Losing fat on a weight loss journey is easy at first for most people, but keeping it off is the difficult part. Weight loss by just exercise alone can result in modest weight loss (<3% of initial body weight loss), but exercise combined with diet and exercise is a much more effective strategy for weight management. After weight loss, exercise is the primary predictor of being able to keep weight loss and maintain weight.
EXTREME FAT LOSS PROGRAM VS SLOW WEIGHT LOSS: SUMMARY
- An extreme fat loss program should consist of calorie restriction and exercise at the start of the diet.
A diet and exercise program that was started at the start of dieting resulted in better weight loss than a delayed exercise program.
For optimal weight loss results, it’s best to have behavior modification of both exercise at the start of a program rather than delaying exercise.
Delayed exercise when starting a diet leads to poor weight loss outcomes.
Losing fat on a weight loss journey is easy at first for most people, but keeping it off is the difficult part. Weight loss by just exercise alone can result in modest weight loss (<3% of initial body weight loss), but exercise combined with diet and exercise is a much more effective strategy for weight management. (Donnelly et al., 2009; Goodpaster et al., 2010) After weight loss, exercise is the primary predictor of being able to keep weight loss and maintain weight. (Tate et al., 2007)
Typical weight loss recommendations are monitoring weight changes and increasing exercise with a gradual reduction in calories aiming for losing 1 lb a week. Slow weight loss leads to less loss in lean muscle mass compared to rapid fat loss. Fat loss extreme diets involving severe restriction in calories with more than 2 pounds per week are discouraged. A diet with whole foods, as opposed to processed foods, is more conducive to fat-burning and body fat loss.
The average time people start gaining weight after a weight loss program is five to six months. (Jeffery et al., 2009; Jeffery et al., 1998) After six months, due to decreased metabolism by weight loss, losing weight becomes more difficult. (Okay et al., 2009) The major issues related to sustained weight loss are boredom from dieting and lack of motivation to exercise and diet.
When starting a diet, it can be overwhelming at first. Hence, researchers thought that delaying exercise for a few months instead of combining exercise and diet at the start may result in better motivation and less psychological stress. An earlier study found that compared to diet alone, both exercise at the beginning of a diet or delayed exercise program resulted in better weight loss compared to diet alone. (Goodpaster et al., 2010)
EXTREME FAT LOSS PROGRAM VS SLOW WEIGHT LOSS:
A new study examined the effects of different behavior modifications to determine if making small changes to lose weight was better than making all the changes at once. This was a 36-month study involving a 12-month weight loss intervention followed by a 24-month weight maintenance phase. 120 obese adults were divided into four groups:
1.) Intensive behavior modification therapy, which consisted of diet only, no exercise.
2.) Intensive behavior modification therapy combined with exercise at the start (i.e., months 1-3 months)
3.) Intensive behavior modification therapy combined with exercise that was delayed (i.e., months 6-9)
4.) A control group.
The intensive behavior modification consisted of education tools on dieting and counseling. The subjects were instructed to restrict calories by 500-1000 per day. The exercise program involved circuit weight training with the goal of working up to 150 minutes of exercise per week. These were obese patients, so they prescribed moderate-intensity exercise.
The researchers thought that less psychological stress would be placed on the dieters by delaying exercise, leading to a better weight loss outcome. The weight loss would be greater early on with exercise and diet, whereas the delayed exercise program would have a slow weight loss at the beginning and a faster weight loss in the end.
Since most weight regain and lack of motivation starts dropping off after 6 months, they thought adding exercise later might result in greater weight loss and a boost in weight loss psychotherapy. The researchers tracked weight loss, waist circumference, and several other changes in body composition.
SHOULD YOU JUMP RIGHT IN WITH DIET AND EXERCISE OR DELAY EXERCISE FOR WEIGHT LOSS
The results were not what the researchers expected; when exercise was delayed, it was the least effective strategy compared to combining exercise and diet at the start of a program. The group that combined exercise and diet had greater weight loss and waist circumference changes than the group that delayed exercise later in the program. The group that delayed exercise did have better results than the diet-only group. (Kaikkonen et al.)