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A recent Australian study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology found that dieters who experience rapid weight loss are no more likely regain lost weight than those who lose it gradually.
The effect of rate of weight loss on long-term weight management: a randomised controlled trial led by Joseph Proietto of the University of Melbourne divided 204 obese men and women (BMI 30–45) into two groups.
The participants were randomly assigned to either a 12 week rapid weight loss programme or a 36 week gradual weight-loss regime. The 12 week group were restricted to a diet of 450-800 calories per day, while the other group simply reduced their energy intake by 500 calories per day.
Those who lost 12.5% or more of their body weight from both groups were then placed on a three-year maintenance diet.
Joseph Proietto and his team reported that participants who lost weight faster were more likely to achieve their weight loss target, with 81% of participants in the rapid weight loss group losing more than 12.5% of their body weight, versus 50% in the gradual group.
Yet by the end of the three-year maintenance diet, individuals in both groups had regained an average of 71% of the kilos they had initially lost. However, among the rapid weight loss group more participants had successfully remained in the programme.
Challenging an Old Myth
As a general rule dieters are told that a weight loss of no more than 500 grams per week is best. But as Joseph Proietto’s study shows, there’s little to no long term difference between rapid and gradual weight loss.
"By contrast with the widely-held belief that weight lost rapidly is more quickly regained, our findings show that regain is similar after gradual or rapid weight loss," says the team at University of Melbourne. "Our data should guide committees that develop clinical guidelines for the management of obesity to change their advice".