- Contestants on show embarked on gruelling exercise and diet programme
- Lost average 9 stone (130lbs) but 13 out of 14 regained most of the weight
- Body’s response is to store energy and reduce number of calories it burns
- Means they have to do more exercise than before to maintain same weight
- Obesity researcher Dr Peter Janiszewski is a science writer for PlosBlogs
Have you seen the Biggest Loser?
If you haven’t seen the show (I admit I’ve only seen an episode or two), it’s essentially a number of individuals with morbid obesity who sign up to go through a gruelling program of starvation combined with insane volumes of exercise.
This is in the hope of winning some cash for losing a bunch of weight.
They get pushed by their ‘trainers’ all week, only to endure the humiliation of being weighed in front of millions of viewers.
At the end of the 30 week period, contestants often lose astounding amounts of body weight; way beyond what any respectable health authority would ever recommend.
This all makes for a very popular reality TV show.
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The popular TV show involves contestants being put through their paces and dieting, often leading to dramatic weight loss. But a study published in Obesity found 13 out of 14 contestants had put weight back on
This graph shows how four contestants fought to lose weight – and how three ended up getting it back. Rudy Pauls, the yellow line, weighed 390lbs when he had stomach surgery in 2014; his weight dropped again
But what happens to these contestants after they are done with the show and the drill-sergeant trainers aren’t there to scream at them to exercise for hours while subsisting on grapefruit?
A recent study published in the journal Obesity sought to evaluate exactly this question by checking in with 14 Biggest Loser participants some six years after they appeared on the show.
First thing to note is that on average these participants lost an astounding 130lbs (9 stone) during the 30 week competition.
As the human body is really good at maintaining equilibrium (and keeping you alive), it does something interesting but unfortunate when significant weight loss occurs: it reduces the number of calories it burns.
In effect, it becomes more efficient with energy in order to prevent what physiologically is happening: starvation. This process is called metabolic adaptation.
So how much can such a tremendous weight loss impact one’s daily metabolic rate?
At the end of the competition, the participants’ resting metabolic rate (energy you burn while doing nothing) decreased by 610 ± 483 kcal/day.
Such a change would most definitely make subsequent weight loss more challenging despite the same commitment to starvation and exercise.
Danny Cahill (pictured left, before his 2009 appearance on The Biggest Loser, and right, after) lost 239lbs in 13 weeks on the show – but like 13 of the 14 contestants tested by scientists, he put weight back on
The metabolisms of four contestants slowed down dramatically, causing them to burn off far fewer calories per day than someone of their respective weight ought to
Not surprisingly, 6 years after appearing on television, 13 of 14 participants regained some, all, or in excess of the weight they had lost during the show; 5 participants were at their original weight or higher.
But had their metabolism also gone back to normal along with their body weight?
In fact, 6 years later they were still burning approximately 700 kcals less per day that when then started on the show.
This means that just to maintain their weight, they have to expend an extra 700 kcals or reduce their consumption by 700 kcals over what they were doing before.
Their energy expenditure was approximately 500 kcal lower than you’d normally expect for a person with these demographics and measurements
This suggests that while the weight loss achieved with the Biggest Loser is most certainly not permanent, the damage done to the underlying physiology of energy homeostasis is.
This doesn’t even address the fact that such drastic lifestyle changes are completely unsustainable.
This article first appeared and has been reproduced with the permission of PlosBlogs.
THE BIGGEST LOSER CONTESTANTS REVISITED
A study by the National Institutes of Health found participants come out of the weight-loss reality competition burning about 500 fewer calories a day than expected.
Meaner still, those who drop the most weight see the greatest slowing of their metabolisms.
Contestants have also experienced substantial weight gain in the years after the show, it found.
Kevin Hall, a researcher with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, said the results show ‘how strongly the body fights back.’
Erinn Egbert (left before The Biggest Loser, right in 2015) was the only one tested who kept the weight off. Her metabolism slowed, burning 552 fewer calories than it should, and she struggles with cravings
Professor Hall said 500 calories is the size of a big lunch and the results mean participants have to reduce their daily calorie intake by that much to avoid gaining weight.
‘It shows participants must change their lifestyles to fight weight gain,’ he said, when the study was published in May.
However, the study said it wasn’t all bad news for participants have been quite successful at long-term weight loss when compared to people in other intervention programs aimed at shedding weight.
The study was published in the journal Obesity.
It involved 14 contestants from Season 8 who were evaluated six years after the competition ended in 2009.
Link original: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3670042/How-dramatic-weight-loss-wreck-metabolism-forever-Strict-regimes-like-Biggest-Loser-make-body-think-starving.html?ITO=applenews