What should I look for in a weight loss program?
To reach and stay at a healthy weight long term, focus on your overall health and lifestyle habits, not just on what you eat. Successful weight loss programs should promote healthy behaviors that help you lose weight safely, that you can stick with every day, and that help you keep the weight off.
Safe and successful weight loss programs should include
- behavioral treatment, also called lifestyle counseling, that can teach you how to develop and stick with healthier eating and physical activity habits—for example, keeping food and activity records or journals
- information about getting enough sleep, managing stress, and the benefits and drawbacks of weight loss medicines
- ongoing feedback, monitoring, and support throughout the program, either in person, by phone, online, or through a combination of these approaches
- slow and steady weight loss goals—usually 1 to 2 pounds per week (though weight loss may be faster at the start of a program)
- a plan for keeping the weight off, including goal setting, self-checks such as keeping a food journal, and counseling support
The most successful weight loss programs provide 14 sessions or more of behavioral treatment over at least 6 months—and are led by trained staff.2
Some commercial weight loss programs have all of these components for a safe and successful weight loss program. Check for these features in any program you are thinking about trying.
Some weight loss programs use very low-calorie diets to promote quick weight loss—3 or more pounds a week for several weeks—in people with a lot of excess weight. You should be monitored closely by a healthcare professional if you are on a very low-calorie diet that provides 800 calories a day or less.
Although these diets may help some people lose a lot of weight quickly—for example, 15 pounds in a month—they may not help people keep the weight off long term. These diets also may have related health risks, the most common being gallstones.
For people who are overweight or have obesity, experts recommend a beginning weight loss goal of 5 to 10 percent of your starting weight within 6 months. If you weigh 200 pounds, that would amount to a loss of 10 pounds, which is 5 percent of starting weight, to 20 pounds, which is 10 percent of starting weight, in 6 months.
Changing your lifestyle isn’t easy, but adopting healthy habits that you don’t give up after a few weeks or months may help you maintain your weight loss. To make an appointment with our weight loss specialist, call our Manhattan endocrinology practice at 646-759-9388 or click here to make an appointment.