By Jamell Andrews
Anyone who has struggled with their weight can’t help but be in awe of contestants on NBC’s popular reality show, The Biggest Loser, where overweight contestants lose extreme amounts of weight in hopes of reclaiming their health and winning $250,000.
There’s been controversy since the show first aired regarding how quickly the contestants lose weight and whether or not extreme weight loss in such a short amount of time is healthy. Recently, former contestants have come forward and admitted to gaining much—if not all—of the weight back.
A study by researchers from the National Institutes of Health and published in the journal, Obesity, this week has found that many of the reality show’s competitors leave the show with a slower metabolism that can make it harder to keep the weight off.
The study started with 16 competitors from Season 8 and ended with 14 who took part in the follow-up 6 years after being on the show. It found that the participants come out of the show burning 500 less calories a day than they should be. It was also found that the contestants that lose the most weight experience the most significant slowing of their metabolisms.
What We Can Learn from This Information
The results of this study confirms what we have long been told about the most effective way to lose weight, which is that losing weight and keeping it is more about making long-term changes in your lifestyle and not a quick fix.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), evidence shows that those who lose weight gradually, at a rate of approximately 1 or 2 pounds per week, are more successful in keeping it off.
Extreme measures, such as those used on the show, aren’t realistic for the long-term and aren’t safe for most people. While losing weight quickly might help keep you motivated, it can take a toll on your physical and mental health if not done safely and under medical supervision.
Rapid weight loss is known to pose several potentially serious risks. Those who lose large amounts of weight in a short period increase their risk of gallstones by as much as 25 percent. Depending on the methods used, losing weight too quickly can also lead to:
- Muscle loss
- Hair loss
- Hormone imbalances
- Irregular menstrual periods
A well-balanced diet and regular exercise to help change your balance of calories in to calories out is the healthiest and safest approach to weight loss, according to the American Heart Association and other leading health authorities.