By Registered Dietitian
on September 16, 2008
Controlling your weight comes down to one thing - managing calories. More...
By Registered Dietitian
on September 26, 2008
Years of misjudging your intake by just a few calories at a time will end up sabotaging your weight. For example, if you gain the average amount of one pound per year, this means you’re off by only 10 calories a day. More...
By Registered Dietitian
on September 17, 2008
Although many people succeed at losing weight, few manage to keep the weight off for the long haul. Those who have are referred to as “successful losers” and research studies on these individuals reveal the keys to permanent weight loss. More...
By dotFIT experts
on September 30, 2008
Recent science has demonstrated that certain blends of natural herbs combined with other safe compounds have the ability to enhance weight loss results. Proper use can significantly reduce the time and work normally required to accomplish these goals. More...

Proven Strategies for Weight Loss, Maintenance of Weight Loss, & Prevention of Weight Gain

Proven Strategies for Weight Loss, Maintenance of Weight Loss, & Prevention of Weight Gain


Dieting to lose weight is difficult at best, and generally ends in frustration for the average person. The majority of people gain most of the weight back within the first year (1,2). However, there are three strategies that have consistently proven to be effective in losing weight and maintaining the loss. When combining all three, a person may have the greatest chance of succeeding in accomplishing their desired weight loss (when compared to all current conventional methods of weight loss). When incorporating the three simple methods shown below during caloric restriction, the dieter should significantly reduce the overall effort generally associated with dieting. This allows the participant to more comfortably achieve and maintain the desired outcome.

1.    Self-weigh as often as possible and chart your progress
All studies investigating self-weighing as a weight control strategy have demonstrated that the more you weigh yourself the greater the weight loss , maintenance of the loss and prevention of weight gain (3,4,5,6).  Research also validated the reverse: the less frequently subjects weighed in, the lower their chance of success, and  those who checked their weight the least or never gained weight. Presumably by the time they would weigh themselves, if ever, it was too late to undo the damage without a significant lifestyle change, hence they continued to gain weight.

Figure 1 captures the significant results of regular weighing. More significant is the fact that as time went on the subjects who consistently weighed themselves continued to reduce their body mass index (BMI). This is completely opposite today’s norm.

Subjects weighing multiple times a week reported that any time weight was not trending in a desired direction they would make a simple adjustment. Sometimes eating slightly less (including skipping a meal) or an alteration in exercise would allow them to maintain an easy, steady course to the goal (7).  Additionally, the fact that one has to weigh each day (or most days) influences people to “think twice” about consuming something that might give them an undesirable weigh in.

                               12 Month Weighing Frequency

                               24 Month Weighing Frequency

Figure 1 shows the results of weighing frequency: the red bars were subjects attempting weight loss. The black bars were subjects attempting to prevent weight gain. These amazing results clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of regular weighing.

2.    Use of pharmacological agents (prescription drugs) to assist weight loss

The goal of incorporating a dietary supplement or drug into a weight loss program is to assist the participant in complying with the conditions necessary for weight reduction. In 19 studies, participants using weight loss drugs that prevent dietary fat/ calorie absorption and speed metabolism significantly increased total weight loss combined with a dietary/lifestyle regime than when compared to subjects using the dietary/lifestyle regime and placebo (8).  The treatment groups were, on average, three times more likely to lose more than five percent of their total body weight and four times more likely to maintain the weight loss after two years.

The problem with drug therapy is that prescription weight loss drugs should not be used for extended periods of time because they bring along known side effects. Therefore, the goal would be to find safe, natural alternatives in dietary supplements that have the same basic actions (increase calorie burning and block unneeded calories), thus potential to assist in weight loss (9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22). The dieter would cease supplementation once the weight goal is reached or when they have their daily routines under control to continue making progress without the supplements.

3.    Incorporating meal replacements into daily diet

In all studies, meal replacements (MR) have been shown to be an extremely effective aid to weight reduction (23) and in almost all cases more effective than conventional methods of dietary restrictions (24,25,26,27). Additionally, meal replacements have been shown to be just as effective as dietary restriction combined with pharmacological therapy. (8) And most importantly, continuous use of meal replacements may be the most effective means of all treatments when it comes to maintaining weight loss (1,28,29,30) (see figure 2).

Meal replacements are generally used to replace one or two meals a day and allow the individual complete freedom for their remaining daily calories.

