Findings from researchers show that fast weight loss may be best for long term success. Scientists analyzed individuals in three groups, finding that fast weight loss has advantages for maintaining weight loss, compared to losing weight gradually and steadily. The study also showed that rapid initial weight loss did not lead to weight regain in a study of 272 women.
Lisa Nackers and colleagues, from the University of Florida specifically looked at the difference between losing weight fast and losing weight gradually. Fast weight loss is defined as losing ten percent of body weight in the first six months and maintaining for one year. They determined that fast weight loss was more favorable for long term success after analyzing data from obese middle aged women enrolled in the Treatment of Obesity in Underserved Rural Settings (TOURS) trial.
The women were separated into three groups, FAST, MODERATE, and SLOW, depending on how much weight they lost in the first month. The goal was to lose 4.5 kg or approximately 10 pounds by reducing calories and engaging in moderately intense physical activity. The end result was greater weight loss success for women who lost weight rapidly.
The authors say, “Our study provides further evidence that, within the context of lifestyle treatment, losing weight at a fast initial rate leads to greater short-term weight reductions, does not result in increased susceptibility to weight regain, and is associated with larger weight losses and overall long-term success in weight management . We suggest that, within lifestyle weight control programs, substantial efforts should be focused on promoting large rather than small behavioral changes during the initial weeks of treatment.”
The women in the FAST group lost more than 15 pounds per week, the MODERATE group lost between a half to one and a half pounds, and the SLOW group lost less than ½ pound in the first month. Women were five times more likely to lose ten percent of body weight in the first eighteen months from fast weight loss that was sustained for one year. The study suggests that fast weight loss initially could improve long term success in the battle against obesity.