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Where Are The Biggest Loser Contestants Now?

Running woman with obesityNBC’s smash-hit reality show, The Biggest Loser, wowed viewers by transforming morbidly obese participants into lean, fit athletes in mere months by working out for hours on end and following tightly-controlled diets. Here’s a quick update on where some of your favorite Biggest Loser contestants now stand with their weight, and the reasons why experts believe rapid weight loss through diet and exercise can actually make long-term weight management more difficult.

In season 8 of the show, contestants Danny Cahill and Tracy Yukich made headlines by shedding a whopping 239lbs and 118lbs respectively. In the time since, Cahill has re-gained about 100 pounds, and close to 50 pounds have crept back on for Yukich. Unfortunately, not only have they regained a significant percentage of their hard-earned weight loss, but doctors believe the methods used on the show have caused permanent metabolic changes that make it tough for participants to maintain their ideal weight.

13 Of 14 Study Participants Regained Weight

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) studied 14 contestants who competed on The Biggest Loser. The average starting weight of participants in the NIH study was 328 pounds, and their average end weight at the conclusion of the competition was 200 pounds.

After six years, all but one of the six men and eight women in the NIH study had regained a significant amount of the weight they lost, leveling out at an average weight of 290 pounds – a mere 38 pounds less than what they were before going on the Biggest Loser show.

Their body fat percentage also dropped dramatically, then returned – at the start of the show, body fat rates of the group averaged about 50 percent, then dipped to 28 percent, and returned to about 45 percent.

So while most participants ended up regaining the bulk of the weight they lost while on the Biggest Loser show, what really turned heads among obesity specialists was the impact this dramatic weight loss method had on the metabolic rates of contestants.

Metabolic Rate Slowed After Show

Measurements taken before, during, and after the show revealed that the average number of calories the 14 participants burned while at rest before beginning the weight-loss regime was 2,607, and that number dropped to approximately 2,000 at the end of the competition.

Six years later, the resting calorie burn had further dropped to an average of 1,900 calories per day, which means contestants needed to further reduce their caloric intake to prevent weight gain – something that’s tough for anyone to do on a daily basis.

Researchers believe that the combination of high-intensity, long-duration exercise and low-calorie diets used to achieve the dramatic weight loss on The Biggest Loser permanently altered contestants’ metabolic rates.

Gastric Bypass Prevents Metabolic Rate Drop

By contrast, obese patients who have Roux-en-Y gastric bypass can achieve similar weight-loss results as Biggest Loser contestants do – but without the permanent drop in their resting metabolic rates.

Patients do experience a dip in their metabolism immediately following gastric bypass along with a significant reduction in their weight, but this is temporary. After one year the resting metabolic rates of bariatric surgery patients return to normal, which prevents the ongoing challenges associated with having a reduced metabolic rate.

To learn more about the science behind why many Biggest Loser contestants now have regained their weight, contact us here at Olde Del Mar Surgical. Our team of weight loss experts can help you learn about healthy weight loss through weight loss procedures like LAP-BAND, gastric bypass, and gastric sleeve surgery.

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