Gaining it back; NYT article

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Replies

  • EatingWellToo
    EatingWellToo Posts: 21 Member
    I think you (original poster) are being too simplistic about what the NYT article said. The point of the article is that the science is much more complex than calories and exercise. By dieting slowly and really changing WHAT you eat, not just how many calories, you can slooooowly modify your biochemistry. The Biggest Loser approach does not do that. The weight loss is too fast for the body to readjust to and your endocrine/hormonal/neurotransmitter systems are just left in shock. When I change what I eat and in particular go off alcohol and sugar, I can really feel changes in how everything is working - but it takes at least a few weeks until I feel my body going into a purging mode (and I am just dealing with a 15 pound excess so I can imagine how long it would take after years of being severely overweight).
  • Robertus
    Robertus Posts: 558 Member
    edited May 2016
    tk2222 wrote: »
    Theoretically, using the calories in-calories out method that is the basis of MFP, at some point one does reach goal weight, and then RAISE their calories to maintenance. Since you're now smaller than you were before you lost weight, that maintenance number is lower than it was, but it's still higher than the number you were eating to LOSE weight.

    What's disheartening about the article is it suggests your body permenantly resets itself after a weightloss to function on significantly less calories than it would have, at the same weight, had you never been overweight to start with. The evidence they present does seem fairly compelling - yes, the biggest loser group is an extreme and unhealthy diet that anyone with any experience trying to keep of weight could probably guess was going to gain it all back, but they also site other studies carried out on larger groups and less extreme weight losses.

    What really bothers me there is the question, if we assume that, say, a 180 LB man who has lost 100 pounds burns 600 less calories per day than a similar man who has never weighed more than 180 LB...what is the body giving up on?

    The always-thin man's body is doing something with those calories, presumably something necessary - making his immune system function, making his brain work, sending blood around his body, maintaining his bone density, you know, the usual and crucial. If we accept the article's premise that the body re-wires itself to covert those 600 calories immediately into fat in the post-weight-loss man instead of using them for the basic maintenance of his body...something must be suffering. Does the body essentially send anyone who has lost weight into a lifelong state of a kind of malnutrition by privileging our fat cells and depriving the rest of our body of energy unless we feed the fat cells first?
    This is an interesting question. There's a good thread on thermogenic adaptation here that gives a very condensed answer to what is known from some research about this:

    "So what is going on?
    - Possibly muscles are more efficient? (lots of data that support that)
    - Neuroendocrine function changes? (even more data that support that)
    - Autonomous nervous system is affected and there is less “tone” of the sympathetic nervous system? – Let’s be reductive here – we twitch less? (lots of data for that)
    - Brown adipose tissue (brown fat) is doing something? (early speculation and no clear evidence)
    - Leptin, an important mediator in energy intake and use, is modified? (most certainly, but to what extend and what about the receptors…)"

    http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/1077746/starvation-mode-adaptive-thermogenesis-and-weight-loss/p1
  • trina1049
    trina1049 Posts: 593 Member
    edited May 2016
    Another drawback with quickly losing so much weight is the loose skin that may appear as the fat disappears. Nothing you can do about that except for surgery or hope that your age and/or genetics allows for most of the excess to tighten up.

    It has to be a lifestyle change, moderation, portion control, and exercise long term which does not seem to happen with The Biggest Losers given their recidivistic rates.

    Also wanted to add that the TDEE calculators were pretty spot on and BMR seem normal for age and height even after yo-yo-ing for more years than I care to count.
  • Gamliela
    Gamliela Posts: 2,469 Member
    This study could benefit lawyers. The lawyers of the Biggest Losers.
  • laur357
    laur357 Posts: 896 Member
    Thanks all who answered my question! The study is interesting, as is Dr. Hall's earlier study that compared BL contestants to those who underwent Roux en Y gastric bypass surgery. BUT people on the Biggest Loser represent a unique (and convenient) cohort, and I don't think it's a great idea to extrapolate the results to the majority of people losing weight at a moderate pace with reasonable calorie deficit.

    While this obviously doesn't validate or invalidate the study, it does appear that we have at least a few people who were able to lose a substantial amount of weight without destroying their metabolisms and drastically deviating from the number of expected calories required to maintain their losses.

