‘The Biggest Loser’ study: Contestant ends up heavier than when he started show at 32 stone “Details”

'The Biggest Loser' study: Contestant ends up heavier than when he started show at 32 stone

The Biggest Loser, a reality TV show in which contestants compete to shed the most weight, has been a huge win for NBC — now airing all over the world in its 17th season.

While contestants on The Biggest Loser drop an incredible amount of weight in just a few short weeks, that weight loss is often unsustainable and actually harmful to their metabolism, according to a new study.

Prior to participating in the extreme diet on the show, the obese participants had normal metabolisms for their weights.

But after the intense period of diet and exercise (which researchers have agreed is unsustainable), the study shows they experienced a metabolic shift.

This means that in order to maintain their current weight, they have to eat hundreds of calories less than peers of the same weight who hadn’t dieted.

This research is just the latest in a series of studies that have found that for some, the battle of the bulge goes well beyond willpower.

So, does this mean we’re fated to be fat?

Not exactly. Critics say that although the findings in The Biggest Loser study are interesting, they can’t necessarily be applied to the general public.

For one thing, the sample size in the study was only 14 people. Second, The Biggest Loser participants underwent a gruelling, unsustainable diet and workout regimen during their tenure on the show, which may have played a factor in how their metabolism reacted.

Finally, the 14 participants in the study were morbidly obese to begin with, some topping the scale at nearly 500 pounds (226kg). Experts say that may have been the biggest indicator of how their bodies reacted to their subsequent weight loss.

“Once you become obese, certain hormones shift. For example, the level of leptin, which controls appetite, goes down. And once your hormones have shifted, it’s much harder to get them back in balance, even after you’ve lost weight,” explains William Dietz, MD, obesity expert and director of the Sumner M Redstone Global Centre for Prevention and Wellness, who was not involved in the study.

For those who just want to shape up before summer, Mr Dietz says there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to lose weight. In his opinion and with a doctor’s permission, one of the best weight loss strategies he recommends is replacing one meal a day with a protein shake.

“Having breakfast, lunch, then a protein shake for dinner is sustainable and appears effective in terms of losing excess weight,” says Mr Dietz.

Why does it work? Mainly because people can stay on it without feeling deprived.
“It gives you the calorie deficit you need, but still keeps you satisfied,” says Mr Dietz.

“I also think this diet is effective because it’s easy to pick back up as soon as you see the scale creep up without overhauling your lifestyle.”

Experts add that more extreme diets have their place as well … as long as you have the willpower to stay on them. Jason Fung, MD, author of The Obesity Code, advocates fasting to achieve sustained weight loss.

He recommends skipping meals for two non-consecutive 24-hour periods because a sustained fasting period triggers the body to burn off excess fat, which only happens after glucose and glycogen stores have been burned off.

Bottom line, no matter what alarmist headlines say, weight loss is possible to attain and maintain … and the diet that works is the one you can follow for more than a day.

Mr Dietz adds research has shown that regardless of how people lose the pounds, the best way to keep them off forever is to follow the habits of members of the National Weight Control Registry and engage in 80 minutes of activity every day, do an everyday weigh-in, add more fruits and vegetables to their diet and eat breakfast.