Posted on 11 Sep 2016 Views 1975 Comments 7

How to maintain your weight loss

One of the biggest problems of any diet or weight loss programme is that people can gain weight again afterwards. In fact, studies suggest that as many as 95% of people regain the weight within a few months or years... A very sobering thought. If you’ve finished your Slim & Save programme, you may find some encouraging and useful information to take forward into your weight maintenance journey in this article. For those of you currently on the Slim & Save programme, this is an ideal time to review your usual diet before you started Slim & Save, and think about where you might have been going wrong and why you became overweight in the first place.

Perfect Portions

Too large portion sizes is thought to be a major reason why people gain weight in the first place, and regain weight afterwards. Try these simple tips to help you address or reduce your portion sizes:

  • Use these simple household items to help you judge a healthy portion:
Tennis ball Cooked pasta, rice or breakfast cereal
Golf ball Nuts and seeds
Computer mouse Jacket potato
Ipad / Iphone Meat and poultry
2 dominoes Cheese
Dice Reduced fat spread
Small filled teacup Milk and yoghurt
  • Use a smaller plate – a smaller plate not only prevents you putting too much food your plate, but also helps you feel more satisfied and that you’ve eaten enough
  • Fill up on vegetables – vegetables are naturally low in calories, and contain fibre which will help to keep you fuller for longer

Plate it up

Try to fill at least half your plate with vegetables or salad, a quarter with the protein-rich food, e.g. meat or fish, and the final quarter with starchy carbohydrate – using the portion sizes suggested above. You can always fill up on extra veggies if you’re still hungry.

Table Manners

Slow down – studies suggest that eating your meal over 20 minutes helps you to eat less, by giving your brain a chance to get the message that you’re actually full. Don’t be afraid to leave some food on your plate, however well you were brought up!

Get Regular

Eat regular meals, including a breakfast (try not to leave too long gaps between meals). This will help to regulate your appetite and maintain a good metabolism. Skipping meals may cause you to gain weight, even if you’re having less calories overall.

Snack Attack

The snacks you choose can play a big part in helping you maintain your weight loss. Take the time to put together a list of interesting, tasty snacks that you can enjoy if you get the munchies. The following list are examples of healthy snacks which are all under 100 kcal:

  • 2 rice cakes with reduced fat cream cheese (you can also get garlic and herby cheese varieties of reduced fat cream cheese)
  • 2 ryvitas with ¼ reduced fat mozzarella ball
  • One oatcake with 20g reduced fat hummus
  • 100g of natural low fat yoghurt with a handful of strawberries
  • Healthier cheese toastie; spread tomato puree on a crispbread or ryvita cracker, and add 15g mature cheddar
  • 3 water biscuits topped with a total of 15g mature cheddar and a 1 teaspoon of pickle
  • Small cup of homemade popcorn

Take it Away

Review how frequently you eat out (or plan to eat out) or have take aways. Anything that’s a regular feature of the diet (i.e. at least monthly) can be significant and increase your average calorie intake. It’s not uncommon for the average Indian takeaway (chicken tikka masala, pilau rice and plain naan) to contain over 1300 kcal – or nearly 900 kcal for an average battered cod and chips from the chippy. You could either enjoy your favourite dishes less frequently, or choose a healthier alternative, such as the following ideas:

  • Indian – non-creamy curry (rather than korma, passanda, masala), drier meat like tandoori chicken
  • Chinese & Thai - stir fries, steamed seafood dishes, Szechuan prawns, plain rice
  • Kebabs & Burgers - grilled burgers (e.g. chicken breast without cheese and mayo), shish kebab in pitta bread, salad
  • Italian – small pizzas with thinner bases (choose leaner toppings on pizza like chicken and vegetables), non-creamy pastas (e.g. tomato based)
  • Fish & Chips – fish in breadcrumbs (instead of batter), thicker cut chips

Fill up on Fibre (GI)

