RAPID weight loss may be more effective than shedding kilograms at a slow and steady pace, new research reveals.
The findings of the University of Melbourne and Austin Health trial could turn weight-loss guidelines on their head.
“We debunked the theory that the faster you lose weight, the quicker you will regain it,” said university research fellow and dietitian Katrina Purcell. “Slow and steady doesn’t win the race.”
The trial involving 200 obese people, led by Austin Health Weight Control Clinic head Professor Joseph Proietto, also found those who lost weight faster were more likely to achieve their target weight loss than people who were using a gradual approach.
People on the rapid weight-loss diet were also less likely to drop out of the trial.
Prof Proietto said their findings highlighted an urgent need to review clinical obesity guidelines.
Half of the participants were put on a 12-week rapid weight-loss program that involved a diet of just 1900-3300 kilojoules a day. Under strict medical supervision, they replaced three meals a day with a nutritional shake and a bowl of vegetables or salad.
The remaining 100 were put on a 36-week gradual weight-loss program that involved cutting 2100 kilojoules a day.
The first group lost an average of 1.5kg a week and the second group shed 0.5kg on average. A total of 81 per cent of people on the rapid weight-loss diet lost 12.5 per cent of their weight, compared with 50 per cent in the gradual group.
There are several possible explanations for the rapid weight loss showing better results, including that a low-kilojoule diet triggers hunger suppressants, or the low carbohydrate intake led to a greater feeling of fullness.
The participants lost an average of 15kg, but both groups regained roughly 10kg after three years.
“The gradual group actually started to regain the weight faster,” said Ms Purcell. The researchers believe the weight was put back on because the 200 were producing a hunger hormone at elevated levels.
The paper’s authors stress the findings do not advocate fad diets, rather medically supervised rapid weight loss with a dietitian or doctor.
The research, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, was done with La Trobe.
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