Does The Rate Of Weight Loss Predict Your Rate of Weight Regain?

scaleThe conventional wisdom, as reflected in almost all dietary recommendations for weight loss, is that it is best to lose weight slowly – the hope is that this will allow time for both your body to adjust to the change in caloric intake as well establishing new “habits”.

Now a study by Katrina Purcell and colleagues from the University of Melbourne, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology challenges this dogma.

The researchers enrolled 204 participants (51 men and 153 women) aged 18—70 years with a BMI between 30 and 45 kg/m2 into a two phase, randomised, non-masked, dietary intervention trial.

During Phase 1, participants were randomly assigned to either a 12-week rapid weight loss or a 36-week gradual programme, both aimed at 15% weight loss. At the end of this phase, 51 (50%) participants in the gradual weight loss group and 76 (81%) in the rapid weight loss group achieved 12·5% or more weight loss in the allocated time and were then switched to Phase 2, which consisted of a weight maintenance diet for 144 weeks.

By the end of Phase 2, about 70% of both the rapid and gradual gainers had regained all their weight.

Thus, in this first randomised controlled trial of its kind, there does not appear to be any relevant benefit of losing weight faster or slower – in the end (about 2.5 years later), the vast majority of participants in either group will have regained any weight lost.

On a positive note, the study dismisses the dogma that weight lost quickly is regained just as fast.

On a negative note, the study also confirms just how dismal the results of dietary attempts to lose weight and keep it off really are.

I may sound like a broken record – but we do need better treatments for weight-loss maintenance!

Kingston, ON