That lost weight? The body finds it

The body fights, hard, against weight loss. “It has to do with resting metabolism, which determines how many calories a person burns when at rest. When the show began, the contestants, though hugely overweight, had normal metabolisms for their size, meaning they were burning a normal number of calories for people of their weight. When it ended, their metabolisms had slowed radically and their bodies were not burning enough calories to maintain their thinner sizes.”

After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ their bodies fought to regain weight.

1 Like

Full text of the study: Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition

From the article:

“What people don’t understand is that a treat is like a drug,” said Ms. Egbert, who went from 263 pounds to just under 176 on the show, and now weighs between 152 and 157. “Two treats can turn into a binge over a three-day period. That is what I struggle with.”

She understands that anyone would gain weight by overeating (and, surprise surprise, she’s lost more weight since the show ended). Everyone else quoted blames their body. I mean, I get that it’s annoying to count calories, but it’s not impossible. And despite the article going on and on about metabolism, how was total energy expenditure (TEE) affected? Well thanks to the study, we know:

2,878-4,730 calories/day baseline TEE
2,429-3,575 calories/day TEE at end of competition
2,848-4,010 calories/day TEE 6 years later

Does that really seem like an insurmountable caloric intake? Like, am I reading this correctly? (Serious question.)

It’s an interesting study, but the article seems to take a small result and run with it to “make” a story. From the study:

In conclusion, we found that “The Biggest Loser” participants regained a substantial amount of their lost weight in the 6 years since the competition but overall were quite successful at long-term weight loss compared with other lifestyle interventions. Despite substantial weight regain, a large persistent metabolic adaptation was detected. Contrary to expectations, the degree of metabolic adaptation at the end of the competition was not associated with weight regain, but those with greater long-term weight loss also had greater ongoing metabolic slowing. Therefore, long-term weight loss requires vigilant combat against persistent metabolic adaptation that acts to proportionally counter ongoing efforts to reduce body weight.

[emphasis mine]


Welcome to the world of Internet “journalism”.


There are so many “factoids” about losing weight floating around and I used to believe many of them.

Then I found out they are all bullshit.

Most of them centre around how the body hates to burn fat and will do everything it can to avoid doing it. It would even break down muscle (!!!) instead of fat, just because, it hates burning fat so much.

As far as I can tell, these are just excuses people use to justify why they haven’t lost weight.

There’s a British show I found on YouTube called “Secret Eaters”. Where they visit obese people who profess to be following a reasonable diet and are mystified as to why they’re gaining weight instead of losing it.

It’s literally people who eat over 3000 calories a day claiming that they eat 1600 calories.

If you really think about it, our bodies are designed to store sugars as fat so they can use them later for energy.

If your body hates using fat for energy, why the hell does it convert sugar into fat and then store it? What? It’s just hoarding fat for no reason? To make itself sick?

The body is designed with the assumption that food is not available in abundance all the time. So it doesn’t like to waste energy sources. So if it gets too much sugar, it stores it as fat.

It should follow then that if your body does not have enough energy from recently consumed food, it will turn to its fat reserves. That’s why it stored it in the first place. So it can use it.

1 Like

No, it’s not insurmountable, but still, you’re kinda burying the lede, here.

There are two things going on - one is that they have significant decreases in metabolism - 500 kcal less - despite having regained all or most of the weight.

Think about that; you start out burning, say, 4730 kcals a day; you lose a lot of weight in a short period, and now you’re only buring 3575 kcals a day. Then you regain most of the weight… but you’re not burning 4730 again. You’re only burning 4010. This means that you can be eating 500 kcal less per day than you used to while at that weight, and instead of losing weight at a good clip, you’re actually gaining.

The second thing going on is the change in leptin levels and/or leptin sensitivity. This has an impact on how hungry they feel. Given depressed leptin levels, they feel more hungry than they used to, and would therefore feel even more deprived on a 500 kcal deficit than they would have, before - yet, as I said, that’s not even a “deficit” any more. They’re actually gaining weight at that intake.

One thing I wish the article would have stressed is that these kinds of massive weight losses in short periods - and the drastic changes in metabolic expenditures - are not from dieting. They are from Biggest Losering. We have good studies that show a lot less metabolic effect from lengthy diets, even fairly strict diets - even compete fasting! These metabolic impacts are extreme and unusual. Sure, metabolism goes down with dieting and weight loss, but it’s going down roughly in proportion to body weight.

But if you combine a very strict diet with outrageous fitness regimens, you put an enormous amount of stress on the body. This kind of exercise/recovery load combined with a massive calorie deficit combined with the hormonal effects of that kind of stress appear to wreak havoc on the body’s sense of homeostasis… and you just don’t come out of it “balanced and normal.” Instead, you come out of it needing to eat substantially less just to avoid gaining weight, while you’re simultaneously hungrier at that same level of intake than you used to be.


There’s a reason the long-term success rate for diets is well under 5%. Long-term changes in your eating habits are hard, and people will eventually backslide.

1 Like

The popular “under 5%” figure is actually an outdated myth.

That being said, this is absolutely true:

More current (and thorough) research says that:

  • many people will regain a a fraction the weight they lost, some will regain it all or more
  • a majority of those who lose a significant amount of weight in one year will maintain some or all of that loss in future years
  • keeping it off is far more likely if the person makes diet and lifestyle changes

One more recent analysis:

J. Graham Thomas, Dale S. Bond, Suzanne Phelan, James O. Hill, Rena R. Wing. Weight-Loss Maintenance for 10 Years in the National Weight Control Registry. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2014; 46 (1): 17 DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.08.019


Fixed that for you :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


Nah bro it’s designed that way … by the forces of nature! No point in being sensitive to the word, we’re not in a creationism debate here.

