Quick answer: cutting calories.
Shocking, isn't it? But, wait, there's more.
Well, not that much more. The article appears in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, but you have to pay for it. Alas, Cranky Fitness has no budget for Scholarly Journal Subscriptions, nor does this blog have the dedication necessary to get off its ass and head to a University Library to retrieve further details. So let's just talk about the stuff they mention in the handy Reuter's summary and call it a day, shall we?
Anyway, the study found some things that seemed to make sense. Like:
- Most people lost around 11 to 19 pounds over four years, but typically, participants gained a little bit of weight back over time.
- Diet-focused approaches were most successful. Advice-only and exercise-only studies produced "minimal" weight loss.
- Weight-loss medication seemed to help "somewhat" in keeping weight off over the longer-term.
But the study (or at least the summary) seemed to suggest that calorie cutting worked whether or not the subjects did any exercise. At least this was the wording: "Approaches that focused on trimming calories -- with or without exercise -- were most effective at keeping the pounds off over four years."
Huh? This makes no sense! How could the exercisers not do better than those who weren't exercising?
So screw science. Crabby doesn't like this part of the result so she'll just ignore it. Perhaps the people in the diet + exercise groups were lying about doing the exercise part. Not having the details from the actual study to refer to, Crabby is free to just make sh*t up.
But aside from the suspicious bit about calorie cutting by itself doing the job, there was another interesting thing they found. Check this out:
"In trials that used calorie-cutting alone and in those that added exercise, weight loss typically hit a plateau after six months. After that, participants gained a few pounds back, on average."
The researchers went on to suggest that "after six months, people should be prepared for their weight loss to taper off. Then the goal should be maintaining whatever success has been achieved."
Now many of you folks out there have managed to keep losing well past the first six months and 10-20 pounds. Hooray for you--you're exceptional! But for others of you who are finding yourself "stuck" after six months, losing the same five or ten pounds over and over--well, it turns out there's nothing wrong with you. Your results are quite typical.
Is this fact acknowledged very often? Let's repeat:
It's completly normal to get stuck and "plateau" after six months. It's really hard to lose additional weight after that.
Is this discouraging news? Or is it helpful to hear? Are any of you stuck? Or do you have any inspiring stories of how you got stuck once but broke through it?
All comments most welcome!