There has been a lot of talk for the last week or so regarding the results of the recent “Biggest Loser” study. The results showed that, after dramatic weight loss, the past contestants from the popular show had significantly decreased resting metabolic rates compared to what we would expect to see in someone their weight, size, and age.
This has understandingly generated some fear in others who are trying to lose or maintain already lost weight.
Here are the facts. This isn’t the first study showing that weight loss has an impact on metabolism. We know it does. Our body likes to stay within a certain weight range (whether or not it’s the weight we, or our doctor, thinks is preferable), and when we drop below that weight certain mechanisms are kicked into gear to help us regain that “undesired” weight loss – things such as a decreased metabolism, lower levels of satiety hormones, and increased hunger hormones.
This all reinforces what I tell many of my clients: It’s not about willpower. Restrict calories long enough and biology will eventually catch up, screaming “Feed me!”
This is why we take a different approach at Wellfit Malibu. Yes, we create a calorie deficit paired with vigorous exercise for our guests to help jump start weight loss. Multiple studies have shown the positive metabolic effects of moderate weight loss – a loss of just 5-10% of total weight can do things such as help decrease fat mass and triglycerides, and improve blood glucose and insulin sensitivity. Not to mention it can make exercising easier and improve motivation and confidence to continue towards a healthier lifestyle. And that’s the end goal…a healthier overall lifestyle.
The meal plan we provide is realistic, and modifiable; real-life examples of what people can continue to eat at home after our program (keeping in mind that half to two pounds of weight loss per week is recommended).
Our exercise program has an emphasis on strength building so our guests can maintain and build muscle, which will help counterbalance the negative effect of weight loss on the metabolism. We know no one is going to continue to work out six hours a day when they go home, and we don’t expect (nor would we advise) you to.
Our program is designed to help you get in better physical condition while learning what you are capable of and what you enjoy, so that you have a better idea of how you can incorporate daily activity into your routine at home. And then there’s the mental component. We provide daily educational classes to teach the “why” behind what we do…to help you develop your own plans for continued success. We talk about intuitive eating, listening to your body’s physical cues, and how sugar and junk food affect the brain. We know that weight loss is not meant to be an end goal – it is a byproduct of getting healthy, inside and out.
More research is definitely necessary for us to more fully understand the metabolic effects of weight loss on the body in order to help those who have lost weight be more successful in keeping it off. But right now, we at Wellfit are providing an environment that we believe to be the best approach to improved health and weight loss…and that’s a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.
Contributed by By Rebekah Blakely, RD (Nutrition Director, Wellfit Malibu)