Fibre helps us to feel fuller for longer. You’ve probably heard the health messages about eating wholegrains, but did you know that including regular wholegrains (higher fibre forms of starchy carbohydrate) can actually help you keep the weight off? Most people tend to think of carbohydrates as ‘fattening’ – but this is actually a myth. If your portions of starchy food are too large, or you eat too many sugary foods, you will gain weight. However, starchy carbs themselves are good for you. But which ones are best? Well you may have heard of the glycaemic index (GI) scale… this scale assigns a number to foods based on the effect they have on raising blood sugar levels. The higher the number, the greater the effect on blood sugar. The lower the number, the lesser the effect. Choosing lower GI starchy carbohydrates at mealtimes is a good way of keeping you fuller for longer, meaning the sugars from the food trickle more slowly into the bloodstream over time. However, don’t get too caught up on numbers; milk chocolate has a lower GI than rice cakes because of the chocolate’s fat content. That doesn’t give you a license to eat fatty and sugary foods! Here are some examples of foods and their corresponding GI level:

White rice 98 High GI
Baguette 95
Jacket potato 85
Cornflakes 84
Chips 76
Mashed & boiled potato 70
White bread 70
Weatabix 69 Medium GI
Shredded wheat 67
Wholemeal bread 67
Couscous 65
Rye bread 65
New potatoes 62
Pitta bread 58
Basmati rice 58
Brown rice 57
Sourdough bread 57
Pumpernickel bread 50 Low GI
Granary & mixed grain breads 49
White pasta 45
Sweet potato 44
Porridge 40
Wholewheat pasta 37

Don’t demonise individual foods or food groups

food wheel

Often, when trying to maintain weight loss, people try to avoid a particular food or food group. Avoiding your favourite food in cause you ‘fall off the wagon’ is a sure-fire way to set yourself up for failure. Avoiding particular food groups, like starchy carbohydrates is not only difficult, but also unhealthy as you are likely to miss out on important nutrients like iron, calcium and B vitamins. It’s better to consider the frequency of eating foods in your diet, to make sure you’re eating the right proportions of food groups.

It’s worth noting that whilst several post Slim & Savers have found that approaches like intermittent fasting (e.g. the fasting diets or 5:2) is helpful, there is no specific evidence that these work. However, it’s all about managing your intake and if you feel that this sort of approach helps you to control your intake, then this may be an option for you. However, there are also a few diets to be wary of in terms of the nutrients you will miss out on.

  • Paleolithic-type diets – these diets encourage you to eat a diet similar to that of our supposed prehistoric ancestors. They miss out dairy products, meaning your bones could be at risk. This is of particular concern for post-menopausal women who may lose bone mass more quickly. They also miss out many starchy carbohydrates (grains), beans and legumes, which are good for appetite control and weight maintenance. Beware of having too much saturated fat (e.g. butter and coconut oil) as we don’t have enough research about the potential long term effects on heart health
  • High fat low carb (or high protein low carb) – there could be longer term effects of following high fat or high protein diets, such as implications for heart, bone and kidney health
  • Sugar-free diets – generally miss out starchy carbohydrates, and some of these diets can also miss out natural sugars from fruit and dairy products
  • Gluten-free diets – There is no scientific evidence that gluten free (or wheat free) diets help with weight loss or weight maintenance. Any weight loss experienced is probably due to missing out on wheat-based grains and cereals, so it’s important to replace these with suitable alternatives like rice and oats.

Be drink aware

Drinks are often a hidden source of sugar, or contain more sugar than you expect. A can of regular cola contains 8 teaspoons of added sugar. A 200ml carton of pure (unsweetened) fruit juice contains about 5 teaspoons of sugar (once a fruit is juiced, it’s sugars are no longer kept within the cellular structure, meaning they are absorbed a lot quicker, and may affect dental health). It’s worth noting alcohol here too. Whilst on the Slim & Save programme, alcohol is not allowed. However, after the programme, it’s easy to go back to your old ways and have a few too many a bit too often. Alcohol is made by fermenting and distilling natural starch and sugar, and is referred to as ‘empty calories’ – calories without good nutritional value. We know that drinking alcohol reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy. Often people will have alcohol with high calorie food as well, meaning you may be taking on more calories than you think. The following table shows how many calories there are in some favourite drinks, and the equivalent in terms of popular food items:

