Many people want to lose fat, but many also fail in their fat loss efforts. They followed a diet program and lost weight in the beginning, but then ended up gaining their weight back. They fail to lose fat permanently.
In a 1959 study of 100 obese individuals, Albert Stunkard and Mavis McLaren-Hume found that after 2 years of treatment, only 2 percent maintained a weight loss of 20 pounds or more. This kind of facts make some people skeptical of a permanent fat loss. Yet in spite of the many failed weight loss endeavors, there are successful long-term weight loss efforts.
Is It Possible to Lose Fat Permanently?
In their article, “Long-term weight loss maintenance”, Rena R Wing and Suzanne Phelan referenced some data that proved the possibility of long-term weight loss maintenance. The first data were provided by McGuire et al. They conducted a survey of 500 adults, 228 of whom were obese or overweight. Of these 228 obese individuals, 47 (20.6 percent) lost at least 10 percent of their weight and maintained it for at least 1 year.
The other data were provided by the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). It consists of more than 4000 self-selected adults. They reported that they have lost an average of 72.8 pounds. They also kept off the minimum weight loss of about 30 pounds for an average of 5.7 years. 13 percent of them have maintained this minimum weight loss for more than 10 years.
A follow-up study on the NWCR participants showed that after 1 year, 35 percent gained 5 pounds or more, 59 percent continued to maintain their weight, and 6 percent continued losing weight. Interestingly, the data showed that participants who had kept their weight off for 2 years or more reduced their risk of weight regain by almost 50 percent.
This data prove that permanent fat loss is possible. And the longer you keep your weight off, the easier it becomes to maintain your weight loss. The question is why some people could keep their fat off permanently while many failed?
The NWCR data showed some factors related to long-term maintenance of weight loss. One important factor that I would like to highlight is the maintenance of behavior changes. NWCR participants who regain weight reported significant decreases in their physical activity and dietary restraint. They failed to change their lifestyle into a healthy one.
Thus, you can lose fat permanently, but you need to follow certain principles to achieve that. Here are the 3 principles you should follow if you want to burn the fat and keep it off forever.
1. Focus on Changing Habits, Not on Doing Diet
You can’t permanently lose fat by going on and off diets; jumping from one diet trend to the next. You can only attain permanent fat loss by adopting new habits you can keep throughout your life. These habits should include how you eat, how you think, and how you move.
So, if you have negative habits such as drinking soda, spending hours watching TV on the couch, or being pessimistic about your ability to lose fat, you need to replace them with new positive habits. At first, there will be a period where starting the new habits will be difficult and inconvenient, but once they’re rooted, they will be as hard to break as the old bad ones.
It could take months to ingrain a new behavior in your nervous system. Nevertheless, the roots of eating and exercise habits can be formed in less than a month. In the beginning, it’s so important to make 100 percent effort and commitment as you move forward. After a month, you’ll be on your way to make your new habits as easy and natural as taking a bath or brushing your teeth.
2. Lose Weight at the Right Pace for You
To lose fat, you need to create a calorie deficit. However, most people cut calories too quickly. You can’t force your body to lose fat faster than nature wants. It could wreck your body and metabolism, making you harder to lose fat in the long run. You have to lose fat according to your body’s abilities.
People with high level of body fat can typically lose fat faster without many adverse effects. Leaner people should lose fat slower, or the risks, such as muscle loss, are bigger. Women, especially those who are short or small, also lose fat slower because they have lower metabolism to begin with.
Many fitness experts advise losing weight 2 pounds per week. That’s a sound general rule, but it can be too quick for a small woman and too slow for a large man. Losing 1 percent of total body weight per week is a better goal. It’s safe, realistic, and custom tailored to each individual. It would be just 1.5 pounds a week for a 150-pound individual and 3 pounds a week for a 300-pound individual.
3. Burn the Fat, Don’t Starve the Fat
There are two ways to create a calorie deficit. Either you reduce your calorie intake from food or you increase your calorie expenditure by exercising and doing other activities. The best approach is to combine both of them. Exercising to keep muscle and expand your calorie deficit gives you big advantages over dieting alone.
Most people focus too much on dieting while doing little or no training. Whereas, with the right kind of training, you could build muscle, improve your strength, sculpt your body and boost your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. By doing this, you can eat more and still lose fat.
Even though it sounds like a paradox, the best way to transform your body is by eating more and burning more. You eat more to provide energy and nutrients for your body. You burn more to increase metabolism, build muscle, enhance strength, and improve fitness.
There is no reason to eat less and deprive yourself when you can eat more and still lose fat. You just have to add a good workout routine to your nutrition program. The results you can get from combining weight training, cardio, and healthy eating are far greater in comparison with dieting alone.
Based on the discussion above, it’s possible for you to lose fat permanently if you follow certain principles. However, if you violate these principles, you might end up in failure just like many other people who fail to lose fat permanently.
If you focus on dieting and lose weight too fast, you might end up damaging your body and metabolism, thus making your body harder to lose weight in the long run. When it becomes harder to lose weight and you can’t stand the miserable situation due to your diet, you’ll likely give up and regain your weight back.
If you just dieting without exercising, you may lose weight. However, much of the weight you lose could come from lean body mass, not fat. You’ll end up with just a smaller version of your old self, but you don’t become any fitter. Or worse, you’ll end up becoming a skinny fat person.
However, if you follow the 3 principles I gave above, you can achieve permanent fat loss. By combining healthy eating with exercising, and make them your new habits, you’ll get a lean and sculpted body which is not only sexy, but also healthy.
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