Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Follow the exercise and nutrition advice outlined below to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
What is a healthy weight?
The best measure for assessing how your body weight is affecting your health, or may affect it in the future, is BMI or Body Mass Index (Click here to calculate your BMI). However, there are other factors to be considered in an overall assessment of your weight: genetic tendencies, metabolism and the presence of medical problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. One definition of a healthy weight is one that can be comfortably maintained with “normal” healthy eating and regular physical activity, and is absent of medical problems.
What is normal eating?
Normal eating satisfies our hunger and energy needs. With normal eating, we use some moderate constraint in food selection, but we are not so restrictive that we miss out on pleasurable foods. It is flexible and varies in response to emotions, schedules, hunger and proximity to food. Normal eating is listening to our hunger and feelings of fullness and honoring those signals to eat or stop eating.
I’ve tried to lose weight, but have been unable to keep it off ... what works?
Diets generally work well for initial weight loss, but when the diet is abandoned the pounds return. Often a number of poor habits exist that perpetuate the weight gain.
Habits linked to overeating include:
- Fast eating
- Skipping breakfast and/or lunch and then overeating in the evening
- Eating in front of the TV or computer
- Eating for reasons other than hunger (anger, stress, anxiety or boredom)
- Eating mostly fast foods or highly refined foods that lack healthy fiber, protein and fats
To successfully lose weight and maintain a weight loss, gradually change what you eat and change some of your behaviors associated with eating.
In addition to making healthy food choices, remember that regular physical activity is an important part of any weight loss or weight maintenance program.
To best achieve a healthy weight, should I eat a high protein, high fat or a high carbohydrate diet?
While the exact combination of carbohydrates, protein and fats is not clear, a plant-based diet of whole, minimally processed foods, which include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes and lean meats, is of benefit for many disease conditions—including obesity. For weight loss, total calorie intake and portion size makes a bigger difference than the percentages of fat, protein and carbohydrate.
What can I do?
- Eat three meals daily, plus one or two planned snacks.
- Drink at least six to eight cups of water or other low-calorie or calorie-free fluids throughout the day. Calories in sodas and sweetened teas add up quickly, yet don’t fill us up.
- To keep from getting hungry between meals, include small amounts of healthy fats (seeds, nuts, olives) and protein in addition to carbohydrates at each meal.
- Choose foods with little or no nutritional value (like chips and donuts) infrequently.
- Before eating anything, ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” If you find that you eat without hunger, take a moment to analyze the situation and come up with some alternatives to manage the emotions.
- Include movements you enjoy at least four to five times weekly, such as gardening, walking, bowling, karate or swimming.
- Pay attention to serving sizes—especially in restaurants. Share an order, ask for a doggy bag or order à la carte.
- Work with your health care team to set realistic weight goals.
- Research shows that, for those overweight, maintaining a 10 percent weight loss can improve heart health significantly. This can be as little as 20 pounds.
- Use the Body Mass Index chart to assess your current weight.
- Calculate the calories burned per hour based on activity.
- Find out how many calories you need per day to achieve or maintain your ideal weight.