Sustainable weight loss—losing weight and being able to keep it off for years—can feel overwhelming when you’re initially getting started.
In fact, the majority of dieters do regain some weight. While this can be discouraging, there are a number of proven strategies for successfully maintaining a healthy number on the scale following a major weight loss journey.
Tracking devices, specifically, are a great tool for monitoring fluctuations in body weight. Research shows that people who weigh themselves regularly tend to maintain their weight more easily. Logically, this makes sense. If you “keep tabs” on your weight, it’s more likely that you’ll notice trends or shifts sooner, and if necessary, you’ll feel more prepared to make small changes to move toward weight maintenance.
However, before we dive into sustainable weight loss strategies that can be implemented at home, we have to define weight loss and note the differences between weight loss and fat loss.
What is weight loss?
Weight loss is a reduction in overall body weight. In other words, weight loss accounts for changes in your overall body composition, which is made up of body fat, Lean Body Mass, and Body Water.
What is fat loss?
Fat loss is a reduction in body fat. Fat is stored throughout the body and the amount of fat storage will fluctuate depending on alterations that are made to your regular diet and exercise routines.
General weight loss vs. fat loss
Since many of us put more focus on weight loss, it’s important to note that there are many factors that influence daily fluctuations in weight, including:
- Sodium intake
- Hydration levels
- Bowel movements (or lack thereof)
- Stress management
- Total calories consumed
We often think of weight gain happens as a result of consuming too many calories. Yet, once we realize that many aspects of our lifestyle impact the number on the scale, it’s easier to weather the ups and downs of normal weight fluctuations.
When we set an intention to lose weight, in most cases, we actually aspire to lose fat instead. Because, in actuality, if we were to lose weight from water or muscle this would hinder our progress, even though the number on the scale would drop.
Thus, body composition—the amounts of body fat, lean mass, and body water—is a more comprehensive way, that goes beyond a single output on the scale, to assess general health and wellbeing.
What is body fat and how can you measure it?
Body fat is typically measured as a percentage that tells us how much of our total body weight comes from fat, also known as adipose tissue.
This value is measured through smart devices, such as the InBody at-home scale, which sends a signal through muscle, fat, and body water to accurately measure fluctuations in metrics that go beyond just weight.
Average body fat percentages vary greatly between men and women, and from person to person. Gender, age, genetics, and lifestyle all play a role in discrepancies between body fat amounts.
What’s a healthy percent body fat range?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), for men, a percent body fat (PBF) of 10-20% is considered healthy. For women, the healthy range is between 18-28%. For athletes, however, these values may vary depending on their competitive level, so they must be hyperaware of their current PBF and take active steps to not drop below a certain number as it could affect their health and performance.
Typically speaking, when you are on a weight loss journey, you can expect to lose anywhere from 1% to 3% body fat per month. However, this rate of fat loss is often highly individualized and may not be consistent from month to month to month to month, it’s important to keep in mind that the process of losing weight is not linear. It is normal to experience plateaus or stagnant periods where you may need to readjust your fat loss goals or extend your timeline for achieving them.
What factors make it difficult to maintain weight loss?
Since losing weight is not a linear process, it is possible to regain some weight that you may have initially lost. This can occur for a number of reasons, but more often than not, it happens when we revert back to old patterns that previously led to weight gain in the first place.
For example, if you lost weight by going on a low-calorie diet and increasing your exercise, but eventually added more calories back into your diet and decreased your activity level, you will notice your weight loss begin to slow down (or potentially creep back up).
This is an oversimplified example, but in general, you tend to regain weight when you begin eating more calories than your body can burn off. Some other factors that may influence weight gain include:
- Food availability
- Coping mechanisms for stress
- Resuming old habits and behaviors
- A sedentary lifestyle
- A slow metabolism
- Chronic dieting
How can you sustain weight loss?
While sustainable weight loss can take time, there are much more effective than any quick fixes, Here are a few key habits and behaviors to adopt in order to make your weight loss last.
Small, sustainable habits
We know most diets fail because they are unrealistic or too extreme. If the changes you are making seem like they won’t last, it might be time to pivot and focus on the long game.
Choose goals that you are confident you can stick with week after week instead of white-knuckling your way through massive changes.
Sleep might not be on the top of your priority list when you think about weight loss, but it should be. Sleeping 7-8 hours a night is correlated with a lower BMI and higher quality health outcomes.
Beyond that, not sleeping enough can undermine your nutrition efforts. A quality night’s sleep helps regulate hunger and cravings the next day, creates more energy that you can use to be active, and helps manage stress levels.
So if you’re working on fat loss, be sure to catch enough Z’s to maximize your body’s fat-burning potential.
Emphasis on protein consumption
A high-protein diet can help induce weight loss. Protein burns more calories during digestion than the other macronutrients, carbs, and fats.
Additionally, protein helps build muscle, which can raise your metabolic rate. Foods high in protein are also highly satiating, meaning they help naturally keep you full and satisfied longer.
Weight training helps increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. Increased muscle mass has downstream effects such as boosting the metabolism, making weight maintenance easier in the long run.
Most people focus on more cardio when trying to lose weight, but those little moments of activity throughout the day can be equally as powerful.
NEAT stands for non-exercise active time, and it is the time spent being active that isn’t defined as a structured workout. For example, this can include time spent walking, standing, or moving throughout the day.
Some research shows that NEAT is equally as important as structured exercise for long-term weight loss and weight maintenance.
All in all, personally tracking your weight and percent body fat at home can help you develop consistent habits that will help you effectively manage and maintain the healthiest weight you have.
For additional guidance and support, discuss your weight loss plans with your nutritionist or doctor. By using the InBody H20N at home, you can accurately review your body composition history through the InBody app and share it with your healthcare provider to develop a safe and realistic weight loss plan. By consistently focusing on making steady progress toward your goals, using your smart scale to track progress, and seeking guidance from your support system, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your weight loss goals!