Now experts have revealed people who are keen to lose weight, or have been instructed to lose weight by a GP would benefit from a tortoise and the hare approach to shedding the pounds.
Experts said constant plodding - like the tortoise in the Aesops fable - is more likely to work than a mad dash to the finish - like the hare.
NHS Choices said: "The best way to treat obesity is to eat a healthy, reduced-calorie diet and exercise regularly."
The study of 183 participants found that people most likely to crash diet lost less weight over two years than those who shed a consistent number of pounds each week.
Dr Emily Feig, a researcher from Drexel University in the US, said: "It seems that developing stable, repeatable behaviours related to food intake and weight loss early on in a weight control programme is really important for maintaining changes over the long term."
Obese and overweight individuals were enrolled into a year-long weight loss programme.
The programme was based on meal replacements and behavioural strategies such as self-monitoring, calorie counting and increased exercise.
Bigger weight fluctuations in the first six and 12 weeks led to poorer weight control 12 months and two years later, experts said.
For example, a person who lost four pounds one week, regained two pounds the next week, and then lost one pound a week later, fared worse that someone who shed one pound per week consistently for three weeks.
The scientists did not explore the reasons why some participants' weight varied more than others.
However, previous research has shown that trying to lose weight too fast can set up a cycle of crash dieting and fluctuating weight.
Professor Michael Lowe, chief investigator psychologist, from Drexel University, said sticking to weight loss goals was important, even if progress was slow.
"Settle on a weight loss plan that you can maintain week in and week out, even if that means consistently losing three quarters of a pound each week, he said.
Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer, including bowel, breast and stomach cancer.
Experts have also said measuring waist circumference is a better measure of obesity than BMI.
The results were published in the journal Obesity.
This comes after it was revealed diet drinks are not healthier than full sugar versions.
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