NBC’s “The Biggest Loser”: The Shocking Aftermath

NBC’s “The Biggest Loser”: The Shocking Aftermath

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A Colorado Cleanse “Biggest Loser” Story

It was my brother that talked me into doing the Colorado Cleanse. I was a personal trainer on “The Biggest Loser” show and “The Dr. Phil Show” and had lost 100lbs. I had made it my life’s work to teach others about fitness and nutrition. I started my own business and became a personal trainer, but I started gaining weight and fighting depression. I learned the reason was that I had two tumors on my adrenal glands that were making my cortisol levels skyrocket. I was storing fat again in spite of my healthy diet and fitness routine, and feeling depressed and lethargic, doing everything I could to store up my energy for my clients. Normal cortisol levels were supposed to be between 2-19mcg/dL, and mine was up at 26!

After talking to my doctor, I started a regimen of steroids to get the levels down, but I was still out of normal range. Finally, I decided to do the Colorado Cleanse with my brother. I’d never used herbal supplements in the past, but when I had the doctor check my cortisol level after the 2-week cleanse, I was down to 18 — within the normal range again! Even the steroids couldn’t bring it down that far!

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to maintain it with herbal supplements alone, but the 2-week cleanse made me feel alive again — I don’t have depression or an obsession with food.  I have more energy (my house is so clean!) and my husband calls me Super-Wife!  My condition is pretty rare, but with the diet, nutrition, and herbal supplements, I feel healthy again and am so glad to dedicate my life to teaching others and spreading the word.

~S.L., Maryland

NBC’s “The Biggest Loser”: The Shocking Aftermath

Kevin Hall, a National Institutes of Health researcher, decided to follow the individuals who lost massive amounts of weight during the hit NBC TV show, “The Biggest Loser.” His results have been published in the journal, Obesity, and the findings are certainly food for thought if you are considering a weight loss plan. (1)

A recent New York Times article profiled a handful of the biggest loser contestants and found that most of them gained the weight back. Of the contestants studied, 13 of the 14 regained weight in the six years after the competition and 4 contestants actually weighed more than they did before the competition. (2)

The study dug into why it is so hard to keep the weight off after a major weight loss event. They found that keeping the weight off had to do with a change in their metabolism. When the contestants started the show, they all had normal metabolisms for their size and weight — but after they had lost all the weight, their metabolism had slowed significantly. With a slower metabolism, you cannot burn calories as fast as you can with a fast metabolism.

To a certain extent, after a major weight-loss event, this slower metabolism is normal. But what they found in this study was that the metabolism of the contestants studied stayed slow for a full six years. This was a shocking finding. This made it nearly impossible for the contestants to resist the cravings and keep the weight off.

For example, one of the contestant’s profiles in the NY Times article, Danny Cahill, weighed in at 430 pounds before the show. After the 7-month show, he weighed in with a record-breaking weight of 191. During the past six years, as hard as he tried, he could not keep the pounds off, and now weighs in at 295. This, according to the research, was due to a persistent slowed metabolism that now burned 800 fewer calories a day than before he started “The Biggest Loser” when he weighed 430. (1,2)

There was one other factor that could also help explain the rapid weight gain for these contestants: Leptin. Leptin is the satiety hormone that tells the body when to stop eating when you are full. Leptin levels in the contestants literally plummeted at the end of the contest. This means that there was no leptin to tell the brain that they were full. At the beginning of the show, they all had normal levels of leptin. By the end of the competition, without any leptin, the brain could not really feel satiated — ever. (1,2)

When you combine a slow metabolism with low leptin levels — a feeding frenzy of sorts would be hard to avoid.

They Call it a Crash Diet for a Reason

The stress of a crash course diet will trigger an emergency “fight-or-flight” response in one’s physiology. When the body perceives life as an emergency, as demonstrated in a crash rapid weight loss program, the body will respond in two ways:

First, the body will crave more emergency fuel – which is sugar, high-glycemic processed comfort foods that deliver energy quickly. This fast-burning emergency fuel is craved as if you had to run from a bear to save your life. When you combine this emergency stress with no leptin to stop the hunger, along with a slow metabolism that cannot burn the excess calories, it is the perfect weight gain storm.

Secondly, the body will begin to store any excess food as fat. When the body senses a threat, it will put away some reserve fuel just in case the emergency lasts longer than expected. So when you stress the body at work, during exercise or in a cleanse or weight loss plan, you run the risk of storing – not burning – unwanted fat.

This is exactly why the researchers expect a short-term slowing of the metabolism after a weight-loss event. Usually, in a few weeks or months, the metabolism returns to normal, but that didn’t happen with the biggest loser contestants. What shocked the researchers was that the slow metabolism persisted – for six years. The only explanation for this was that the incredible stress of starvation and exercise that the contestants endured triggered a more permanent fat-storing, sugar-craving, metabolism-slowing emergency response.

Ayurvedic Logic

This study reminded me of the message I keep repeating to the folks who do my Colorado Cleanse – a 2-week digestive reset and detox. Most cleanses are designed to be grueling, tough, and a flat-out endurance event. This fits in well with our cultural mentality that still says “no pain, no gain.” The problem with straining during a weight loss plan or during a cleanse is that the body will respond to the strain as fight-or-flight stress and quickly store fat as a source of reserve fuel.

I am constantly reminding my cleansers and the folks who do my Weight Balancing Plan to not strain during the program. We must eat regularly and feel satiated and not feel stressed to lose weight or burn toxic fat. To never strain is one of the golden rules of Ayurveda. Now, we are seeing in this new study on “The Biggest Losers” that the more you stress and strain the body, the more permanent the damage can be.

Learn more about our stress-free Colorado Cleanse and my FREE eBook on achieving your ideal weight, the Ayurvedic Weight Balancing eBook. Download it now for FREE.


  1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.21538/full
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/health/biggest-loser-weight-loss.html

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