RAPID VS SLOW WEIGHT LOSS: WHICH IS BEST FOR KEEPING OFF THE KILOS?
By Paris Owen, BSc (Nutrition), Nutrition Student
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1 in 3 Australians are obese. That’s around 5.2 million people. Obesity is a major risk factor for lifestyle-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Current recommendations for weight loss indicate the ‘slow and steady’ approach in favour of rapid weight loss to minimise the amount of weight regained. Slow weight loss is roughly 0.5-1kg per week, whilst rapid weight loss is 2kg or more. Dietitian, Katrina Purcell from University of Melbourne, recently tested this theory and came up with some pretty surprising results!
Who was included?
Involved 204 obese participants (51 men and 153 women) aged 18-70 years.
What did it involve?
Subjects were placed into two groups. Group 1 underwent a 12-week rapid weight loss program. Group 2 was a 36-week gradual weight loss program.
What were the results?
At the end of the program, group 1 had lost the most weight, with 81% of participants achieving a weight loss of 12.5%.
After a follow-up of almost 3 years, both gradual and rapid weight loss had regained most of their lost weight.
What does this mean?
The rate of weight loss did not affect the proportion of weight regained from each group.
If you would like to see more about the study, head here.
WHY WERE THESE RESULTS SEEN?
It was expected that the rapid weight loss group would lose more weight for a number of reasons. Firstly, they were on a Very Low Energy Diet (VLED), where liquid supplements provided about 400-800kcal per day. Katrina Purcell also highlights that these participants were highly motivated as they were seeing noticeable changes in a relatively short period of time. As for weight re-gain both groups had a similar proportion of weight regain. This is surprising because it’s expected to be much harder having to adapt to a ‘normal’ diet following one so strict.
WILL FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS CHANGE?
In the future, Katrina Purcell would like to determine what personalities would prefer rapid weight loss compared to the gradual approach. This may change the type of recommendations given, based on an individual’s personality profile.
At the moment however, there isn’t enough evidence for current recommendations to change. What should happen is shift in focus from a ‘one size fits all’ recommendation to a more flexible approach. This would mean individuals could be provided with a number of options that would be best suited to them.
RAPID WEIGHT LOSS ISN’T FOR EVERYONE
· VLED diets stimulate a process, known as ‘ketosis’. This causes a build up of ketones in the blood, making the blood acidic and can be potentially fatal.
· Due to the little amount of food consumed, it can be difficult to receive your daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals.
· VLED diets can cause a number of symptoms such as dry mouth, headaches, hair loss and muscle cramping (to name a few!)
· It is not recommended for those with a BMI of 25 or below (within the healthy weight range)
· Before commencing VLED, you should speak to your doctor to find out if this is suitable for you!
Hi fellow food lovers! My name is Paris Owen and I am currently undertaking a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Wollongong. I am also a university-qualified Nutritionist, graduating last year with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. I work with Body Bloom, a women’s fitness training group, providing specialised sports nutrition advice and meal plans. Bondi Farmers Markets is where you will find me on Saturdays making nutritious goodies with an incredible team at the Inside Out Nutritious Goods stall.
I like to take an evidence-based approach for nutritional recommendations to ensure the best health outcomes for each unique individual. I also like to approach health in a holistic way incorporating physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. In the future, I will become an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, working in the public health system and eventually, in private practice. I am particularly interested in food allergies and intolerances and sports nutrition, however there are so many other areas I am yet to discover!
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013, Overweight and Obesity, cat. 4364.0.55.003, accessed 26 October 2014, <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/33C64022ABB5ECD5CA257B8200179437?opendocument>.
Lucy Carroll 2014, Obesity rates in Australia soar, a global survey reveals, Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 26 October 2014, <http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/obesity-rates-soar-in-australia-a-global-survey-reveals-20140528-394s4.html>.
Purcell, K, Sumithran, P, Prendergast, LA, Bouniu, CJ, Delbridge, E, Proietto, J 2014, ‘The effect of rate of weight loss on long term weight management: a randomised controlled trial’, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.