Research team member Dr Erik Hemmingsson said that the body has several defence mechanisms against weight loss, such as increased hunger, lower energy metabolism and relapse back to old habits.
In their meta-analysis, the team from Karolinska University Hospital combined the results of 20 published scientific studies, including a total of 3,017 participants, who were either obese or overweight at the start of the weight loss process.
The various studies examined the effects of drugs, meal replacements, high protein diets, dietary supplements and exercise on rebound weight gain after an intensive weight loss, low-calorie diet (less the 1,000 calories a day).
Even though the study shows that rebound weight gain is more the rule than the exception, the researchers found that several strategies helped to reduce the unwanted effect: powdered meal replacements and a high protein diet.
The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.