Tips for Maintaining Weight Loss

Topic Overview

Avoid unplanned eating

Having regular low-calorie snacks throughout the day along with regular smaller meals is a good way to manage your hunger. Plan snacks as part of your overall calories for the day, and avoid eating unplanned calories.

  • Do not sample the food while cooking.
  • When tempted to snack between meals, substitute a glass of water with lemon and snack on carrot or celery sticks. Avoid soft drinks. They add a lot of calories.
  • Try a noneating activity, such as taking a bath or reading a book, when you feel the urge to snack.
  • Do not eat after 7:00 in the evening.

Limit alcohol

Alcohol provides a lot of calories and no nutritional benefit. The number of calories in an alcoholic drink depends on the amount of alcohol it contains. The following are estimates of the number of calories in alcoholic drinks.

  • Beer: 148 calories in 12 fl oz (355 mL)
  • "Lite" beer: 99 calories in 12 fl oz (355 mL)
  • Wine: 106 calories in 5 fl oz (148 mL)
  • Gin, vodka, whiskey, and other "hard" liquor [1.5 fl oz (44 mL)]:
    • 97 calories (80 proof)
    • 110 calories (90 proof)
    • 124 calories (100 proof)
  • Mixed drinks:
    • Bloody Mary, 115 calories
    • Eggnog, 490 calories
    • Gin and tonic, 171 calories

Drinking 1 beer at dinner every night adds 4,144 extra calories to your diet each month. This is a little more than an extra 1 lb (0.5 kg) a month. If you drink, limiting alcohol will help you lose weight.

Make mealtimes pleasant

A meal is more than just eating food. It can also be a social event, a time to communicate with family and friends, and a time to relax.

  • Eat slowly and enjoy the food.
  • Do not watch television or read while eating.

Use a meal plan to help control what you eat

  • Plan meals ahead of time (What is a PDF document?) .
  • Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are comfortably full.
  • Limit how much you eat out, especially early in your weight-loss program.

Stay active

Physical activity helps you burn more calories. Experts say to do either of these:1

  • Moderate activity for at least 2½ hours a week. Moderate activity means things like brisk walking, brisk cycling, or shooting baskets. But any activities—including daily chores—that raise your heart rate can be included. You notice your heart beating faster with this kind of activity.
  • Vigorous activity for at least 1¼ hours a week. Vigorous activity means things like jogging, cycling fast, cross-country skiing, or playing a basketball game. You breathe harder and your heart beats much faster with this kind of activity.

You can choose to do one or both types of activity. And it's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week. Do what works best for you. For example, you could do moderate activity twice a week for at least 1 hour and 15 minutes at a time. Or you could do 10 minutes 3 times a day, 5 days a week.

You could do vigorous activity 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Or you can try to do it once a week for 1¼ hours, or for 25 minutes a day, 3 days a week.

Moderate exercise is safe for most people, but it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. Start by doing a short warm-up, such as walking or riding a stationary bike. And stretch briefly.

Related Information



  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available online:


Author Jeannette Curtis
Editor Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Matthew I. Kim, MD - Endocrinology
Last Updated April 16, 2009

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