I spoke at a local event recently and I could almost feel the goosebumps, the knife cutting straight to the heart, the almost fall off your seat because you are sitting so close to the edge moment when I started talking about the 2009 biggest loser contestants.
I like to use them as an example as they so brutally paint a picture of everything that is wrong with the weight loss world. It is so far entrenched in our society, in the government, in fitness professionals, in doctors, in schools, I almost wonder if we can ever come back to reality.
So here’s what happened.
The 2009 Biggest loser contestants are on a calorie RESTRICTED diet of about 1200kcal a day for their 30 week competition. That is lowish. Have you been on a calorie restricted diet before?
Probably, most people have. Was it that low?
As a personal trainer I used to have my clients on around about 1500 kcal. These contestants were also training 6 days a week for at least 90 minutes – that’s kind of hard core. Basically biggest loser is an example of the ‘eat less, exercise more’ model of weight loss – but on steroids. Its FULL ON, and so are the RESULTS.
These contestants had a wide range of metabolic testing, before, at the end of the 30 week challenge and again 6 years later. Their results were published last year in the Obesity Journal.
- The average weight of the contestants before competition was 148.9 kg, it was 90.6 kg at the end of the 30 weeks and 131.6 kg 6 years later. They lost a whole lot of weight and ALL but one put it (71%) BACK ON AGAIN!
- Lean muscle started at 76kg, dropped to 64kg and went back to 70kg. Lean muscle was lost and only 50% was put back on again after 6 years. This suggests most of the regained weight was FAT.
- Metabolic rate was 2607 kcal when competition started. This is a high metabolic rate, but is appropriate as the bigger you are, the higher your metabolic rate as you have a bigger house to run. This rate dropped to 1996 kcal after the competition, that is about 275 kcal LOWER than EXPECTED. So, their metabolism slowed lower than expected, but that is not the worst part. At the end of the 6 years their average metabolism was 1903 kcal. So despite ‘their house’ (weight) getting bigger, their metabolism did not increase. Their metabolism never returned. Their predicted metabolism was 2403 and now they are only burning 1903kcal, 500kcal/day less than they should. Put simply, they permanently DAMAGED their metabolism, it is now running EXTREMELY SLOW for their size.
- The last measure I want to discuss, the rest you can check out for yourself below, is leptin. Your satiety hormone. Leptin is produced by fat cells and flows in CONJUNCTION with your metabolism, they rise and fall TOGETHER. The more fat cells you have, the more leptin is released, communicating satiety (whether your body listens is a story for a whole other blog!). Leptin started at an average of 41.14 ng/mL and dropped a massive 94% to 2.56 ng/mL at the end of the competition. They basically had no leptin. They basically had no satiety cues. They basically finished the competition STARVING! So what do you think will happen when a starving individual, who has been told what to do for the last 30 weeks, goes home? They go home starving with no support. Of course the weight will come back on! Their leptin goes up to 27.68 at the end of the 6 years, so their leptin increases despite the metabolism not, so now their metabolism and hormones are OUT of whack.
I used to be a personal trainer and used this model all the time. Even when I have events that I want to look good for I find myself DEFAULTING to train hard and cut back calories. But it is wrong. This is but only one example.
In 1965 we established the key hormone that drives fat metabolism and we know what drives that key hormone.
But still we think the answer is as simple as calories in, calories out, eat less, exercise more.
It would be nice if weight loss was that simple, an easy equation, a-b=c. But it is not. Our body and brain is designed for survival. It WILL NOT let us starve. If we communicate messages of STARVATION through changing our ENVIRONMENT, our body will ADAPT. In this case it SLOWS down our metabolism to PRESERVE its fuel, and without help it never comes back.
A Low Carbohydrate, High Fat (LCHF) diet on the other hand INCREASE leptin, your satiety hormone. Leptin is produced not only from fat cells but also dietary fat. Eating high quality fat reduces hunger signals. Leptin can be silenced by triglycerides but we now know a LCHF diet reduces triglycerides by 50% as seen in this study by Jeff Volek and team. The key hormone preventing fat metabolism is also removed on a LCHF diet. So these studies show that a WELL FORMULATED (I personally believe most are not) LCHF diet leaves you feeling satisfied, speeds up your metabolism, removes the triglyceride barrier and unlocks fat metabolism – and that is just the beginning!
If you would like help getting started with what to eat to balance your hormones to burn fat in a generic non diet specific way, I invite you download our free fat burning meal plan HERE.
Or if you want to start uncovering the link between your metabolism and your hormones our FREE 7 Day Challenge HERE is an awesome place to start!
I am not saying do low carb, high fat, I believe there are MANY components at play.
I am suggesting we NOT STARVE ourselves to lose weight anymore because it damages the body in the long term.
I AM suggesting we ADOPT a NEW model of weight loss, a new APPROACH to health that LISTENS to our hormones and metabolism, that considers not just the role of calories and exercise on our body, health and life, but also the QUALITY of the food we eat, our LIFESTYLE, our sleep, our BELIEFS, our mindset, EMOTIONS and trauma, the CYCLES our body and lives move through, our STRESS response, the flow of ENERGY in our bodies and life, our CONNECTION with ourselves and those around us.
So much plays a role in our weight, body and health and its TIME we listen and move forward in ALIGNMENT.
When we so this weight loss is EFFORTLESS, health is ABUNDANT, our confidence EXPANDS and life is LIGHT and FREE!
Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 Aug;24(8):1612-9. doi: 10.1002/oby.21538. Epub 2016 May 2.
Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition.
Fothergill E1, Guo J1, Howard L1, Kerns JC2, Knuth ND3, Brychta R1, Chen KY1, Skarulis MC1, Walter M1, Walter PJ1, Hall KD1.
Lipids. 2008 Jan;43(1):65-77. Epub 2007 Nov 29. Comparison of low fat and low carbohydrate diets on circulating fatty acid composition and markers of inflammation. Forsythe CE1, Phinney SD, Fernandez ML, Quann EE, Wood RJ, Bibus DM, Kraemer WJ, Feinman RD, Volek JS.