How To Maintain Your Weight Loss

By Gabriela Cretan


I’m sure you heard it before: “Ninety-five percent of all dieters gain the weight back.” There is little evidence to back this up.

Many dieters can – and do – keep the weight off.

Recent research surveyed 1,310 people who had all lost a significant amount of weight. The survey was taken at a point that was one year after weight loss had already occurred.

Overall, 59 percent were still close to their weight of a year before — which in all cases was at least 10 percent lower than their heaviest all-time weight. Another 8 percent weighed less than they did a year earlier.

A third of the subject regained a “significant amount of weight”.

The National Weight Control Registry also looks at what successful weight maintainers (people who lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year) have in common. They have published their results in a number of articles.

The Keys to Maintaining Weight Loss
From the above research.

  • Exercise – Those who continued on with exercise were much more likely to maintain their loss.
  • Not Sedentary – Hours spent in front of the computer or TV were closely correlate with regain.
  • Lost weight slowly – Regainers were more likely to be those who had lost large amounts of weight in short periods of time.

From the Weight Control Registry (via):

  • They watch portion sizes.
  • Four in five eat breakfast every day of the week.
  • Most are physically active, with walking being their most common form of activity.
  • They actually find pleasure in their healthier lifestyle.


  1. vanesa

    hello. what was the diet you were following and you lost so much weight? 😀

  2. Michael

    Jennifer, you have it right, in every way. I started a year ago at 218 and finished losing at 158, which is perfect for me. Mostly running and weights with moderate reduction in calories. Six months ago I thought I could cut back the miles on the road in the early morning before work. But, that hasn’t turned out to be the case. I run as hard and eat as little and maintain my weight. I fear this is what I need to do to maintain. And YES, no one pats me on the back anymore. My sense and hope is that I will adjust to the lower weight and maintenance will get easier. The only suggestion I might make is to work the weights harder. The fluctuations in my weight have been less since bulking up a bit.

    Good luck, Debra.

  3. A Forbes

    “No way in hell am I gaining this weight back!” My words exactly

  4. Jennifer

    Usually, long-term weight loss means keeping off a significant amount of weight for at least five years. By this definition, I believe that dieters fail most of the time. Perhaps more people would succeed if they aimed to lose a more modest amount of weight and focussed on an overall healthy lifestyle instead of a particularly low weight.

  5. tj

    It’s this lovely plateau effect that we all love when we start to maintain and seem to shift up and down about the same figure, but not much difference (because we are still eating healthily), it’s good when our body ‘settles’ when we’re settled, but frustrating when we’re just a third of the way there :)!! All the best!!

  6. Bree


    I think that “rapid” weight loss refers to total weight loss that is more than an average of 2 pounds per week. 80 pounds in 12 months (or 52 weeks) is actually not that bad. That means on average you lost 1.53 pounds per week. That’s considered a healthy rate of weight loss.


  7. chocolate junkie

    I went from 257 to 211 (46 pounds) in 4 months, and i’ve been @ 211 since april. I’ve increased the intensity of my exercise, didn’t increase my food intake, but am just stuck. I’m terribly frustrated but i know I can’t stop working out cos i can NEVER go back to 257, but i’d really like to lose another 46 pounds (I’m 5 8″ and big boned) any ideas pleeaasseeee!!! is it true I cant get off this plateau for another 6months? the last time i tried to lose weight, i got stuck @ this same weight even though i’d increased my cardio for a month.

  8. Teresha

    i’m so mad right now. that i could seriously kill myself right now. lol. jk. butt im soooo dissapointed, i have gained some weightt that i recently lost durring a water fast. and gosh i gained the half of it.. i think i’m have to just live without food or whatsoever for the rest of my lifee. or jusst…ughh.. no wordss

  9. Debra Maintaining

    I am 27% smaller than I was in August of 2002. At my all-time low I was 33% smaller than my all-time high. Count me as a success or failure, as you please. I am what I am. I am a participant in the National Weight Control Registry. According to empirical research (not surveys), I am among only 3% of the population of radical weight losers (defined as maintaining only 10% loss). I, therefore, call myself a success.

    Maintaining radical weight loss (for me, more than 50 pounds) is not a lifestyle. It is a third- to half-time unpaid, thankless job. That’s not to say it’s joyless. One must insert joy into it, as one does one’s job. The surface level behaviors that the NWCR has outlined are all reasonable and, in my case, applicable: Eating breakfast, exercising longer and harder than most people, weighing daily, eating a well-balanced reduced calorie diet, eating consistently even on holidays, weekends, family gatherings and other challenging times. Beyond that, there are two “walls” that a weight loss maintainer hits and must overcome.