Alcoholic drink Number of calories (kcal) Equivalent food
Spirit (one measure) 70 kcal Digestive biscuit
Small glass (50ml) port 79 kcal 2 rich tea biscuits
Glass of champagne / cava 86 kcal Chocolate digestive biscuit
Small glass of wine 125 kcal Packet of crisps
Bottle of alcopop 143 kcal 6 squares of milk chocolate
Large glass of wine 195 kcal Slice of sponge cake
Pint of beer 197 kcal Large slice of pizza
Pint of cider 210 kcal Sugar doughnut

Get physical

Considering your physical activity routine is absolutely vital to maintaining weight loss. Check out our previous article all about how to inject more physical activity into your daily routine.

Written by Annemarie Aburrow RD BSc (Hons) PGDip, Slim & Save Dietitian.
Comments on How to maintain your weight loss
Jennifer Goodall 28/03/2017 08:35
A great blog to help anyone maintain some really useful tips and information.
Debbie Turner 16/09/2016 17:24
I maintain by not going back to my old habits of eating lots of bread, just every now and again. I excercise and As a vegetarian I found that other diets didn't work for me. SNS works and saves my raiding The fridge for cheese to make cheese on toast
claire johnson 16/09/2016 11:00
What a super article. It's so important to remember managing your diet post weight loss is as important as losing it in the first place! I think whilst many people know what they should be eating and how much is too much, managing and exercising control after weight-loss, especially in a non-ketogenic diet, can be really tricky.
The positive thing is that exercise and healthy lifestyle choices become easier - it's not so hard to take the stairs when you are 5 stone lighter. It's more reasonable to walk or cycle to the shops than drive, as your body carries less load; it's not so embarrassing to go to a zumba class because you aren’t the biggest one there anymore.
What is hard though, is not becoming complacent. A fat person will always be "fat" unless they learn to control and adapt their attitude to eating and lifestyle. It's so easy to slip into a "one more won’t hurt" mindset, but "one more" does hurt, and when the trousers get tight and you start feeling defeated because yet again you have gained, then that vicious circle of emotions can get the better of you. Before you know it you are back where you started.
One thing to really try to get to grips with during your weight loss, is perhaps our unhealthy relationship food and the possible attitudes we have as a rewarding mechanism but also as an emotional crutch. A healthy maintenance programme for the new slimmer you, should not only encompass what you eat, and what exercise you do, but encourage developing a healthy relationship with food and yourself - limiting any psychological reliance or dependence on food for emotional needs.
Jade Santa maria 11/09/2016 11:45
I want to maintain by following a low carb meal plan and in addition take up some fun exercise like pole dancing. Also plan to ditch all my bigger clothes and donate to the charity shop. Splurge on some new ones then continue to stay on this group as everybody is keeping me so motivated. We can do this everyone!!!!
Nyree Keith 11/09/2016 11:31
Use your time on sns to listen to your body and educate yourself to what your body needs to survive. Understanding how your body runs with the fuel you provide and this will help maintain and create the healthy lifelong relationship needed we have with food. Food should be exciting and our lives should be for living not for being miserable due to our lack of knowledge.
Holly smith 11/09/2016 11:16
When I am at goal I will
Maintain my weight by eating smaller portions and I will eat healthier foods. I am writing a diary at the moment that includes every day of my weight loss , my struggles etc I will read this once a week so I remember how hard it has been and why I do not want to go back.
Cherry lawman 11/09/2016 11:11
I aim to maintain my weight buy low carb high protein and exercise.
I used to exercise a lot but the scales weren't moving so I came back to sns as I know it works.
I have lost 3 stone 11lbs I have 40lbs left to goal. As I'm carb sensitive I will be having sns product for breakfast and a snack then high protein meals avoiding too many carbs which will be 120 g a day.
I know all about macros and exercise so I will use a calculator to work it all out daily. Exercise is important it helps our bone density and mental health especially in women as they age.

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