Some interesting research has been reported in the Journal of Behavioural Medicine this week. The key to staying slim after losing weight is to lose weight quickly. This goes against the advice given by doctors and other health professionals in the past. It is commonly argued that fast weight loss leads to yo-yo dieting, as you do not allow your body the time to adjust to new eating habits. This generally results in you reverting to your old eating habits sooner after losing weight.
However, scientists from the University of Florida have shown that people who lose up to 1.5 pounds per week are 5 times more likely to keep the weight off in the long term than those that lose only 0.5 pounds per week.
In the study carried out by the Florida team, 262 middle-aged women who were overweight were monitored for 6 months. During these 6 months the women were encouraged to follow various diets and to exercise. The research relied on the women losing on average 1 pound per week throughout the 6 month period.
To determine the impact of the early weight loss phase the women were split into 3 groups after the first month based on how much weight they lost in the first month. The women that lost the most weight in the first stage lost the most weight at the end of the study, and maintained weight loss for the longest period.
The key results were that at 18 months into the new regime, each group of women had lost on average:
- ‘Fast’ losers: 10.9 kg
- ‘Moderate’ losers: 7.1 kg
- ‘Slow’ lowers: 3.7 kg
May be the people that lose weight the quickest are simply the most determined to lose weight, and that their determination means that they continue with the program and never give up. It is worth also noting that diet systems such as Atkins Diet and the South Beach diet encourage dieters to adopt a very different eating habit at the start of the diet to encourage quicker weight loss. This is usually achieved by cutting out all sugar and eating a high protein diet.
“Collectively, findings indicate both short- and long-term advantages to fast initial weight loss. Fast weight losers obtained greater weight reduction and long-term maintenance, and were not more susceptible to weight regain than gradual weight losers.”
So long as you ensure that after you lose weight you maintain your new healthy lifestyle, continue to eat smaller and healthier portions, and continue to exercise on a regular basis, you should be able to keep the weight off. The problems occur when you start to skip exercise sessions and grabs for junk food and snacks after your strict diet has finished.
The Association Between Rate of Initial Weight Loss and Long-Term Success in Obesity Treatment: Does Slow and Steady Win the Race? by Lisa M. Nackers, Kathryn M. Ross and Michael G. Perri. Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, PO Box 100165, Gainesville, FL 32610-0165, USA Published in International Journal of Behavioral Medicine