Weight Regain Remains the Same Regardless of Rapid or Slow Weight Loss

Slow and steady does not win the weight regain race, new research suggests.

Regarding weight regain, gradual weight loss fares no better than rapid weight loss, new research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology suggests.

Researches from the University of Melbourne found that the amount and rate of an obese patient’s weight regain was similar regardless of whether he or she lost weight rapidly or slowly. After 3 years, weight regain was measured around 71% in both groups, the researchers reported.

The study results contradicted worldwide weight loss guidelines that favor losing weight slowly. According to the guidelines, slow initial weight loss among obese individuals results in larger long-term weight reduction and less weight regain than rapid weight loss.

“Across the world, guidelines recommend gradual weight loss for the treatment of obesity, reflecting the widely held belief that fast weight loss is more quickly regained,” Katrina Purcell, dietician and study first author, said in a press release. “However, our results show that achieving a weight loss target of 12.5% is more likely, and dropout is lower, if losing weight is done quickly.”

The study examined whether weight loss at a slow initial rate resulted in larger long-term weight reduction and less weight regain than rapid initial weight loss. The trial included 200 obese adults who completed either a 12-week rapid weight loss program or a 36-week gradual weight loss program.

Participants in the rapid weight loss group were more likely to reach their weight loss target than those who lost weight gradually. In fact, 81% of the rapid weight loss group met their goal, compared with 50% of the gradual weight loss group, the researchers found.

The study authors attributed their results to several factors, including greater satiety from limiting carbohydrates and ketosis, and rapid weight loss motivating participants to persist with their diet.