It’s no secret that shedding a healthy number of pounds is good for you. Keeping the weight off, however, is equally important to sustain the health benefits of weight loss, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Researchers from Tufts University and the University of Connecticut found that cardiometabolic improvements as a result of weight loss get reverted among people who regained weight. But those who successfully kept it off were able to maintain and even boost these improvements.
“If you lose weight and maintain the weight loss for a long period of time, do the benefits continue? The answer is yes and sometimes the benefits get even stronger,” said corresponding author Alice H. Lichtenstein, a professor at Tuft’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
Keep weight off to keep health benefits
Excess weight is a common risk factor for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. The two cardiometabolic disorders are considered lifestyle diseases as they are associated with the way a person lives. Fortunately, this also means that they are largely preventable by taking active steps to improve your lifestyle.
Weight loss, for instance, has been posited to help reduce disease risk and improve patient health. One study found that moderate weight loss may boost heart function, lower blood pressure and improve metabolism. Experts also said that shedding some pounds may improve insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels.
A lot of lifestyle intervention programs target weight loss. While many of those who participate in these programs succeed in losing weight, the researchers said that many of them eventually relapse. The impact of this, however, has been poorly understood.
For the study, the researchers analyzed data from the Look AHEAD trial, a clinical study examining the link between weight loss and cardiovascular disease risk in overweight and obese patients with Type 2 diabetes.
They looked at how cardiometabolic risk factors, such as triglyceride, “good” cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting blood sugar levels, changed through time among regainers and maintainers.
After controlling for variables such as demographics, use of medications and a one-year change in body mass index, the team found that many of the risk factors deteriorated in those who regained their weight within three years after initially losing it. Meanwhile, all of the risk factors stabilized or further improved in those who were able to maintain their weight loss.
Lichtenstein emphasized the importance of instituting healthy approaches for both shedding pounds and keeping it off. The latter, she said, is perhaps the most challenging. “A lot of times, the emphasis is put on weight-loss programs, but it’s just as critical to help people maintain their weight loss,” said Lichtenstein.
Tips to maintain a healthy weight
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following steps to keep the weight off:
- Follow a healthy and realistic diet – Eat a low-calorie diet and keep your eating patterns consistent.
- Eat breakfast every day – Skipping breakfast may increase feelings of hunger, causing you to overeat later in the day.
- Be physically active –Exercise for 60 to 90 minutes a day. If time is a problem, you can do 20 to 30 minutes of exercise three times a day.
- Monitor your weight – Knowing if you gained pounds can help you quickly get back on track.
- Get support from family and friends – Your loved ones can help you stay on course and recover from any bumps.
The weight loss journey doesn’t stop with shedding pounds. It requires constant effort to maintain a good shape and stay healthy. Keep these tips in mind to keep it off.
Learn more about the health benefits of keeping the weight off at Slender.news.