James Krieger on the Biggest Loser study that's going around

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  • msf74
    msf74 Posts: 3,498 Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    msf74 wrote: »
    SideSteel wrote: »
    ^ Thanks msf74 -- I obviously couldn't quantify that hypothetical but I'll see what James might speculate.

    Ta. I've read a few of his articles and he seems like a good source of reference.

    Obviously there's no point in being alarmist if the science does not support it. That said, I think it's better to stack as many chips in your favour for long term maintenance as you can and if Biggest Loser style protocols are contrary to that to a meaningful degree and that is borne out effectively by this recent study then I would like to know.

    I think we can both agree that Biggest Loser style protocols are impressively stupid regardless of this study =)

    Lulz - it's like you're reading my mind or something!
  • kportmanshark
    kportmanshark Posts: 34 Member
    edited May 2016
    I'm a skeptic of the study also, but it brings some interesting topics up.
    SideSteel wrote: »
    The thing is, even with the large reduction in RMR, total daily energy expenditure did not show any signs of adaptation, and TDEE is what really matters anyway, not RMR.[/i]
    Lost me here a bit. Isn't RMR related to TDEE? Excuse my naiveté but I thought RMR was a major determining factor of TDEE?

    In the Danny Cahill example noted in the NYT, they said he burns 800kcal less per day than expected per that study. So I interpret that as if he has a TDEE of 2000kcal, he now has a TDEE of only 1200kcal. (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/health/biggest-loser-weight-loss.html)

    This doesn't quite pass the sniff test for me, because if he really was at a 800kcal disadvantage he'd actually gain way more weight (almost 7-lbs a month right off the bat) if he was targeting the "correct" TDEE for maintaining..


    *EDIT*

    Also when they talk about leptin, the baseline leptin was when they were their fattest. I would think (but don't know) that when you are that big the body would be outputting lots of the "feel full" hormones because it isn't as worried about not having enough fat stored. Once at a lower weight I'd expect there to be less leptin since the body wouldn't be as worried about having too much weight.

    When they say the leptin is 50% of where they started when they were fat, do we know if that's a normal situation or if their levels were just super high when they were that big?
  • JeromeBarry1
    JeromeBarry1 Posts: 10,187 Member
    No amount of weight loss, at any speed, will ever allow you to thereafter eat a surplus of calories without gaining weight. What's the big deal?
  • kportmanshark
    kportmanshark Posts: 34 Member
    No amount of weight loss, at any speed, will ever allow you to thereafter eat a surplus of calories without gaining weight. What's the big deal?

    The big deal is that this study concludes that after you've been fat, your baseline metabolic rate will slow once you've gotten thin again, and that your hunger hormones and chemicals will be elevated - making it much harder to keep the weight off. They said that for one guy his TDEE would be 800 calories lower than someone who had never been fat.
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,069 Member
    No amount of weight loss, at any speed, will ever allow you to thereafter eat a surplus of calories without gaining weight. What's the big deal?

    The big deal is that this study concludes that after you've been fat, your baseline metabolic rate will slow once you've gotten thin again, and that your hunger hormones and chemicals will be elevated - making it much harder to keep the weight off. They said that for one guy his TDEE would be 800 calories lower than someone who had never been fat.

    This is not the only study to show this, but the magnitude of change in the study is quite high.
  • kportmanshark
    kportmanshark Posts: 34 Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    This is not the only study to show this, but the magnitude of change in the study is quite high.

    Then there is likely more validity to it than we are giving it credit for. It might be exaggerated here but the point of our bodies being permanently changed seems likely if there are multiple studies.

    Way I look at is that it was my bad behavior and laziness that made me into a hamplanet so I'll just have to work harder to make up for that now that I screwed up my system now that my bmi is reasonable again. It's bad news but that's life. I can see why we might want to disregard these outcomes because its depressing to think about that as a reality, but it very well might be true (perhaps to a lesser degree than this study implies - partially because our losses aren't as dramatic, but still true).
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,069 Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    This is not the only study to show this, but the magnitude of change in the study is quite high.

    Then there is likely more validity to it than we are giving it credit for. It might be exaggerated here but the point of our bodies being permanently changed seems likely if there are multiple studies.

    Way I look at is that it was my bad behavior and laziness that made me into a hamplanet so I'll just have to work harder to make up for that now that I screwed up my system now that my bmi is reasonable again. It's bad news but that's life. I can see why we might want to disregard these outcomes because its depressing to think about that as a reality, but it very well might be true (perhaps to a lesser degree than this study implies - partially because our losses aren't as dramatic, but still true).

    Anytime you have a study, it's a good idea to look at study design and determine what applicability it may have.


    Given the ridiculous nature of the diet and training program that is used on the biggest loser, I would question the applicability of the study results to populations that use diet and training programs more representative of what the general population does.

    And while that spans a very wide range of training volumes and calorie deficits, that range likely doesn't come anywhere near the absurdity of what happens on that show.
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,069 Member
    Additionally, I'm not saying "disregard the study", I'm saying that I question its relevance to the vast majority of people.
  • kportmanshark
    kportmanshark Posts: 34 Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Additionally, I'm not saying "disregard the study", I'm saying that I question its relevance to the vast majority of people.

