So much is written about weight loss—eat this, don’t eat that—it is hard to know what to believe. Here, Nestlé Health Science Medical Scientific Liaison, Francine Allen, RDN sets the record straight about one popular quick weight loss myth.
Lose weight fast: popular belief debunked
Contrary to popular belief, rapid weight loss doesn’t necessarily mean you will gain weight back quickly. “Many people believe that losing weight slowly will result in a more lasting weight loss,” says Allen. “But in fact, recent clinical studies suggest that people who lose weight quickly are not more susceptible to weight regain and in fact, may in some cases, have better and more lasting results.”
A study at the University of Melbourne (Australia) published in the medical journal, The Lancet: Diabetes & Endocrinology, demonstrated that the rate of weight regain among participants was similar whether someone loses weight quickly or gradually.1 In this two-phase study of 200 participants, people were assigned to either a gradual or quick weight loss program for Phase 1.
In Phase 2, all participants who lost 12-15% of their weight during Phase 1 were placed on a maintenance program. At the end of Phase 2 (144 weeks), participants were evaluated to see how much weight they had regained. Regardless of the speed of their weight loss, there was no difference between fast and slow losers.
A second study of 298 women, published in International Study of Behavioral Medicine, concluded that people who lose weight fast, obtained greater weight reduction and long-term maintenance, and were not more susceptible to weight regain as compared to the people who lost it gradually. This conclusion was based on a study of women with obesity undergoing a 6-month lifestyle intervention followed by a 1-year extended care program.2
One potential reason for the successful weight loss of people who participate in intensive weight loss programs is that losing weight fast can be a powerful motivator. “People may be more likely to stick with the program because they start to see quick weight loss, so they remain motivated,” says Allen.
According to OPTIFAST® patient and Nestlé employee, Val Hunter, the need to focus on losing weight for a relatively short period of time was a real bonus for him. As he says, “on a longer term diet, I probably would have been bored and quit.” Click here to read about Val’s inspiring quick weight loss story.
OPTIFAST® patients who actively participate in a 26-week program typically lose approximately 50 pounds.
“With so much written today on weight loss, it is important that patients take the time to check out their assumptions,” says Allen. “Talking to a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) or a doctor who specializes in weight loss can be a great first step.”
What is OPTIFAST®?
The OPTIFAST® Program is a medically-supervised weight-management program that closely monitors and assesses progress towards better health and emotional well-being. The program, which usually lasts 26 weeks, utilizes a full meal replacement plan that transitions to self-prepared “everyday” meals, in conjunction with comprehensive patient education and support.
- Purcell et al. “The effect of rate of weight loss on long-term weight management: a randomized controlled trial,” The Lancet: Diabetes & Endocrinology, Vol. 2 (2014).
- Nackers et al. ”The association between rate of initial weight loss and long-term success in obesity treatment: does slow and steady win the race?” Int J Behav Med 2010;13:161–7.