November 18th, 2010
12:32 PM ET

How can I keep my weight loss off?

As a feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.
From Nora Mays Landing, New Jersey:

“I’ve started a low-carb diet and have lost 25 pounds. But it’s hard to stick to and I’m worried if I stop, I’ll gain the weight back. What can I do to prevent this from happening?”


When trying to lose weight and keep it off, the most important thing to focus on is making a lifestyle change versus the mindset of a diet. If you’re having trouble sticking to an eating regime you’re comfortable with, begin to make adjustments that will lead to habits you can maintain forever.

Start by making specific goals. However, be realistic. Saying you are not going to eat pasta ever again probably will not last forever. Instead, make a mini-goal. For example if you want to cut down your carbohydrate intake, a mini-goal might be to limit your pasta intake to once a week, then transition to once a month and maintain that regime as a lifestyle change. Another great way to keep your weight loss from creeping back up is to write down everything you eat. It helps keep you accountable for everything that goes in your mouth.

Also, don’t feel tied to a low-carb diet forever. A study released earlier this year that looked at the benefits of low-fat vs low-carb diets. What they discovered was interesting. In terms of long-term weight loss, it does seem to be a tie in effectiveness. Low-fat and low-carb eaters, on average, lost about 24 pounds over the course of a year. Fast forward  two years, and 15 of those pounds actually stayed off for both groups. Both diets also led to a drop in triglyceride levels drop and systolic blood pressure, the top number in your overall blood pressure reading.

Some people find a low-fat diet easier to follow and more satisfying. So if you're focused on shedding pounds and keeping the weight off, pick whatever option you can possibly stick to. You may have heard me talk about this before, but in terms of losing weight – the formula is quite simple. To lose one pound, you have to cut out of your diet or burn off via exercise 3,500 calories. That’s cutting only 500 calories a day to lose one pound a week. So essentially, skipping the morning bagel and cream cheese and walking for an hour after work is enough for many out there to begin a steady weight loss.

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soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Karen

    Dear Nora, congratulations with your 25 pounds loss on a low carb diet! If you understand how the mechanism of losing and gaining body fat works, you should be able to control your adipose tissue. Here you can read how to control your body fat, http://bit.ly/9bFxBU. Good luck.

    November 18, 2010 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Lincoln Brigham

    I have never found any sound scientific basis for this formula weightloss. It seems to more a rough rule of thumb from a collection of urgan legends rather than a reliable emperically derived equation.
    The equation is this:

    (Delta) 1 pound of bodyweight = (Delta) 3,500 calories of food/exercise

    This equation wouldn't hold up to scrutiny by a grade school alegebra class ESPECIALLY when talking about weight maintenance not weight loss. The precision of calorie counting it assumes is simply not possible even in a lab, never mind in real life.

    The problem is that the body compensates for changes made on either side of the equation. Changes in exercise and changes in food and changes in bodyweight do not happpen as independant variables, as the equation assumes. The truth is that when one variable is changed the other variables are changed as well, in ways that we probably don't fully understand. Each variable – calories consumed, calories burned, bodyweight – is a function of the other variables.

    November 18, 2010 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      The laws of thermodynamics are not overturned by you not being able to find any scientific evidence.

      "Delta) 1 pound of bodyweight = (Delta) 3,500 calories of food/exercise" is your equation, and a strawman.

      Just because Gupta erroneously implied the above does not mean you can rant about how each person burns calories differently etc.

      If your body consumes less calories than it burns, you lose fat, and often lose weight. Consistently consume less than you burn, and over a period of time you lose mass, and a certain ratio of this is fat.

      This is inescapable.

      November 29, 2010 at 07:18 | Report abuse |
  3. ume akhtar

    i did exercise ever day 60 mint but my weight not loss tell me what i do

    November 18, 2010 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • razzlea

      start by learning English!

      November 18, 2010 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
    • Lioness

      Eat mostly vegetables, fruit, meat, whole grains, eggs, beans, and meat NOT cooked in oils, butter, nor fats. Eat only small amounts of oils, fats, sugar/sweets, and foods made from white flour. Don't eat a lot of processed foods. If you eat dairy products, look for "nonfat" or "lowfat" products.

      If you exercise but don't lose weight, you are probably eating too many unhealthy foods or your portions are too large. You could also have a medical problem, such as hypothyroidism. Some medications may also prevent weight loss or cause weight gain.

      November 19, 2010 at 08:30 | Report abuse |
  4. razzlea

    CHECK OUT MY Blog about health and fitness. http://razzlea.blogspot.com/

    November 18, 2010 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Dan

    I lost a little over fifty pounds by eating less and excersizing more. That is the key. You just have to be determined and stick with a small change in your lifestyle. I used to eat a ton of food and never excersized. That has all changed for me and I feel a lot better.

    November 18, 2010 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. FatBastard

    I CAN'T STOP EATING.......

    November 18, 2010 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. sarahcohen

    This is sweet!!! major brands give out samples of their popular health products best place is "123 Get Samples" tell your friends too.

    November 19, 2010 at 02:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Becky

    I'm sure this is not what Dr. Gupta meant, but I feel it needs to be stated explicitly: skipping breakfast is not a good way to maintain a healthy weight. It has been shown that people who don't eat breakfast tend to overcompensate later in the day and end up consuming too many calories. There are certainly lower calorie, more nutritious options than a bagel and cream cheese, but it's important to eat something!

    November 19, 2010 at 07:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Analysis of meta-studies are not science, and do now show anything that cannot be argued about.
      There is little scientific evidence that skipping breakfast inherently causes fat gain or fat loss.

      Some people do fine with skipping breakfast and lose fat (or maintain a healthy body-fat percentage) while others will eat the fridge if they skip breakfast.
      Each person is different in their satiation cues, and harping on the evils of skipping breakfast ignores this fact in favor of pressuring people to eat on a schedule rather than how their body dictates.

      November 29, 2010 at 07:24 | Report abuse |
  9. Rick

    Sanjay Gupta you might want to know before you get seduced with deceptive faith healers ( from a fromer healer on you tube Mexican actor and faith healer Pedro Romero) look at part 3 of 5

    December 24, 2010 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Ravi

    It's pretty simple really – to keep weight off you MUST change your eating habits and stay with that. Going back to what you ate before (only logically) will re-fatten you !

    Big problem with law of thermodynamics – calories in and calories out way to figure diet – what is your bodies overall efficiency ie what do you poop out? if you eat 4000 calories in a day but poop out 1500 – guess what? and there is WIDE disagreement as to exactly how efficient our digestive tract is – chances are every body is quite different.

    As a paleo-inspired low-carb enthusiast, most fats are good and i would propose that low-fat diets are much harder to stick to in the long term – we DO have fat-detecting taste implying an evolutionary benefit for consuming fats (animal fats) and anecdotal evidence is that you can develop quite a taste for butter (that won't make you fat) rather than refined sugars (that will slam you insulin and cause fat to be stored). our current high consumption of high carbs is just NOT supported in our evolutionary eating habits.

    Finally here are 2 links, first is for a SHOPPING RULES TO FOLLOW to try to stick to your diet, and 2nd is about how our tasted buds can change preference. There are also articles about how wheat is making us fat... and sick.


    January 26, 2011 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.