Full disclosure, I have this reoccurring dream that I get “one night on the town” preceded by a romantic, candlelit dinner with the one and only, Oprah Winfrey. We start talking fitness and next thing you know, Dr. Oz joins us and escorts her away.
I wake up sweaty.
I know most people don’t dream about her on a regular basis like I do, but Oprah has major media muscle and has flipped consumers into frenzy after frenzy based on her regular guest spots and personal journeys with weight loss and diet. Oh, Oprah, you are such a trend starter!
Oprah and the wagon of animal fat
For example, in the late 80’s, Oprah strut her new and sleek body “on air” as she wheeled out a wagon toped full of animal fat representing all the pounds she shed fast on a liquid diet. Check out the video to see it yourself.
Facts are facts and like many who adopt a quick weight loss diet, Oprah gained all the weight back nearly as fast as she had lost it.
But the question still remains; can fast weight loss work long-term if done appropriately? According to the research team of James Anderson, MD, yes it can.
James Anderson's "very low calorie diet" study
James Anderson, MD, has giving his research project the not so creative name of VLCD , meaning very low calorie diet. The followers of the plan drank their calories at a tune of only 900 per day in the form of five smoothies with the option of exchanging two of them for real foods that fit within the caloric guidelines, much like Oprah did. The 112 people that took part in the fast weight loss plan ditched 65 whooping pounds during a five month time period.
Now, this is where it gets exciting and goes against the grain of prior research about weight rebound.
23 percent of the speedy weight losers keep off 15 pounds for longer than five years time.
Need further proof? You can find the results in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
The numbers may not be that staggering to you, but they are to the associate director of the division of nutrition at Harvard Medical School, George Blackburn, MD, PhD. He has determined that only 5 to 15 percent of people who lose weight manage to keep it off. Those are quite scary numbers considering how quickly our obesity epidemic is growing here in the States. Next time you attend a local parade or county fair, take a look around and you can see those numbers in real-time especially in our youth, but that is an entirely different subject matter.
The point is Anderson’s research found something new contradicting the “old school” thought process asserting that weight loss should be slow and methodical for long-term success.
What should you do?
Should you jump on the liquid diet bandwagon based on these finding? Think again, there is a reason why crash diets still don’t work long-term. Weight rebound just may not be as strongly related to the speed at which one drops pant sizes while dieting, as thought previously.
Plus, my hypothesis throws a wrench in the finding of this entire study. Why?
The test subjects were trained and coached on how to maintain their weight loss, something that is null and void of any crash diet and nearly all commercial nutrition plans. I believe coaching was the main reason for the higher success rates among the fast weight losers. I would also conclude that planning for weight maintenance, preferably with professional help, is key.
Regardless, the bulk of existing scientific research still concludes that those who diet crash style gain it back just as quickly when that crash ends. With that in mind, I would love to see the results of this study conducted with moderate weight loss. Who would maintain the greater weight loss in that scenario when compared to Anderson’s study?
So, what should you do if you need to shed pounds fast?