Fast Vs Slow Weight Loss

You’ve probably heard this before: if you lose weight slowly you are more likely to keep the weight off. I don’t know how many times I’ve personally said this to clients early on in my career and heard other health partitioners say this as well.

With obesity levels on the rise, there has been a magnitude of research into the most effective way to get people to lose weight and keep it off long term. In one particular research study, they took one group of females and gave them a diet plan to lose weight slowly (1800kcal), they actually did worse off than those who were instructed to lose weight quickly, using a 1200kcal plan. Concluding, the initial amount of weight loss in the first 6-12 weeks is a strong predictor of long-term weight loss success.  

Slow weight loss doesn’t provide enough reinforcement to encourage you to continue chipping away at breaking lifelong poor eating habits. There’s nothing more depressing than putting an effort into your diet patterns and exercising every day and seeing barely any change on the scales. Often, because of these dismal results, cause you to fall off the wagon. The benefits of slow weight loss are not actually scientifically proven. Fast-paced weight loss has so many more advantages.

The reason why fast weight loss is so much better is that it gives a person a sense of success, improved body image, physical mobility, energy and motivation. When you embark on a new weight loss program, you want to see results immediately. When you start feeling better from weight loss, it spurs you on to do more healthy behaviours and the weight loss serves as a reinforcer.

People who lose weight quickly tend to lose more weight overall and keep it off long term. But before you put yourself on the next detox diet you come across, read on, because the way you lose weight also counts.

Cutting your calories too low, so that you’re virtually drinking water and munching on lemons, will make you lose weight fast but in the wrong way. By starving yourself, you will become dehydrated and lose muscle, as well as fat.

Nutrition science has turned to the use of high protein, low carb and low fat very low energy diets (VLED), to achieve fast weight loss short term, as a medical treatment for obesity.  It allows you to drop energy low enough to lose weight quickly and not suffer from insane levels of hunger. High protein intakes will protect muscle to a degree, increase feelings of fullness and help you lose weight.

VLEDs can be done with real food or meal replacement shakes. This style of eating, it allows you to go into mild ketosis, which keeps your hunger at bay. Ketones are the by-product of fat being used as energy, which blunt can your hunger. This is not to be mistaken for trendy ketogenic diets that are popular at the moment, which encourage high fat intake. Low carb, high-fat diets will also induce a larger-than-normal amount of muscle wastage during weight loss and a more-than-needed amount of energy for this particular regime.

A VLED should be done for a minimum of two weeks to see results and a maximum of 3 months, after which you transition on to normal meals containing nutritious vegetables, lean protein and small amounts of whole grain carbohydrates.

If you have a bit of weight to lose, then muster up some motivation for a few weeks and give it a try. Fast-paced weight loss can be done in easy-to-manage chunks. Staggering your weight loss into short quick stints, where you aim to lose 5kg at a time with a rest in between, will allow you to break a few bad habits and enjoy the process and reap the health benefits of your hard work.

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1.         Gibson AA, Seimon RV, Franklin J, Markovic TP, Byrne NM, Manson E, et al. Fast versus slow weight loss: development process and rationale behind the dietary interventions for the TEMPO Diet Trial. Obes Sci Pract. 2016;2(2):162-73.

2.         Seimon RV, Wild-Taylor AL, McClintock S, Harper C, Gibson AA, Johnson NA, et al. 3-Year effect of weight loss via severe versus moderate energy restriction on body composition among postmenopausal women with obesity – the TEMPO Diet Trial. Heliyon. 2020;6(6).

3.         L.Nackers, K.Ross M.Perri. The association between rate of initial weight loss and long–term success in obesity treatment: Dose slow and steady win the race? Int.J Behav.Med 2010

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