The National Weight Control Registry is the best guide we have showing us how people actually lose weight and keep it off. These are the people who have succeeded in a major weight loss program and in keeping off the pounds.
Diabetes doctors typically tell us to loose 10 percent of our body weight. I know from my own experience that this helps to control our blood glucose level. And I know too that getting down to a normal body mass index, or BMI, is even better for maintaining a low A1C level.
The National Weight Control Registry started in 1994 and now tracks more than 5,000 people. And because I am one of them, the people at the registry sent me a copy of a publication that summarizes their findings as thanks for returning a one-year questionnaire. The article, "Long-term weight loss maintenance," appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
To be included in the registry, people have to be at least 18 and have kept off at least 30 pounds for a year or more. I reached that milestone four years ago. And a couple of years ago my friend Gretchen Becker encouraged me to share my results with the registry.
I haven't seen any statistics about how many of the people included in the registry have diabetes. But I know that my weight loss strategies have been different from most. Using Byetta got me started with my weight loss program, and a very low-carb diet intensified it.
Most people, however, say that they have lost weight by following a low-calorie, low-fat diet. Without question, weight loss means a low-calorie diet. Almost certainly, following a diet of any sort is also a key to success. In fact, participants who maintained a consistent diet during the week and year after year were much more likely to maintain their weight than those who varied their approach.
Other keys include:
Eating breakfast every day, followed by 78 percent of registry members.
High levels of physical activity. Fully 94 percent report that they get more exercise now than they did before they lost weight, and 90 percent report that on the average they exercise an hour a day. Walking is the most common activity, reported by 78 percent of the participants.
Regular weighing. More than 44 percent report that they weigh themselves at least once a day.
I know from my own experience that when my scales broke in February just before I went on a long trip that not weighing myself regularly was disastrous for my weight. In a three-month period I gained 12 pounds and am now fighting to take them off.
The really good news is that it gets easier. People who successfully maintained their weight loss for two to five years had a much greater chance of long-term success.