A large percentage of the two-thirds of the overweight and obese American population struggle with the issue of losing weight. And for the ones who succeed in losing weight, many face another challenge — maintaining long-term weight loss. Permanent weight loss is even a greater challenge then the process of losing weight itself, since going back into old dietary and exercise habits two to three years after initial weight loss is a reality for most people.

According to a study from the Penn State College of Medicine, only one in six Americans who were previously overweight or obese are able to both lose weight and maintain that loss. Therefore, weight monitoring and a healthy life style are critical for long-term weight loss. Nutrition and physical activity are two main pillars associated with permanent weight loss, while in cases of severe or chronic obesity, bariatric surgery is also an option.

Role of Diet in Permanent Weight Loss

Being aware of food intake is a task not only for the period of weight loss, but it is also key for maintaining it. On average, a man should consume about 2,500 calories and a woman 2,000 calories a day to control weight. Maintaining a healthy diet with high amounts of fiber and nutrients and less quantities of high fat and sweetened foods can help achieving permanent weight loss.

Planning ahead meals and setting concrete goals may help not to slip, particularly during moments of routine alterations, such as weekends, holidays or restaurant visits. In addition, a healthy diet can help prevent a series of medical conditions associated to obesity, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, gallbladder disease, gallstones, osteoarthritis, gout or sleep apnea. Continuing or seeking for support from a health professional may also be an option.

Exercise as Way of Permanent Weight Loss

Behavioral alterations to lose weight include both diet and exercise, and continuing to do physical activity regularly is also important in achieving permanent weight loss. Adults between the ages of 19 and 64 are recommended to do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week, which includes walking fast or cycling. It can be divided into different days or activities, but the important thing is to do regular aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity every week.

For someone that is not used to doing any kind of exercise, it is recommended to start gradually until reaching a healthy amount of activity and make it an habit included in a new lifestyle. Not only does exercise help maintain weight loss, but it also decreases the risk of developing chronic conditions.

Surgical Methods of Permanent Weight Loss

In cases when less invasive methods are no longer an option, surgical procedures are effective methods to lose weight. There are currently three types of surgeries to lose weight, including gastric banding considered the less aggressive and most safe. During a laparoscopy procedure, surgeons place an adjustable silicone band around the upper part of the stomach, creating a pouch and reduce the organ’s capacity. Patients feel full faster and with less food, but diet and exercise are also crucial for its success.

Since it is adjustable and reversible, it is easier to control long-term effects. In fact, the surgery to place the band is often only the first step and additional surgeries may be needed to reposition, readjust or remove the band. A study conducted in 2013 by the pioneer of the procedure, Paul O’Brien, MD, of Melbourne, Australia’s Monash University revealed the effectiveness of the surgery as a permanent weight loss method, despite the fact that half of the patients underwent additional surgeries and 1 in every 20 had it removed.

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