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6 Extreme Weight Loss Myths Debunked by Biggest Loser Research

Stop eating, start exercising, win at life. Sorry to burst your bubble, that's not how it works.

6 Extreme Weight Loss Myths Debunked by Biggest Loser Research
"You wanna lose some weight?"

Most of you probably don’t know Danny Cahill. He was a land surveyor and a musician. He is a father of two and he lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma in America. He also used to weigh 195kg. An average Malaysian weighs 60kg, which would make him three times bigger than the average Malaysian. He then joined The Biggest Loser Season 8 and lost a whopping 109kg! More than half of him was left in that ranch, and he lost the highest amount of weight of any contestant on the show ever. 

Six years later, he now weighs 134kg – 25kg more in six years. In fact, 13 of the 14 contestants from Season 8 have gained weight, with four contestants heavier now than they were before. What happened?  “Cannot control their food-lah. Eat, eat, eat, non-stop!” we hear you say. And you’d be technically right. Danny – like his other Biggest Loser Season 8 contestants – literally lost control of his bodies’ ability to maintain his weight. A study lead by Dr. Kevin Hall, an expert on metabolism at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, found that the resting metabolic rates of the former contestants declined sharply after their massive weight loss and their leptin levels – the hormones that control how ‘full’ you feel – similarly dipped causing them to never feel satisfied with a meal. 

This startling new discovery shows how our bodies actually rejects this method of extreme weight loss and debunks a lot of myths we might have about getting that coveted beach-bod. Lets look at some of these myths about extreme weight loss in detail:

Myth #1: Once the weight is off, it stays off easily

Yeah, it's only going to get more difficult from this point on. Hang in there!

It’s not just about self-control; as shown in the study, metabolic rates of the participants dipped significantly, meaning they could eat fewer calories a day compared to another person of the same weight and size. Danny has to eat 800 calories less a day, while others have to eat 400 – 600 calories less a day to maintain their body weight. That’s one to two big meals less than the average person, just to maintain the weight. Their metabolic rates have actually continued to decrease over the past six years. 

Myth #2: Feeling hungry is all in your head

"I should feel full. But I'm not. Why?!"

Turns out, it’s actually in your hormones. In Season 8’s contestants, Leptin or the ‘hungry-hormone’ as we’re calling it, plunged from 41.1 nanograms per milimetre to 2.6 ng/mL by the end of the contest and only raised itself to 27.7 ng/mL six years later. A higher Leptin amount is better, meaning you’ll feel more full, by eating less. Yes, after massive weight loss, feeling hungry isn’t just mental, it’s your body reacting to the loss. If you’re planning to lose a lot of weight, fast, you’re going to be feeling really hungry – a lot more than usual. 

Myth #3: Everyone's resting weight is the same

"What chu say?!"

Nope. There’s no way to tell why our bodies have different resting weights. Though with this knowledge, we should be able to properly manage our weight with the help of doctors. Daily caloric intakes differ from person to person, and sometimes, it’s just the hand that you’re dealt with in life. If you have problems fitting into your jeans, it might be in your genes. 

Myth #4: Six-pack abs and bulging pecs are guaranteed after weight loss

Image:, Facebook @simonesjourneytohealth

What you’ll get instead is lots of loose skin. Once your skin expands beyond its threshold, it loses its elasticity – its ability to shrink – much like a rubber band that’s stretched beyond its limits. Contestants on The Biggest Loser actually have to wear compression undergarments to keep the rolls of loose skin in check. This can be managed with surgery, but don’t expect to hit the beach looking like Zac Efron. (pic this instead of this). 

Myth #5: Eating fewer calories = weight loss 


Sorry, starving doesn’t work. Dr. David Ludwig, the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, commented on the research saying, “… for most people, the combination of incessant hunger and slowing metabolism is a recipe for weight regain — explaining why so few individuals can maintain weight loss for more than a few months.” Chronic dieters will find themselves losing weight possibly at the beginning, but gaining them back just as quickly while being on the diet. 

Myth #6: Rapid, Hollywood-style weight loss is the only way 

Love yourself like Joey loves himself - and many others.

These findings actually shed a light on the importance of holistic health, not conforming to on-screen conventions. The media will always exhort washboard abs and size two dresses, but that’s not a realistic representation of humans as a whole. A false perception of beauty drives the sales of programs like The Biggest Loser, Extreme Makeover, Extreme Weight Loss, it skews our brains to think that if you throw enough money at the problem, it will go away. Pills, fad-diets, surgery, miracle workout machines, these methods motivate through self-loathing, not self-esteem. The first step you should take shouldn’t be towards your weighing scale, it should be towards your mirror. Examine yourself thoroughly, smile and say, “I’m loved, I’m enough, and I’m worth it.” 

All sizes, all beautiful, all the time.