Don’t Worry About How Fast You’re Losing Weight
For years, we’ve been told that gradual weight loss is far better than rapid weight loss. If you lose too fast, you’ll be far more likely to regain that weight in the long-term, dieters have been told. Slow and steady wins the race, appears to have been the message.
While that may work for turtles pitted against hares, it evidently doesn’t really apply to people trying to shed excess weight. As it turns out, there’s nothing inherently wrong with dumping loads of weight rapidly, if you can manage it. It’s no less likely to return than carefully, slowly-shed weight.
The new research was conducted in Australia by university-based scientists working with obese people at a weight loss clinic. Not only was slow and steady not preferable, but people who lost weight rapidly were actually more likely to achieve their initial weight loss goals than the slow-and-steady losers. After three years, a majority of subjects regained much of th eweight they had lost. The rate at which they initially lost weight had absolutely no bearing on the rate or amount of regain.
Katrina Purcell is a dietician and the first author on the paper from the University of Melbourne. “Across the world, 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 that achieving a weight loss target of 12.5% is more likely, and drop-out is lower, if losing weight is done quickly.”
Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Corby Martin and Professor Kishore Gadde from Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, USA 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.”
Katrina Purcell, Priya Sumithran, Luke A Prendergast, Celestine J Bouniu, Elizabeth Delbridge, Joseph Proietto. The effect of rate of weight loss on long-term weight management: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70200-1