Weight Loss:
Keeping the Weight Off

Last Editorial Review: 7/12/2005
The Cleveland Clinic

Once you have achieved a desired weight, a positive attitude is very important in your efforts to successfully manage it. To lose weight permanently, you must make a commitment to gradually adopt a healthier way of life.

Controlling your weight is not an impossible task. It simply means eating less food or burning up more calories than you need. Eating smaller portions and choosing foods that are low in total fat (as fat is a major contributor to calories), are essential to maintaining your desired weight. Establishing a regular exercise routine is equally important.

How Can I Prevent Gaining Lost Weight?

Keep the following tips in mind.

  • Set realistic weight loss goals, such as a 1 to 2 pound weight loss per week. Those who lose weight slowly, by eating less and exercising more, tend to keep their lost weight off.
  • Eat fewer calories by cutting down on portions and/or decreasing the total amount of fat you eat to 30% or less of your total daily calories.
  • Do not skip meals.
  • Keep low calorie, low-fat snacks on hand, such as pretzels, raw vegetables with low calorie dips or fruit. Keep in mind that there is no difference between calories in low-fat foods than those found in fatty foods.
  • Choose foods high in fiber such as whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits and vegetables.
  • To ensure you are eating healthy, keep an accurate food journal. Write down everything you eat or drink. Be honest and accurate, otherwise the journal is not as helpful. The food journal will help you learn about your eating habits and help you assess the food choices you are making.
  • Eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you need.

How Much of What Foods Should I Eat to Control My Weight?

The following guide tells you how much of each food group you can eat on a daily basis.

Breads and Grains Fruits and Vegetables Meat, Fish, Poultry
6 or more servings/day
  • Breads, rolls, buns
  • Bagels
  • English muffins
  • Rice cakes
  • Low-fat crackers (such as matzo, bread sticks, rye crisps, saltines)
  • Hot and cold cereals
  • Spaghetti, macaroni, noodles, rice
  • Plain baked potato


5 or more servings/day
  • Fresh, frozen, dried or canned fruits
  • Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables


2-3 servings per day
  • Lean cuts of meat with fat trimmed*
  • Chicken and turkey without skin*
  • Fish*
  • Eggs
  • Dried beans

* Bake, boil, broil, roast or grill


Dairy Fats and Oils Sweets and Snacks
2 or more servings/day
(3 to 4 servings for pregnant or breastfeeding women)
  • Low-fat milk
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Low-fat cheese with no more than 3 grams of fat per ounce


In limited amounts
  • Olive, canola or peanut oils
  • Butter, margarine, jelly
  • Nuts, seeds, salad dressing


In limited amounts
  • Baked goods
  • Frozen desserts
  • Popcorn, pretzels, nuts


Reviewed by the Department of Nutrition Therapy at The Cleveland Clinic.

Edited by Charlotte Grayson, MD, WebMD, August 2004.

Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2004


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

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