Rapid Weight Loss

Weight Loss in the Fast Lane

Findings show gradual weight loss no better than rapid weight loss.

For decades Health professionals and dieticians have advised us that gradual weight loss in the treatment of obesity is the preferred method and was part of standard dietetic guidelines. It was widely believed that rapid weight loss methods would result in the individual regaining their weight quickly in the short and long term.

Despite this widely held opinion that losing weight rapidly resulted in weight being quickly regained, new Australian research shows that gradual weight loss is no better than rapid weight loss for long term weight control. In fact apart from showing no difference in weight regain after 12 months, there was significant benefits including greater self esteem, increased motivation and satisfaction.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne  and the Weight Control Clinic at Austin Health wanted to explore the commonly held belief that those who lose weight quickly also regained it at a fast rate The trial involved 200 obese adults who were randomly placed either in a 12 week, rapid weight loss program that involved  a low calorie, low carbohydrate diet or those who were placed in a 36 gradual weight loss program based on current dietary recommendations. The article was published in the Lancet in October, 2014

The results surprised many, especially those with the traditional view  of a “slow and steady approach” to losing weight. There was no significant difference in the weight regain at the 1 year mark with rapid weight loss actually being slightly better. The medical reasons for this are:


  1. As rapid weight loss diets do not include carbohydrates, participants burn fat instead.
  2. This releases hunger suppressant hormones called ketones.
  3. Ketones have been shown to increase the satiety (fullness) hormone, making you feel fuller.

These results have also been replicated in other studies. For me, as a doctor who has had an interest in weight management for all of my medical career, these results were surprising to me.  Previously, I have been constantly telling patients that the “turtle wins the race”. As a result of these findings, my clinical practice in weight management has changed completely. I now aim to get the weight off as quickly as my clients want to and are able to.

Obviously, the rate and the method you choose to lose weight will be different for each individual. Please see your doctor or medical practitioner for the a weight loss strategy that is best suited to you.

However, we can firmly say that the myth that gradual weight loss is better than rapid weight loss can be sweated out of our brain like a good exercise workout.
Dr Marlene Tham – Weight Loss Doctor and Obesity Researcher
Director of Medical & Mind Weight Loss

Journal Reference
1.Katrina Purcell, Priya Sumithran, Luke A Prendergast, Celestine J Bouniu, Elizabeth Delbridge, Joseph Proietto. The effect of rate of weight loss on long-term weight management: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70200-1

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