The Diet with No Weight Loss…At First

Posted 01/01/2013 | By HealthCorps

It’s the beginning of a new year, and that typically means the beginning of a new diet.  If this is one of many diets you are going to start…again….and then stop, again, why not consider some recent research that suggests “weight maintenance and then weight loss.”  A new study suggests that first learning to maintain your weight may help you to ultimately lose weight, and to finally keep it off.

Typically, all dieters lose weight, but at some point most abandon the habit changes that helped them to shed those excess pounds.  It may be boredom, deprivation, or emotional upheaval that de-rails the diet, but whatever the reason, most of us simply can’t stick with the diet long term.  Dieters who lose substantial amounts of weight typically regain 30% to 50% of the pounds lost in the first year after stopping the program.  So researchers decided to explore what would happen if overweight or obese women were given a chance to practice skills needed to keep weight off, without having to worry about losing the weight first.  The project involved 267 overweight and obese women over age 21.  One group was assigned a “maintenance status” while the other group was assigned to “weight loss first status.”  During the first eight weeks of the 28-week project, the maintenance group learned skills to help them avoid weight gain and were specifically told not to focus on weight loss.  During the last eight weeks of the 28-week project, the weight loss group learned to hold at their goal weight after shedding pounds, through problem-solving skills.  Both groups learned the same weight loss skills.

By the end of the 29th week, both groups had lost, on average, 17 pounds.  They were then re-visited by the researchers a year later.  The “maintenance first group” only regained three pounds, while the “weight loss first group” regained close to seven pounds on average.  The lead researcher concluded that practicing maintenance first may have provided a bit more satisfaction to the participants, with regards to simply learning and understanding how to hold at a specific weight.  Other researchers felt that it was the actual content and approach to maintenance with that group that made the difference and helped them to ultimately lose weight and keep it off.

So give it some thought.  Maybe learning habits that help you to simply stay at a certain weight is a way to thwart the yo-yo nature of your dieting efforts.


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