(RxWiki News) After having initial success in quickly losing weight, it's common for body weight to level off. During this period a person may maintain the same weight or begin regaining weight.
Weight loss appears to be beneficial for the heart -- even if it is later regained. Dieters will lose some benefits, but appear to maintain higher good HDL cholesterol.
"Don't give up on your diet after a mistake."
Assaf Rudich, M.D., a health sciences professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev at the Nuclear Research Center in Israel, said the research suggests there may be tunnel vision on weight when it comes to dieting.
He said that although maintaining an ideal body weight is linked to better health, mild to moderately obese individuals who adopt healthier dietary habits receive benefits beyond weight loss such as elevating HDL cholesterol.
Researchers enrolled 322 participants in the two-year Dietary Intervention Randomized Controlled Trial (DIRECT). The patients were randomly assigned to one of three healthy diets, including low fat, Mediterranean or low carbohydrate diets for a two year period.
Investigators were able to identify two patterns. The first included biomarkers for insulin and triglycerides, and researchers found that, though these improved during the initial six months when there was rapid weight loss, they trended in the opposite direction when participants began regaining weight seven to 24 months later.
However, they also found that HDL cholesterol continued to gradually improve despite partial weight regain after seven to 24 months of continuous dieting. The patterns were similar among all of the diets, though some resulted in larger impacts.
"Switching to a healthy lifestyle is a long-term strategy that should be done moderately but persistently. There are no magic shortcuts," said Iris Shai, principal investigator of DIRECT and a researcher at BGU.
"Such markers may signify long-term effects of the initial weight loss, or, maybe even more promisingly, reveal to us the capacity of healthier dietary habits to reverse obesity-associated adipose tissue and liver dysfunction."
The study was recently published in journal Diabetes Care.