  • griffinca2
    griffinca2 Posts: 672 Member
    Stressedby8, You are probably the exception with WW rather than the rule; have known several that have used it and fallen into the trap that I mentioned (or eaten whatever but made sure they didn't exceed their points). You are right about it being a lifestyle change but a lot of folks miss that and are looking for a quick fix to a problem that was a long time in the making. What they miss is making the changes that will keep the weight off for good instead of the next "diet" that is "guaranteed to work or their money back," or the project end date; it's not a "diet" or a project, but a lifestyle to be followed and if you mess up you get back up and start over. You only fail if you quit. B)
  • Robertus
    Robertus Posts: 558 Member
    For anyone interested in the research article that the NYT article is based on here is the abstract and reference:



    Fothergill E1, Guo J1, Howard L1, Kerns JC2, Knuth ND3, Brychta R1, Chen KY1, Skarulis MC1, Walter M1, Walter PJ1, Hall KD1. Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after "The Biggest Loser" competition. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 May 2. doi: 10.1002/oby.21538. [Epub ahead of print]

    OBJECTIVE:
    To measure long-term changes in resting metabolic rate (RMR) and body composition in participants of "The Biggest Loser" competition.

    METHODS:
    Body composition was measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, and RMR was determined by indirect calorimetry at baseline, at the end of the 30-week competition and 6 years later. Metabolic adaptation was defined as the residual RMR after adjusting for changes in body composition and age.

    RESULTS:
    Of the 16 "Biggest Loser" competitors originally investigated, 14 participated in this follow-up study. Weight loss at the end of the competition was (mean ± SD) 58.3 ± 24.9 kg (P < 0.0001), and RMR decreased by 610 ± 483 kcal/day (P = 0.0004). After 6 years, 41.0 ± 31.3 kg of the lost weight was regained (P = 0.0002), while RMR was 704 ± 427 kcal/day below baseline (P < 0.0001) and metabolic adaptation was -499 ± 207 kcal/day (P < 0.0001). Weight regain was not significantly correlated with metabolic adaptation at the competition's end (r = -0.1, P = 0.75), but those subjects maintaining greater weight loss at 6 years also experienced greater concurrent metabolic slowing (r = 0.59, P = 0.025).

    CONCLUSIONS:
    Metabolic adaptation persists over time and is likely a proportional, but incomplete, response to contemporaneous efforts to reduce body weight.

    Kevin Hall, the senior author has also written a couple of earlier articles about the Biggest Loser contestants, two of which are available for free:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=(Hall, Kevin[Author]) AND Biggest Loser[Title/Abstract]
  • Ali_cat01
    Ali_cat01 Posts: 4 Member
    My friend sent me this link--with the statement that this is the struggle I have to look forward to. So glad I have the greatest support from my best friend.... -_- Don't need his support if it's going to be negative bull like that.
  • spoonyspork
    spoonyspork Posts: 238 Member
    laur357 wrote: »
    So my very basic question in response to the article is for those here who are successfully maintaining a largish weight loss after a reasonable calorie deficit to lose weight. .5-2 pounds per week. Total loss of, say 40 or more pounds.

    Are your maintenance calories what you expect them to be? Can you eat the maintenance calories a standard TDEE calculator gives you for your age/weight/height/sex and maintain your weight?
    Or, do you find that you need to eat substantially fewer calories than expected to maintain your weight loss?

    Yes, it's 'generally' correct. I'm not 100% as I've slipped counting reliably (still do 90% of the time, but weekends are often slips)... because if I strictly track I keep losing, faster than calculators say I should. Faster than when I was still 'dieting'. No idea why. Anyway, calculators put me 1600-1800 calories, and if I average 'about' 1800 I'm good. Been maintaining for almost a year now, and so far have dipped as far as 5lbs below my '5lb range' strictly following to the top of my TDEE, and gone up to 1lb above not tracking at all and having a bunch of big eating days. Have stayed within the 5lb rage for close to six months with 'generally' following TDEE and loosely tracking. Lost close to 100 lbs in about a year and the math worked perfect for that, too.

    Now that said -- my husband has had a more difficult time, but not *that* much more. He lost about as much as me in about the same amount of time. His TDEE says he should eat 1800-2000 to maintain, and he has to strictly track to 1800. Over he gains, under he loses - but not as quickly as me.

