Want to lose 50lbs? 6,000 people just shared how they did it

A study of 6,000 WW participants who lost more than 50lbs (and kept it off) reveals their weight loss secrets

Woman weight loss
(Image credit: Getty Images)

What's the secret to weight loss? There's no one answer to this question: it's dependent on any one individual, diet, exercise, the help they've received, the support network around them... lots of different factors go into successfully shedding pounds. 

Workouts such as those on the best exercise machines to lose weight, combined with a healthy diet and our portion size guide, seems like the logical way to lose weight. However, there are other strategies that have been found to work for lots of different people. 

Researchers at California Polytechnic State University (opens in new tab) have set out to find what those are by interviewing more than 6,000 WW (formerly Weight Watchers) participants who lost more than 50lbs and kept it off for more than three years. The participants answered "open-ended questions about their motivations (in the past and present) and strategies for maintaining weight loss and the resulting lifestyle changes" which were then grouped by topic for ease of analysis.

The researchers found that some of the most common motivations for losing weight came in the form of the looming threat of health conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Others wanted to lose weight to feel less tired all the time, or they were concerned about their appearance. 

red meat

(Image credit: Loija Nguyen (Unsplash))

However, the interesting part came when the researchers compared all the responses regarding how they lost weight. One of the most common answers was the participant viewing failure as just a temporary setback, part of the journey.

Professor Suzanne Phelan, leader of the study, said: "Weight-loss maintainers saw setbacks as part of their successful journey. Setbacks were not described as failures. They were seen as a temporary interruption in their path. Many weight-loss maintainers described getting back on track at the next meal or the next day and measuring overall success based on long-term goals."

Other success stories came about when the participants religiously recorded their progress. This has been found in other research from Kaiser Permente (opens in new tab), which discovered keeping a food diary or similar record could more than double a person's weight loss progress. 

Our advice? Taking your weight loss journey on a day-by-day basis, viewing it as a lifestyle change rather than a temporary diet or exercise regime, is the key. Have a bad day? It's ok – tomorrow could be better. Together with regular records and a food diary, weight loss is around the corner.

One of the key factors of any weight loss diet is getting enough protein, as it not only helps develop muscle but increases satiety. As well as whole foods like meat, eggs, fish, dairy, tofu, and pulses, our best protein powder for weight loss guide can help supplement your diet.

Matt Evans
News Editor

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.