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A Diet Isn’t Enough: 10 Tried-and-True Ways to Safely Lose Weight and Keep It Off

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When it comes to managing your health, losers can be winners...if they can keep the weight off, that is.

Long-term weight loss—intentionally losing at least 10% of initial body weight and maintaining the loss for a year—can help improve your health and reduce the chance of weight-related illnesses. But how do you do that?

A “diet” isn’t enough. Permanent results require permanent lifestyle changes. The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) tracked more than 10,000 individuals who lost at least 30 pounds and maintained that loss for at least one year.

Most NWCR members report maintaining a low-calorie, low-fat diet and being active:

  • 90% exercise an average of 60 minutes daily
  • 78% eat breakfast daily
  • 62% watch fewer than 10 hours of TV per week

How to Stick with the Winners

One of the keys to permanent weight loss is setting realistic goals. A 10% weight loss is both medically significant and realistic. Here are some tips for losing the weight and keeping it off:

  • Be accountable. Successful losers journal their food intake, either on paper or with online tools such as MyFitnessPal, Lose It or Sparkpeople.
  • Be active. Successful losers average an hour of moderate exercise, such as walking, each day. It’s OK to break it into 10-minute sessions.
  • Eat mindfully. Focus on the food and enjoy it. Slow down and savor it. Don’t eat in front of the TV or computer.
  • Eat breakfast. A high-protein breakfast keeps you full longer than a high-carbohydrate breakfast. If you’re in a hurry, protein shake meal replacements can be an easy breakfast choice.
  • Chew your calories. Avoid sugary beverages such as soda, sports drinks, sweet teas, and flavored coffee drinks, and limit alcohol and fruit juice. Eat whole fruit instead.
  • Sleep well. People who get adequate sleep are more successful at weight loss. Sleep deprivation increases appetite and hunger.
  • Monitor your weight. Some people weigh themselves daily; others weekly. Still others monitor progress by how well their clothes fit. Determine which strategy is most helpful to you.
  • Be consistent. Successful losers eat at the same time during the week, weekends and special occasions.
  • Plan and prepare. Make a few days’ worth of meals ahead of time when your schedule isn’t busy. Having food on hand can help avoid drive-through and takeout meals.
  • Eat at home. At six months, people who cut back on eating at restaurants lost more weight. If you do dine out, bring half of the meal home.

Learn How to Lose

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health offers a variety of resources to help you lose weight and keep it off, including a medically managed weight loss program and, for those eligible, a bariatric surgery program.

For more information, visit

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Lawrence A. Wieger, DO

Lawrence Wieger, DO, is a board certified medical bariatrician with Lancaster General Health Physicians Healthy Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery, where he oversees medically-supervised weight loss programs.

Education: Dr. Weiger is a graduate of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Call: 717-544-2935

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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