Rip off the Band-Aid and Be Done-Fast Weight Loss for Better Long Term Results?

Maybe slow and steady wins the race, but you get to the finish line thinner/fitter if you start fast.

Last week a study released from researchers at the University of Florida. I’m just going to cut and paste their conclusion here since it’s not in science-ese.

“Collectively, findings indicate both short- and long-term advantages to fast initial weight loss. Fast weight losers obtained greater weight reduction and long-term maintenance, and were not more susceptible to weight regain than gradual weight losers.”

Lisa Johnson had blogged about her thoughts on the research yesterday, and I responded on Twitter that I agreed completely. To me, fat loss is best approached like a band-aid. Get in, get it done. Rip it off and be done with it, then get on with your life and maintain your new and improved physique.

Band Aid

Photo credit runrunrun

I’m not the only one beating this drum. Leigh Peele has written about it before, in fact I’m sure many times, but the post I came up with was this one on goal setting for fat loss. Lyle McDonald wrote a whole (excellent) book about it.

This does not mean that this approach is right for everyone. Now watch me backpedal.

The impression I get from reading this abstract (because the full text isn’t available for free, one of my pet peeves) is that all the women were encouraged to intake a calorie level that would achieve a weight loss of .45 kg/week (approximately 1 pound per week, which is fairly standard for a weight loss diet. These women were also categorized as obese, so potentially COULD see more short term weight loss than someone closer to their ideal weight. (The fatter you are, the easier it is to lose a large amount of scale weight-hence the huge loss numbers on the Biggest Loser, which aren’t realistic unless you are also that size. And are sequestered. With a trainer, chef, kitchen, and nothing to do but exercise and learn about healthy habits. But I digress.)

Since I can’t see the full text, I also do not know the specifics as far as actual calorie and macronutrient breakdown, compliance measuring, and individual variability within the subjects. The groups of fast, medium, and slow “losers” were compiled based on their rate of loss after the first month of treatment. We do not know if those groups were evenly matched for obesity rates, age, activity, health history, etc and so on.

Having said that though, there have been other studies in the past which have also shown positive results from a faster rate of loss. Lyle wrote a very good articlewhich references these studies and also explains a bit about how you can determine if this type of rapid weight loss diet may be a good fit for you.

So here’s why I think that a rapid weight loss at the beginning of a diet is a good thing.
-It develops good eating habits which can then be transferred to a maintenance level of eating

-It provides positive feedback-reward for your efforts. We are a society of immediate gratification.

-It gets you in and out of the dieting mentality. Here’s what I mean.

You ever meet someone who is ALWAYS dieting and yet always looks the same? Forever complaining how they can’t have this or that, it’s “not on my diet.” (Of course-I’m referring to a calorie-reduced diet, not something like a gluten free diet-as I addressed in my Gluten Free Cagematch-Diet vs. Lifestyle article.) Do you want to be this person? Heck no! Get in, work hard, eat well and strictly, get your results-and get OUT! Maintaining a certain weight/look/body fat level is WAY easier than getting there in the first place. So if you can get there faster-that may be something to seriously consider.

This is definitely a personality thing too. Some people prefer to suffer a lot for a short period of time and be done. Others prefer to suffer less, but go through it longer.

Suffer more and be done=larger calorie deficit, more hunger, but over faster

Suffer less and go longer=smaller deficit, less hunger, but goes on longer

Same or close to the same end result.

Which of those choices do you prefer?

Rip the band aid off quickly, or pull it off slowly.

There’s the answer to your dieting personality quiz ;)

For more free ranting, this time on setting up a healthy gluten free diet plan, click here.

What’s your preference? What kind of band-aid remover are you? Share in the comments! Let ‘er rip (ooh-bad pun alert.)

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  1. You just made me realize something. When it comes to dieting, I seem to get the best results with RFL.

    But for some reason I can’t seem to tolerate any low-carb type diets anymore. I get burned out and moody as hell.

  2. Erin says:

    Hey Jon-how about RFL calorie levels to start and add in 100 grams of carbs? Would that be enough?

  3. hm, you might be on to someting. Carbs from veggies and fruit seem to do the trick now when I cut.

    As of right now I’m taking a break from dieting since I seemed to have overreached some what. I decided to experiment and went somewhat low with carbs/to much intensity and burned myself out.

    Right now I’m just keeping activity to NEAT, brisk walking and active recovery work in the gym.

    But yeah, keeping carbs in the 100-200 range from now on while cutting seems to be a good idea.

  4. Smiffy says:

    Having underlying health issues, anything more fast/extreme is out of the question for me as, when I’m hungry, I’m hypoglycaemic and can’t do anything, especially work. (One thing I can – and do – when like that is to eat things I shouldn’t.)

    For me, slow works. I’m on a high protein (plus fat,) low to very low carbohydrate diet all the time. No compliance issues because I’m actually eating what I like. Having lost 14kg in about 15 months, I’m quite happy with rate of fat loss.

    The great thing about the current process is that, even if I go off the rails for a week or more, the mass stays the same. Sometimes it might creep up a tiny bit after being static for a while, but as I’m gaining lean mass, there’s probably still fat loss going on, even if minimal.

    Now comfortably over half way to my target, I’m happy and my doctor is positively ecstatic – so will stick to what works for me. (Hope to be close to target by the end of the year.)

  5. Erin says:

    Hi Matt!
    Thanks for speaking up!
    You’re absolutely correct-everyone has to find what works for them. The best diet is truly the one you can be compliant with-and it sounds as if you’ve found what works for you. Way to go on your progress toward your goal!

  6. Erin says:

    Jon,
    Good that you recognized that, I know overreaching has been an issue for you. After taking some time at maintenance then you can experiment a bit. I never dropped below about 80-100 grams per day even in contest prep. (Not counting green veggies-this was fruit and complex carbs. I did do a few short in duration (20 min) metabolic cardio sessions per week. You may want to try keeping in 100 grams of complex carbs and keeping your cardio lower intensity and see what happens next dieting phase.

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