10 Reasons Biggest Loser Contestants Gain the Weight Back

10 Reasons Biggest Loser Contestants Gain the Weight Back
10 Reasons Biggest Loser Contestants Gain the Weight Back

10 Reasons Biggest Loser Contestants Gain the Weight Back

Successfully losing weight is a huge challenge. Keeping it off for good is often even more challenging. There is no show on TV that better depicts the difficulties associated with losing weight, or the amazing feeling of finally losing it than “The Biggest Loser.” However, many wonder what happens after the cameras turn off.

According to several reports and studies, “The Biggest Loser” cameras aren’t showing how difficult it is for contestants (even successful ones) to actually keep the weight off after they return home.

In fact, a recent study published in Obesity showed that after the eighth season of the show (which aired in 2009) within a period of six years, 13 of the shows 14 contestants regained all the weight they had lost. Also, four were heavier than they were before the show even started. Not only does this put them at a serious risk for more health related issues, but it has also left many of the people feeling ashamed.

However, according to several other studies and findings from research groups, it isn’t necessarily their fault. While the individuals may go back to their old bad habits when it comes to food and exercise, this isn’t all that is to blame for them regaining the weight.

There is no question that “The Biggest Loser” presents some authentic, feel-good moments; however when the camera goes off, it is often an entirely different story. Here you can explore the top 10 reasons that many of TBL contestants regain the weight they lost while on the show. For some this is a real eye-opening article regarding the struggle to maintain a healthy weight.

10. Slower Metabolism

Nothing slows a metabolism like some nice summer sausage and pork belly. Mmmm... Pork belly.
Nothing slows a metabolism like some nice summer sausage and pork belly. Mmmm… Pork belly.

During the days, months, and years after contestants are on “The Biggest Loser,” their bodies start to work against them. When they dropped the initial pounds during filming, their metabolisms slowed down drastically. While it is an expected and natural occurrence, it also causes issues in the future. The problem is, it never speeds back up. In fact, the contestant’s metabolism may become even slower, which makes it much harder for them to burn calories while at rest. As a result, when the contestants leave the show, they have to eat less to maintain their new, lower weight, compared to others who were the same size.

For example, TBL season eight winner, Danny Cahill lost an astonishing 239 pounds during his time on the show. However, after filming, he regained 100 lbs. Even six years after the show aired, he has to eat 800 calories less each day than other men who are his same size to maintain his weight of 295 pounds. Another contestant on the show, Amanda Arlauskas, gained 13 pounds after the finale, but now burns almost 600 fewer calories each day than other women who are her same size.

This slower metabolic rate is blamed on the rapid weight loss the contestants experienced on the show. Unfortunately, this results in it being harder to lose weight in the future and keep it off for good, which is why so many regain all of the weight they lost during the show.

9. Lower Leptin Levels

Damn you low leptin levels! Making me eat this ginormous sandwich!
Damn you low leptin levels! Making me eat this ginormous sandwich!

Slower metabolisms were not the only reasons that contestants gained the weight back after the show. Many participants also reported that they began to feel hungry all of the time. Scientists discovered that this was due to their lowered levels of leptin. Naturally produced in the body, the hormone works to help control hunger.

When the show ended, the contestants had extremely low leptin levels. As they started to regain the weight, the levels went up but peaked at only half of what they were before the show. This left the contestants feeling much hungrier than they were before and during the show.

Many believe this is one of the main reasons that participants regain weight so dramatically in many situations. Some people think that weight loss and weight gain is about willpower and calories. However, scientists know that leptin is really in control. In fact, it is believed that resistance to leptin is the leading driver of weight gain. The purpose of this hormone, which is produced by fat cells, is to tell the brain that there is enough fat stored and that eating isn’t necessary. However, when this doesn’t happen, people tend to feel hungry constantly, which causes them to overeat and gain weight.

Contestants from TBL have lowered levels of this crucial weight controlling hormone, which is a primary factor in why they regain much (if not all) of the weight they lost during the show.

8. The Creation of an Unsustainable Environment

No more trainer = more chicken wings
No more trainer = more chicken wings

While on the show, the doctors, dieticians, and personal trainers create unsustainable conditions for the contestants. While it results in them losing weight quickly, it also causes the brain to create a defense mechanism that tries to prevent the person from losing all the weight. Regarding the economics of the body, losing weight is similar to throwing money away. If a person loses weight extremely fast, their brain wants them to go back to the weight they were at before.

This struggle between the brain and body can make it extremely difficult, if not completely impossible, for a person to maintain the weight loss they have experienced. The brain is going to constantly send signals for the person to eat or that they are hungry. As time passes, the individual gives in just to not feel so hungry all the time. This is only complicated by the lack of support provided by the show and the absence of self-motivation.

When trying to lose weight at home, alone, the process is much more challenging. It is much easier to cheat and give into temptation when the entire nation isn’t holding the contestant accountable any longer. This represents another factor that plays a role in “The Biggest Loser” contestants regaining much of the weight they were able to lose while on the show. As mentioned before, once it is regained, losing it again is even more difficult.

7. A Lack of Self-Motivation and Willpower

I only have the motivation for one more, ok two more, slices of cheesecake
I only have the motivation for one more, ok two more, slices of cheesecake

For some contestants, a huge factor that leads to them regaining the weight they lost during the show is a lack of self-motivation. When a person is on the show, they are motived to lose as much weight as possible, quickly, to win the prize. However, when the motivation is no longer present, it can be difficult and in some cases impossible for them to find the motivation to continue fighting to keep the weight away. Also, when the weight begins to creep back on because of slowed metabolism, lower levels of leptin, and other factors, it is even more of a struggle to lose it.

Most people understand the impact of having no motivation. After all, it is much easier to stay in bed, avoid the gym, and eat all the foods that taste great than to continue making efforts to keep the weight off. When working toward a goal on the show, they have a reason to get up in the morning and give it their all. There is a prize to be acquired. Unfortunately, once the cameras are gone, there is no real motivation that can encourage contestants to keep going and remain healthy. This is a huge factor related to the contestants from past seasons regaining all of the weight they lost. When this occurs, it is often even more difficult for them to lose it again if they ever decide to in the future.

6. Their Body has No Time to Adjust to the Change in Weight

When weight yo-yos down, it usually yo-yos back up
When weight yo-yos down, it usually yo-yos back up

When a person experiences fast weight loss, like what is seen on “The Biggest Loser,” the body compensates by slowing down their metabolism. This sounds quite disheartening for the millions of people who are struggling to lose weight; however, experts state that it should not be. Instead of trying to follow the impossible model shown on TBL, weight loss experts recommend a person try to lose one to two pounds weekly. This is the absolute fastest a person should lose weight to avoid creating the unsustainable caloric deficit.

When a person loses weight by making small changes, it gives them more time to make behavioral choices that are more sustainable. Losing weight needs to be accomplished by using an approach that a person can continue doing long-term. This means increasing their physical activity, eating health foods, and sleeping better.

When weight is lost too swiftly, it doesn’t allow the person time to adjust to the changes that are being made. Moving more slowly and losing weight at the suggested rate allows the body to adapt to the changes. This gives a person’s metabolism the time to adjust to fewer calories and more exercise. This helps prevent a messed up metabolism in the future. The goal is work diligently to make small changes that will help the individual secure long-term results. Unfortunately, this isn’t how it works on TBL, which is just another reason why so many of the contestants are regaining the weight.