There are many beliefs about weight gain and obesity, which despite lack of evidence are still persistent. How many people know the story of the Hare and the Tortoise … the take home message of which is ‘slow and steady wins the race’.
This belief is often applied to weight loss – so is it true that if you lose weight at a slower rate, it will somehow result in longer-term success than weight loss achieved through shedding it faster?
There is no good quality evidence to suggest that losing weight slower is better – even though dieticians and old fashioned text books suggest otherwise – and we now have very clear data which emerged out of Australia just last week, showing us that fast weight loss is best.
A new study in The Lancet: Diabetes and Endocrinology found that people who followed a short, extremely calorie restricted diet were more likely to hit their long-term pound-shedding goals when compared with people who followed a more moderate plan. The study involved 200 obese adults, who took part in a doctor-supervised clinical weight-loss program. Half of the subjects followed a formula food replacement diet like LighterLife consuming no more than 800 calories per day for 12 weeks. The other half cut their normal calorie intake by 500 calories per day — a standard amount recommended by experts — for 36 weeks. All of the study participants also received weight-loss counselling.
The results contradict everything we’ve heard about how gradual change is best. During the initial diet, 80 percent of the fast pound-shedders reached their goals, compared with 50 percent of the moderate dieters. And three years later, both groups gained back roughly the same amount of weight — meaning the fast weight-loss group still ended up ahead.
There are big myths that fast weight loss is unhealthy, and that followers of these plans are more likely to regain more weight than if they lost it slowly – peer reviewed science, internationally published in highly esteemed international publications shows this is simply not true.
In addition, working with academics a study was published in the March 2014 issue of the International Journal of Clinical Practice that analysed data on nearly 6,000 adults who were on LighterLife Total, and ate less than 800 calories per day for 20 weeks. Again, the subjects did so under a doctor’s supervision, and also received lessons on long-term weight management. Data was available for 530 of the subjects three years after their diets. The results: The participants had kept off an average of 28 pounds.
The overall the message we are now seeing is that the faster the initial weight loss, the better people stick to the diet, and the quicker they get to their goal.