Is The Biggest Loser Weight Loss for Real?

March 12, 2009

Is The Biggest Loser Weight Loss for Real?
by: Jayson Hunter Registered Dietitian, CSCS

We are going to be talking a little bit about the confusion there was on the show The Biggest Loser, a lot of people watch that show. In the first week all these people, extremely heavy people lost a ton of weight and then the second week really nobody lost any weight.
In fact, to my knowledge, one person gained one pound. So, I want to explain what the confusion is and what exactly happens when you have that rapid weight loss. So, why did people see such amazing results the first week and see none the second week?

If we just use this show as an example. They saw so much weight loss in the first week because they obviously tell you that they are on a special type of diet, they don’t really go into the details of what it is, but I can assume that it’s a higher protein, low carb diet. These people are obviously 300/400 lbs because they were eating too much, they were over eating, ingesting thousands and thousands of calories. So, when they got to The Biggest Loser, of course they restricted those calories and put them on a special type of diet.

Glycogen is created from the carbohydrates and starches that you eat. So, for every gram that you store in your body, you also store 3-4 grams of water. If you look at it from the stand point of maybe someone was eating 500 – 700 grams of carbs and they were storing all this glycogen and they cut it to 200 grams of carbs, well you can also cut out about 3-4 grams of water for every one of those carbs you just cut out. And obviously that’s weight on the scale.

The metabolism kind of goes into shock when this happens so you lose all that glycogen and the extra grams of water which is weight in the end, and then not to mention they were exercising like crazy which none of them had really done before, so they’re going to lose water weight anyway from the amount of perspiration and body changes that are taking place and all the stuff that your body has to do to adapt to that exercise now. Your body generally fluctuates about 3-4% on a daily basis anyway.

If you look at it from the stand point of some of those men are 300-400 pounds, a 3 %- 4 % change could be, 12 pounds in either direction. And obviously women that are 200 lbs or 250 lbs, you’re looking at maybe 10 lbs in either direction, 8 lbs in either direction, somewhere in there. Women tend to fluctuate even more then men in regards to water weight on a daily basis just because of the hormone levels. When you saw the weight loss they were getting, such as 15 lbs, 18lbs, I think someone lost 29lbs. Most of that is the initial shift because of eating less carbs, eating less calories as well as just general water weight loss because of the increased activity that they were now doing.

It’s very important for people to understand that when you start, you can see these dramatic results but it’s permanent lifestyle changes that allow you to have fast, safe permanent weight loss but its permanent in the sense that you can start by taking off 15 – up to 15lbs in 30 days, but things are going to level off, and you have to make behavioral changes, you have to change your life. There are no quick fixes for anything.

If you go to the extreme and say, and again we don’t know exactly what diet The Biggest Loser people are on, but a lot of people go on what they call, a true low carb diet, and a true low carb diet is, maybe 30 grams of carbs for the entire day. It’s low. It’s essentially nothing. When you go on that type of diet it really wreaks havoc on your metabolism, Your goal is to be cycling your carb intake which is going to get you that fast weight loss, but not sacrifice your metabolism because you want that metabolism to be fast all the time. That’s the number one goal.

Your body works a certain way and that’s true for all of us, so you need to know the science behind it and while you can lose weight fast, safely and keep that metabolism up, you’re going to need to make those permanent lifestyle changes to keep it off.

Don’t get caught up in these changes, these extreme changes of “Man how did they lose 30lbs and I can’t lose a pound.” You got to compare apples to apples here and see what positions their in and see what you’ve been in because as you noticed as you watched the second week of the biggest loser, those guys lost 2lbs, 3lbs, someone gained a pound and that’s their body going through that transition and almost going into a survival mode. I think you’ll find that as you keep watching the show; their weight will start to be more consistent where they’ll consistently lose 2lbs of fat a week or 3lbs of fat a week.
You won’t see this wild swing of losing 30 lbs then losing 0 lbs even though they worked just as hard and ate just the same, because your body’s going to adjust, and your body – your metabolism will slowly speed back up and the goal is to try not to get that metabolism to slow down to begin with, try to keep it up at an elevated rate so that it is a consistent, permanent weight loss.

Jayson Hunter RD, CSCS is the author of the Carb Rotation Diet. To discover the 5 absolute truths Every Serial Dieter Who Seeks Rapid-Weight loss MUST come to grips with visit The Carb Rotation Diet.


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