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Quick Weight Loss–Is It Really Better As the New Study Reports?

Help! It's confusing!

This is one of many examples where a study is broken down into pieces, just like Legos, a catchy title gets stapled on top, and people get a message that is far or deviated from the truth. No wonder we are a confused nation when it comes to nutrition.

MSNBC reports: “Lose weight fast for lasting results, study says”

Reuters reports: “Lose weight fast to get lasting results: Study”

MedicineNet.com reports: “Quick Weight Loss May Be Best for Long-Term Success” and the article says:

When it comes to weight-loss patterns, the old adage proclaims that “slow and steady” wins the race, but recent research suggests otherwise.

So, is fast weight loss really better? Are all these dietitians and health professionals recommending slow weight loss out of date, giving wrong old-fashioned advice?

This is why some days, I feel like I fight a current. Busting, explaining, debunking, or fixing misinformed science.  I’m sure many Nutritionist feel the same way too. Here’s why I think all these reports are misleading.

In the study, the researchers defined “fast” weight loss as 1.5 pounds or more a week, “slow” as 0.5 pounds or less a week, and “moderate” was the range in between. Ok, is 1.5 pounds a week considered fast? No. What do dietitians recommend? 1 to 2 pounds a week.

The definitions make the difference. When dietitians recommend “slow” weight loss, they recommend 1 to 2 pounds, as apposed to 4, 5, or even 18 pounds in 4 days like being advertised here!

So when you hear another study being reported with titles like this one, take a moment to understand what the study is about. Read the details before you spread it out or act on it. The same goes for low-calorie, low-carb, low-fat, low-protein (or high) diets. How low is low? How high is high? How fast is fast? How slow is slow?

Let me point out though, for someone who started at a weight much higher than the ideal or at a very high BMI, it’s possible to healthfully lose more than 1 to 2 pounds a week. As a simple rule, the more you weigh, the more pounds you can shed fast. But for most people, more is not better. Just watch the terminology used.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Ahmad May 22, 2010, 8:45 am

    so what do you recommend eventually? how much pounds per week should i lose which will remain lost for a longer period of time?

  • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD May 23, 2010, 3:51 am

    one to two pounds a week, which is about 0.5 to 1.0 kg. This amount is considered by most dietitians to be slow and steady, while in this study this was the “fast” group. So I do agree with their results, I just meant to point out that this should not be called “fast”

  • The Candid RD May 23, 2010, 6:04 pm

    This just goes to show how important it is to read between the lines, and not take every headline as absolute truth. I mean come on, even 2 pounds per week isn’t REALLY fast, it’s healthy!

    I am the PR chair for our local Columbus, Dietetic association too!! What do you guys do to raise money? I need some ideas.

  • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD May 25, 2010, 3:52 am

    Thanks Gina for the comment. About PR and raising money, I’m going to be the media/PR starting June 1 so I still have lots to learn. The local group sells RD pins for raising money

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