Are you planning to join a weight loss programme? Choosing a programme that helps in losing a consistent number of pounds each week is better in the long-term, suggests a study.
The study's results showed that those who experienced consistent weight loss in the first six and 12 weeks of the programme were more likely to have maintained their weight loss at 12 and 24 months, compared with those whose weight fluctuated.
For example, a person who lost four pounds one week, regained two pounds the next week, and lost one pound the following week were less likely to achieve long-term weight loss than those who consistently lost one pound over the same three-week period.
"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 lead author Emily Feig, postdoctoral student at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
"Settle on a weight loss plan that you can maintain week in and week out, even if that means consistently losing three-fourth of a pound each week," added Michael Lowe, professor at Drexel University, US.
Interestingly, participants who reported lower preoccupation with food, lower binge eating, and lower emotional eating at study baseline experienced greater weight fluctuation and lower total weight loss.
These findings indicate that it may not be a person's relationship with food or food-related behaviours that influence long-term weight loss. Rather, it may be down to the consistency of weight loss, the researchers explained.
For the study, published in the journal Obesity, the researchers enrolled 183 individuals who were overweight or obese into a year-long weight-loss programme that used meal replacements along with behavioural goals such as self-monitoring, calorie monitoring and increasing physical activity.