OPC’s Behind the News – the struggle with fat loss and keeping it off long term

OPC’s Behind the News: fat loss and keeping it off long term

The News: This weeks article is from the New York Times about the struggle with fat loss and keeping it off long term. Following the lives of “The Biggest Loser” contestants 6 years after. Unfortunately most hadn’t managed to keep the weight off.


Danny Cahill stood, slightly dazed, in a blizzard of confetti as the audience screamed and his family ran on stage. He had won Season 8 of NBC’s reality television show “The Biggest Loser,” shedding more weight than anyone ever had on the program — an astonishing 239 pounds in seven months.

When he got on the scale for all to see that evening, Dec. 8, 2009, he weighed just 191 pounds, down from 430. Dressed in a T-shirt and knee-length shorts, he was lean, athletic and as handsome as a model.

“I’ve got my life back,” he declared. “I mean, I feel like a million bucks.”

Mr. Cahill left the show’s stage in Hollywood and flew directly to New York to start a triumphal tour of the talk shows, chatting with Jay Leno, Regis Philbin and Joy Behar. As he heard from fans all over the world, his elation knew no bounds.

But in the years since, more than 100 pounds have crept back onto his 5-foot-11 frame despite his best efforts. In fact, most of that season’s 16 contestants have regained much if not all the weight they lost so arduously. Some are even heavier now.

Danny Cahill Biggest Loser struggling with Fat loss and Keeping it off

Danny Cahill Biggest Loser struggling with Fat loss and Keeping it off

Danny Cahill

WEIGHT Before show, 430 pounds; at finale, 191 pounds; now, 295 pounds
METABOLIC RATE Now burns 800 fewer calories a day than would be expected for a man his size.


The Science:

Leptin is one of many hormones that controls hunger, produced by fat cells, it has a set point, an amount of energy stored that is ideal for the energy you will use throughout the day.

Simply put, when leptin is high you’re not hungry, when leptin is low we become hungry.

People on a low/restrictive caloric diet losing weight too fast and burning fat cells, their leptin will not be happy with how much fat is left in the body and it can sense you’re in a starvation mode. It will trigger a response for the body to stop allowing fat to be burned and to start storing the majority of all calories coming in until it brings your body fat levels back to its set point.
Will power won’t help you here!

The problems I see with rapid weight loss / fat loss:

– Hormones don’t have the chance to adapt & normalise. With rapid weight loss comes hormonal disfunction
– Training frequency is too high to maintain long term, meaning huge amounts of calorie burning will decrease and food intake would need to change with that, too often the training decreases and the food increases and therefore body fat increases rapidly
– The nutrition is too rigorous to maintain, going very low calorie, juice diets, soup diets, lemon detox, cabbage diets, are all setting people up to fail long term. The body is like the tax man, you can get away with taking a little but if you take a lot he will come to collect.

What I think:

1) Rapid weight loss, 1kg+ per week or more for an extended period of time eg 10 -12 weeks is too quick. If a person is dropping weight too fast their chance of rebounding is very high.

– We counter this by only using small calorie deficits 10, 20, max 30% caloric deficits and then bring the dietary intake regularly back up to active basel metabolic rate (Active BMR), this way we slowly let our hormones adjust to what we are doing. It may take longer but you will keep the weight off long term. “Do it right once”.

2) Training twice a day or 1 1/2 or 2 hour training sessions everyday is going to burn most people out physically (especially when trying to lose weight), you run the risk of injury because they aren’t recovering from training. At the start the drive and interest is there, but after 3 months the desire and interest can start to fade. Why not start at a manageable level of exercises that you know will not impact your life too much that you won’t be able to stick to it.

– I recommend people train vigorously 3-5 times per week for 45-60 minutes each session. Generally we should all be more active, our lives have become very sedentary, the ideal goal is averaging 8,000 to 9,000 steps per day, when fat loss is a focus 10,000 to 12,000 is encouraged.

Rapid fat loss runs the high risk of rebounding, slower controlled fat loss will let the body adjust to the new arrangement, decreasing the risk of rebounding. Remember that everything we do needs to be manageable long term, a lifestyle change/adjustment, nutrition and exercise, otherwise we are setting ourselves up to fail long term.

Leaner. Stronger. Faster.


BioPrint Practitioner