Is it best to lose weight at a fast or slow pace?

Is it best to lose weight at a fast or slow pace?

There are many beliefs held 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 the ‘slow and steady wins the race’?

The ‘slow and steady’ belief is often applied to weight loss – with many of the opinion that if you lose weight at a slower rate, it is will somehow result in  longer-term success than weight loss achieved through shedding it faster. However, there is little quality evidence to suggest that losing weight slower is better – even though dieticians and old fashioned text books suggest otherwise. Now new data has emerged from Australia, revealing that fast weight loss is best, which for people following or considering partaking in a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) programme such as LighterLife is encouraging news.

A new study in the world’s leading general medical journal, The Lancet 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 study results contradicts 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. However, good, peer-reviewed, internationally published research in highly-esteemed international publications reveals otherwise.

Echoing the findings of The Lancet’s study, were results published in the March 2014 issue of the International Journal of Clinical Practice, which analysed data on nearly 6,000 adults following Lighterlife Total, consuming less than 800 calories per day for a 20 week period. Under a doctor’s supervision, the subjects also received lessons on long-term weight management. Data was available for 530 of the subjects for three years after their initial diet and results revealed that participants had kept off an average of 28 pounds.

The underpinning message is that the faster the initial weight, the better people stick to the diet, the quicker they get to their goal, and the more likely they are to stay there. LighterLife Medical Director and Clinical Director of the National Obesity Forum and the Rotherham Institute for Obesity Doctor Matt Capehorn comments: "This recent publication joins an increasing body of evidence that suggests the medical profession may have been wrong in its assumption that slow and steady weight loss was preferable to rapid weight loss. This study also adds to increasing evidence that suggests that the rate of any weight regain after dieting may be the same whether it is lost slowly or rapidly. This implies that rapid weight loss will give the overweight individual more time closer to their healthy weight, which we know conveys significant health benefits, not to mention have the additional psychological boost of seeing the weight coming off more quickly. Studies like this support my belief that in appropriate people nothing will be more effective at achieving significant and sustainable weight loss than a very low calorie diet with a behaviour change component, such as Lighter Life."

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