I think the consensus is that weight loss is possible but the difficulty arises when you want to maintain the degree of weight loss you have experienced. Most research that has assessed weight loss strategies have shown that quite frequently, weight loss cannot be maintained successfully after one year or beyond. However, some new research presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress has shown that a combined approach of diet and exercise may be the key to sustained weight management.
Research presented by lead author G. Lapierre indicated that in his small pilot study involving obese, high-risk patients, a program consisting of interval training on a stationary bike combined with a Mediterranean-type diet was effective in sustained weight loss without rebound weight gain.
The study looked at 29 obese adults at high risk for cardiovascular disease who lost an average of seven kilograms (15 lbs) after completing a nine-month program of diet and exercise which they were able to sustain at the 18-month period.
“What’s new is using what’s been determined to be optimal in terms of diet and exercise in a combined fashion and using it for the length of time we did,” said senior study author, Dr. A. Nigam. “The take-home message is [that the program is] highly efficient for weight loss, improving cardiometabolic risk, improving exercise tolerance, and if you continue on it, you are able to maintain the benefits long term.”
This is an excellent take-home message for anyone who is serious regarding their own efforts to manage their weight loss more effectively. I have always recommended a combined approach of cardiovascular training and a Mediterranean-type diet, rich in fish, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and olive oil. Adding interval training to your lifestyle can also lead to the same degree of caloric expenditure and muscular work in a shorter time frame. However, it is more difficult and tiresome.
The subjects in this study consisted of 29 adults with an average age of 52. At the beginning of the study, the participants had an average body mass index (BMI) of 37 and a waist circumference of 113 cm (44.5 inches). This waist circumference places these subjects at a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart attack. The subjects participated in a spinning cycling session consisting of two sets of 10 minutes each of repeated cycles of 10-15 seconds of intense cycling followed by 10-15 seconds of recovery cycling. The total session was 34 minutes long. The important issue was that the subjects also trained with weights for 20 minutes following the cycling sessions!
After the nine-month trial was completed, the subjects lost an average of three inches from their waist and their systolic blood pressure had dropped by six mm Hg and their LDL/total cholesterol had dropped significantly. The subjects’ exercise capacity (METS) increased from 7.8 to 9.4 and their fasting blood sugar improved by 23% in the diabetic subjects and 10% in the participants who had metabolic syndrome!
Although this was a small pilot project, the results of this study are exciting because they indicate that even obese, high-risk people can greatly improve and maintain their own health outcomes with a change in lifestyle dynamics without the reliance upon drugs or surgery. Improving your lifestyle, through dietary changes and exercise, is vital for long term weight loss.