Surprising New Findings: Extreme Weight Loss Actually Leads to Extreme Weight Gain
Have you ever watched The Biggest Loser, the reality TV program in which obese contestants who are desperate to shed hundreds of pounds, leave their families for an extreme weight loss boot camp to gain a healthier life and hopefully a $100,000 pay out?
Well it’s rich with traumatic stories from people who are ready to take drastic measures to transform their bodies for good. We’re talking extreme dieting and exercise every day for months on end. We’re talking rapid weight loss.
Seriously, if you were watching, you were probably crying right along with contestants each and every week as they tortured themselves to ultimately triumph or fail. You felt all of their emotions—their joy, their anguish. You felt inspired by their dedication. You cheered them on. It was great TV.
And the number on the scale was the ultimate measure of success. The fastest loser was the winner.
But as it turns out, nobody really ended up winning in the long run…
…EXCEPT for the researchers who gained access to a perfect science experiment (that they would never have been given approval to perform otherwise).
They confirmed other research findings that extreme dieting actually leads to weight gain.
But the degree to which this was true shocked even these leading experts…because they discovered contestants of The Biggest Loser had done permanent damage to their metabolisms that their bodies could not recover from.
Not only did the pounds pack back on once the show finished, but it was now harder than ever for them to lose weight or even maintain it. Definitely not the happy ending we were hoping for…
Now, this is a unique example and there are many individual factors that contribute to regaining lost weight, but, extreme dieting and rapid weight loss are big ones.
You have a wild brain in a domesticated world…yes, even you…ROAR!
The fact is your body doesn’t want you to lose weight, regardless of how heavy you may be. It’s always waiting for the day there isn’t any more food to eat and you need the fat on your body to keep you alive.
Because of this, human beings crave fat and sugar as our bodies know they are the greatest sources of energy for us.
So, our bodies hold onto mass as often as possible to make sure we can stay alive when food is scarce.
The problem is that the food is never scarce in the modern world. Fat and sugar are everywhere and we are programmed by nature to want to eat them.
So, if we’re not careful, the combination of a wild brain and body in a modern world equals excess fat, sickness, and disease.
Now, don’t let this frustrate you, or even worse, allow you to justify your state of health because there is a solution.
If you’re overweight and struggle to keep weight off, here is some advice:
1. Avoid extreme measures.
As we’ve learned, the biggest loser model does not work in the long term for many reasons, but mostly because it’s unsustainable. The faster you lose weight, the more quickly your body is going to shut down, and the more difficult it’s going to be to continue to lose weight in the long term.
It’s true that on an extreme diet you may see initial results and even lose lots of weight in the beginning, but you are doing more harm than good. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to body transformation.
Those primal mechanisms will kick in and stop the weight loss, you animal you…
Your body’s job is to keep you alive and it doesn’t understand that you’re just trying to fit into a smaller pair of pants.
If you’re participating in extreme dieting your body will react as if you’ve been stranded alone on a deserted island and are about to starve to death. It’ll give you as much time as possible for that rescue boat to come and save you by making sure every morsel of food you put into your mouth goes a long, long way…
So, don’t get sucked into advertising that promotes losing 30 lbs per month.
- The ideal amount of weight loss for most people is .5 lbs to 1 lb per week. Your animal instincts can deal with this and if you want to succeed, you need to work with nature, not against it.
2. If you can’t do it forever, don’t do it now.
If you are currently living an extreme lifestyle that is helping you lose weight, but every day it is a mental struggle to do the things you are being instructed to do in order to accomplish the weight loss, how long do you think you’re going to be able stick to the plan?
That’s what I thought…
Don’t get me wrong, you should have to fight for worthy accomplishments, but the process should not leave you feeling more mentally and physically drained than you were before you started.
Life change should be invigorating. And the steps you take towards improving your health should be healthy!
If you readjust your thinking and give yourself a reasonable amount of time to get to your goal, you can make it. Whereas, if you give yourself 30 days to lose 30 pounds, you will probably fail, give up, and try to make yourself feel better with a nice, big bowl of ice cream with a potato chip chaser…
3. Understand that weight loss is a mental game.
The most overlooked aspects of health are the habits we have and stories we tell ourselves.
Fortunately, as humans we have the ability to recognize what is affecting us negatively and work towards changing it. Habits are just habits and stories can be re-written. Remember choose your own adventure books?
If you’re a person who eats until you’re full or sick, who chronically eats in front of the TV each night, who rarely exercises, and who tells yourself stories like “eating two Big Macs for lunch every day isn’t that bad if you have a salad for dinner,” you can change all of this.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but you can do it. One step at a time.
Increasing health and longevity is usually less about the type of activity you choose or the style of diet you follow, and more about the sustainable changes in daily life structure you make through taking better care of yourself.
Growing and preparing your own food, controlling habitual stress and chronic eating, not eating until you’re full or sick, getting outside and walking instead of sitting in front of your TV are the types of changes that are going to impact your health in a positive way forever.
But it’s a mental game. So make a series of positive changes that work for you.
So, where does this leave us?
Well, I for one I am happy for any person who changes their body in a way that brings them confidence, joy, and harmony, but I have also been around long enough to know that extreme weight loss methods born out of a desperate, anxious mind never last.
Stop looking for tricks and gimmicks, and begin looking inside yourself.
Create a more fulfilling life from a health perspective, and you will reach the finish line. Even better than that, you will continue well beyond the finish line for the rest of your life.
Go slow. Be sustainable. Put more focus into the hours you spend at home between 5pm and 10pm.
If you can do those simple things and be patient, you won’t even remember what your life and body ‘used to be like’.
Do you agree? Tell me your thoughts below.
Johannsen, D.L., Knuth, N.D., Huizenga, R., Rood, J.C., Ravussin, E., and Hall, K.D. (2012). Metabolic Slowing with Massive Weight Loss despite Preservation of Fat-Free Mass. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 97(2). Retrieved from http://press.endocrine.org/doi/full/10.1210/jc.2012-1444.
Fothergill, E., Guo, J., Howard, L., Kerns, J.C., Knuth, N.D., Brychta, R., Chen, K.Y., Skarulis, M.C., Walter, M., Walter, P.J., and Hall, K.D. (2016). Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition. Obesity, 00, 00-00. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.21538/full.