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The key to long-term weight loss may surprise you
Fad diets? Intense workouts? What works to actually keep the weight off? - photo by Wendy Jessen
Most everyone wants the secret to weight loss the easiest and fastest way to lose enough to fit into those jeans again. All over social media, shakes, juice cleanses, special diets, calorie counting, and intense workouts show promising results.

So what's the real key to weight loss and keeping it off long-term?

Weight loss research

Drexel University researchers did a study with 183 participants involving weight loss patterns. They found that those with fluctuating weight during the beginning of the behavioral weight loss program had less successful weight loss outcomes than those who had consistent weekly weight loss results.

"It seems that developing stable, repeatable behaviors related to food intake and weight loss early on in a weight control program is really important for maintaining changes over the long-term," said lead author Emily Feig, PhD, a former graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences at Drexel University.

What makes some people less successful in weight loss programs?

Looking for potential predictors of weight loss success in hopes to improve treatment outcomes, the psychologists studied a group of individuals for one year who were either obese or overweight. Using meal replacements and behavioral goals, along with "self-monitoring, calorie monitoring and increasing physical activity", participants went to weekly check-ins to be weighed with a final weight check two years after the beginning of the program. Researchers also paid attention to food related behaviors like cravings and emotional eating over the course of the study.

They found that those who lost one pound per week for the first three weeks of the program had more success than those with fluctuating weigh-ins. "Interestingly, individuals who reported lower emotional eating, binge eating and preoccupation with food at the start of the study showed higher weight variability and less weight loss overall. This suggests that initial weight change, rather than relationships with or behaviors toward food, is much more important in predicting who will succeed in weight loss and maintenance," stated MedicalXpress.

The best way to lose and maintain weight loss

Though it is not yet known why some people's weight loss varies more than others, psychology professor at Drexel University, Michael Lower, PhD, suggests, "settle on a weight loss plan that you can maintain week in and week out, even if that means consistently losing of a pound each week."

However, it's also important to remember that skinny doesn't always mean a person is healthy. Different body types need different weights, exercise habits and diets. No two people are the same. So don't become discouraged if your healthy habits don't gain the same results as your friends'.

The main goal should be focused on your overall health rather than what size pants you can or cannot wear.