    Wall one: at the end of the coast. Weight loss is down-hill skiing; weight-loss maintenance is cross-country. Everyone cheers the down-hill champions. Cross-country skiers are lonely, and they are no one’s celebrity.

    Further complicating the shift from down-hill to cross country skis, when you are at the end of your coast, your endocrine system kicks in and starts dancing the “Wow, you just lost a lot of weight, and you better eat” tango. You’re impelled toward the pantry. You know it isn’t logical. You accuse yourself of being an emotional eater, or some other fad thing. That’s unfortunate. It’s normal from your body’s perspective. It’s difficult, and it’s too detailed for a blog post, but it’s gotta be confronted then and again at recurring periods throughout weight-loss maintenance.

    Wall two: You come to the painful realization that unlike the naturally trim gym rats, who work out as hard as you do, you can NEVER take a significant vacation from exercise. They can, and do, sometimes for a month or more. They return to the gym a little flacid, but they get their groove back quickly, because they are rested and renewed. You take more than two days off, and there are weight consequences, and the weight DOESN’T “come right off” when you return to your routine, as people who are ignorant of this condition often say (even educated people don’t know). Those pounds cling like terriers. Your body doesn’t know that there’s this BMI chart that has defined “normal” as 18.5 – 25. Your body only knows that it established a much higher norm for you, and you aren’t living up to your potential. You give your body a pound back, and it will hold on to it.

    This is where the true challenge of “inserting joy” into your third- to half-time job becomes an art.

  10. Flashylady1

    Oh Boy Brandon. DO YOU REALLY WANT AN ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION. You are a sick child. The main answer, first and foremost, is your health! Fatty tissue around your heart can kill you. Fat also causes peoples blood pressure to go up. If you ever have to have surgery, you are at a much higher risk of having complications. I AM NOT A DOCTOR. It is just common sense. You probably think all these people care about is their appearance. NOT TRUE! I could write much more of an answer but I don’t think you are listening. I hope for your sake that you are.

  11. jackie

    Well I have lost a little over a 100 pounds and it took me 2 and half years to do it. Prior to that I had been the classic yo-yo dieter. I could only make changes for 3 to 4 months then miss my junk foods. I’m convinced it is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Obese people lack the normal serotonin receptors in the brain and then crave sweets and high carb foods which increases the serotonin in the brain. The way to countered it is exercise which increases serotonin in the brain. If I stop exercising my serotonin will get low again and I will start craving sweets and high fat carbs. Along with exercise of course is low fat and low calorie foods. That’s how I did it and plan to continue. Although losing the weight was much easier than maintaining it. I’m going to stay the course. Also, once you start exercising and eating healthy there’s a pleasure element to it.

  12. Lynne

    Scale pounds are not dropping quite as fast but I’m losing inches. I’m definitely keeping an eye on my intake. I have had a hard time sleeping the last two nights. It’s as if I’ve loaded up on caffeine. Kind of funny, coffee doesn’t taste good to me after morning since I’ve been on the diet. My body craves mostly protein, veggies, fat, and fruit, and the sweets are less appealing each day. I may have to switch over to eating a night so I can sleep. The body isn’t tired and the brain is very active. Annoying.

  13. Dr. J

    If you are happy with the results and are getting a good nutritive balance in your diet, stay the course. Traditionally, the warrior diet is one meal in the evening, but when you eat is not crucial to the diet, as long as you eat enough every day.

  14. Lynne

    One meal a day continues to be the best plan I’ve ever been on. This is so easy and I have so much more energy. Pants are a little looser each day.

    I eat a well-balanced meal in the morning plus a sweet such as fat-free ice cream with some chocolate sauce and cherries. I must say that I’m not hungry in the mornings now but I eat anyway. I still enjoy the food but I can’t eat a lot. I make sure to add good fats like Olivio and olive oil to up the calories.

  15. Lynne

    Thanks for responding Dr. J. I can’t imagine being a surgeon and trying to eat on a three-meal-a-day schedule. You might be doing some of your coworkers/friends/patients a favor by recommending this diet though. Honestly, I have tried a lot of the diets out there. I’m sure that some are healthy but people generally aren’t going to succeed for one reason or another. If I don’t fail because of physiological (hunger, appetite, whooziness) reasons, I fail because of the psychological struggle. I believe, at least for me, that counting calories or planning minimeals creates an obsession with dieting. It’s a lot of stress and that can’t be healthy. Who the devil wants to spend most of their time planning a diet? I’m not sure people can keep up that kind of regimen for years on end. I can’t believe I’m losing weight and that I feel good at the same time. I’m getting about 1600 calories but my stomach capacity is “shrinking,” so I imagine the calories will drop to some degree. I don’t believe in going days without eating or dropping to very low calories though.

