Rapid and Gradual Weight Loss Were Both Effective

Rapid weight loss dieters reached their goals faster than gradual dieters and maintained weight at an equal rate

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Dieters often hear that rapid weight loss is harder to maintain than gradual weight loss. But new research suggests both methods may be effective.

In a recent trial, obese adults lost weight on either a gradual weight loss plan or a strict, very low-calorie diet.

Those who lost weight very quickly were just as likely to gain weight back within three years as those who lost weight gradually. And more people on the rapid weight loss plan reached their weight loss goals.

The authors concluded that the rate of weight loss does not necessarily affect whether patients will gain that weight back.

They suggested that a rapid weight loss plan may suppress appetite and promotes fullness.

Joseph Proietto, PhD, of the University of Melbourne in Australia, led the study on weight loss.

According to the authors, weight loss guidelines usually warn against crash dieting and rapid weight loss, in part because the weight loss is hard to maintain.

Researchers tested this theory by recruiting 200 obese adults to participate in either a 12- or 36-week weight loss program.

The 12-week program involved a very low-calorie diet — participants were limited to 450 to 800 total calories per day.

The more gradual 36-week program cut back the participants' total daily calories by about 500 per day.

Then, patients who lost more than 12.5 percent of their body weight were given a weight maintenance diet for three years.

The researchers found that half of the gradual weight loss group and 71 percent of the rapid weight loss group achieved 12.5 percent body weight loss.

Additionally, both groups regained about 71 percent of the weight they lost over the next three years.

The authors of the study concluded that rapid weight loss can be as effective as gradual weight loss for obese adults.

Corby K. Martin, PhD, and Kishore M. Gadde, MD, of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, wrote an editorial on the study.

Drs. Martin and Gadde noted that different weight loss approaches might work better for different patients. They wrote that "efforts to curb the speed of initial weight loss might hinder [patients'] ultimate weight loss success."

The study and editorial were published Oct. 16 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the Sir Edward Dunlop Medical Research Foundation funded the research. The lead author served on a committee for Nestlé Healthcare Nutrition Australia, Ltd.

Review Date: 
October 14, 2014
Last Updated:
October 20, 2014