Meal replacements allow

  • Portion control: people generally attempt to consume meals to completion (31,32); therefore, meal portion size significantly impacts a person’s total calorie intake. (17,33) Overwhelming evidence validates that the smaller the portions, the fewer daily calories consumed (33) and vice-versa – i.e. people tend to “eat with their eyes not their stomachs”. Use of portion controlled meals has proven to yield greater weight loss than conventional diet therapy alone. (34,35,36,37)
  • Accurate calorie counts of total daily food intake when compared to having to estimate the calories of self-prepared or unmarked meals. (38)

Figure 2: In all six studies the groups using meal replacements (PMR) as part of their overall calorie intake lost significantly more weight than subjects using the reduced calorie diet (RCD) alone. Heymsfield SB (2003)

Figure 3: In a 1-year follow-up in the groups that were tracked, the subjects still using meal replacements maintained significantly more weight loss than the RCD group. Heymsfield SB (2003)

  1.   McGuire MT, Wing RR, Klem ML, Lang W, Hill JO. What predicts weight regain in a group of successful weight losers? J Consult Clin Psychol 1999;67:177–85.
  2.   Phelan S, Hill JO, Lang W, Dibello JR, Wing RR. Recovery from relapse among successful weight maintainers. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Dec;78(6):1079-84.
  3.   Linde JA, Jeffery RW, French SA, Pronk NP, Boyle RG. Self-weighing in weight gain prevention and weight loss trials. Ann Behav M ed. 2005 Dec;30(3):210-6.
  4.   Fujimoto K, Sakata T, Etou H, Fukagawa K, Ookuma K, Terada K, Kurata K. Charting of daily weight pattern reinforces maintenance of weight reduction in moderately obese patients. Am J Med Sci. 1992 Mar;303(3):145-50.
  5.   Klem ML, Wing RR, McGuire MT, Seagle HM, Hill JO. descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Aug;66(2):239-46.
  6.   Wing RR, Tate DF, Gorin AA, Raynor HA, Fava JL. A self-regulation program for maintenance of weight loss. N Engl J Med. 2006 Oct 12;355(15):1563-71.
  7.   Levitsky DA, Garay J, Nausbaum M, Neighbors L, Dellavalle DM. Monitoring weight daily blocks the freshman weight gain: a model for combating the epidemic of obesity. Int J Obes (Lond). 2006 Jun;30(6):1003-10
  8.   Douketis JD, Macie C, Thabane L, Williamson DF. Systematic review of long-term weight loss studies in obese adults: clinical significance and applicability to clinical practice. Int J Obes (Lond). 2005 Oct;29(10):1153-67. Review.
  9.   Zheng G, Sayama K, Okubo T, Juneja LR, Oguni I. Anti-obesity effects of three major components of green tea, catechins, caffeine and theanine, in mice. In Vivo. 2004 Jan-Feb;18(1):55-62.
  10.   Abidov MT, Grachev SV, Klimenov AL, Kalyuzhin OV. The effects of Aralox, a phytomedicine, consisting of standardized extracts of Aralia mandshurica (Araliaceae) and Engelhardtia chrysolepis (Juglandaceae), on body fat loss, lipolytic activity and adipocytes perilipins, in obese, non-diabetic women on a restricted calorie diet is investigated in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Remedium Medical Journal, Russian Academy of Sciences 2005:35-47.
  11.   Tappenden KA, Martin A, Layman DK, Baum J. Evaluation of the efficacy of an amylase inhibitor. FASEB 2001; 15(4):A301.
  12.   Vinson JA, Shuta DM. In vivo effectiveness of a starch absorption blocker in a double-blind placebo-controlled study with normal college-age subjects. 2001. unpublished.
  13.   Vinson JA, Shuta DM, Al Kharrat H. In vivo effectiveness of a starch absorption blocker in a double-blind placebo-controlled study with normal subjects. 2001. unpublished.
  14.   Vinson JA, Al Kharrat H. In Vivo Effectiveness of a Starch Absorption Blocker in a Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study with Normal Subjects. 2003. unpublished.
  15.   Vinson JA. Investigation of the efficacy of Phase 2® , a purified bean extract from Pharmachem Laboratories. 2001. unpublished.
  16.   Anonymous. Starch Neutralizer Promotes Weight Loss, Lowers Triglyceride Levels.
  17.   Thom E. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a new weight-reducing agent of natural origin. J Int Med Res 2000; 28:229-33.
  18.   Dulloo AG, Geissler CA, Horton T, Collins A, Miller DS. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50.
