The real secret to losing weight, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, is to take in fewer calories than you burn. Okay, so pretty much everyone knows this, and most diets in one way or another use this strategy for weight loss.
Here’s What Many People Don’t Realize
Losing those extra pounds is not about finding the best diet to lose weight. Many dieters believe that if they just follow the right diet–the best diet—the miracle diet—that one special diet—that diet that is going to finally work, they’ll finally lose their excess pounds and live a happy, healthy life.
The best way to lose weight and keep it off does not come from one specific diet–although modifying your diet in some way may very well help you lose weight. The best way to lose weight is to follow the research and do what others have done who have lost weight and kept it off for longer than one year.
Secrets of Successful of Losers
The National Weight Control Registry is “the largest prospective investigation of long-term weight loss maintenance.” Because few people succeed at losing weight and keeping it off, the NWCR was established by Rena Wing, Ph.D. from Brown Medical School and James O. Hill, Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in 1994 to “identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss.”
“Researchers know little about people in the real world who have lost weight and managed to keep it off,” says Wing in a Nutrition Action Health Letter interview. “We wanted to identify a large group of them, so that we could describe the strategies they used.”
Wing is correct. Diet research usually comes from studies or clinical trials, not from real life situations where dieters have already lost and kept off the weight for a long period of time.
To be eligible for the National Weight Control Registry, participants must had lost at least 30 pounds and kept the weight off for over one year. On average, participants have lost 70 pounds and kept it off for six years, says Wing.
Best Way to Lose Weight
So what’s the best diet to lose weight? There isn’t one best diet. Wing states only 10% of successful losers used diet alone. There are, however, primary behaviors of successful losers:
- About 50% of women got help from a diet program like Weight Watchers or a nutritionist. Men preferred to do it alone, says Wing.
- 98% modified their diet in some way, according the the NWCR website. In the interview, Wing said there was no specific diet that worked; however, most successful losers eat a low-calorie, high carbohydrate diet–very few follow a low-carb diet–and they keep their food intake consistent day-to-day.
- Most eat breakfast every day.
- Most eat four to five times a day.
- Most are “very physically active.”
- Most weigh themselves often–once a day or once a week.
- Most limited watching television
- Most did not let a small weight gain become bigger. They took immediate action by modifying their diet or increasing their physical activity.