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Ask the Expert: Losing weight and keeping it off

Karah Stanley, a registered dietitian at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, explains what really works to lose weight and keep it off. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The weight management team at Saint Elizabeth Healthcare focuses on teaching people what it takes not just to lose weight, but also keep it off.

So we asked them to answer the question, 'what really works to help you lose weight?'

Karah Stanley, a St. Elizabeth registered dietitian, said the very first thing you want to do is set a goal. She says setting a goal to eat smaller portions of food works.

If you don't know what a portion is, she suggests you find out. "If you don't know what a three ounce portion of chicken is, it's about the size of a deck of cards," she said.

Stanley said plastic food models may look small, but most are about the size of one portion of food to keep you from packing on five pounds of body fat.

But, if you really want to change what is on the scale don't change just the number, change what you do to get there.

"The changes are really in the planning," Stanley said. "There's a number of apps on your phone for that, which you can download for free."

She said forbidding foods, especially those that are sweet, doesn't work.

"When you tell me not to eat something, what do you think I want?" Stanley said. She suggests you buy them in smaller amounts.

And finally, while exercise doesn't lead to weight loss if you don't eat less, it can still have serious shape up benefits.

"It eases stress, it helps you sleep better, but it also helps increase your metabolic rate which helps you burn calories throughout the day, which in the long run is going to help you lose weight and keep it off," Stanley said.

She's right. One study found exercise is one of the biggest predictors of maintaining weight loss. The other is sitting time.

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