The one most effective secret for losing weight is steady – not dramatic and not necessarily slow – steadily reduction in calories wins the race! say scientists from Drexel University. Most important are the first 6-12 weeks.
The psychologists were interested in studying what makes some people less successful in weight loss programs and identifying predictors that could improve treatment outcomes in the future.
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They found that out of 183 participants in the weight loss program, those whose weight fluctuated most during the first 6-12 weeks of the diet were less successful one and two years later.
Most people maintain their weight inconsistently and fall into the vicious cycle of losing and then gaining weight.
The men and women who lost consistent weight each week cope best with the program, even though it was losing just a few calories. The results were published in the journal Obesity.
For example, a participant who lost four pounds one week, regained two and then lost one the next, tended to end up worse off than one who lost a pound each week for three weeks.
“It seems that developing stable, repeatable behaviors related to food intake and weight loss early on in a weight control program is really important for maintaining changes over the long term,” said lead author Emily Feig, PhD.
Interestingly, people who reported lower emotional eating, overeating, and concentration with food at the start of the study, showed higher weight change, and less weight loss overall.
This suggests that initial weight change, rather than relationships with or behaviors toward food, is much more important in predicting who will succeed in weight loss and upkeep.
Principal investigator Michael Lowe, PhD, a psychology professor at Drexel, says the study does illuminate a potential method for sticking to weight loss goals.
“Settle on a weight loss plan that you can maintain week in and week out, even if that means consistently losing ¾ of a pound each week,” he said.
Measuring weight variability may be a way to identify those who are less likely to achieve sustainable weight loss, and who may benefit from a stronger, more focus on consistency.