More evidence suggests that rapid weight loss leads to better results than slower progress

There’s a commonly-held notion that as far as weight loss is concerned, slow and steady wins the day. In other words, gradual weight loss (often advised in the order of 1-2 pounds a week) leads to better long term results than more rapid loss. I wrote about this back in May. This blog focused on a study which linked more rapid initial weight loss with better outcomes in the long term.

I was interested, therefore, to read about a recently-announced study which essentially found the same thing.

This research, presented this week at the International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm, Sweden, focused on Australian individuals weighing about 100 kg (220 lbs). Some of the group were prescribed a diet designed to lead to weight loss of about 1.5 kg per week over a 12-week period. The others were prescribed a diet designed to lose about 0.5 kg per week over 36 weeks. In theory, total weight loss should have been about the same across the two groups.

In reality, though, the ‘rapid weight loss’ group did better. 78 per cent of this group achieved a loss equating to at least 15 per cent of their body weight. In the slow-losing group, less than half (48 per cent) achieved this goal.

The long-term results of these two interventions remain to be seen. However, the article linked to also mentions other research, this time from the Netherlands, which found that weight loss one year after intervention was higher for those with a higher initial weight loss.

Also, the study that I wrote about in May found better results in those who lost weight more rapidly did better over the course of the diet, and also had better results after a further year of ‘maintenance’.

All-in-all, therefore, what we have here is more than a little evidence suggesting that more rapid weight loss produces better results, even in the longer term.

One commenter (Jamie) after the May blog alluded to the point to that perhaps that some forms of rapid weight loss are healthier than others. A diet of salads and soups (semi-starvation) coupled with lots of aerobic exercise may not be the best way forward in the long term. On the other hand, a diet based on primal foods (e.g. meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables and some fruit) may allow rapid weight loss, with no undue hunger, and no real risk of malnutrition either. I couldn’t agree more. In my view, using such a healthy and sustainable strategy may well lead individuals to lose weight and fat very quickly, but not too quickly.

5 Responses to More evidence suggests that rapid weight loss leads to better results than slower progress

  1. andy 16 July 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    Do you know if those fast losers maintained their weight after 2-3 year?

  2. Sue 17 July 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    I think most people are more inclined to stay on a diet when they are getting good weight loss results every week.
    I think regardless if you lose your weight slowly or more rapidly, its those individuals who make a lifestyle change manage to keep the weight off. I don’t think the rate at which you lose has a bearing on how successful you are at maintenance.

  3. patricia 18 July 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    Doesnt rapid weight loss adversely affect muscles, causing loss of muscle which is replaced by fat if the diet is abandoned?

  4. deirdra 18 July 2010 at 9:13 pm #

    I noticed the results referred to rapid INITIAL weightloss. This is a great motivator and made it clear to me that carbs cause bloat and storage of excess water in the tissues. Now I know that one high-carb meal can pile on 3-5 lbs – of water, not fat – overnight. This makes the way I need to eat clear. Whereas gaining 1-2 lbs overnight while starving on a slow, low-cal, high-carb diet while exercising like a demon just made me want to give up – and I did, repeatedly on 35 years of yo-yo dieting.

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