If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ve probably tried a variety of diets for maintaining health, and you’ve probably come across the popular advice that if you lose weight gradually rather than rapidly, you are more likely to keep the weight off. But, that may not be true, according to researchers.

The study

Researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia decided to put the rapid vs. gradual weight-loss theory to the test by studying 204 participants over almost three years.

The participants were assigned to either a 12-week rapid weight-loss program or 36-week gradual weight-loss program and then placed on a weight maintenance program for the remaining time period.

Rather than proving the common theory that gradual weight loss is more effective, participants from both weight loss programs showed similar patterns of weight regain. The researchers concluded that regardless of the method of losing weight, weight regain may generally occur in the same way.

What does this mean for you?

Losing weight can be very difficult, especially when you have a chronic illness, but half the battle of losing weight is maintaining that weight loss no matter what method you used to lose the weight. Whether you decide to try to lose weight fast or take a steadier approach, here a few tips for maintaining weight loss:

Keep exercising. Physical activity plays a vital role in maintaining health and keeping weight off. Being active should be part of your daily life so you stay healthy and motivated.
Maintain healthy eating habits. Now that you aren’t on a strict diet, be sure to make delicious, healthy meals for yourself with nutritious ingredients and controlled portion sizes.
Find a support system. Enlist a close friend or find a support group to keep up your enthusiasm for living healthy.
Continue setting goals. You probably got into the habit of setting goals when you were losing weight. Now set goals to keep it off by pledging to eat healthy and maintain physical activity.
Acknowledge your progress. Be proud of the weight loss you have accomplished, even if you gain some of it back.
Stay positive. Maintaining weight loss is not an impossible goal, but it will take hard work, smart choices, and a positive attitude to accomplish.

Whatever weight loss method you choose, gradual or rapid, make sure you are staying healthy and making the right choices for your body. As always, before you venture on a weight loss journey or change your diet in any way, consult with your doctor.

For more on weight loss:

How to Start a Diabetic Weight Loss Plan
9 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight
Another Compelling Reason to Lose Weight: Safety on the Roads