By James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Yesterday, The New York Times ran “After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight” that was an extensive article that explained the science behind regaining weight after dieting. Scientists used contestants from the reality show, The Biggest User in their study. They measured their metabolism before and after their massive weight loss successes. Contestants, as they lost weight, became more efficient at maintaining their weight. The startling news, which many dieters have learned from experience, is after you regain your weight, you also maintain that efficiency. So it gets harder and harder to lose weight. In other words, dieting makes our metabolism slow down, but it doesn’t speed back up when we regain the weight.
“The key point is that you can be on TV, you can lose enormous amounts of weight, you can go on for six years, but you can’t get away from a basic biological reality,” said Dr. Schwartz, who was not involved in the study. “As long as you are below your initial weight, your body is going to try to get you back.”
I lost 30 pounds last year, but keeping it off is a struggle. I kept telling myself that I’m eating less and not losing. How could that be? Well, I wasn’t crazy. Scientists also discovered as we lose weight, we reduce our levels for the hormone leptin, which makes us feel hungry. The study on the Biggest Losers contestants discovered their leptin levels went down almost to zero, leaving them ravenously hungry. Leptin levels went back up when they regained weight, but only to about half the level before, leaving them hungrier than they were before they dieted.