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4 Keys to Weight Loss Success

Successful "losers" share four factors in their ability to take weight off and keep it off.

Eat a Low-Fat, High-Carbohydrate Diet

Although a lot of people may think of only pasta and bread when they hear the word "carbohydrates," complex carbohydrates are in many foods, not only grains but also in beans and many vegetables. People in the Registry say they get about 56% of their calories from such carbohydrates, and only about 19% of calories from protein. Fat makes up about 25% of their diet. People in the Registry also say they consume 1,300 to 1,400 calories a day on average, but that number is probably lower than what they actually eat.

Remember that a good diet probably isn't one that makes you outlaw certain types of food. Being too strict can make it hard to stick to a healthy eating plan. The problem for most people is not so much that they're eating the wrong things, but that they're eating too much. Moderation is important.

But what about protein diets? People using protein diets can and often do lose weight. The fact is that you can probably lose weight on any of the major diet plans, and Registry members slimmed down employing all sorts of different approaches.

However, what we've found is that people who are successful at maintaining their weight loss eat a low-fat and high-carbohydrate diet. So while a protein diet may be good for losing weight, it may not be the best for long-term weight maintenance.

Exercise Every Day

Exercise is key to maintaining your weight loss and it's probably more important than diet. On average, people in the Registry exercise between an hour and an hour and a half a day. Yes, that's a lot. But before you despair, it's not as bad as it sounds.

First, many of the people break up their exercise throughout the day instead of doing a single, marathon work-out session. Second, one of the most common methods of exercise is walking, which is easy to incorporate into your day.

If you're just starting out, it's important to begin slowly. Starting too fast can cause pulled muscles and discouragement. Instead, gradually work up to a full hour. Alternatively, you can increase your number of steps. Get a pedometer, or step counter, and record the number of steps you take in an average day. Then slowly increase them.

An hour or an hour and a half every day is a lot of time. But look at it this way: if you could lose weight and keep it off for the rest of your life with just an hour or so of exercise a day, would it be worth it? A lot of people say yes.

Eat Breakfast Every Day

Although some people try to lose weight by cutting down on the number of meals they eat, that really isn't a good strategy. Skipping meals often just means that you'll be starving later and wind up overeating. Starting the day with breakfast can help prevent that, and on average, members of the Registry eat breakfast every day. A daily breakfast may also be a sign of the discipline that Registry members bring to how they eat. Being careful about when you eat may also help make you conscious of what you eat.

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