    Well it seems to be relevant at least to the extent of that once you become fat, you have - to some degree - changed how your body metabolizes food for the worse. It might be a fraction of what that study suggests, but still applicable.
  • ilex70
    ilex70 Posts: 727 Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Additionally, I'm not saying "disregard the study", I'm saying that I question its relevance to the vast majority of people.

    Well it seems to be relevant at least to the extent of that once you become fat, you have - to some degree - changed how your body metabolizes food for the worse. It might be a fraction of what that study suggests, but still applicable.

    IIRC the usual is 100 -200 calories maybe?

    Biggest Loser: 6 hours of cardio w/3,500 calorie deficit per day

    Normal Aggressive Diet: 6 hours of cardio w/3,500 calorie deficit per week
  • kmbrooks15
    kmbrooks15 Posts: 941 Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    SideSteel wrote: »
    This is not the only study to show this, but the magnitude of change in the study is quite high.

    Then there is likely more validity to it than we are giving it credit for. It might be exaggerated here but the point of our bodies being permanently changed seems likely if there are multiple studies.

    Way I look at is that it was my bad behavior and laziness that made me into a hamplanet so I'll just have to work harder to make up for that now that I screwed up my system now that my bmi is reasonable again. It's bad news but that's life. I can see why we might want to disregard these outcomes because its depressing to think about that as a reality, but it very well might be true (perhaps to a lesser degree than this study implies - partially because our losses aren't as dramatic, but still true).

    Anytime you have a study, it's a good idea to look at study design and determine what applicability it may have.


    Given the ridiculous nature of the diet and training program that is used on the biggest loser, I would question the applicability of the study results to populations that use diet and training programs more representative of what the general population does.

    And while that spans a very wide range of training volumes and calorie deficits, that range likely doesn't come anywhere near the absurdity of what happens on that show.

    Well said. Comparing the Biggest Loser contestants with average folks doing this at home is comparing apples and oranges.
  • yarwell
    yarwell Posts: 10,479 Member
    I'm a skeptic of the study also, but it brings some interesting topics up.
    SideSteel wrote: »
    The thing is, even with the large reduction in RMR, total daily energy expenditure did not show any signs of adaptation, and TDEE is what really matters anyway, not RMR.[/i]
    Lost me here a bit. Isn't RMR related to TDEE? Excuse my naiveté but I thought RMR was a major determining factor of TDEE?

    Indeed it is, at about 2000 out of the 3000+ TDEE in this case.

    Also when they talk about leptin, the baseline leptin was when they were their fattest. I would think (but don't know) that when you are that big the body would be outputting lots of the "feel full" hormones because it isn't as worried about not having enough fat stored. Once at a lower weight I'd expect there to be less leptin since the body wouldn't be as worried about having too much weight.

    When they say the leptin is 50% of where they started when they were fat, do we know if that's a normal situation or if their levels were just super high when they were that big?

    Leptin goes up pro rata with fat mass when we get fatter, and crashes when we diet, and comes back up when calorie balance is restored. Nothing to see here I suspect.

    People like to talk about leptin a lot, as we only found it in the 1990s, but there seems to be no direct measurable effect of leptin on weight loss or metabolic rate and no proposed mechanism either.

    It's interesting to see the noise coming out of the exercise community about this, as it's exercise that is on trial. They were required to eat a minimum intake on BL so it wasn't a crash diet or total fast.
  • Colorscheme
    Colorscheme Posts: 1,179 Member
    I can't believe are taking this study to heart. You can't compare people who lost extreme amounts of weight in a short amount of time via super unhealthy methods to the general population. Not to mention that it was a sample study of 16 people.
  • kportmanshark
    kportmanshark Posts: 34 Member
    I can't believe are taking this study to heart. You can't compare people who lost extreme amounts of weight in a short amount of time via super unhealthy methods to the general population. Not to mention that it was a sample study of 16 people.

    I'm rusty on my statistics, but 16 people for this type of study might very well be statistically significant with a reasonable confidence level.
  • yarwell
    yarwell Posts: 10,479 Member
    I can't believe are taking this study to heart. You can't compare people who lost extreme amounts of weight in a short amount of time via super unhealthy methods to the general population. Not to mention that it was a sample study of 16 people.

    I'm rusty on my statistics, but 16 people for this type of study might very well be statistically significant with a reasonable confidence level.

    Problem is the averages don't represent any person :-

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  • Larissa_NY
    Larissa_NY Posts: 495 Member
    I can't believe are taking this study to heart. You can't compare people who lost extreme amounts of weight in a short amount of time via super unhealthy methods to the general population. Not to mention that it was a sample study of 16 people.

    I'm rusty on my statistics, but 16 people for this type of study might very well be statistically significant with a reasonable confidence level.

    Effects are statistically significant, not sample sizes. 16 people isn't a sample, it's a collection of case studies. The proof will be in the replication, preferably with larger samples and tighter controls.

    Even so, until the research is replicated with something closer to a normal weight-loss population, saying that weight loss slows down your metabolism because the Biggest Loser contestants managed to screw up their metabolisms for life is a lot like saying that jogging half an hour after work will give you the same body as Usain Bolt. Extreme samples are extreme, and their results often don't generalize very well to people who aren't equally extreme.