What Really Happened to The Biggest Losers

The recent article from the New York Times, After 'The Biggest Loser,' Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight, highlights that 13 out of the 14 contestants regained all the weight they lost within 6 years. The show was shocked and so were the contestants. How could this have happened? Doctors were interviewed and the contestants' metabolisms were measured and it was true that almost all of the contestants metabolisms have declined. Does this make us think that we should just give up on losing weight and living healthier?  No, this should teach us a lesson that there is a right and a wrong way to lose weight. The method in which the contestants lost their weight is not ideal and this is why.

  • Losing 39 pounds in one month is not reasonable and exercising 7 hours a day to burn 8000-9000 calories is not realistic. 
  • Losing weight too quickly throws your hormones into a tizzy, especially the ones that play a key role in how your metabolism functions.
  • Your appetite is controlled by a hormone called leptin that is stored in fat cells. Thus losing weight decreases the amount of leptin, increasing your 'I'm hungry' signals. Leptin is like insulin and it's easy to become leptin resistant from years of over eating. So even when the contestants gained weight back and their leptin increased, it's possible that the contestant's leptin signals were blocked. 
  • Our metabolism is based on a number of factors; the number of fat and muscle cells, how our bodies use fat vs carbohydrates for energy, gut flora, vitamins, and hormones. Drastic weight loss in a short-period of time impairs the body to function properly. The article doesn't even address the contestants' insulin levels and/or vitamin levels...my guess is that almost all of the contestants are insulin resistant and all are deficient in vitamins that play a key role in metabolism.
  • The contestants low calorie intake most likely altered their gut bacteria. An imbalance in your gut flora can inhibit weight loss.
  • To the best of my knowledge, the underlying causes of the contestants' obesity were not addressed such as gene mutation, toxicity levels, microbiome, insulin resistance, as well as other issues.
  • The make-up of protein, carbohydrates, and fat needs to be personalized for each person in order to fit their lifestyle. Living away from home, having chefs help you prepare your meals, chatting with counselors, and having trainers kick your butt (for free) for more than 7 hours daily are not the same conditions that these contestants had when they returned home. The issue here was that the weight loss and weight management strategies did not fit into their regular lifestyles.
  • Eating healthy is a life long journey and not a quick weight loss plan. In reality, the underlying cause of each contestant's obesity should have been addressed from the start. Instead, the show essentially set everyone up for failure.