We’ve all heard that when it comes to weight loss, slow and steady is the way to go. As it turns out, though, this advice isn’t true.
Lisa Nackers, along with her colleagues at the University of Florida just wrapped up a study that showed the best way to lose weight in the initial stages is not slowly, like previously thought, but quickly. The goal of the study was to analyze whether slow initial weight loss stayed off, and whether weight regain was related to the slow rate of weight loss. The study, Shape up the quick way, is published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.
The study focused on obese individuals, and compared the results of the two approaches used by 262 obese middle aged women that took part in the Treatment of Obesity in Underserved Rural Settings(TOURS) program. The women were all given advice and encouragement to lose 1lb (0.45kg) per week. The women were counseled on reducing their calorie intake as well as increasing their moderate intensity exercise levels.
After the first month of dieting, the women were divided into three groups based on their weight loss per week. The ‘FAST’ group lost over 1.5lb (0.68kg) per week. The ‘MODERATE’ group lost between 0.5lb (0.23kg) and 1.5lb (0.68kg) per week. The ‘SLOW’ group consisted of women who had lost less than 0.5lb (0.23kg) per week. The researchers then analyzed the data from each group at the six month and 18 month marks.
The results showed that the ‘FAST’ group lost more weight overall than the ‘MODERATE’ or ‘SLOW’ groups. Not only that, but the ‘FAST’ group maintained their weight loss longer than the other two groups.
The statistics showed that the ‘FAST’ group was five times more likely than the ‘SLOW’ group to reach the 10 percent weight loss – considered a clinically significant amount – at 18 months. The ‘FAST’ group was three times more likely than the ‘MODERATE’ group to reach this number.
Nackers and her associates conclude: “Our study provides further evidence that, within the context of lifestyle treatment, losing weight at a fast initial rate leads to greater short-term weight reductions, does not result in increased susceptibility to weight regain, and is associated with larger weight losses and overall long-term success in weight management. We suggest that, within lifestyle weight control programs, substantial efforts should be focused on promoting large rather than small behavioral changes during the initial weeks of treatment.”
Although the longer-term results are unknown (past 18 months), the results show that the long-held belief of slow and steady when it comes to dieting may be false, and dieting methods should change to adapt to the findings of the study to help obese individuals lose their weight.
International Journal of Behavioral Medicine: Shape Up the Quick Way