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Strategies For Long-Term Weight Loss Maintenance

Last updated June 9, 2017

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP


Whether you are just starting out or have been in the game for a while, you know firsthand that weight loss can be a stressful task. It might seem simple at first, but consistent diet plans and exercise schedules can be tough to maintain in the long-term.

Whether you are just starting out or have been in the game for a while, you know firsthand that weight loss can be a stressful task. It might seem simple at first, but consistent diet plans and exercise schedules can be tough to maintain in the long-term. Failure to lose the weight can leave you feeling discouraged. Due to this, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has outlined basic strategies to help you continue to shed those stubborn pounds and to keep them off:

  • Only eat when you are hungry. Grazing can happen often when you are stressed, anxious, or bored. Drink water if you feel hungry, as you may actually just be thirsty.
  • Avoid meals and snacks late at night. A general rule should be to not eat after dinner, or only consume a light, healthy snack well before bedtime. Make an effort to eat at the same time each day.
  • Consuming larger meals for breakfast and lunch will allow for the food to be burned-off throughout the day. Eating lighter, more fibrous foods for evening meals will keep you from getting hungry before bed. Try a main salad dish with salmon, tuna, or chicken as a protein.
  • Fat and protein are more likely to keep you feeling full. Make sure to incorporate both into each meal.
  • Portion sizes are the key to weight loss plans! Stick to the Food Guide Pyramid to help guide you to maintain the least amount of servings required for each category. Whether you are dining out in a restaurant or have a large amount of food made at home, it is hard to determine how much would constitute as a healthy serving. At restaurants, ask for a to-go box so you can take half of the portion home.
  • Do not deny yourself of a small treat every now and then.
  • Eating slowly can allow your brain adequate time to let you know that you are full. Taste each bite, as this can take at least 20 minutes.
  • Consume water at each meal, as it will keep you from overeating without adding any extra calories or sugar.
  • During sleep, your body is in a fasting mode. When you wake up, you require energy, and your metabolism needs to start up again. Eating a healthy breakfast will jump-start your metabolism early in the morning to help promote calorie burn throughout the day. Choose healthy breakfast cereals that contain whole grains, fruit, Greek yogurt, or whole oats.
  • Read all food labels to examine sugar, calorie, fat, and carbohydrate content. Gaining an awareness of the contents of food will help you to make smarter choices to help lose weight.
  • Consider starting a snack or meal diary. Record what you eat each day, as well as your feelings when you eat, such as being stressed, and when hungry.
  • Keep a consistent exercise pattern so your body gets used to regular workouts. 

Talk to a nutrition expert about what caloric intake would be appropriate for your diet, as it varies by the individual and how much weight they desire to lose. Using these key strategies can help you make lifestyle changes that can continue to benefit your weight loss plan for a long period of time. Incorporating these tactics into your current or new weight loss regimen may seem daunting at first, but the lasting benefits will be well worth the effort.


Davis K. Weight Management Strategies: Weight Loss [Internet]. Massachusetts Institute of Technology [updated 2005 Dec 12; cited 2015 Jan 27]. Available from: http://web.mit.edu/athletics/sportsmedicine/wcrwtloss.html

Simon H. Weight Control and Diet [Internet]. University of Maryland Medical Center [updated 2013 Sep 18; cited 2015 Jan 27]. Available from: http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/weight-control-and-diet

Improving Your Eating Habits [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [updated 2011 Sep 13; cited 2015 Jan 27]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/eating_habits.html

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Klem, M. L., Wing, R. R., McGuire, M. T., Seagle, H. M., & Hill, J. O. (1997). A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 66(2), 239-246.

Jeffery, R. W., Epstein, L. H., Wilson, G. T., Drewnowski, A., Stunkard, A. J., & Wing, R. R. (2000). Long-term maintenance of weight loss: current status. Health psychology, 19(1S), 5.

Serdula, M. K., Mokdad, A. H., Williamson, D. F., Galuska, D. A., Mendlein, J. M., & Heath, G. W. (1999). Prevalence of attempting weight loss and strategies for controlling weight. Jama, 282(14), 1353-1358.

Svetkey, L. P., Stevens, V. J., Brantley, P. J., Appel, L. J., Hollis, J. F., Loria, C. M., ... & Samuel-Hodge, C. (2008). Comparison of strategies for sustaining weight loss: the weight loss maintenance randomized controlled trial. Jama, 299(10), 1139-1148.

Wing, R. R., & Phelan, S. (2005). Long-term weight loss maintenance. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 82(1), 222S-225S.

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: June 9, 2017
Last updated: June 9, 2017