With the failures of “The Biggest Loser” weight loss program currently splashed in the media, many are asking how and why these contestants were unable to maintain the weight loss experienced on the show. The previous post on calorie reduction explains part of the problem. When we decrease calories in, the body decreases calorie out. Feed your body less and your body uses less energy. If you keep cutting your calorie intake, your metabolic rate decreases.
As the author of the article featured in the New York Times explains “It has to do with resting metabolism, which determines how many calories a person burns when at rest. When the show began, the contestants, though hugely overweight, had normal metabolisms for their size, meaning they were burning a normal number of calories for people of their weight. When it ended, their metabolisms had slowed radically and their bodies were not burning enough calories to maintain their thinner sizes.”
What is really shocking and pretty depressing about this is that these contestants’ metabolism remained low after the diet. Lower in fact than needed to maintain their slimmer figures. Now a certain reduction in metabolism would be expected with weight loss ( As we decrease in size we do require less energy to maintain our smaller size) but what happened here is that resting metabolic rate (RMR) decreased to LESS than was expected at the new body weight.Check out Dr Jason Fung’s blog post here for more detail and here
As a result it did not take long before weight began to creep back up resulting in some contestants actually weighing more than they had before the contest.
The article goes on to tell a really sad tale of hours of exercising a day in attempts to curb the weight gain. Of starvation and cravings and feelings of hopeless failure. As one contestant comments ,“What people don’t understand is that a treat is like a drug, two treats can turn into a binge over a three-day period. That is what I struggle with.”
So what’s missing in this picture? It would seem by the comments from contestants as well as researchers, one was expected to maintain a grueling exercise regime to stay in shape long term. It also appears that these folk were not informed that “treats” would drive cravings and hunger and bingeing and that perhaps it was not a good idea to include any junk food into the diet at any time in the future.
Nobody makes mention of the role of refined carbohydrates, sugars , processed foods and chemicals or the effect they have on the brain.
Right at the outset it is essential to understand that it is WHAT we eat that makes us fat. Eating food that human beings were never meant to be eating causes a cascade of hormone dysfunction that sets off a cycle of cravings, hunger and over eating.
The first step in correcting obesity is NOT calorie cutting but removing food from our diets which cause the problem in the first place.
The second step is addressing meal frequency!