  16. nanusha

    In regards to maintaining weight loss. It has to be said that there is no Gospel truth to how its done. We are all built differently and therefore, our bodies will react individually. All your tips were interesting…I gained 20pounds in the last 2yrs and I honestly don’t know why as my eating habits never changed. I have made a committment to shed and maintain the pounds but it sure does take committment. I exercise often and eat a good breakfast, fruits for lunch and a small dinner. I haven’t lost any weight so far but I am very willing to stick it thru.

  17. Dr. J

    I have done “warrior style” for years, really from before I ever heard the term. I evolved it on my own due to the rigors of being a surgeon, and the demands it put on my time. In addition I have been very involved in several types of martial arts. I’m happy to say it works for me, though I do not recommend it to others as it’s difficult for most and does not adapt well to our “normal” societies eating style.

  18. Lynne

    I’m a martial artist and that type of intense exercise actually increases my hunger and appetite. I tried the breakfast and minimeal thing and all that did was to increase my appetite, make me tired, screw up my blood sugar, and make me obsessed with food. I also gained 16 pounds since June and I have been training for over 18 months. Sure, some of the weight gain is muscle but not all of it.

    I bought Ori Hoflmekler’s The Warrior Diet and began searching around the net for “one meal a day.” I don’t follow Ori’s diet – organic food, eating the one meal at night after working out and so on. However, I have been eating my main meal in the morning (I eat things like spaghetti with meat sauce, things I’d eat for dinner normally). Oddly, I have an incredible amount of energy and don’t get hungry later in the day, though I do eat a few snacks like yogurt, a clementine, a veggie just to cover the bases.

    Before this lifestyle, I would have blood sugar crashes in my evening martial arts classes. Now I have energy to go all day. And I have lost four pounds in four days.

    Ori explains how eating one meal a day and fasting the other hours actually leads to an anabolic state, not a catabolic state like one would think. (Gee, there is so much misinformation out there.)

    All I know is that I feel so much better. It’s all great from a psychological point of view – no planning meals, counting calories, thinking about what I can and cannot eat, you name it – whatever comes with the dieting mentality.

    I generally eat healty but that had not made a dent in my weight problem. Too much brown rice is too much brown rice, or rather, when you eat often your body can’t access fat stores for energy. And something like Volumetrics made me hungry an hour later, like going to a Chinese restaurant (not the buffet!) and ordering Chop Suey. You get full fast from the veggies and then are starving an hour later.

    Anyone else do this plan of one meal a day? I can’t wait to see what my blood lipids are in about 12 weeks.

    Oh, you can read “studies” about people who lost weight on one meal a day but their lipids climbed. No kidding. They ate something like 2,000 calories a day in one meal. That would be force-feeding, even for most men.

  19. Amber

    I agree with most but I also use the comp but I remember how to manage my food, excercise, and comp time. I think if you remeber to do your daily hour you wont regain.

  20. Ana

    I was 48 kg before pregnant. After 65 to 67 kg maintained for years until i got my 2nd child which i weight 67 kg during pregnancy and after 62kg. The best score was around 58 to 60 kg. My height is around 4 ft 11. So that makes me really, really overweight. I feel fat n ugly all over. It’s been wt me for more than 10 yrs. That’s how i finally decide to do something. Now i feel great eventhough i ve not reach my targetted weight of 48 kg b4 pregnancy. However, i look healthier n i can definitely tell i eat right. I eat when i m hungry, anything but not too much. Even fried chicken,or anything. Every once a week i even indulge myself in buffet Hopefully i can maintain my weight after….

  21. Ana

    I lost 8 kg in 5 weeks. So far i try to maintain my weight. I m happy cos i look healthier n better in cloth. Now m trying to maintain my weight.

  22. David

    I’ve been trying to follow various guidelines and adopt “healthy” habits. For example I watch my diet and try to plan ahead when i eat. I have attained my weight goal finally but does that really mean i can never let myself go? that i can never indulge again? I mean it feels great to have loss all that weight but deep down i know all i really want to do is pig out… does anyone else feel the same way?