No doubt you’ve heard the story of the tortoise and the hare—and the moral of the story: Slow and steady wins the race. Well, that may have been true in this Aesop fable, but researchers are debating whether this same principle is true when it comes to the best approach for weight management, according to a Reuters report.
Contrary to what many doctors and dieticians say when it comes to weight—that losing weight quickly can cause people to gain most of it back—scientists in the Netherlands say that people gain back a similar amount of weight no matter how much they lose initially. Therefore, they’re advocating that the best way to keep weight off is to drop those pounds as fast as possible with an intensive, smart diet and exercise plan, rather than dropping the pounds over a longer period of time.
Here’s what happened with the Netherlands scientists. Dr. Jeroen Barte, a researcher at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, and his colleagues followed 12 weight-loss studies with nearly 1,000 overweight participants. After analyzing the data from the studies—all of which incorporated fitness and nutrition counseling for their participants, an important aspect in weight loss—the researchers found some interesting results.
They weighed the participants at both the beginning and the end of their weight-loss programs and then again one year after finishing the program. Participants’ average starting weight was 209 pounds, with participants losing 20 pounds at the end of the program.
The authors then compared those who lost between 5% to 10% body weight versus those who lost more than 10% of their body weight—and just how much weight they were able to keep off. Interestingly, the researchers found that after one year, regardless of how much weight the participants dropped, they gained back about half of that weight.
The researchers concluded that those who lost the most pounds had the most favorable long-term weight management results. In fact, they encourage those who are overweight to lose 10% or more of their body weight in order to have the best chance at managing their weight in the future.
It’s important to note, however, that only healthy and sustainable weight loss and weight management plans are supported—which include a healthy diet and exercise plan. One to 1.5 pounds a week is a reasonable goal for most people, although that can vary from person to person.
The study was published in the online edition of Obesity Reviews.
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