Behavioral weight loss programs reliably produce clinically significant weight losses. However, weight loss outcomes are variable, and those who lose a clinically significant amount of weight (5%-10%) typically regain it. Failure to achieve meaningful weight loss early in treatment has repeatedly been associated with poor long-term outcomes. Variability in weight early in treatment, independent of total early weight loss, might provide additional predictive information about later outcomes.

What Do AMR & BMR Have To Do With Weight Loss?

Researchers found that of 183 participants in a behavioral weight loss program, those whose poundage fluctuated most had the worst long-term outcomes. One and two years on, people who lost a steady number of pounds each week tended to fare better. Said lead author Emily Feig: “Developing stable, repeatable behaviors related to food intake and weight loss early on in a weight control program is really important for maintaining changes over the long term.”

In the study, overweight and obese people were enrolled in a year-long program using meal replacements and behavioral techniques like self-monitoring, calorie monitoring and increased physical activity. The participants were weighed weekly at group gatherings, and again two years after the program formally ended. Early results proved indicative of overall success. People whose weight fluctuated most over the first six and 12 weeks of treatment had worse weight control at 12 and 24 months. Someone who lost four pounds one week, regained two and then lost one the next tended to fare worse than someone who lost one pound consistently each week for three weeks, the researchers said.

Researchers now want to know why certain individuals have greater weight variability. Said principal investigator Michael Lowe: “Settle on a weight loss plan that you can maintain week in and week out, even if that means consistently losing 3/4 of a pound each week.”