By Staff Reports
(DGIwire) – This month a 6-year follow-up study of the contestants on Season 8 of the Biggest Loser was making headlines. It seems that only one was able to maintain a weight even close to their contest end weight, regaining a significant amount.
Scientists conducting the study were eager to closely interview and examine the contestants to potentially help in obesity research. They observed that all had reduced their resting metabolic rate considerably with an ending rate even lower than expected for an average person of the same height and weight. They concluded that after weight loss, a person’s body would fight back for years to regain weight lost. There was also the usual talk about creating new drugs to stimulate metabolism to combat obesity and weight recidivism after dieting.
Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the number of calories a person uses at rest just to maintain their bodily function and current weight. At the start of the contest, all of the contestants were extremely overweight and all had high RMR’s to match. This is not unusual. The more you weigh the higher your RMR will be. As someone gains or loses weight, their RMR responds accordingly.
It should be noted that all of the contestants lost an extreme amount in an extremely short period of time. Their diet and exercise routines were equally extreme. They exercised an average of seven hours a day, burning an estimated 8000-9000 calories extra a day while eating on average only 7 calories per pound of bodyweight. The total caloric intake constantly reduced based on their changing lower bodyweight. Those calories also came from very healthy sources in a proper balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat consisting of 4 cups minimum of fruits and vegetables, 3 servings of healthy proteins (e.g. fish, skinless chicken breast, 93% lean ground turkey), 2 servings of whole grains, and 1 serving of healthy fat daily. None of the contestants maintained either the exercise routine or the diet after the contest was over.
“The weight gain is really not surprising at all when you think about it. Anyone’s RMR would be significantly lower after such extreme weight loss. In addition, our bodies are amazing in the way they can adapt. The metabolic function and efficiency during weight loss improves, meaning that our bodies adapt to function on less calories than would be expected at a given weight. This is a built-in evolutionary survival mechanism. These contestants also lost a significant amount of lean body mass, which causes another built-in alarm to sound. What we really want to lose is our excess body fat, while maintaining our muscle mass” according to Tom Griesel, co-author of TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust.
The researchers noted that the weight loss was accompanied by changes in certain hormones like leptin. Weight loss, particularly extreme weight loss results in lower levels of leptin and when leptin levels fall people get hungry. They noted that this was probably a big reason weight was regained in the years following.
Griesel adds, “A common thread in interviews with the contestants was the mention of how treats, chips and beer, among others, turned into binges. These are all unhealthy foods that are not good for anyone. In my experience, anyone who is overweight and particularly the obese have food addiction issues that cannot be overcome long-term by diet and exercise alone. Diet plays a much bigger role than exercise in weight management. Regardless of your RMR, no one can outrun a poor diet. People tend to eat a certain average volume of food on a daily basis, usually 4-5 pounds. Focusing on eating high nutrient, lower calorie food choices like fruits, leafy greens, non-starchy veggies and beans along with non-fat dairy choices allows a huge volume of food and is usually all it takes to maintain an ideal body composition.”