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Why "The Biggest Loser" Stars Couldn’t Keep the Weight Off

By Lisa Lynn ; Updated March 06, 2017

Millions of Americans have tuned in to watch the smash hit NBC reality show “The Biggest Loser,” where overweight contestants sweat, toil and starve their way to skinny. At weigh-in time, the numbers on the scale show the pounds just dripping off. Game over, right? Wrong.

Recent findings published in the journal Obesity shed light on the true story of the weight-loss nightmare “The Biggest Loser” contestants face when the cameras stop rolling. The transformations that viewers have witnessed are far from sustainable, and the methods used to achieve such dramatic results have actually harmed contestants’ metabolism.

If you’ve been overweight in your lifetime, you know that losing the weight is the easier part. Keeping the weight off is a whole other ballgame. The only way to truly burn fat and offset a dead metabolism is to have a realistic and sustainable lifestyle in place.

Yet, contestants did lose massive amounts of weight on the show. So how was it done? More importantly, why won’t it work for the everyday person struggling with losing weight?

Why “The Biggest Loser” Methods Won’t Work for You

The first problem with the reality show's weight-loss strategy is that contestants relied on excessive, joint-damaging exercise every day that's simply not practical in real life. They worked out for at least five hours each day. People with jobs and families just can’t do that.

But even if by some miracle you did have the time, it’s harmful to joints. All of that repetitive wear and tear can lead to achy knees and overuse injuries like shin splints.

Secondly, “The Biggest Losers” contestants ate extra calories because they were overexercising. In a perfect world this would work fine: Eat what you want and exercise it off in the gym.

In the real world, it’s just not practical and won't work when you’re trying to lose or maintain weight. Numerous studies show that exercise alone isn’t particularly effective for weight loss (although it is important for plenty of other reasons).

The bottom line is that things aren’t always as they seem. For the contestants, it’s not that losing weight affected their ability to keep it off. It’s more that they couldn't continue doing the unrealistic things they were doing on the show.

Simple Secrets for Lasting Weight Loss

Everything is about balance, starting with eating enough of the right foods. The types of foods you consume account for 90 percent of your weight-loss success (or failure). If your weight loss has hit a plateau, look at what’s on your plate and in your refrigerator.

Often the foods you insist on eating are the very things that initially caused the weight gain. Swap out juice and fancy creamers for iced green tea, carbonated zero-calorie water and high-quality protein shakes.

Replace fatty and high-sugar foods with metabolism-supporting foods like leafy greens, spinach, romaine lettuce and celery. Remember that even healthy fats, such as avocado and nuts, tend to be high in calories. (And who hasn’t pawed through a bag of nuts in one sitting?)

Before your workout, stay away from carb-heavy cereal and bread. These foods encourage your body to burn off your previous meal instead of stored fat. Instead, grab a clean protein shake that’s low in fat and carbs or some scrambled egg whites.

Balance Your Blood Sugar to Outsmart Cravings

  1. Cravings are one of the primary reasons that people gain weight. Balancing your blood sugar is the secret to losing weight and keeping cravings away.

  2. Out-of-control blood sugar can trigger huge cravings. When your blood sugar spikes — say, by drinking a tall glass of orange juice on an empty stomach — the spike is quickly followed by a steep crash. That crash in blood sugar triggers a craving, and the cycle starts all over again.

  3. To balance your blood sugar levels, you'll want to try these blood sugar balancing tips. They'll not only give a steady supply of energy all day, but they'll also help you lose weight and melt stubborn belly fat.

    1. Minimize your meals. Make your meals mini meals, so that you can eat more frequently. But beware: If you increase the frequency without decreasing the amount, that's a sure way to gain weight.
    1. Follow the three hour rule. Eat every three hours to allow blood sugar levels to stabilize.
    1. Eat foods that are low on the glycemic index. These foods include lean proteins and leafy green vegetables.
    1. Avoid foods that spike your blood sugar. Steer clear of refined carbohydrates such as cookies, cakes and breads and foods like juices (including fresh squeezed), low-fiber fruits or fruits that are high in sugar such as grapes.
    1. Go for high-fiber foods. Or always eat a high-fiber food when you're planning to eat a food that spikes your blood sugar, as fiber helps slow the release of insulin. The “High-Fiber 5” are split peas (16.3 grams per cup, cooked), lentils (15.6 grams per cup, cooked), black beans (15 grams per cup, cooked), lima beans (13.2 grams per cup, cooked) and artichokes (10.3 grams per medium vegetable, cooked).
    1. Have a handful of raspberries with your meal. They taste good and are loaded with fiber to keep you feeling full and buffer your blood sugar levels.
    1. Take a walk after you eat to help aid digestion and reduce your blood sugar levels.

What Do YOU Think?

  • Do you watch “The Biggest Loser”? What do you think of the show? Have you ever wondered about the extreme weight-loss methods? Or are you currently trying to lose weight? What are your strategies? Will you incorporate any of these tips into your routine? Share your suggestions and questions in the comments section below!

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