1 Like

We’re not, but a lot of readers may not have come to a conclusion on the matter… and this sort of subtle language sways them over time.

1 Like

To be honest, as far as I’m concerned, only people in a weaker position would take extra special care to craft their words in specific ways to avoid imparting an undesirable impression on people.

1 Like

This article puts the diet failure rate at 90%. Still a lot.

“It’s also still true that 90 percent of dieting attempts fail.”

This is an article, not a study. My concern is not only that the article doesn’t cite this where it got this statistic, but that it says, “still true.”

Seems ripe that the guest columnist is merely repeating an oft-used, outdated statistic.


“Nearly 65% of dieters return to their pre-dieting weight within three years, according to Gary Foster, Ph.D., clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania.”

I don’t have a dog in this fight; I’ve never been overweight. So as a person with no knowledge on the success or failure rate of dieting, my bullshit detector goes off when I hear extreme numbers like 90% or 95% of dieters reverting back to their current weight. I do understand that it is easy to regain the weight. So I’m actually inclined to believe the 65% number. Which is still a discouraging number for those looking to lose weight.

That being said, @MentalNomad was correct when pointing people out to the purpose of The New York Times story. The lede (and my reason for posting the story) is simply that bodies somehow reset their resting metabolism. thus making it much harder (maybe for only those who lost extreme weight?) to keep weight off, even if they are doing everything right.

(I actually thought of not posting this, because it seems discouraging, and that isn’t my point at all. I use Soylent because I am lazy and cheap. But I love the additional benefit it has for others of aiding with weight loss because it is SO EASY to track calories.)


It is genuinely odd to find “weakness” or “strength” implicit in word choices. The goal of writing is to be clear so that the ideas that you wish to convey are understood by your reader. Word choices shape meaning, hence the substance of what is being communicated. I just don’t see what “weak” has to do with anything, since “clear” and “unclear” are the relevant variables. Thus, for example, your decision to use the expression, “people in a weaker position,” in a post about wording, communicates quite a bit about how you regard the act of engaging in a dialogue, assuming that you wrote what you meant.


In general I view comments and suggestions of the form “Please say X instead of Y” to be some sort of language policing for political purposes.

The goal of writing is to be clear so that the ideas that you wish to convey are understood by your reader. Word choices shape meaning, hence the substance of what is being communicated.

Yea when I say the body is designed to do X I mean that in every sense of the word. Its components work together to achieve X, and it works best when X is taken into consideration.

1 Like

That would make a lot of sense.

My uneducated guess, would be that the body desperately wants to store additional fat, as rapid weight loss would seem to be similar to starving. It’s stores are running out, it desperately needs more in order to stay “safe”

I really feel that it takes a lifestyle change to loose weight and maintain that weight loss. Being healthy and loosing weight should not be about dieting. When you are dieting, there is an end date where you go “off your diet.” This mentality that now that you lost weight, and you are going to go back to your “old ways” is a path to regaining that lost weight.

Additionally, I feel people go overboard when they restrict themselves on what they can and can not eat based on either fat content or carb content. Food can be like a drug, when there is something that you tell yourself you cant have, the brain makes you crave it even more. This can lead to failure if you do consume something you said you shouldn’t, your brain simply says Oh well, now its too late, then you binge.

Currently, I eat Soylent for 2/3 meals, breakfast and lunch. I eat whatever homemade meal I want for dinner, as long as I keep my calories at 2,000 or below for the day. I am currently averaging 1,800 for the month.

I started on Soylent because I wanted to eat regularly again, Soylent had complete nutrition and was very inexpensive. So I hopped on the band wagon. I thought I might gain weight, but I started loosing weight. Even without exercise I lost about 20# on Soylent alone and calorie counting, 2000 calories per day was my limit. Additionally, I stopped going out for dinner and made my dinners at home.

Then I started exercising and bought a fitbit to track it. I burn about 20,000 calories a week according to my fit bit. Its a mix of walking/running and calisthenics, I recently threw in a body ball and ab roller to try and get rid of this remaining tummy. I am down to 146, my waist went from a 38 to 30, I went down a full ring size, I can do 3 sets of 20 push ups now, and I do those in the morning before I get in the shower. I had to donate over 1,000 worth of cloths now because they don’t fit.

Some people ask me what I eat for dinner: I eat pizza, homemade pizza on a pizza stone with pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, homemade sauce and homemade dough. Its about 211 calories per slice, I have three slices, I don’t add anything else (like parmesan) because I would rather have a third slice of pizza instead of two because the extra calories something like parmesan would add, its just not worth it. I eat homemade nachos, on store bought baked chips usually with ground beef, mexican blend cheese, olives, low salt black beans, and jalapenos. The meal that pushes me close to 800 calories for dinner is the cheese burgers on a brioche bun, with Bacon, 1/4# 90/10 ground beef, mushrooms, swiss cheese, ketchup and mustard.

I do eat chips, as long as I haven’t gone over my calorie count but its soo little food for how many calories they are so I often don’t each chips. Same thing for Soda and Alcohol, I tend not to consume those things because the amount of calories from them just aren’t worth it, but I will have a soda, I will have a drink, as long as my calories are at 2,000 or below for the day.

My wife is a person who is constantly hungry, I for whatever reason can go a whole day without eating. The only way I can tell I haven’t eaten is when I either have a major headache or my wife tells me I am being really grumpy. Maybe I am lucky this way because I don’t have to deal with that feeling of constant hunger like others do.