The biggest losers just did it the wrong way! They lost the weight too quickly!

That’s the line I hear most often in response to the Biggest Loser study.  They lost the weight the WRONG WAY.

The person continues: The study doesn’t show that sustained weight loss is impossible, just that speedy weight loss cannot be sustained. Who on earth would have thought that starvation style boot camp is the way to go? All the study shows is that fast weight loss that comes about through harsh means isn’t sustainable.

(Want more information about the study, read Savita’s post here and then there’s Tracy post on why we even care about size here.)

Yay. There’s still hope, say people (like me) who’d like to weigh less.

Come buy our program, say weight loss companies, we’ll show you the right way.

While I like the idea that moderately achieved weight loss is more likely to be sustained, the facts don’t seem to bear that out. Not everything that sounds true, is true. Not everything we’d like to be true, is true. Sadly.

Here’s Gina Kolata in the Globe and Mail answering hard questions about weight loss:

Are you more likely to maintain weight loss if you lose weight slowly?

That is the advice dieters often get, but studies have not found that to be the case. For example, a recent Australian study, funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the Sir Edward Dunlop Medical Research Foundation, randomly assigned 204 obese people to subsist on just 450 to 800 calories a day for 12 weeks, or to cut a more modest 400 to 500 calories a day from their diets over 36 weeks. The goal for both groups was a 15-per-cent weight loss. Three years after the study began, almost everyone had regained the weight they lost, despite counselling on diet and exercise. There was also no difference in levels of two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, that drive hunger. The main difference between the groups was that more people in the rapid weight loss group lost at least 12.5 per cent of their weight (80 per cent as compared with 50 per cent in the slow loss group) and fewer dropped out (3 per cent as compared with 18 per cent).

I’ve written too about slow versus speedy weight loss.

And about the claim that gradual weight loss is no better than fast weight loss when it comes to sustaining the new lower weight.

More later about the traits people who do sustain weight loss have in common. Warning: It’s also not good news.

2 thoughts on “The biggest losers just did it the wrong way! They lost the weight too quickly!

  1. We were watching Sugar Coated on Netflix last night and I’ve been reading The End of Overeating. It’s amazing to me the statistics on how quickly the people in the US put on weight and now we’re battling over how to take it off. I feel like that’s only one part of the equation….what about not adding it so drastically for those who haven’t and what about just maintenance for where we are? I wrestle with those questions constantly as a trainer, a mother, and someone whose weight fluctuates. I’m not sure about the size mattering as much as the make up of the size or maybe that’s not the issue either….

    1. I think you’ve hit on two things we can do…build muscle (so change our lean-fat ratio) and maintain the weight we’re at as we age. All hard, interesting stuff, I think.

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