How to Beat the Biggest Loser Paradox

weight loss, extreme weight loss, metabolism

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

June 3, 2016

  • Biggest Losers unable to maintain weight loss
  • Why rapid weight loss damages your metabolism
  • Slow and steady wins the weight-loss race

You may have seen recent headlines about a new study that shows Biggest Loser contestants aren’t able to keep their weight off. This was a six year follow up study, a real long term study as these things go.

A lot of my patients are concerned by this news. They’re afraid that, after all of their hard work, they’ll become victims of the same metabolic effect that’s plaguing the contestants.

You may have these concerns, too. So today I’d like to clear up a few things for you.

The Biggest Loser study raises many questions… and offers very few answers.

One of the key points the authors make is that, as you lose weight, your metabolism slows down. And this is true. When your body is smaller, it’s going to burn fewer calories than it did when you were overweight.

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But in the case of the Biggest Loser contestants, their metabolism became slower and slower over the six years after their initial weight loss. Even when they kept their calories to a level that should allow further weight loss, they gained pounds.

What the study authors failed to address is how quickly the contestants melted their fat away for the show.

And believe me! There’s a big difference between rapid weight loss and longer-term weight lost. Lose weight too quickly and it can result in lasting damage to your metabolism. However, losing weight on a more reasonable timetable is a very different story. As I’ve said to many patients, acute diets don’t work in the long run…people go on diets, and by

definition they go off of them…and the body remembers that famine and stress mode you put it into.
Avoid Rapid Weight Loss to Save Your Metabolism

The type of weight loss achieved by Biggest Loser competitors involves both a drastic reduction in calories and a dramatic increase in vigorous and sustained physical activity.

This creates extreme physical demands on your body that aren’t natural. In particular, it can decrease your leptin levels. This is the hormone that tells you your body has enough fat stored, so you don’t need to eat. When it’s not working correctly, it can lead to excessive hunger.

Quick weight loss also reduces thyroid function and basal metabolic functioning and affects your sympathetic nervous system.

Put these three changes together, and it can suppress your resting metabolism for years to come. And the lower your metabolism goes, the more likely you are to find the pounds creeping back up to unhealthy levels.

Now, I’ve already explained to my patients it’s a mistake to compare their steady and healthy weight loss results against those found in this study.

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So let’s talk about the right way to lose weight – and keep it off – without starving yourself or exercising for hours on end.

Here’s how to Beat the Biggest Loser Paradox

I know it’s tempting to go for the quickest weight loss results possible. But rapid-weight loss results simply can’t be sustained.

You’re much better off losing your weight slowly and steadily so that you don’t trigger the same metabolic catastrophe experienced by those on the Biggest Loser.

First, load your plate with fresh, organic veggies at every meal. Then, fill in the rest of your plate with a small amount of healthy fats and clean-sourced proteins. Do this 90% of the time and you’ll automatically be eating your way to weight loss. This also feeds the good bacteria in your gut which helps you maintain a healthy weight.

The other 10% of the time eat some of the foods you enjoy, even if they don’t promote weight loss. This way you won’t feel “cheated”… and you’ll be more apt to be successful in your goals.

Second, skip the endurance training. Instead, go for intensity.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) gives your heart and lungs more of a workout. It also promotes after-burn; it actually helps you burn more fat even when you’re resting.

In essence, it resets your metabolism to work more efficiently, not less efficiently.

To get the most out of HIIT, check out this previous issue of Advanced Natural Wellness for a fantastic fat-burning workout.

Finally, if you’re eating the right foods, you really don’t need to be concerned that much about calories. But if you want to kick your weight loss up a notch, you can try intermittent daily fasting.

The concept is simple: Designate a window of six to eight hours each day to enjoy regular meals. Then fast for the remaining 16 to 18 hours. This is optimal. The minimal window (with somewhat less effect) is fasting for 13-14 hours….long term is the key.

During this period, your body will automatically trigger several processes that can help you drop pounds and optimize your health… even though you aren’t really eating any fewer calories than normal.

Once you make these concepts a part of your daily life, you’ll notice how quickly your body will adapt and change with them. However, unlike most Biggest Loser contestants, you’ll be able to sustain your weight loss over the long run.


Fothergill E, et al. Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition. Obesity. Article online first May 2016.

Knuth D, et al. Metabolic adaptation following massive weight loss is related to the degree of energy imbalance and changes in circulating leptin. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014 Dec; 22(12): 2563–2569.

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