Losing weight requires discipline and planning, and it's a huge accomplishment when you reach your goal. Unfortunately, keeping the weight off is just as difficult. To do so, you've got to implement the same eating and exercise principles that you used when actively working to lose weight. The best way to lose weight and keep it off over time is to incorporate healthy living habits that you will maintain long term.

Weight Loss

To lower your body fat, the number of calories that you consume needs to be less than the calories that you burn on a regular basis. When this happens, your body has to find other ways to fuel your working tissues and organs. It does so by breaking down stored body fat. Every time you create a deficit of 3,500 calories, you lose a pound of fat. This is why a comprehensive weight-loss program consists of a healthy eating plan to lower the number of calories you consume, and a regular exercise regimen to increase the number of calories you burn.

Losing Weight Gradually

Weight loss needs to be gradual if you're going to keep it off over time. The American Council on Exercise recommends losing 1 to 2 pounds of fat per week, which would mean creating a deficit of 3,500 to 7,000 calories per week, or a deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day. Drastically limiting your calories so that you lose fat more quickly is not only unhealthy, but too difficult to maintain. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to lose weight gradually over time by incorporating healthy habits to your lifestyle.

Nutritional Steps

The first step in setting yourself up for weight loss success is to decrease the number of calories you consume everyday. The American Council on Exercise recommends that instead of stressing about counting calories, you should decrease your regular portion sizes by 10 to 15 percent. Making efforts to decrease your portion sizes is a more realistic long-term option for keeping weight off.

Exercise Habits

Incorporating regular bouts of calorie-burning exercise is important not only when you're trying to lose weight, but also when you're working to keep it off. According to a study by the American Council on Exercise, 89 percent of people who are able to lose weight and keep it off for a year do so by combining a healthy eating plan with a consistent workout regimen. If you're just starting to exercise, begin with 20 minutes per day. However, the American Council on Exercise notes that you should build up to workouts that last 60 minutes. Schedule two to three strength training workouts throughout the week on nonconsecutive days. Lifting weights increases the number of calories you burn after you're done with your workouts.