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Shape up the quick way: Lose weight fast for lasting results suggests new study

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If you thought the best way to lose and maintain weight was the slow and steady approach, think again. A new study by Lisa Nackers and colleagues, from the University of Florida in the US, suggests that the key to long-term weight loss and maintenance is to lose weight quickly, not gradually, in the initial stages of obesity treatment. Their findings are published online in Springer’s International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

Successful weight loss in obese individuals is defined as a reduction of 10 percent or more of initial body weight maintained for at least a year. The jury is still out, however, as to whether fast or slow initial weight loss is the best approach for long-term weight control in obese patients. On the one hand, there is evidence that losing weight slowly initially results in continued weight loss, reduced risk of weight regain, and successful long-term weight loss maintenance. On the other hand, it has also been shown that the greater the initial weight loss in obese patients, the larger the total weight loss observed longer term.

Nackers and team’s study examines the association between rate of initial weight loss and long-term maintenance of lost weight, by looking specifically at whether losing weight at a slow initial rate results in larger long-term weight reduction and less weight regain than losing weight at a fast initial rate.

The authors analyzed data for 262 middle-aged obese women who took part in the Treatment of Obesity in Underserved Rural Settings (TOURS) trial. These women followed a six-month lifestyle program encouraging them to reduce their calorie intake and increase their moderate intensity physical activity to achieve an average weight loss of 0.45kg (1 pound) per week. They were then supported for a further year with an extended care program involving contact twice a month in the form of group sessions, telephone contact or newsletters.

Nackers and team split the women into three groups according to how much weight they lost in the first month of the intervention. Women in the FAST group lost over 0.68kg (1.5 pounds) per week; those in the MODERATE group lost between 0.23 (.5 pounds) and 0.68kg (1.5 pounds) per week; women in the SLOW group lost less than 0.23kg (.5 pounds) per week in that first month. The authors then looked at the womens’ weight loss at 6 and 18 months, as well as any weight regain.

They found that there were long-term advantages to fast initial weight loss. Fast weight losers lost more weight overall, maintained their weight loss for longer and were not more likely to put weight back on than the more gradual weight losers. In particular, women in the FAST group were five times more likely to achieve the clinically significant 10 percent weight loss at 18 months than those in the SLOW group and those in the MODERATE group were nearly three times more likely to achieve this milestone than women in the SLOW group.

The authors conclude: “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.”

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100506092735.htm

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  1. Andrea Morris

    July 25, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    1.5 pounds lost per week, if you are truly obese, is totally healthy and moderate. I think what they’re saying here, is if you get your butt in gear and make changes that will make you lose 1.5 pounds per week, you’re going to see results and probably stick with it. Also, the people that can do that for a month, are the people ready to change, ready to commit, compared to those who can’t/don’t. They’re not talking about losing 5 pounds per week, THAT is unhealthy and no matter what good comes from it, it’s just not healthy and shouldn’t be anyone’s goal. But man, 0.5 pounds per week, nobody will stick with it or try harder because they can’t see the point at that slow rate. That’s basically no results. It would take an entire year to lose 26 pounds at that rate. For an obese person, that’s a drop in the bucket (I’m still obese, so I know)

  2. Lola SpiritWolf

    July 25, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    everyone’s body is different when it comes to losing weight, we can’t compare ourselves to the next person, I’ve been exercising 5 days/week, I eat healthy and I’ve been losing 1 1/2-2 lbs/week. And I don’t go to a gym, I use my treadmill, bike, jogging and I use 5lb weights. I found something that works for me. 🙂

  3. Ali Brooks

    July 25, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    They defined fast as a 1.5 lb a week. That’s not fast lol. I aim for that each week now. And to me that’s slow. The first time I lost weight I lost 80 lbs in 3 months. That’s fast. And guess what I gained it back!

  4. Jenn Dechert

    July 25, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Idk about the long term cause I’m not there yet. But as far as motivation I think yes. In my first two weeks I lost 16 lbs and was so happy and then a month later I lost another 15. Then my doctor said to slow it down so she changed up my program and every since the progress has been slow and it’s definitely altered my state of mind and made me like what’s the point? The last month I’ve lost nothing cause I just stopped trying. I want my fast weight loss back but I can’t get my motivation going again. It sucks. When you see it dropping fast you just wanna keep going

  5. Stacey Barbeau

    July 25, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I disagree

  6. Shannon Fogarty

    July 25, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    I’m on my own journey and I’ve lost fast on some weeks where it was double digits and then I’ve lost slowly too. It’s been a roller coaster journey for me. I had gained weight back and I’d started at 180 and as of yesterday I’m 148. I weigh in every Friday morning and only once a week too.

  7. Christy Evans Varnado

    July 25, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Slow and steady is best not fast.

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