When it comes to losing weight, we have long been told that a slow and steady approach is the right way to go. However, an Australian study published in medical journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology demonstrated that fast weight loss might be a much more effective way of actually achieving our target weight.
The study took 200 obese individuals and assigned them to either a gradual, 36 week, weight loss plan or a fast, 12-week weight loss programme. Of these, 81 percent of fast dieters achieved their target weight, but only 50 percent of gradual dieters reached their goal.
The researchers thought that the fast dieters were more successful because the quick weight loss results gave them more motivation to keep going.
Katrina Purcell, a dietician from the University of Melbourne is one of the study's authors. She said: ‘Guidelines recommend gradual weight loss for the treatment of obesity, reflecting the widely held belief that fast weight loss is more quickly regained. However, our results show achieving a weight loss target of 12.5% is more likely, and drop-out is lower if losing weight is done quickly.'
Nutritionists have often warned of the dangers of crash dieting. Many diets exclude complete food groups and it becomes difficult or even impossible to get the full range of nutrients required for good health when eating so few calories.
In this study, the fast weight loss group who were consuming between 450 and 800 calories per day were also given medically approved nutritional supplements. The researchers said it was ‘impossible' for the group to get all the nutrients they needed from the food they were given.
One of the reasons that International guidelines recommend slower weight loss (around 2lb per week) in order to keep it off for good. However, the Australian study monitored dieters for three years after their target weight had been achieved. Both groups were put on the same three-year weight maintenance plan, and both regained around 71 percent of the weight they had lost. The researchers concluded that there was no difference in the amount of weight regained between the two groups of dieters.
This means that whether someone regains weight or not after a diet does not depend on the speed of weight loss during the diet.
The study's conclusions were welcomed by Professor Kishore Gadde and Dr. Corby Martin from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. They said:
“The study…indicates that for weight loss, a slow and steady approach does not win the race, and the myth that rapid weight loss is associated with rapid weight regain is no more true than Aesop's fable.
“Clinicians should bear in mind that different weight loss approaches might be suitable for different patients in the management of clinical obesity and that efforts to curb the speed of initial weight loss might hinder their ultimate weight loss success.”
However, a contrary view is held by Professor Naveed Sattar of the University of Glasgow who said that even the study's gradual dieters lost weight too quickly.
‘One must remember that weight gain in many who are obese has occurred over years, and reversal may need to be relatively slow so that the brain and systems that regulate appetite have time to reset,' he said.
At Weigh To Diet, we've tested two fast weight loss diets. Read our review of the Fat Loss Factor and then compare it with our 3 week diet reviews. Both have a lot going for them, but in our opinion, the 3 week diet had better results. However, the most important thing is to find the diet which is right for you.
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