Are you already feeling despondent after just two weeks of following a strict diet? Relax! Rome wasn't built in a day.
If you're trying to lose weight, take your time and stay the course if you want to keep the weight off, a new study suggests.
Fluctuations aren't good
Researchers found that when dieters' weight fluctuated or swung erratically, they were less likely to maintain their weight loss over time.
"It seems that developing stable, repeatable behaviours related to food intake and weight loss early on in a weight-control programme is really important for maintaining changes over the long term," said study lead author Emily Feig. She is a former graduate student at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
What the study entailed
For the study, the researchers investigated why some people have more trouble maintaining weight loss. The authors enrolled 183 people in a 12-month weight-loss programme and followed them for two years.
The participants relied on meal replacements and set goals, for both their total calories and physical activity. In addition, they reported on food behaviours – such as cravings, binges and emotional eating – and took part in weekly weigh-ins in a group setting. One year after the weight-loss programme ended, the participants were weighed for a final time.
The study, published in the journal Obesity, found that the participants who had irregular swings in their weight didn't fare as well as those who reliably lost a consistent amount of weight over the course of the programme.
Slow and steady guidelines
"Settle on a weight-loss plan that you can maintain week in and week out, even if that means consistently losing three-quarters of a pound each week," principal investigator Michael Lowe, a psychology professor at Drexel, said in a university news release.
Health24 gives the following guidelines to lose weight slowly and to maintain the weight loss:
- Consult a dietitian who can point you in the right direction and work out an eating plan just for you.
- Determine what triggers you to eat when you are not hungry and work on those emotions.
- Make small changes to cut kilojoules: Choose filter coffee over a cappuccino, for example.
- Avoid fad diets. You should be able to maintain a healthier diet for life.
Image credit: iStock