NY Times ‘Biggest Loser’ article – your thoughts?
I was catching up on the JSF Fitness Journals last night when I saw that Seltzer posted a link to a NY Time article titled, “After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight“.
“Contestants lost hundreds of pounds during Season 8, but gained them back. A study of their struggles helps explain why so many people fail to keep off the weight they lose.”
Interested, I clicked through and gave the article a read. If you have a few minutes, please give the article a gander. I’d really like to read your reactions, especially if you’ve seen the show.
As you’ll see in my reply to Seltzer (below), I have never watched “The Biggest Loser”. I know a little about the show from discussions I’ve had with JSF members and friends over the years, and my reply is based on that information. I’ll re-post my reply here:
I read the article. I’ve, admittedly, never watched this television show, and since the article wasn’t that great I’m going to have to make some assumptions here.
My understanding (correct me if I’m wrong) is that the Biggest Loser emphasizes rapid weight loss, at all costs.
The article fails to discuss strength training. I don’t know if these people lifted during, or after the show. I can guess, though, and I’m probably right.
If these people went on crash diets and lost what I’d characterize as an abnormal amount of weight in a short period time, and if that weight loss included a substantial amount of muscle….
Again, I’ve never seen the show, so it’s certainly possible that I’ve made some incorrect assumptions. If so, please set me straight.
There’s really nothing surprising in the article. Something I’ve seen time and time again over the years is those people who choose to go on rapid fat loss diets almost always gain the weight back. This is especially true when the dieter loses an appreciable amount of muscle, and does not do any strength training during the weight loss phase, or after. As the NY Times article correctly points out, our metabolisms already slow down while in a prolonged caloric deficit; losing muscle on top of that is like a one-two punch, metabolically speaking. When you factor in the extreme caloric deficit the show uses to facilitate fast and dramatic weight loss, it’s a recipe for long-term failure.
These folks really didn’t stand a chance. I do not believe, however, that the reason these people gained the weight back is because they are predisposed to be a certain weight (as the article seems to conclude). The article struck me as nothing more than pandering to people who are at an unhealthy weight, and don’t want to accept responsibility for it.