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Originally published on July 29, 2014
Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows the work isn’t over once the pounds are off. Keeping them off can be an even bigger challenge. That’s because so many people still think all they have to do to lose weight is go “on a diet,” and once they lose weight they can get “off the diet.” Sadly, it’s often just a matter of time before their weight is right back where they started, or even higher.
If this sounds familiar, there’s a group I want to tell you about who have beat that system. They are members of The National Weight Control Registry and they have all lost weight and kept it off – and for most of them, for more than five years!
Whenever I read about this amazing group of successful “weight losers,” one of the first things that always stands out is how few of them credit their success to having gone “on a diet.” Instead, what most of them have done is adopt a new lifestyle. And as we all know, diets have many stops and starts, but lifestyles just keep plugging along.
How to Successfully Lose Weight & Keep it Off
This lifestyle approach is reflected in most common traits used by the Registry members to maintain their weight loss. For example, 78% report they eat breakfast every day of the week and the majority of them follow the same meal pattern on weekends and holidays as they do any other day of the year. Eating meals on a consistent schedule is just an everyday occurrence. They also monitor their weight on a regular basis and deal with any weight gain quickly so it doesn’t get out of control. Stepping on a scale once a day is all it takes. Another routine they’ve built into their daily lives is getting some physical activity, which they apparently have the time to do because they watch less than 10 hours of television per week.
When it comes to what they eat, keeping tabs on the caloric and fat content of their diets is a winning strategy for Registry members. Of course this involves reading food labels, being aware of portion sizes and not eating out too often, but that’s just a way of life for them.
A recent study on the use of low-calorie sweeteners (such as SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener) and fat-modified foods by weight loss maintainers (WLM) found these are helpful tools. When compared to normal weight (NW) subjects who reported consuming a low calorie, low fat diet, WLM used more low fat strategies, such as reduced fat dairy products, spreads and sauces, than NW, and they drank more sugar-free beverages and water than those who had never been overweight.
This may come as a surprise to those who have heard about the studies reporting an association between low-calorie sweeteners and increased weight, but it wasn’t a surprise to these researchers. They said their results are consistent with those found in several other randomized clinical trials on obese individuals that found greater weight loss among users of low-calorie sweeteners than non-users. In fact, the authors concluded that the use of sugar-free beverages may actually assist the weight loss maintainers in adhering to their reduced calorie diets when faced with the many triggers to overeat that are all around us.
If you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off, take a look at the successful people in the National Weight Control Registry for inspiration. What you’ll see is it takes more than a diet, and that the use of low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, can be a helpful part of your new healthy lifestyle.
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.
- Wyatt HR, et. al (5). Long-term weight loss and breakfast in subjects in the National Weight Control Registry. Obes Res.2002;10(2):78-82
- Phelan S, et. al (3). Use of artificial sweeteners and fat-modified foods in weight loss maintainers and always normal weight individuals. Int J Obes. 2009;33(10):1183-1190
- Wing R, Phelan S. Long-term weight loss maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82(1):2225-2255