Fast-track road to weight loss? Crash diets effective but come with risks


Weight loss experts in general recommend that those who want to lose weight and maintain their leaner body should take a gradual approach but findings of a new study find evidence that seem to contradict this advice.

A research that involved obese individuals in Australia suggest that crash diets can be as effective, if not better than the slow and steady approach to losing weight.

For the new study published in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology on Oct. 16, University of Melbourne Professor Joseph Proietto and colleagues randomly assigned 200 participants to either adopt a crash diet, or undertake a gradual but steady weight loss program.

The crash-dieters undertook a 12-week rapid weight loss program that involved consuming low calorie and low carbohydrate diet. Those who were assigned to adopt a slow and steady diet, on the other hand, were placed on a gradual 36-week plan that involved eating a balanced diet.

Results suggest that rapid weight loss is a better approach to losing weight compared with losing weight gradually. The researchers found that those on the 12-week diet program were more likely to hit their target compared with the participants on the 36-week plan.

Of those who adopted the rapid weight loss program, 81 percent hit their goal of losing 12.5 percent of their weights while only 50 percent of those in the gradual weight loss program managed to do so.

Individuals from both groups who managed to achieve their target were also followed for another three years and the researchers found that the number of people who regained their weight after this period was the same for both groups, which indicate that crash dieting is a better option for losing weight and is not worse than gradual weight loss when it comes to odds of regaining weight.

"These findings are not consistent with present dietary guidelines which recommend gradual over rapid weight loss, based on the belief that rapid weight loss is more quickly regained," the researchers wrote.

Unfortunately, crash dieting also has its caveats. Public health nutritionist Gaynor Bussell said that rapid weight loss could cause damage to the body. Low calorie diets also tend to restrict nutrient intake.

"On such a rapid weight loss diet then hunger will be suppressed due to ketone production but ketones can make the blood pH too acidic, which can cause kidney damage at high levels," Bussell said. "Very low calorie diet also are also short of nutrients."

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