There are many ways to lose weight, but keeping the weight off is the challenging part. Staying lean for life can be possible, but it takes consistency, hard work and dedication.
There isn’t really a short cut around hard work of consistent exercise and eating a healthy diet.
Here are 6 tips that can help you stay lean for life.
#1 – Exercise at least an hour a day
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This can be broken up into 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week or 20-60 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 days a week.
So why suggest exercising above the ACSM guideline for staying lean? The ACSM guideline is for general health, not necessarily for losing weight or keeping weight off. Of course there is individual variance, but most people will have to exercise about an hour a day to stay lean.
The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) monitors people who have successfully kept weight off for long periods of time and has about 10,000 people as part of their data. The NWCR found that people who have successful long term weight loss exercise for about an hour a day.
Must Read: How much cardio to lose weight fast?
#2 – Eat breakfast
Eating regular meals can help with weight regulation, and eating breakfast could help keep you lean. The benefits of eating a healthy breakfast have been discussed in many research studies, and most suggest eating breakfast can be part of a healthy routine for weight regulation.
According to a 2005 review article from Obesity Reviews, researchers found successful weight maintenance included eating breakfast and regular, healthy, balanced meals. Another indication eating breakfast can help with weight maintenance is 78% of people in the NWCR report eating breakfast every day.
#3 – Watch the sugar
Most Americans get too much extra sugar in the diet. By cutting down on extra sugar, you can drastically reduce your intake of empty calories. Sugar doesn’t provide other nutrients besides calories, and eating or drinking a lot of sugar increases the release of insulin which can promote fat storage.
Watch for hidden sources of extra sugar in beverages, canned tomato sauces, condiments, sweets or packaged dinners. It’s not that if you want to stay lean you can never eat sugar, you just want to cut back on extra intake that can subtly creep in.
See also: Percentage of sugar in common foods
#4 – Fill up on low energy dense foods
In order to stay lean for life, you need to focus on staying satisfied with high volume foods that are going to provide other nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber. Short term diets often focus on deprivation and constantly feeling hungry.
Low energy dense foods that will fill you up without packing on extra weight include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and lean proteins. Foods that are high energy dense include fast food, fried foods or baked goods. These foods provide a high number of calories for a low volume of food.
#5 – Get enough sleep at night
Sleep deprivation can actually change your metabolic rate. Long term sleep deprivation may also increase risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, up regulate appetite and lower calorie expenditure.
Everyone is different in terms of how much sleep they need. Find a range of sleep that works best for your body and make it a priority to stay within that range as often as possible.
Going to bed at an earlier hour and unplugging from all electronics an hour or two before you sleep can help you get to sleep faster.
Taking a short nap during the day can also help energy levels.
#6 – Minimize sitting for long periods of time
Even if you have a sedentary job, taking small breaks through the day to move around may be beneficial for health, even if you exercise daily. Recent research suggests sitting for long periods of time could increase risk for certain diseases and increase risk for mortality.
By minimizing sitting for long periods of time, you also increase calorie burn through the day which can help keep you lean. Take breaks during the day for walking, going up or down the stairs, stretching or other exercises. Even short breaks can help and add up.
Staying lean for life may seem challenging, but there are certain tips that can help you achieve weight maintenance for the long term. Consistent exercise and healthy eating habits can definitely help.
More specifically, exercising for at least an hour a day can help you stay lean, and many participants of the NWCR who have maintained weight loss for at least a year claim to exercise about an hour a day.
Eating breakfast, watching sugar intake and filling up on low energy dense foods can all help keep you lean for life. Eating breakfast is another pattern of people who have lost weight and kept it off.
Getting enough sleep shouldn’t be neglected, as sleep deprivation can alter metabolism and increase risk for weight gain. Getting in extra movement during the day can increase calorie expenditure and may help lower risk for certain diseases.
References used in this article