in the NWCR maintain the same type of diet on a regular basis.
5. Eat breakfast.
Eating breakfast curbs hunger and overeating later in the day, and 78 percent of NWCR members eat breakfast each day.
6. Show some restraint.
Losing and keeping weight off requires a bit of self-control, basically not overeating. This is easier to do if you have regular meals with protein, vegetables (not fries), and wholesome, unrefined carbohydrates.
7. Keep track of your progress.
Keeping track of what they eat is an essential part of success for most people in the NWCR, as is stepping on the scales at least once a day.
If all this seems a bit too much to deal with, consider this: Other research has shown that even if you don’t follow any specific type of eating plan, keeping a food journal makes it much more likely that you will make healthier choices and lose weight.
A free online tool such as The Daily Burn
can help. You can set some realistic goals, start tracking food and physical activity, and learn more about how other people are losing weight, getting healthier, and enhancing their lives.