We all know about the story of the tortoise and the hare and how steady and consistent pacing wins the race. Well it turns out that applies to long-term weight loss as well. Individuals who lose small amounts of weight over a consistent period of time show more sustained overall weight loss than those who crash diet.
Successful Dieters Lose Consistent Amounts of Weight Weekly
Researchers out of Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA examined data on 183 overweight and obese adults who were participating in a weight loss program. The program offered meal replacement and structure for calorie monitoring and exercise. Over the course of the two-year program, the most successful dieters were those who showed a steady, consistent weight loss in the first three months, as opposed to those participants who had more variable weight loss on a week-to-week basis.
According to psychology researchers at Drexel, some participants go into the program trying to lose as much weight as possible right way. However, despite showing big losses one week, they are typically hungry and anxious and unable to sustain the diet program for more than a week or so. Frustrated, they regain some of the weight, get upset and try to lose as much as they can again, creating a cycles of losing and gaining.
Those dieters who set more modest goals typically were able to sustain their calorie and exercise goals over a prolonged period of time, leading to greater weight loss and improved health.
Consistent Behavior May Be the Key to Success
The study further showed that participants who were emotional eaters, binge eaters, or preoccupied with food at the beginning of the program tended to have greater weight loss variability and generally lost less weight overall. This suggests that effectively losing weight may have more to do with steady consistent behavior than changing one’s relationship with food.
While sometimes the best you can do is get back on track, it may be better in the long run to set modest, attainable goals rather than try to completely change beliefs and ideologies in the pursuit of improved health.