Maybe slow and steady wins the race, but you get to the finish line thinner/fitter if you start fast.
Last week a study released from researchers at the University of Florida. I’m just going to cut and paste their conclusion here since it’s not in science-ese.
Collectively, findings indicate both short- and long-term advantages to fast initial weight loss. Fast weight losers obtained greater weight reduction and long-term maintenance, and were not more susceptible to weight regain than gradual weight losers.
Lisa Johnson had blogged about her thoughts on the research yesterday, and I responded on Twitter that I agreed completely. To me, fat loss is best approached like a band-aid. Get in, get it done. Rip it off and be done with it, then get on with your life and maintain your new and improved physique.
I’m not the only one beating this drum. Leigh Peele has written about it before, in fact I’m sure many times, but the post I came up with was this one on goal setting for fat loss. Lyle McDonald wrote a whole (excellent) book about it.
This does not mean that this approach is right for everyone. Now watch me backpedal.
Not for everyone
The impression I get from reading this abstract (because the full text isn’t available for free, one of my pet peeves) is that all the women were encouraged to intake a calorie level that would achieve a weight loss of .45 kg/week (approximately 1 pound per week, which is fairly standard for a weight loss diet. These women were also categorized as obese, so potentially COULD see more short term weight loss than someone closer to their ideal weight. (The fatter you are, the easier it is to lose a large amount of scale weight-hence the huge loss numbers on the Biggest Loser, which aren’t realistic unless you are also that size. And are sequestered. With a trainer, chef, kitchen, and nothing to do but exercise and learn about healthy habits. But I digress.)
Since I can’t see the full text, I also do not know the specifics as far as actual calorie and macronutrient breakdown, compliance measuring, and individual variability within the subjects. The groups of fast, medium, and slow “losers” were compiled based on their rate of loss after the first month of treatment. We do not know if those groups were evenly matched for obesity rates, age, activity, health history, etc and so on.
Having said that though, there have been other studies in the past which have also shown positive results from a faster rate of loss. Lyle wrote a very good article which references these studies and also explains a bit about how you can determine if this type of rapid weight loss diet may be a good fit for you.
So here’s why I think that a rapid weight loss at the beginning of a diet is a good thing.
- It develops good eating habits which can then be transferred to a maintenance level of eating
- It provides positive feedback-reward for your efforts. We are a society of immediate gratification.
- It gets you in and out of the dieting mentality. Here’s what I mean.
You ever meet someone who is ALWAYS dieting and yet always looks the same? Forever complaining how they can’t have this or that, it’s “not on my diet.” (Of course-I’m referring to a calorie-reduced diet, not something like a gluten free diet-as I addressed in my Gluten Free Cagematch-Diet vs. Lifestyle article.) Do you want to be this person? Heck no! Get in, work hard, eat well and strictly, get your results-and get OUT! Maintaining a certain weight/look/body fat level is WAY easier than getting there in the first place. So if you can get there faster-that may be something to seriously consider.
This is definitely a personality thing too. Some people prefer to suffer a lot for a short period of time and be done. Others prefer to suffer less, but go through it longer.
- Suffer more and be done=larger calorie deficit, more hunger, but over faster
- Suffer less and go longer=smaller deficit, less hunger, but goes on longer
- Same or close to the same end result.
Which of those choices do you prefer?
Rip the band aid off quickly, or pull it off slowly.
There’s the answer to your dieting personality quiz 😉
What’s your preference? What kind of band-aid remover are you? Share in the comments! Let ‘er rip (ooh-bad pun alert.)