A new study has revealed that crash diets do work and could be just as effective as the long believed theory that slow and steady weight loss is best.
However, there are risks associated with crash diets.
What did the study involve?
The study undertaken at the University of Melbourne, Australia that has been published in the medical journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, looked at 200 obese adults who either followed a 12 week rapid weight loss plan or a 36 week gradual weight loss plan.
Those who participated in the rapid weight loss plan were only allowed to eat a food substitute that contained between 450 – 800 calories per day, while those on the gradual plan just had their daily calorie intake reduced by 500 calories from the recommended daily allowance (2500 calories for men/2000 for women).
Any participant who lost more than 12.5% of the body weight were then put onto diet designed specifically to maintain their weight for a 3 year period.
At the conclusion of the study 4 out of 5 of those who undertook the crash diet reached their target weight, with only half of those who lost weight gradually.
The study also discovered that neither those who crash dieted or lost gradually were more likely to regain their lost weight, with both groups having regained around 71% of their lost weight within the next 3 years.
Study author and dietician Katrina Purcell had this to say about the results of the study:
“Guidelines recommend gradual weight loss for the treatment of obesity, reflecting the widely held belief that fast weight loss is more quickly regained. However, our results show achieving a weight loss target of 12.5 per cent is more likely, and drop-out is lower, if losing weight is done quickly.”
Why was the crash diet so successful?
The researchers believe the reason why the crash diet was so successful was that the fast weight loss ensured the participants had constant incentive to keep going.
They also concluded that eating a food substitute was an easier way to lose weight than cutting calories.
What risks are associated with crash diets?
Crash diets can potentially be dangerous as you are unlikely to be able to get all the necessary nutrients that your body needs when eating just food substitutes.
Even the researchers behind this study have stated that it was “impossible” to get all the nutrients you need and that a medically approved supplement will be recommended.
For this reason alone I believe that crash diets such as the cabbage soup diet or juice detoxes should be avoided, or at the very least done in moderation.
Slow and steady in my opinion still wins the day and is my recommended weight loss method.