The Biggest Loser contestants lose large amounts of weight during the show through dieting and intense workouts. The winner of season 8, the season followed in a recent study, had calorie deficits of 3,500-calories per day (1 pound per day!) and exercised 7 hours each day. The study emphasized that while each contestant lost large amounts of weight, they also suffered ill-effects related to their extreme weight loss. Thirteen of the fourteen participants regained weight after the show, in part due to their significantly lowered resting metabolic rates (RMR), which resulted from their severely limited caloric intake. This change in their RMR is called metabolic adaptation and averaged ~500 kcal per day lower than expected in season 8 contestants. In addition to their lowered RMRs, the contestants also produced substantially less leptin, a hormone that controls hunger.
Although the study was small, it has reinforced the battle of obesity and losing weight can be a complicated path. Perhaps the show’s approach to incredibly low caloric intake and rapid weight loss may contribute to the significantly lowered metabolism and hormone levels. Crash dieting may also contribute to crashing resting metabolism rates and leptin concentrations.
Researchers are realizing the way out of obesity is a mix of biology and mental fortitude. If you’re struggling to lose weight or maintain your weight loss, reach out for help. Most importantly, seek guidance and coaching from a professional well versed with emotional and physical struggles of weight loss. We at Banister Nutrition will embrace your total lifestyle including work, activities, family demands, self-talk, stress, and emotional challenges along with your food to support you on your journey to healthy, fit, and strong.