Health Sachet No 285:

When it comes to weight loss, haven’t you heard the advice that slow and steady is better than fast?

The rationale is that if you lose weight fast, it comes back faster than it would otherwise. So are you more likely to maintain weight loss if you lose weight slowly?

Well, that is the advice dieters often get, but studies have shown no difference.

A recent Australian study, randomly assigned 204 obese people to subsist on just 450 to 800 calories a day for 12 weeks (fast weight loss), or to cut a more modest 400 to 500 calories a day (slow weight loss) from their diets over 36 weeks. The goal for both groups was a 15 percent weight loss.

There was no difference in the proportion of weight gain after 3 years, independent of the rate of weight loss.

The main difference between the groups was that more people in the rapid weight loss group lost at least 12.5 percent of their weight (80 percent, compared with 50 percent in the slow loss group) and fewer dropped out (3 percent, compared with 18 percent).

The speed of weight loss has no effect on how fast the weight is gained back, if it does.