The study done through the National Institute of Health (NIH) tracked the progress of 14 contestants on “Biggest Loser” reality show, each of whom had lost an average of 200 pounds. Sound great but 13 of the 14 gained on average 66% of the weight they lost – four were even heavier than before.
For those of not familiar with this show, contestants sign up to compete to see who can lose the highest percentage of weight relative to their initial weight. During the competition contestants undergo a very restrictive diet while doing punishing workouts. They are given the perfect or what we think is the perfect scenario for losing weight – tough but motivating trainer, telegenic doctors, strict meal plans and killer workouts.
Sounds like the perfect recipe for losing weight – not so fast.
What happened in the case of these contestants?? Research has found that the body will fight back to get that fat back and we can see that is what happened to the 13 or the 14 contestants. The body in an effort to protect itself from starvation has many different mechanisms – one of which is to lower the body’s metabolism to the point where you need fewer calories to maintain the same activity level. Top that off with restrictive dieting which will eventually cause muscle loss, the metabolism slows down even further.
“There used to be a mythology that you just exercised enough you could keep your metabolism up, but that clearly wasn’t the case, these folks were exercising an enormous amount and their metabolism was slowing down by several hundred calories per day,” said senior author Kevin D. Hall of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland.
So this study has basically busted the myth that all you have to do is lower the amount calories that you eat and exercise more. Or, at the very least it doesn’t work for everyone.
Why Doesn’t Cutting Calories, Exercise More Work?
Huge amounts of money is going into to research why this simple “math equation” isn’t working to solve the obesity crisis – the NIH has provided over $931 million for obesity research in 2016 alone. And, they are finding answers.
What the research is showing is that are many different elements involved with losing weight and keeping it off.
Chronic Inflammation: For instance we now know that there are certain metabolic conditions like chronic inflammatory conditions such as IBS or insulin resistance that need to be addressed before we can see weight loss. That is one of reasons that programs like the metabolic balance program are having more success in achieving lifelong weight loss because this program works by reviewing lab work looking for the causes of chronic inflammation and addresses this with food and lifestyle changes. If you want to learn more about this program – sign up for my bi-monthly webinars on my events page.
Microbiome: Research in the microbiome is also showing great promise in finding the clues as to why some of us can easily lose weight while others cannot. Addressing the microbiome in weight management is not as simple as taking a probiotics as we have often been told but requires looking at our dietary habits, life events, anti-biotic use and from some stool testing looking at the microbiome for dysbiosis (imbalances in gut flora) and infections. If you have an overgrowth of some bacteria – it will almost be impossible to lose weight. You need to address gut issues before you can lose weight – it is as simple as that.
Genomics: Whereas research is showing that genetics only plays a 3% role in weight management – genomics, on the other hand, is showing much greater promise in addressing that age old question of why Aunt Sue is so skinny and you aren’t. For instance, some of us have genetic variants that effect how we metabolize carbohydrates and for those a high carbohydrate diet, low fat diet won’t work. Yet we been told that this diet for all of us. Maybe not.
Chemical Exposure: And, despite the political influences involved, more and more evidence is showing that exposure to chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) alters our hormones leading to weight gain and even some cancers. These chemicals actually mimic estrogen and testosterone promoting weight gain, cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Perhaps this answers one of the question that I have – our obesity crisis cannot just be caused by overeating. After all 50% of Americans will be obese and/or overweight by 2030! It cannot just because we are eating too much!
Psychology: We have been told for so long that all you have to do is cut your calories and exercise more, that when we fail with this formula due to excessive hungry, not succeeding on a restrictive diet or not exercising, we beat ourselves up. This occurs more often with women because we are so often too critical of ourselves and do not practice self compassion. And, this is what researchers are finding – that people who make minor changes, focused on health benefits of dietary and lifestyle changes instead of a slimmer waist and practiced self compassion were much more successful in losing weight and keeping it off.
So what is the overall answer – start with a Functional Nutritional Evaluation which can open the doors and answer that perplexing question as to why you cannot lose weight. And, get on the program that best designed for you metabolism and LIFESTYLE. Contact me today to book your initial consultation.