"The Biggest Loser" weight loss - 15lbs in one week. How is this possible?

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    Apr 09, 2008 1:37 AM GMT
    I was just watching a bit of "The Biggest Loser" on NBC. These people are weighing in with weight losses ranging from 11-15 pounds in one week.

    15lbs in one week equals a calorie deficit of 52,500. That's 7,500 calories per day!! This seems completely impossible mathematically.

    What is going on here? What are they doing? Anyone have any insights?

    Mind you, I'm not trying to replicate this, I just can't get my head around how they can possibly be losing that much weight in one week given the caloric numbers involved.
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    Apr 09, 2008 3:47 AM GMT
    The important thing to remember about weight on the scale is that EVERYTHING gets weighed, notably, muscle mass, body fat, retained water and waste products. So when someone drops, say, 11 pounds from one week to another on the scale, there's no telling really what category of loss we're talking about.

    However, it is safe to say that an obese person at the beginning of the diet is probably dropping weight mostly out of the latter category--i.e., losing a lot of retained water and offloading a lot of waste. These alone could account for the entire first week's "weight loss," since a pint of water weighs a pound. (So there's an easy way to drop a pound--give blood.) My mother lost 20 pounds of water in a week after being put on diuretics for a medical condition, and I myself have lost 5 pounds on the scale in a day just by excessive sweating and an equal amount through colonic flushing (all of which magically re-appeared on the scale as soon as I drank enough water to replenish myself and then had a good meal.)

    So I think you are right to be skeptical about these dramatic drops in "weight." The aim, after all, is to be engaging in a sustained loss of excess body fat, which is probably best measured by a combination of scale weight and body measurements over a long period of time.
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    Apr 09, 2008 6:14 AM GMT
    It's b/c they exercise all day! They are reamed through this regimen that is not manageable outside of biggest loser camp. As a consequence many of them gain weight back after leaving and returning to the time constraints of the real world.

    Obviously their diets are restricted significantly while at the camp as well.
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    Apr 09, 2008 6:22 AM GMT
    supermodel saidAs a consequence many of them gain weight back after leaving and returning to the time constraints of the real world.


    Really? Where did you get this from? I watch this show religiously and I have never heard of anyone putting the weight back one.

    The training is extremely rigorous and their diet is strick but has to how they are able to lose all that weight in a week baffles me too.
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    Apr 09, 2008 6:33 AM GMT
    Lazz said[quote][cite]supermodel said[/cite]As a consequence many of them gain weight back after leaving and returning to the time constraints of the real world.


    Really? Where did you get this from? I watch this show religiously and I have never heard of anyone putting the weight back one.

    The training is extremely rigorous and their diet is strick but has to how they are able to lose all that weight in a week baffles me too.[/quote]

    Many of them have managed to make lifestyle adjustments that prevent them from gaining all that weight back...and we all know diet is 70% of the battle. However, it is part of the body's homeostatic nature that leads it to adjust to current physical rigors. When such continuous and demanding physical activity is suddenly decreased (to fit the time constraints of a normal schedule) the body adjusts to what it perceives as a decrease in the need to undergo as much of a catabolic and anabolic response (i.e. it decreases its metabolic rate). Consequently many of the participants (especially those contestants who would be considered more endomorphic than the others) gain back some of the weight.

    My response is based on short term observations.

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    Apr 09, 2008 6:47 AM GMT
    supermodel said
    Many of them have managed to make lifestyle adjustments that prevent them from gaining all that weight back...and we all know diet is 70% of the battle. However, it is part of the body's homeostatic nature that leads it to adjust to current physical rigors. When such continuous and demanding physical activity is suddenly decreased (to fit the time constraints of a normal schedule) the body adjusts to what it perceives as a decrease in the need to undergo as much of a catabolic and anabolic response (i.e. it decreases its metabolic rate). Consequently many of the participants (especially those contestants who would be considered more endomorphic than the others) gain back some of the weight.

    My response is based on short term observations.


    It was awesome that you could explain the entire scientific process of how one might regain their weight but you still haven't answered my question.

    How do you know for a fact anyone of these contestants have regained even the slightest bit of weight?

    (Not that this isn't an impossibility considering it's just as easy to put it back on as it was taking it off)
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    Apr 09, 2008 11:49 AM GMT
    JockTrainee said
    However, it is safe to say that an obese person at the beginning of the diet is probably dropping weight mostly out of the latter category--i.e., losing a lot of retained water and offloading a lot of waste.

