To lose weight, most experts recommend a combination of exercise, making nutritional changes, getting enough sleep, and managing your stress. It may sound simple, but the truth is, everyone's approach to losing weight will be different.
Once you've reached your weight-loss goal, you may be wondering how to sustain where you are. To help you maintain your hard work, POPSUGAR spoke to Jason Machowsky, RD, CSSD, CSCS, a board-certified sports dietitian and exercise physiologist at the Hospital For Special Surgery's Tisch Sports Performance Center.
How Your Nutrition Can Help You Lose and Maintain Weight
Jason advises following a moderate calorie deficit, around 20 percent fewer calories than you typically consume in a day, for gradual weight loss. For example, if you consumed 2,000 calories a day, per Jason's recommendation, you would consume 400 fewer calories, 1,600 calories, a day.
"I try not to be too far below what they need because I find people tend to have better, prolonged responses," Jason said. This is because your body doesn't get shocked and because "I feel like for a lot of people, it's more sustainable," he explained. As simple as a calorie deficit may sound, the calories in, calories out concept may not work for everyone due to brain functions that control the release of hormones and your appetite. As always, we recommend consulting an expert who can provide individualized recommendations based on your specific goals and needs.
How to Maintain Your Weight Loss After Losing Weight
Whether you followed a 20-percent calorie deficit, the Paleo diet, or stopped eating processed and packaged foods, you may be wondering how you can maintain your weight loss. According to Jason, following the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans can not only help you lose weight but it can also help you maintain your weight. These guidelines recommend adults engage in at least 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity exercise. They also recommend implementing strength training into your routine at least twice a week.
"As you lose weight, your calorie needs are going to go down because you weigh less," Jason explained. When you consume fewer calories and exercise more, "Whatever [caloric] deficit they're in normalizes," according to Jason. This is commonly referred to as a weight-loss plateau, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Once you've reached your target weight, Jason said, "Keep doing what you're doing." If you're continuing to lose weight beyond where you want to be, he advises either scaling back on the physical activity (just a little) or "eat a little bit more so your body does stabilize [at your preferred weight]."
You may not always know the point where your body will stabilize until you get there, according to Jason. To help figure out your body's stabilizing point, he recommends doing check-ins with yourself and a professional who specializes in weight loss, such as registered dietitian or a weight-loss doctor, about how you're feeling, what's happening with your weight, and what your activity is like. From there, you all can devise a plan to help you achieve your ideal weight. "If you're at the weight you want to be and you're not changing, then just keep doing what you're doing."