“The Biggest Loser” secrets

In a rare moment, I actually sat in front of the TV tonight.  I’ve caught a few episodes of “The Biggest Loser” in the past and find that there’s something oddly satisfying about that show.  First of all, I like the premise – take a handful of obese individuals, teach them how to eat and workout, and make them compete against one another for the most substantial weight loss.  I remember the finale from last year – an absolutely amazing transformation by this guy from 400-some pounds to less than 200 pounds.  [Funny that they never showed what happened to all that excess skin, though.]

A couple warnings about watching that show though, or “Things they don’t want to tell you about The Biggest Loser”:

1) All these contestants have to focus on is weight loss.  You and me – no one’s going to pay us to get fit.  Somebody’s gotta pay the bills, and it can be hard to find the time to work out and prepare healthy meals.  Reminds me of Hollywood – must be nice to get paid to “get buff” or “slim down” for a movie role; and of course there’s always a high-profile trainer.

2)  The initial weight loss is primarily water.  I guarantee they’re being put on a high-protein, low-carb diet – by doing so, there’s a lot of water loss initially, but the body learns to adapt and that will level out.  So, their initial 5% weight loss looks impressive, but it’s a little trick with manipulating the diet.  They won’t maintain 20-lb weight losses every week.

3)  Increasing lean body mass is key.  You will notice that the contestants are frequently doing weight-lifting, and you probably wonder why they would want to put on muscle weight since then it would not appear that they lost as much.  The more muscle on your body, the higher your metabolism.  It works.

4)  It is not typical or healthy to lose weight as rapidly as the contestants do.  All I can say is: Watch out for gallstones.  Again, when you weigh 400 pounds, it’s not as impressive to lose 10 pounds as it would be for a 200-pounder to do so.  That’s still an awful large change for the body in one week.

5)  Rapid weight loss causes loss of both fat and muscle.  The body doesn’t discriminate between the two when it’s looking for an energy source when in a significant calorie deficient state.  Great to lose the fat, bad to lose the muscle.  This is why they are always doing weights, but it’s impossible to maintain all of their muscle mass when they are losing weight that rapidly.

Good show, overall.  If nothing else, it serves as a good motivator, to see real-life stories of successful weight loss.  Here’s to your New Year’s fitness resolutions!

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