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Weight Loss And Fitness: How To Maintain Lost Pounds From Coming Back


The newest battle cry from weight-loss experts is not to depend on exercise alone to lose unwanted pounds. But that doesn’t imply that exercise doesn’t have a role in maintaining a wholesome weight. In fact, there are people who motivate weight loss by just about any means, but preach the importance of exercise when it comes to maintaining unwanted pounds from coming back. So while changes in eating habits alone can cause weight loss, it requires exercise to stay away from weight regain. For as tough as it is to lose weight, it’s just as tough to keep it from returning.


Part of the find it difficult to make weight loss permanent is related to the physiological changes that happen when a body shrinks in size. A lighter body burns less calories than a heavier one because of the reduced effort it requires to move less mass. This also burns less calories at rest. Therefore, what worked to lose the weight might not be as effective when it comes to keeping that new weight.

Some of the most fascinating data concerning weight regain have been garnered from the subjects featured in the popular reality show The Biggest Loser, lots of whom gained back all the weight they lost. Another valuable source of information results from individuals registered with the National Weight Loss Registry, a database of people who have lost at least 13.6 kg (30 pounds) for at least a year. Both sets of weight loss subjects have supplied an interesting look at how much exercise it requires to keep lost pounds from coming back.

The problem with most of the offered data, however, is that they are self reported, which means there could be a gap between how much the subjects are in reality exercising and how much they say they’re exercising.

To get a more accurate image of just how much successful weight maintainers are exercising, a group of research workers from the University of Colorado gathered three groups: people who had successfully maintained a substantial weight loss (30 pounds or more for at least a year); regular weight subjects with body mass indexes (BMI) much like the weight loss maintainers; and overweight subjects whose BMI was similar to the weight-loss group before they lost the weight. Then they compared the amount of calories expended during exercise as well as the total number of calories burned every day.

As the research workers suspected, the successful weight-loss maintainers were significantly more physically active than the normal weight and overweight controls. As for the amount of calories they burned every day, the weight-loss maintainers expended more than the normal weight subjects but were on par with the overweight group — likely because of the added effort it requires to move a heavy body through space. The weight maintainers additionally accumulated the greatest number of steps daily as compared to the normal and overweight subjects.

“The high levels of physical exercise energy expenditure and total everyday energy expenditure observed in successful weight-loss maintainers recommend that the group depends on high levels of energy expended in physical exercise to stay in energy balance (and stay away from weight regain) at a reduced weight,” stated the researchers.

How much did they exercise? The weight-loss maintainers expended around 12 calories/kg/day compared to the normal weight (10 calories/kg/day) and overweight people (seven calories/kg/day). Translated into a step count, the research workers reported that the weight-loss maintainers logged 12,100 steps daily as compared to 8 ,900 steps by the normal weight subjects and 6,500 by the overweight group.

These results come within reach of those obtained from The Biggest Loser subjects, with successful weight-loss maintainers (maintained a weight loss of 13 per cent or more of their original body weight for six years after leaving the show) expending 12 calories/kg/day and the weight regainers expending only 8 calories/kg/day.

These findings are in keeping with recommendations by the International Association for the Study of Obesity, which suggests individuals aiming to keep lost pounds from coming back commit to 60-90 minutes of moderate intensity physical exercise (walking) or 30-45 minutes of vigorous physical exercise (running) every day.

As for food intake, the research didn’t control for diet, but the researchers did recommend that the amount of calories consumed every day would likely be near the number of calories expended, which is the kind of energy balance usually related to weight maintenance (not gaining or losing pounds).

“Taken together, these results recommend that physical exercise may play a relatively greater role in weight-loss maintenance and chronic restriction of energy intake,” stated the researchers.

So what’s the takeaway for anybody who has been successful at weight loss but not so successful at keeping his or her new weight? Spend more of your energy exercising than counting calories. Changing your daily habits to include more walks, bike rides and a everyday fitness class is your key to remaining trim. For many that means investing in some kind of home exercise equipment or a membership to the local gym. Watch your favorite TV shows while walking on the treadmill or pedalling away on a stationary bike. Try a boot camp course at the gym and take the dog for an additional long walk before and after work. The more you move, the trimmer you’ll stay.