The latest diet or fitness fad always gets a lot of attention. Why; It’s human nature to think that a thin, attractive representative on TV or online holds the secret to quick weight loss. What works for one person may not be as effective for another, which is why diet gimmicks fail so often. It’s like a pull in a slot machine: very low odds of success. But in the weight loss bet, you’ll increase your odds of payouts if you wager to try several supplemental strategies that have worked for many people—and stick with them. That’s why we’re sharing seven weight loss habits of the biggest losers—and no, we’re not talking about the reality TV contestants on “The Biggest Loser”—that will inspire you to start your fat loss journey.
A research organization called The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) at Brown Medical School and the Miriam Hospital Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center in Providence, Rhode Island tracks people who have lost significant weight and kept it off over a long period of time. The Registry has more than 10,000 people in its database. On average, registered members have lost 66 pounds and kept the weight off for 5.5 years. Now that’s pretty impressive!
The Registry’s findings point to common weight loss habits you’ll recognize as having a strong basis in scientific study. However, everyone’s genes can be expressed differently, as the diversity in Registry results suggests:
The weight loss was anywhere from 30 to 300 pounds.
Some people lost weight very, very slowly, while others lost it quickly.
Some followed a specific schedule, while others created their own routine.
Years of weight loss maintenance ranged from one to 66.
Everyone is unique—including you. But your chances of winning by losing can increase if you practice seven Biggest Loser weight loss habits that NWCR findings reveal have worked.
They tend to eat three meals and two snacks a day.
NWCR participants tend to eat three meals and two snacks a day, which protects them from overeating. It may seem counterintuitive, but people who eat fewer times a day are often overweight, NWCR researchers explain. Sprinkling five eating sessions into the day does just the trick to reduce the cravings that lead to overeating.
Be smart and fill your plate with nutrient-dense, lower-calorie foods like vegetables and fruits, and include some protein like Greek yogurt and cheese to keep hunger at bay. Science tells us that adopting a consistent fueling pattern like this will benefit weight maintenance.
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They modified something in their daily eating habits to promote weight loss.
Almost all—98%—of Registry participants reported changing something about their food intake that helped them lose weight. Maybe it was drinking a glass of water before meals or some other technique. But one thing is clear from the report: These participants consumed fewer daily calories on average than the average American.
The study of the Registry at Journal of the American Dietetic Association noted that female participants ate a low-calorie diet of about 1,306 calories per day compared to the average woman’s 1,800 to 2,000, while male enrollees consumed 1,685 calories compared to the average man’s 2,200 to 2,600.
They are powered when they get up.
Eating breakfast is a common habit among Registry participants. In fact, 78% of them never skip breakfast, according to NWCR findings.
Eating breakfast has long been recommended by nutritionists as a weight-loss strategy, but new research is challenging that advice. A study in the 2022 issue of Cellular Metabolism found that meal timing had no effect on total daily energy expenditure or resting metabolic rate and no difference in weight loss. The study was small—just 30 participants. And while people who ate breakfast didn’t experience an increase in calorie burn, they did He made report feeling less hungry later in the day, which many nutritionists believe could be beneficial for weight loss.
“If you eat a big breakfast, you’ll modify your calorie intake for the rest of the day and you’ll be less inclined to constantly snack,” she says. Kim Rose, RDN, CDCESregistered dietitian nutritionist and board certified diabetes care and education specialist in Central Florida.
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They are weighed every week.
Seventy-five percent of Registry participants report weighing themselves at least once a week. One advantage of weekly weigh-ins is accountability. It can help you stay motivated to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly if you see the number on the scale go down. Some people, however, find the bathroom scale stressful—especially if progress is slow.
Research on the use of self-weighing to promote weight loss is inconsistent. Some studies have found that people who weigh themselves daily lose more weight and engage in weight control behaviors more consistently than people who monitor their weight less frequently.
They don’t watch much TV. get up for some physical activity.
Sixty-two percent of Registry participants reported streaming less than 10 hours of television each week. Screen time is an easy-to-measure indicator of sedentary activity. less screen time means more time to spend being physically active.
A report by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRFI) found a correlation between more time spent watching TV and weight gain and obesity. Being overweight or obese as an adult increases your risk of developing cancer, according to the WCRFI.
The Weight Loss Registry data suggests that participants used the time they weren’t spending on the couch to exercise. Ninety percent say they exercise about an hour each day. This is a great workout. However, studies show that it takes this kind of effort (exercise time and intensity) to achieve weight loss through exercise. If you’re not ready for a big workout, try some of these weight loss exercise habits that actually work.
They drink a lot of water.
NWCR’s Biggest Losers make sure a glass of water is never too far away. Increasing water intake was by far the most common weight loss strategy.
According to the NWCR study in the journal Portliness, 42% of participants said that changing what they drank was critical to their success. While just 10% of participants reported regularly drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, 53% said they regularly drank low- or no-calorie beverages other than water. Seventy-eight percent of drinkers felt that choosing low-calorie beverages helped them manage their total daily calorie intake well.
They love routine.
A common thread runs through the strategies used successfully by NWCR participants: consistency. The most successful weight loss strategies aren’t something you try once and forget. you have to get used to them.
That’s the main takeaway from a Drexel University study published in Portliness. Rapid and irregular weight loss rarely leads to weight maintenance. In this study of 183 participants, people whose weight fluctuated the most during the first few weeks of a behavioral weight loss program fared worse one and two years later compared to men and women who lost a consistent number of pounds per week.
So, go slow, be consistent and be patient for results. And remember, what works for one group of people may not work for someone like you. Then again, it just might.