Nutrition-wise blog

Weight management mantra: Maintain, don't gain

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. September 25, 2013

It's often a message reserved for the challenges of the holidays when treats are plentiful and weight gain looks likely — maintain, don't gain.

According to new research, this may be better as a daily manta. A research team at Duke University worked with a group of nearly 100 overweight and obese African-American women (BMIs between 25-34.9) with the goal of making lifestyle changes to improve their overall health and maintain their body shape.

The goal was not weight loss, as it is with so many research, clinical, and personal efforts. Here the focus was weight gain prevention. At 12 months, 62 percent of the women had achieved that goal. Even better, at 18 months the average woman was down 3.7 lb (1.7 kg).

Here is a summary of some of the advice provided to these women:

  • Make gradual changes. Start by making healthier food and beverage choices. For example, replace sugar-sweetened beverages, fast food and high-calorie foods with more fruits and vegetables. Walk 7,000 steps daily.
  • Monitor your progress. Check in with someone who will keep you accountable. The research group had weekly phone calls to record their progress and a monthly chat with a dietitian
  • Keep it interesting. Try new ways of tracking food intake, sign up for a nutrition newsletter, or read about healthier lifestyle choices.

Weight loss efforts can be frustrating — leaving some feeling hungry and defeated. The unfortunate reality is that most Americans gain 2-3 pounds a year. Perhaps a change in our focus is needed. Preventing weight gain by making small changes just might be the ticket to successful weight management.

If you have struggled with your weight, what are your thoughts? Is this approach more appealing?

To your health,

Katherine

Sep. 25, 2013