While we can’t blame anyone for watching garbage TV — we feasted on years of Saved by the Bell — or trying to get into better shape, it does appear that once again reality TV is full of shit after a study involving the contestants from the NBC’s The Biggest Loser has revealed some insights into why many people struggle to keep off weight they have lost. In the show, people the size of dump trucks — seriously, they’re huge —work with top-tier pros to drop a ton fo weight. By the end of the show they’re obviously much fitter than they were. Thing is, when the cameras stop rolling many of the contestants struggle to keep the weight off.
Why? The contestants’ metabolisms were super effed up following the massive weight loss in such a short period.
Kevin Hall, a National Institutes of Health scientists, followed The Biggest Loser contestants for six years after the show and found that when contestants first went on the show, they had normal metabolisms for their size, despite their weight. After losing hundred of pounds, however, their metabolisms slowed, meaning their bodies could not burn enough calories to keep the weight down.
This info shocked … nobody, really. However, what was surprising was that even after six years, the contestants metabolisms still hadn’t recovered. In fact, it had slowed even more. To keep the weight off they’d need to eat significantly less than the average person of the same size in order to avoid gaining more weight.
Researchers also found that contestants started out with normal levels of leptin, a hormone that controls hunger. By the finale, contestants had almost no leptin, which left them feeling starving. The constant urge to eat makes it even more difficult to keep from gaining back weight. The research shows that the struggle to keep weight off after losing it is a physiological problem, and sheds some light on the epidemic of obesity that the U.S.
Obesity and diabetes researcher, and man who was probably teased for his last name when Space Balls came out, Dr. Michael Schwartz told the New York Times:
“The key point is that you can be on TV, you can lose enormous amounts of weight, you can go on for six years, but you can’t get away from a basic biological reality,” said Dr. Schwartz, who was not involved in the study. “As long as you are below your initial weight, your body is going to try to get you back.”
What did we learn? Don’t go on reality TV to lose weight, find a wife, or pretty much any other reason you can think of.