    That's true, but that only makes this more baffling. They are not in week one, they are in week 15. Some have already lost over 100 pounds. The guy who lost 15 pounds has already lost 140+.

    Do the math, even if they run their asses off, there aren't enough hours in the day to burn the kind of calories it takes to lose 15 pounds in one week.

    Are they putting them on diuretics and laxatives?
  • joggerva

    Posts: 731

    Apr 09, 2008 12:07 PM GMT
    I haven't watched it that much, but it is television, so I'd be wary. I think they overestimate the beginning weight to make the losses more than they actually are. I remember seeing one of the season premieres and thinking, "I know she is obese, but she's like 5 feet tall, there is no way she weighs that much..."

    Without the extreme losses there would be no ratings.
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    Apr 09, 2008 12:38 PM GMT
    Lazz said[quote][cite]supermodel said[/cite]
    Many of them have managed to make lifestyle adjustments that prevent them from gaining all that weight back...and we all know diet is 70% of the battle. However, it is part of the body's homeostatic nature that leads it to adjust to current physical rigors. When such continuous and demanding physical activity is suddenly decreased (to fit the time constraints of a normal schedule) the body adjusts to what it perceives as a decrease in the need to undergo as much of a catabolic and anabolic response (i.e. it decreases its metabolic rate). Consequently many of the participants (especially those contestants who would be considered more endomorphic than the others) gain back some of the weight.

    My response is based on short term observations.


    It was awesome that you could explain the entire scientific process of how one might regain their weight but you still haven't answered my question.

    How do you know for a fact anyone of these contestants have regained even the slightest bit of weight?

    (Not that this isn't an impossibility considering it's just as easy to put it back on as it was taking it off)[/quote]

    You have seen those reunion shows, right? Do you remember the gay black dude (I forget his name) who was living in florida. He made it to the finale and lost an incrdedible amount of weight. Well, he came back for last season's finale and you could clearly see that he had gained approx 20 - 30 lbs back already. Unfortunately, I do not follow the show religiously but many of the contestants (who have actually appeared during the finale) have gained some of their weight back.

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    Apr 09, 2008 12:39 PM GMT
    healthy weight loss (fat) is at 1-2 # per week..
    I can bet that those losers are losing water weight.
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    Apr 11, 2008 8:51 PM GMT
    you look at half the diets they put them on and they are eliminating carbs. This will equate to large water losses but is it a good long term strategy? Deopends really if they are never going to eat carbs again then its sustainable.

    Whilst 1-2lbs is a sensible long term average weightloss it is very plausable for any obese untrained individual to lose upwards of 7 lbs a week. Thats why scales are such a bad measure for fat loss, most tend to average out 2 lbs a week long term.

    As to do they keep it off? Well theres been a few accounts of some that this has ruined their life and some that have stacked on more, others that lost the weight so quickly they are riddled with stretch marks. teh question begs to be asked tho is this any different to real life?

    Personaly I hate the programme with a passion, as unless they dont show it I dont think they educate people with long term strategies and teach crash weightloss strategies
  • healthseeker

    Posts: 161

    Apr 11, 2008 9:16 PM GMT
    I'm no expert but from watching the show I know the calorie deficit comes from their consuming a set number of calories per day and working out for 6 hours every day to burn the rest.
    Many of the former contestants have appeared on the show and some of them have gained weight as they adjusted back to every day life (and are no longer in a competition) but are still at a healthy weight and nowhere near where they were.
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    Apr 12, 2008 2:48 AM GMT
    healthseeker saidI'm no expert but from watching the show I know the calorie deficit comes from their consuming a set number of calories per day and working out for 6 hours every day to burn the rest.

    That's true, but it still doesn't add up. Do the math. How many calories can you burn in one hour by exercising? Maybe 600 if it's a really intense workout. And it's hard to sustain and intense workout for six hours a day.

    But let's assume they are burning calories at that rate. That's 3600 calories per day in exercise. Then maybe another 500 calories per day in dietary caloric deficit.

    That is still only a caloric deficit of 28,700 per week. It takes a deficit of over 52,000 calories per week to lose 15lbs.

    And this is not in week one. They are on the 15th week.

    I just don't see how this is mathematically possible.