Many of you want to lose weight and are wondering about the best approach: fast or slow? In this article, we've put together some advice to help you better understand the mechanisms of weight loss and choose the method that suits you best.
The Big Question: Fast or Slow Weight Loss?
“Many of us want to lose weight and know, more or less, the general rules for doing so.” Diet plays a predominant role (around 70%) and must be coupled with cardio and muscle-strengthening training. However, rushing to achieve quick results, whether for an imminent event or to alleviate certain health problems, can be problematic.
Specialists generally recommend slower weight loss for the treatment of obesity. This recommendation aligns with the common belief that if we lose weight quickly, we also tend to regain it just as quickly, whereas slow weight loss seems more beneficial to health and more effective over the long term. But what's the truth? Can rapid weight loss be just as effective and safe?
Understanding Rapid and Slow Weight Loss
Slow weight loss is defined as a loss of 0.5 to 1 kilogram per week. In contrast, rapid weight loss involves losing more than a kilogram a week for several weeks. Studies have examined both types of weight loss, randomly assigning participants to either rapid or slow weight loss.
One group of participants followed a very low-energy diet of food substitutes, including shakes, bars and soups, three times a day. The other group was advised on a healthy diet, with the aim of eating 500 calories less than their daily energy expenditure, thus creating a caloric deficit. They also performed one or two meal replacements per day.
Surprising Study Results
Approximately 50% of the slow weight loss group and 81% of the rapid weight loss group succeeded in losing 12.5% or more of their initial weight. After this initial phase, those who had lost 12.5% or more were placed on a weight-maintenance diet for approximately 2.75 years. After three years, 76% of participants in both groups had regained the lost weight. So it seems that the speed of weight loss has no impact on weight regain.
However, another study of 101 postmenopausal women found that rapid weight loss produced better results than slow weight loss over a three-year period. However, other factors need to be taken into account, such as changes in body composition and bone density.
Diet Choice: A Determining Factor?
In the end, it doesn't matter which diet you choose: high or moderate protein, low or high carbohydrate, low or high fat. All these diets seem to give similar weight loss results. Before choosing a diet, it is essential to consider several factors:
- Your metabolism: Maintaining a high resting metabolic rate is crucial to avoid regaining weight.
- Side effects: Restrictive diets can produce rapid results, but they can also have undesirable side effects.
- Sustainability: Many rapid weight-loss diets exclude certain foods necessary for long-term good health, such as carbohydrates, which are essential for preventing certain diseases.
Weight Loss: A Legacy from our Hunter-Gatherer Ancestors?
The real challenge is not so much to lose weight, but to maintain it. Our bodies seem to work hard to maintain our weight and make sure we put it back on. This response is thought to be a legacy of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who developed this survival response to adapt to periods of deprivation when food was in short supply.
Ultimately, the best way to lose weight depends on each individual. It's important to choose an approach that suits your lifestyle and overall health. Remember, it's always best to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new diet or exercise program.