Very low energy diets (VLEDs), commonly achieved by replacing all food with meal replacement products and which result in fast weight loss, are the most effective dietary obesity treatment available. VLEDs are also cheaper to administer than conventional, food-based diets, which result in slow weight loss. Despite being effective and affordable, these diets are underutilized by healthcare professionals, possibly due to concerns about potential adverse effects on body composition and eating disorder behaviors. This paper describes the rationale and detailed protocol for the TEMPO Diet Trial (Type of Energy Manipulation for Promoting optimal metabolic health and body composition in Obesity), in a randomized controlled trial comparing the long-term (3-year) effects of fast versus slow weight loss. One hundred and one post-menopausal women aged 45⁻65 years with a body mass index of 30⁻40 kg/m² were randomized to either: (1) 16 weeks of fast weight loss, achieved by a total meal replacement diet, followed by slow weight loss (as for the SLOW intervention) for the remaining time up until 52 weeks ("FAST" intervention), or (2) 52 weeks of slow weight loss, achieved by a conventional, food-based diet ("SLOW" intervention). Parameters of body composition, cardiometabolic health, eating disorder behaviors and psychology, and adaptive responses to energy restriction were measured throughout the 3-year trial.