Weight loss is a big business in America – worth more than $ 60 billion annually. It's no wonder when you consider that one in three Americans over the age of 20 years old is considered to be an obese person, and more than 70% of the population is classified as having overweight.
Television companies, and dietary supplements producers are aware of this and every year there are new products and TV shows devoted to "rapid changes" and "great results". One of the first such programs was The Biggest Loser. Each season the participants with obesity and overweight approach to the exhausting competition to see who can lose the most kilograms as soon as possible.
Participants were subjected to extreme training and diet in order to get the same results that can be seen on billboards and in newspaper advertisements.
While everything seems to be an ideal solutions for them, some new study shown long-term effects of such extreme weight loss.
A group of scientists who had studied the metabolic adaptations following the extreme weight loss were sought to measure long-term changes in the resting metabolic rate (RMR), and overall physique of the participants of The Biggest Loser.
To verify if any permanent damages occured after participating in the program, the researchers recruited 14 of the 16 participants of Season 8. RMR and changes in body composition were tested after 6 years from the end of the program.
To do this, they used dual x-ray energy of absorptiometry and measured RMR by indirect calorimetry at the beginning – in comparison to the end of 30-week program, and then 6 years later. Metabolic adaptation was defined as a RMR residue after adjusting for changes in body composition and age.
14 of the 16 members of the cast of The Biggest Loser participated in the control survey. When the program was over, the participants lost an average of 58.3 kilograms, and their resting metabolic rate (RMR) decreased by an average of 610 calories.
During six years since the end of the program, participants regained an average of 41 kg, and their resting metabolism decreased even more, an average of 704 calories below its baseline shortly after the start of the program!
The study also demonstrated that participants organisms produced less leptin, a hormone that helps regulate the level of appetite. This meant that participants had to work even harder, to refrain from eating.
What does it mean?
Basically, when the series started, the participants had metabolic typical for someone with overweight, ie. They burned a normal number of calories each day. However, under the influence of extreme exercises and diet, their metabolism has slowed down significantly, and their bodies simply stopped to burn enough amount of calories to keep them slimmer.
Referring to the figures, at the beginning of the program, participants had an average RMR of 2,607 ± 649 kcal/day. At the end of the 30-week program – 1996 ± 358 kcal/day. Finally, the researchers concluded that "the people who have managed to keep the increased weight loss over 6 years, also experienced a greater slowdown of the metabolism."
Of course, our metabolism slows down after six years of aging, but not so much! TV series successfully switched participants’ bodies to "starvation mode" – permanently perhaps!
In our opinion
Do not get us wrong, if you are overweight or obese, slimming is very desirable not only from an aesthetic point of view, but is crucial for your overall health. You will live longer, happier, and you will generally feel better by getting rid of excess weight.
The problem is the use of extreme preparations, and diets such as those in The Biggest Loser. They focus only on the number of kilos that you can loose, and how quickly this can be done. That's the problem. This is an American obsession with immediate results!
This study shows that using a very restrictive diet and extreme exercises can ruin your metabolism, and as a result we end up in a worse place than before starting the process of weight loss.
There is no quick solutions in life, especially when it comes to weight loss. Once again, the real solution is a moderate caloric deficit with the appropriate amount of exercises. This leads to both long-term sustainable development, more self-confidence, healthier adaptation of metabolism, as well as a greater likelihood of maintaining a proper weight permanently.
Discipline, not motivation
As with all of the most important things in life, health comes down to a regular discipline, not motivation. Motivation leads to stupid ideas, such as a devastating the organism diet.
Look at the healthy people in your environment or those enjoying a successes in business. Their motivation can go up and down over time, but never disappears their discipline. They never stop working, they never cease to eat properly. They never cease to read and become better and better. This is simply part of their lives.
In fact, it would be best to erase the word "motivation" from your vocabulary. You do not need it. You need discipline.
If this study teaches us anything, it is that we need to stop looking for the quickest and easiest ways in life. If you want to achieve good results, you need to have the right plan, to impose yourself a suitable tempo, and be disciplined, year after year!