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Effects of gradual weight loss v. rapid weight loss on body composition and RMR: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2020

Damoon Ashtary-Larky
Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases Research Center, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, 61357-15794, Iran
Reza Bagheri
Department of Exercise Physiology, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, 8174673441, Iran
Amir Abbasnezhad
Nutritional Health Research Center, Lorestan University of Medical Sciences, Khorramabad, 6813833946, Iran
Grant M. Tinsley
Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA
Meysam Alipour
Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases Research Center, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, 61357-15794, Iran
Alexei Wong
Department of Health and Human Performance, Marymount University, Arlington, TX 22207, USA
E-mail address:


This systematic review and meta-analysis compared the effects of different rates of weight loss (WL), but equivalent total WL, on body composition and RMR. Studies examining gradual v. rapid WL on body composition and RMR in participants with overweight/obesity published up to October 2019 were identified through PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Embase, Scopus and Ovid databases. Meta-analysis was carried out using a fixed or random effects model as appropriate. Although the magnitude of WL was similar (mean difference 0·03 kg, 95 % CI –0·65, 0·71), gradual WL promoted greater reductions in fat mass (FM) (–1 kg, 95 % CI –1·70, –0·29) and body fat percentage (BFP) (–0·83 %, 95 % CI –1·49, –0·17). Gradual WL significantly preserved RMR compared with rapid WL (407·48 kJ, 95 % CI 76·76, 118·01). However, there was no significant difference in waist and hip circumferences, waist:hip ratio and fat-free mass (FFM) between gradual and rapid WL. The present systematic review and meta-analysis indicates beneficial effects of gradual WL, as compared with rapid WL, on FM, BFP and RMR in individuals with overweight/obesity. However, FFM changes and anthropometric indices did not significantly differ following different rates of WL.

Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Nutrition Society

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