Developing habits that include scheduling exercise along with healthy eating slowly but steadily losing pounds over weeks and months is much more beneficial for long-term weight loss then quickly shedding pounds in short term diets. This was indicated by Emily Fieg, lead author of a study and a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital who published an article in the journal Obesity.
“We don’t know yet what it is about weight variability that’s problematic. It could be reflective of trouble following a diet and exercise plan consistently. But it’s also possible that physiologically, some people tend to lose weight more consistently than others, regardless of how closely they are following a diet,” said Feig, who conducted the study as a doctoral student at Drexel University.
“My best recommendation for patients, based on this research, is to try to keep their eating pretty similar day to day,” she said. “Things like planning ahead, prepping food for the week on Sunday and reducing frequency of eating at restaurants can help with this, since they reduce the chance of making impulsive decisions about what to eat. Building a habit of healthy, consistent eating can help patients reduce weight variability and lose weight more consistently, even if it’s at a slow pace.”
The study involved 183 overweight or obese adults, mostly white women, living near Philadelphia. For one year, they participated in a weight-loss program in which they were counseled on their diet and exercise.
From the start of the program, their weight was tracked, measured and analyzed weekly. The adults also attended assessment meetings at six, 12 and 24 months.
The researchers found that weight variability each week among the adults, measured at the first six and 12 weeks of the program, was positively associated with less subsequent weight loss at 12 and 24 months.