Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Biggest Loser is a bad example to follow

I awoke this morning to a blog post by the great Tom Naughton over at fat head. Here's the link:


The bit that caught my attention was the short description of a study that followed up with Biggest Loser participants. It found that after 30 weeks of participation in the program, their metabolism slowed down by 504 calories more than could be explained by the weight loss.

To me this is slightly shocking and really appalling. I eat roughly 2000 calories a day. That means, had I followed the model of weight loss provided by this show, I would probably be gaining weight at this level of calories rather than being somewhat plateaued at this level. How crazy is that?

And let's not fool ourselves. The model the Biggest Loser provides is simply the extreme of Conventional Wisdom. Eat less food, stick to low fat. Do cardio exercise (some resistance training) to exhaustion. Create a calorie deficit.

Now I just wish that there would be follow-up as to why the metabolism slowed down more than the weight loss can explain. I suspect that the consistent calorie deficit in the presence of carbohydrates causing an insulin response meant that the body was not able to release enough fatty acids from the fat cells to compensate for the deficit and the body had to adjust by slowing down metabolism.

But that's just speculation.... I'd love to see a study testing this...

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