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New Study Claims Crash Diets Aren't As Bad For Weight Loss As Once Thought

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - For years we've been taught that when it comes to losing weight, crash diets are bad and that slow, steady weight loss is the best approach. But now, a new study published in medical journal, The Lancet, claims that's not necessarily the case.

As CBS2's Elise Finch reported, researchers in Australia tracked two groups of obese adults; the first group ate between 1,500 and 2,000 calories daily, the second group ate no more than 800 calories each day.

At the end of 12 weeks, more people in the rapid weight loss group hit the goal of losing 15 percent of their body weight.

"I find that if I may be ill or something happens and I lose a lot of weight, it sticks with me much  more than the slow and steady," one woman CBS2 spoke with said.

The authors of the study say what's far more revealing is that of the patients who regained the weight, people who lost it quickly gained it back at the same rate as those who lost it slowly.

Another study out of London says weight loss, even if it's not maintained, can benefit the heart.

Together the findings imply that any weight loss is a good thing, no matter how you lose it or how long you keep it off, Finch reported.

But nutritionists CBS2 spoke to disagree.

"Frequently, crash diets or the crashing diets are those that completely deprive you of calories and nutrients and protein so you really need to be very sensible and educated if you're doing anything that dramatic," Barbara O'Brien said, a registered dietician at Lenox Hill Hospital.

"It's great to lose weight but if you can't keep it off then you really don't get too many benefits," registered dietician and nutritionist Elisa Zied said.

Some experts say the best approach is to eat as if you're already maintaining weight loss-- not striving for it-- making portion control, not extreme calorie cutting the key to losing weight and keeping it off.

Some health professionals also say stringent diets should only be used for short periods of time to kick-start weight loss, and they should be medically supervised.

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