New research shows that there are several effective strategies available to people wanting to avoid regaining weight after a successfully losing excess pounds. Anti-obesity drugs, meal replacements and a high protein diet can help weight loss maintenance, according to a large review of studies.
The study, carried out by researchers in Sweden, contributes knowledge about what is without doubt the greatest challenge to anyone attempting to lose weight: how to prevent rebound weight gain and maintain the goal weight.
Researchers say the body has several defense mechanisms against weight loss, such as increased hunger, lower energy metabolism and relapse back to old habits.
For the review, the team combined the results of 20 published scientific studies including a total of 3,017 participants, who were either obese or overweight at the start of the weight loss process. The various studies examined the effects of drugs, meal replacements, high protein diets, dietary supplements and exercise on rebound weight gain after an intensive weight loss, very low-calorie diet (less than 1,000 calories a day).
Even though the study shows that rebound weight gain is more the rule than the exception, the researchers found that several strategies obviously helped to reduce the unwanted effect: anti-obesity drugs, powdered meal replacements, and a high protein diet.
Low glycemic index (GI) food was also effective, although the data in that case came from a single study, which the researchers say makes the conclusions less reliable.
While anti-obesity drugs can cause adverse events and some have been removed from the market, meal replacement products and high protein diets appear to be effective and are accessible to everyone.
One interesting result was that exercise had no clear effect on weight loss maintenance. The reason, however, might be that one of the included trials studied relatively sick patients who had been prescribed special physiotherapy. In another study, in which the participants exercised in a more normal way, the effect was similar to eating a high protein diet. Dietary supplements were not associated with a reduced rebound effect.
Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2013.
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