When a person decides to lose weight, it is natural that they look for a strategy that yields quicker results. However, there is a widespread belief that taking a slower route is better because fast weight loss can result in quick regain. But before jumping in to decide on the weight loss program, it is important to understand how these strategies work and which would fit your metabolism better.

Slow vs. fast weight loss

A slow weight loss strategy involves having small achievable targets in diet and physical activity. Doctors recommend it based on the concept that managing weight is a life-long commitment.

A fast weight loss strategy involves a low calory diet that results in shedding more than two pounds a week over several weeks. Rapid weight loss is often chosen by people with obesity as the quick route to weight loss is not generally recommended by health experts. Rapid weight loss is more about cutting calories, time-restricted eating and fasting than exercising.

Experts believe that when on a fast diet, a person loses both fat and muscles that burn fat and slows down the metabolic rate. So when the diet is stopped and the person gets back to a normal diet, the body burns fewer calories and starts to regain weight. This is called the yo-yo effect of dieting.

Studies about weight loss strategies

Several studies have evaluated the benefits and risks involved in fast and slow weight loss programs.

In a study conducted among 200 people to evaluate the effect of the rate of weight loss on long-term weight management, researchers found that initially, 50% of the slow weight loss group and 81% of the fast weight loss group achieved a weight loss of 12.5% or more. However, after three years, 76% of those in both groups regained their lost weight irrespective of the type of weight loss program.

In another study conducted among premenopausal women with obesity, researchers found fast weight loss methods resulted in better results than a slow weight loss group.

A study that used metanalysis evaluated the changes in body composition and bone mineral density, along with weight loss, and found that gradual weight loss is more effective than fast weight loss considering the metabolism and the number of calories burned at rest.

Factors to consider while choosing a weight loss strategy

Metabolic rate: The secret to maintaining weight loss is keeping the metabolic rate high. Studies have shown rapid weight loss decreases metabolic rate - the rate at which the body burns calories at rest. Involving exercise, along with diets, and focusing on gradual weight loss will help preserve the metabolic rate.

Sustainability: It is important to evaluate if the weight loss program you chose cuts down major nutrients that cause deficiency. Many weight loss diets restrict foods essential for long-term health and can cause issues with immunity, fatigue and raise the chances of diseases like gallstones.

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Most people who take up weight loss programs face a common challenge as they tend to lose and regain the lost weight cyclically. pixabay