Best Way To Lose Weight?
Slow and steady seems to be the most reliable way to shed pounds and keep them off. That finding, from Philadelphia’s Drexel University, comes from a 2017 study that focused on why some people successfully lose weight while others don’t. It showed that people whose weight fluctuated the most during the first few weeks of a weight loss program didn’t do as well as those who lost a consistent amount of weight each week.
According to lead author Emily Feig, Ph.D., “developing stable, repeatable behaviors related to food intake and weight loss early on in a weight control program is really important for maintaining changes over the long term.”
A total of 183 overweight or obese individuals participated in the two-year program, which used meal replacements plus behavioral goals such as self-monitoring, calorie monitoring, and increasing physical activity. The participants were weighed weekly, and after two years returned for a final weigh-in and to report on food-related behaviors and attitudes such as dealing with cravings, emotional eating and binge eating.
The researchers found that the more a participant’s weight varied over the first six to 12 weeks of the program signaled worse, long-term weight control during the next two years. For example, participants who lost four pounds one week, regained two and then lost one the next week tended to do worse overall than those who lost one pound consistently each week for three weeks.
The team reported that study participants who initially reported lower emotional eating, binge eating and preoccupation with food at the study’s start showed higher weight variability and less weight loss overall. According to the investigators this suggests that initial weight change, rather than relationships with or behaviors toward food, is more important in predicting who will succeed in weight loss and maintenance.
Although hesitant to equate correlation and causation, principal investigator Michael Lowe, Ph.D., a psychology professor, said the study revealed a potential strategy for sticking to weight loss goals. “Settle on a weight loss plan that you can maintain week in and week out, even if that means consistently losing three-quarters of a pound each week,” he suggested.
Emily H. Feig and Michael Lowe. “Variability in Weight Change Early in Behavioral Weight Loss Treatment: Theoretical and Clinical Implications.” Obesity, 2017 DOI: 10.1002/oby.21925
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