Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to weight loss

I am acting in my husbands movie project this week, so I won’t be cooking. I actually made Hoppin’ John and Polish Bigos for my mom and the other actor ahead of time. That way I wasn’t responsible for dinner every night and we had something healthy and homemade.

This week I decided to talk about how fast to lose weight. Slow and steady does win the race on this one. Why do I say this? Because our metabolism could get whacked out trying to go too fast. Your body needs time to adjust to the changes we make to our lifestyle. Crash diet and you are losing weight, but then gaining it all back. However, don’t take my word for it. We actually do have a case study on going overboard on extreme exercise and dieting. That’s the Biggest Loser television show. For those of you who may not be familiar with this show, the premise is the person who loses the most weight wins. While I never watched the show myself, I do know the weight loss efforts were excruciating. Extreme workouts, starvation, all in the name of winning money. But what happened to the winners once they reached their goal? Let’s hear it from some of the winners in this ABC News clip:

That doesn’t sound like the show did them any favors.  Most of the contestants gained the weight back.  Why?  Because their metabolism was completely shot.  Of course, I’m not going to just go on the evidence of the contestants on the news.  I found some science that mirrors what the contestants said in the video.  Fothergill et al. (2016), followed some of the contestants for six years and studied their rate of metabolic adaptation.  The study authors define this concept as, “Weight loss…accompanied by a slowing of resting metabolic rate (RMR) that is often greater than would be expected based on the measured changes in body composition.”  When you do this as part of your normal diet and exercise regimen, everything balances out along the way.  When they followed the 16 Biggest Loser contestants for six years, they found their RMR to be extremely low.  As in 500 calories per day lower than a person of the same size.  It lasted for the entire study length of six years. 

All I can say is, while it is just one study, it is a good representation of what can happen when you use unhealthy methods to induce weight loss.  The study found that even people who did other ways of fast weight loss, such as gastric bypass, fared much better.  So if you are tempted to crash diet and work your body to death, don’t.  I recommend reading the entire study to get the full scoop on the results.  The goal shouldn’t be fast weight loss, but sustainable weight loss.  Patience is what wins out in the long run.  Even if it feels like the process takes longer than we’d like.

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments what you think about this study.

Reference

Fothergill, E., Guo, J., Howard, L., Kerns, J. C., Knuth, N. D., Brychta, R., … Hall, K. D. (2016). Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition: Persistent Metabolic Adaptation. Obesity, 24(8), 1612–1619. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.21538  

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