The National Weight Control Registry is a treasure! Unlike claims of weight loss from fad diets, the registry gathers information from people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a year or more. The average member of the registry has lost 66 pounds and kept it off for 5.5 years!
The Weight Loss Findings
The cool thing about the registry is they interpret the data in an unbiased way, with nothing to sell and no hidden agendas. And, I can confidently say in addition to focusing on portion control, that I followed all 5 of these to lose weight and keep it off. I’ve kept off more than 30 lbs for at least 20 years, but I’ve also kept off the last 10 lbs for the last 2 years.
The 5 things they report on their home page share that most people:
- Eat a low calorie, low fat diet and do high levels of activity. This is reality. To lose weight and keep it off requires fewer calories than most of us are willing to admit. Modern food is so packed and dense with calories, it doesn’t take a lot of food to go overboard. But, to lose weight and keep it off, it’s necessary to get real about fewer calories. Also controversial could be the fact that these participants are actually eating a lower fat diet. Eating fat, acknowledging that good fat is healthy and necessary in a diet, is also high in calories. So, a low fat diet tends to be lower in calories. And I love that they report high levels of activity. To lose and maintain, being sedentary can take you further from your goals.
- 78% eat breakfast every day. Ah.. this is interesting! Lots of people are finding success with intermittent fasting. I even practice it some days. But the fact that 78% of people who have lost weight and kept it off are eating breakfast daily is something to think about. I do eat “breakfast foods” every day, even though the time might be actually 10am, and not 7am. So, I guess I’d be curious what most of these people consider breakfast.
- 75% weigh themselves at least once a week. Looking at the study, it also shows 36% of them weighed daily, not just weekly. The feedback of a scale can help a person maintain their weight and catch a gain before it gets overwhelming. (source) Personally, I weigh daily. I understand for many people it triggers self-talk they are trying to avoid, but I can separate my thoughts about the scale to my personal worth, so daily weigh ins have become a benefit to me.
- 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week. Being sedentary is already a problem in our society due to our office jobs. So, when being sedentary also creeps into our leisure time, it makes it tough to be active enough to maintain or lose weight. Personally, my television time is from 8-9pm every night. I love the chance to wind down and watch 1 longer show, or two 30 minute sitcoms with my husband. It definitely is necessary in my life, but also it’s less than 10 hours a week!
- 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day. 1 hour of exercise may seem like a lot, but when 90% of people who lose weight and keep it off report this, it’s noteworthy. Humans were meant to be active, and 1 hour per day should be achievable. Personally, I exercise more than an hour per day, but more than that, I’m very active, usually walking more than 20K steps per day.
I’m excited about the weight loss research and findings on the National Weight Control Registry, and will for sure be diving deeper into it!