When you lose those extra pounds and fit into your favorite dress after a week of a crash diet, it all seems worth the effort. However, a recent study claims a steady approach to weight loss is rather more useful for sustainable weight loss. 

The study published Monday in the journal Obesity suggests consistently shedding pounds every week can be a more effective strategy if you are looking to lose weight in the long-run instead of seeing your weight drop drastically only to subsequently rise again.

In the study, approved by the Drexel University Institutional Review Board, researchers followed 183 overweight adult participants, who had enrolled themselves in a long-term weight-loss program. For one year, they regularly participated in the program and were advised on diet and exercise. Their weight was measured and analyzed on a regular basis right from the start of their program. They were also made to attend assessment meetings at six, twelve and twenty-four months.

Researchers found the adults whose weights fluctuated the most during the first few weeks of program fared poorly in the weight loss outcomes one and two years later, as compared to the ones who lost a consistent number of pounds every week. It was concluded that consistency predicted long-term success in losing weight.

"Higher variability in weekly weights during the first 6 and 12 weeks of treatment predicted poorer subsequent weight loss 1 and 2 years after treatment initiation," the study concluded.

"It seems that 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," said lead author Emily Feig, PhD, a former graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences at Drexel University. Feig is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"This study goes even further in supporting the importance of early weight changes by showing that weekly variability in weight, above and beyond how much weight is lost, predicts weight loss maintenance up to two years later," Feig was quoted as saying in an article published by the Drexel University referring to the study. "So it seems that both success and consistency in weight loss at the beginning of a program is important for long-term success."

Participants who reported lower emotional eating, binge eating and preoccupation with food at the start of the study showed higher weight variability and less weight loss overall. "This suggests that initial weight change, rather than relationships with or behaviors toward food, is much more important in predicting who will succeed in weight loss and maintenance," the article published by the varsity read. 

The study, therefore, suggests crash diets do not work in the long-run and it is better to adopt a "tortoise-like" strategy rather than trying to be a hare and slim down faster. According to principal investigator Michael Lowe, PhD, a psychology professor at Drexel University, the findings of the study underline a potential method to stick to weight loss goals. 

The subjects in the study were mostly women. According to the researchers, if future studies replicate the results, measuring weight variability can be one of the ways to identify individuals less likely to achieve sustainable weight loss.