    Both of us were right about the same amount overweight. Difference between us: I was overweight for a bit over 10 years and was very skinny prior to that, while he'd been overweight most of his life. Not sure that's significant though: we're both within the expected margin when working out the math... he's just at the bottom and I'm at the top.
  • griffinca2
    griffinca2 Posts: 672 Member
    NancyN795, Are you lifting weights or just doing cardio?? If you're not lifting you should start it will help build muscle mass which will help burn more calories. Also, a lb of muscle takes up less room than lb of flab. Start out slow, maintain good form and periodically change up your routine and up the weights. Good luck.
  • xmichaelyx
    xmichaelyx Posts: 883 Member
    Ali_cat01 wrote: »
    My friend sent me this link--with the statement that this is the struggle I have to look forward to. So glad I have the greatest support from my best friend.... -_- Don't need his support if it's going to be negative bull like that.

    The NYTimes article is needlessly alarmist, and it's sad to see so many people misunderstanding what's being reported on (seriously, google "Biggest Loser study" and be amazed at some of the ridiculous headlines from large, mainstream media sites).

    The study only looked at an extreme edge case: People who were extremely obese and who tortured the weight off quickly under very extreme circumstances. If that applies to you, you're doing it wrong (and are not a smart person). Also, it's not even a random sampling of Biggest Loser contestants; it's a small sampling of volunteers. Do you think it's more likely that those who gained all their weight back are also more likely to volunteer for this "study"? Of course you do, because it's common sense.

    Ignore the study and all the articles about it. If it's duplicated using a reasonable sample under reasonable conditions some day, it might be worth thinking about. For now, it's clickbait.
  • scrittrice
    scrittrice Posts: 345 Member
    laur357 wrote: »
    So my very basic question in response to the article is for those here who are successfully maintaining a largish weight loss after a reasonable calorie deficit to lose weight. .5-2 pounds per week. Total loss of, say 40 or more pounds.

    Are your maintenance calories what you expect them to be? Can you eat the maintenance calories a standard TDEE calculator gives you for your age/weight/height/sex and maintain your weight?
    Or, do you find that you need to eat substantially fewer calories than expected to maintain your weight loss?

    On-line calculators/MFP have proven to be almost eerily accurate for me.
  • RosieRose7673
    RosieRose7673 Posts: 438 Member
    xmichaelyx wrote: »
    Ali_cat01 wrote: »
    My friend sent me this link--with the statement that this is the struggle I have to look forward to. So glad I have the greatest support from my best friend.... -_- Don't need his support if it's going to be negative bull like that.

    The NYTimes article is needlessly alarmist, and it's sad to see so many people misunderstanding what's being reported on (seriously, google "Biggest Loser study" and be amazed at some of the ridiculous headlines from large, mainstream media sites).

    The study only looked at an extreme edge case: People who were extremely obese and who tortured the weight off quickly under very extreme circumstances. If that applies to you, you're doing it wrong (and are not a smart person). Also, it's not even a random sampling of Biggest Loser contestants; it's a small sampling of volunteers. Do you think it's more likely that those who gained all their weight back are also more likely to volunteer for this "study"? Of course you do, because it's common sense.

    Ignore the study and all the articles about it. If it's duplicated using a reasonable sample under reasonable conditions some day, it might be worth thinking about. For now, it's clickbait.

    Yes!
  • tk2222
    tk2222 Posts: 199 Member

    Robertus wrote: »
    This is an interesting question. There's a good thread on thermogenic adaptation here that gives a very condensed answer to what is known from some research about this:

    "So what is going on?
    - Possibly muscles are more efficient? (lots of data that support that)
    - Neuroendocrine function changes? (even more data that support that)
    - Autonomous nervous system is affected and there is less “tone” of the sympathetic nervous system? – Let’s be reductive here – we twitch less? (lots of data for that)
    - Brown adipose tissue (brown fat) is doing something? (early speculation and no clear evidence)
    - Leptin, an important mediator in energy intake and use, is modified? (most certainly, but to what extend and what about the receptors…)"

    http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/1077746/starvation-mode-adaptive-thermogenesis-and-weight-loss/p1
    [/quote]

    Ooh cool! Well, I mean, that sort of sucks, but it's interesting! Thanks!

    Hm, I wonder if any of us have the discipline to stick to what the research seems to be suggesting in terms of the most statistically potentially successful long-term weight loss - extremely slow and long term - five or more years to lose 100LB, not one - emphasis on building muscle rather than dieting, settling for healthy but not particularly 'thin' weight, etc. It seems like the bulk/cut cycle should even be reversed, perhaps - first build up muscle mass, making no effort to lose fat or lower overall body weight, only then start a gradual process of losing.