A former executive producer of The Biggest Loser suggests ex-contestants’ “bad decision-making” is one of the reasons they regain weight.
JD Roth, who recently spoke to People about his new show, The Big Fat Truth, adds he feels bad some of the former contestants have regained weight after the reality show.
“I feel badly that some people from the show went back to some bad decision-making patterns and gained the weight back, and felt ashamed,” Roth told the magazine. “Here they are, they won the lottery and got on the show and lost all the weight and then gained it back.”
He added it came down to mindset and emotional problems.
“And for every contestant it’s different. Life gets in the way sometimes, and they can’t keep up with the good decision-making they were doing before. And for some of them, I think they never solved those emotional problems. It’s always going to be there, but you have to figure out how to get past it.”
But personal trainer Dan Go of Go Girl Bootcamps in Markham, Ont., says he’s not surprised contestants are regaining weight, but he also says both parties are at fault.
“Both are playing the blame game,” he tells Global News. “The producers are essentially taking away responsibility for making their clients go through extreme measures to lose weight… what they were doing is not realistic in [the contestant’s] lifestyle.”
Doing hours of cardio or eating only low-calorie diets isn’t sustainable in the real world, he adds, but on the other end of the spectrum, some contestants can easily fall back into their old habits and blame the show.
Weight gain (and loss) controversy
The popular weight loss reality show also received criticism in 2016, after a study found the weight loss program had wreaked havoc on contestants’ metabolisms, making it hard for them to maintain their weight loss.
“It is frightening and amazing… I am just blown away,” Dr. Kevin Hall, a scientist at the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., and lead author of the study, told the New York Times in 2016.
He also told Global News many of the former contestants had regained the weight.
“These folks lost all this weight but despite all this exercise their metabolism slowed dramatically… many of them had regained a substantial amount of weight but their metabolism stayed so low.”
Following these criticisms, Roth told People the study had not compared those who regained weight to those who kept it off post-show.
“They also never compared the people who gained the weight back on ‘The Biggest Loser’ with the ones who kept it off. If they had shown the science, that the metabolism of the people who kept the weight off has the same issue as the people who gained the weight back, that would be interesting,” he said.
Following the release of the study, other former contestants of the 17-season series claimed they were given diet pills and forced to lie about how much food they consumed, the study reported.
Some alleged they were told to say they’d eaten 1,500 calories, but in reality had only eaten 800.
The reason people regain weight
Vancouver-based registered dietitian Desiree Nielsen adds the show is highly monitored and dependent on support from other people (trainers, other contestants, etc.), and this is not a realistic for contestants when they return home.
“When contestants go home, they have to contend with not only the decreased metabolic rate that is common in weight loss, but the social and habitual environments that supported weight gain,” she tells Global News. “The friends they used to eat with. The restaurants where they used to make high calorie choices. Our eating habits are so deeply held that it takes a lot of mental energy to make new choices.”
This is also another reason extreme dieting doesn’t work, she says.
“As an everyday effect, extreme dieting can lead to brain fog, dizziness and fatigue that make it tough to perform well at work,” she says.
How to maintain weight loss
Go says if weight loss is your goal, start with small changes rather than just cutting out foods completely.
He suggests drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning or brushing your teeth after dinner — chances are this will stop you from indulging in a late-night snack.
He also says to plan your days out, especially if you like to eat out.
“Eat 80 per cent of your meals as whole foods,” he says. “When I go out, I know the calories will be high, so earlier in the day, I am going to eat protein and veggies and drink water.” He adds eating fruit before going out will avoid overeating (and over-ordering).
Nielsen also says that you shouldn’t tell yourself you’re never going to eat junk food again.
“You need to be able to have an occasional treat without going off a three-week cliff of overindulgence. And this is 100 per cent psychological. If you can trust that a single meal won’t hurt you, and have the strength to go right back to healthful choice at the next meal, you may have tiny fluctuations from week to week but you will win the long war.”