  19.   Bérubé-Parent S, Pelletier C, Doré J, Tremblay A. Effects of encapsulated green tea and Guarana extracts containing a mixture of epigallocatechin-3-gallate and caffeine on 24 h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in men. Br J Nutr. 2005 Sep;94(3):432-6.
  20.   Koot P, Deurenberg P. Comparison of changes in energy expenditure and body temperatures after caffeine consumption. Ann Nutr Metab. 1995;39(3):135-42.
  21.   Diepvens K, Westerterp KR, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Obesity and thermogenesis related to the consumption of caffeine, ephedrine, capsaicin and green tea. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2006 Jul 13; [Epub ahead of print]
  22.   Bracco D, Ferrarra JM, Arnaud MJ, Jequier E, Schutz Y. Effects of caffeine on energy metabolism, heart rate, and methylxanthine metabolism in lean and obese women. Am J Physiol. 1995 Oct;269(4 Pt 1):E671-8.
  23.   Heymsfield SB, van Mierlo CA, van der Knaap HC, Heo M, Frier HI. Weight management using a meal replacement strategy: meta and pooling analysis from six studies. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 May;27(5):537-49.
  24.   Ashley JM, St Jeor ST, Perumean-Chaney S, Schrage J, Bovee V. Meal replacements in weight intervention. Obes Res. 2001 Nov;9 Suppl 4:312S-320S.
  25.   Ditschuneit HH. Do meal replacement drinks have a role in diabetes management? Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Clin Perform Programme. 2006;11:171-9; discussion 179-81. Review.
  26.   Li Z, Hong K, Saltsman P, DeShields S, Bellman M, Thames G, Liu Y, Wang HJ, Elashoff R, Heber D. Long-term efficacy of soy-based meal replacements vs an individualized diet plan in obese type II DM patients: relative effects on weight loss, metabolic parameters, and C-reactive protein. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Mar;59(3):411-8.
  27.   Poston WS, Haddock CK, Pinkston MM, Pace P, Karakoc ND, Reeves RS, Foreyt JP. Weight loss with meal replacement and meal replacement plus snacks: a randomized trial. Int J Obes (Lond). 2005 Sep;29(9):1107-14.
  28.   Ditschuneit HH, Flechtner-Mors M. Value of structured meals for weight management: risk factors and long-term weight maintenance. Obes Res. 2001 Nov;9 Suppl 4:284S-289S.
  29.   Rothacker DQ. Five-year self-management of weight using meal replacements: comparison with matched controls in rural Wisconsin. Nutrition 2000;16:344–8.
  30.   Flechtner-Mors M, Ditschuneit HH, Johnson TD, Suchard MA, Adler G. Metabolic and weight loss effects of long-term dietary intervention in obese patients: four-year results. Obes Res. 2000 Aug;8(5):399-402.
  31.   Levitsky DA, Youn T. The more food young adults are served, the more they overeat. J Nutr. 2004 Oct;134(10):2546-9.
  32.   Wansink B, Painter JE, North J. Bottomless bowls: why visual cues of portion size may influence intake. Obes Res. 2005 Jan;13(1):93-100.
  33.   Rolls BJ, Roe LS, Meengs JS. Reductions in portion size and energy density of foods are additive and lead to sustained decreases in energy intake. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jan;83(1):11-7.
  34.   Jeffery RW, Wing RR, Thorson C, Burton LR, Raether C, Harvey J, Mullen M. Strengthening behavioral interventions for weight loss: a randomized trial of food provision and monetary incentives. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1993 Dec;61(6):1038-45
  35.   McCarron DA, Oparil S, Chait A, Haynes RB, Kris-Etherton P, Stern JS, Resnick LM, Clark S, Morris CD, Hatton DC, Metz JA, McMahon M, Holcomb S, Snyder GW, Pi-Sunyer FX. Nutritional management of cardiovascular risk factors. A randomized clinical trial. Arch Intern Med. 1997 Jan 27;157(2):169-77.
  36.   Wing RR, Jeffery RW. Food provision as a strategy to promote weight loss. Obes Res. 2001 Nov;9 Suppl 4:271S-275S. Review.
  37.   Wing RR, Jeffery RW, Burton LR, Thorson C, Nissinoff KS, Baxter JE. Food provision vs structured meal plans in the behavioral treatment of obesity. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1996 Jan;20(1):56-62.
  38.   Abbot JM, Thomson CA, Ranger-Moore J, Teixeira PJ, Lohman TG, Taren DL, Cussler E, Going SB, Houtkooper LB. Psychosocial and behavioral profile and predictors of self-reported energy underreporting in obese middle-aged women. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Jan;108(1):114-9.

Get Your Fitness/Nutrition Advice!


Need Our Help?