The Biggest Loser Study – Yossi Muller, CNWC

ymA recent study published by the journal of obesity has caused quite a stir among those who are considering losing weight. Contestants on the “biggest loser” program were found to have damaged metabolisms, giving them little to no chance of maintaining the weight they lost. This of course causes many to question their decision to go on a weight-loss diet in the first place. “Why should I go on a diet if I will gain the weight back anyway- even if I eat the amount I’m supposed to eat to maintain body weight?”

This study is very misleading.
While it is indeed true that participants in the “biggest loser” program do have damaged metabolisms, their damaged metabolisms were not caused by them losing weight.

Hundreds of reputable studies show that weight loss done through diet and/or exercise does not negatively affect metabolism. I also see this anecdotally from my own experience. I personally lost a substantial amount of weight and kept it off for several years. I have helped hundreds of people do this as well. Neither I nor any of my clients who I monitor while on their maintenance diet, have metabolisms that are any slower than science says they should be. Losing weight through diet and/or exercise does not cause damaged metabolisms.

There is a fundamental problem with this particular study. There is an entirely separate reason why the contestants in the “biggest loser” program have damaged metabolisms.

There are many ways to damage ones metabolism, and a most effective ways is to take diet pills. Unfortunately, I have met many such people who’ve done this and I got to see this first hand.

Unbeknownst to the scientists conducting the study, the “biggest losers” cheated during the contest. Instead of losing weight through diet and exercise, as per the contest rules, they also took diet pills behind the backs of the contest judges. Taking diet pills will damage your metabolism even if you don’t lose weight. Their damaged metabolisms have nothing to do with the fact that they lost weight.

Aside from this, there are some other holes in this particular study which are beyond the scope of this article. If you do a little digging around online, you will find out some other fundamental problems with this study brought up by various nutritionists. I only brought up the most alarming one I found. When you hear a study that seems to affect you personally, don’t react. Speak to a professional in the field to find out if the study has any validity.

There are a lot of good reasons not to go on a diet. As someone who has done it, I can totally understand why someone would not be willing to go through with it. It takes a very serious commitment and it involves a fair amount of hardship. Saying no to unhealthy food day after day is not an easy task by any means. Not done properly, and without the proper support from friends and family, dieting can take a serious toll on ones emotional well being. This study however, is riddled with holes, and should do nothing to discourage you from trying to lose weight.

Yossi Muller, CNWC, is a Nutritionist with a private practice in Lakewood. He can be reached at 732-806-7373.

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  1. Another problem with this study is that the contestants metabolisms werent measured prior to losing the weight. Whos to say that they didnt have a slow metabolism as a preexisting condition?

  2. Some of the points made in the article are questionable. Agreed. But there is a glaring fundamental issue here: the promise of fast weight loss. It simply isn’t possible. The only way for a person to lose weight is to do it slowly, with HIIT, weight and cardio training and sticking to a balanced/approporiate diet that can become a lifestyle, I.e you can live without donuts.

    I can only speak for myself having lost 80 pounds and kept it off for years. There are no secrets. No special tricks. It’s hard work at first. Painful and perhap humiliating, but its worth it.

    Many dietitians, nutritionists and ‘experts’ out will tell you there little twist on what they think will work for you. Most are doing this to help you lose weight, but some are simply making a parnosa, and that can cloud the facts.

    The fact is aside from the first week or so, you can’t lose more than 2 pounds a week, and if you are, it’s not fat, it’s muscle mass. And it’s unhealthy. Instead of getting on the treadmill or bike everyday and going at it for an hour, rather do HIIT 3 time a week and weight training at least twice a week, with cardio once. You will lose more fat, not lose muscle, firm up and feel much better.

    Also lose the scale. It’s your worst enemy. If you want to know if you are losing, measure your waistline.

    Good luck!

  3. It’s interesting that all the studys that show that peoples metabolisms remain healthy post diet do not get major publicity
    A study comes out that weight loss affects metabolism, and EVERYONE is all over it!
    Of course! No one cares about truthful studies. All anyone WANTS to hear are studies that give them an EXCUSE that its okay to not lose weight.

  4. Every study works backwards . They gear towards the point they wish to make. You can get yo any conclusion you want if you position the study that way. Only one way to lose weight and keep it off eat less move more and do it slowly .

  5. Shkoach “Lkwd” for saying it like it is. If people would simply speak to people who have done it instead of going after every new fad that hits the market, more people would see hatzlochah in this.

  6. Lkwd is 100% right. I would also add that common thinking is that you need to do cardio (work up a sweat on a treadmill for 30min or more) to burn fat. This is incorrect. Ladies, you will not lose weight – just melt off your muscle, which burns fat even when not being used (in periods of rest). So be sure to not jeopardize your ability to lose weight by mindlessly doing treadmill, running, biking etc. High intensity cardio is the way to go. And don’t starve yourself – yes starving yourself makes you feel virtuous and like a hero – but it’s in your head. Your body needs more than lettuce and fat free tuna to get strong and fit and firm. It needs fats and good proteins and enough of both!

  7. Thanks for this interesting article. Great points made. It’s interesting how weight loss can be so misleading. On a side note, I’ve never struggled with weight loss, but am married to someone who does. I never got it when he spoke about his struggles while we were dating. Now I get it and see the importance of supporting him. Can’t be underestimated.

  8. Wow it’s amazing how everyone and his uncle is an expert on weight loss!

    Yossi Muller is one the most well respected and popular nutritionists in Lakewood. His entire approach is the opposite of gimmicks and quick fixes.

    The article he is criticizing claims that loosing large amounts of weight can be dangerous and that is what Yossi is debunking.

    And as a side it is irresponsible to give advice based on nothing but your personal experience and some article you read in the Family First. Leave the advice up to those with experience and expertise.

  9. Interesting read thanks Yossi, you’re an inspiration! Good to know that dieting and exercise don’t negatively affect metabolism. There are so many conflicting studies, many of which cannot be trusted….many people are dishonest when it comes to weight loss especially when dishonesty is incentivized by ‘reality’ tv shows…

  10. I am not from Lakewood and I don’t know Yossi Muller. From what I hear he is an honest fellow. What I do know is that there are some people in the dieting industry that stretch the truth in an attempt to coax people into dieting. Freetochoose may not like it when people lecture about dieting from their own personal experience, and I get it, some of what the above commenters are saying about exercise is total bunk. But the truth is, even though those peoples understanding is limited to their own experience, at least they have no incentive to stretch the truth. I think we can all benefit by getting a balanced set of information both from experts in the field AND those with personal experience.

  11. Couldn’t disagree more.
    Whether this particular study is accurate or not , scientifically based or not is indeed questionable.
    However there are numerous studies that show eating in a caloric deficit dues indeed lower your metabolism and by that I mean your rmr (resting metabolic rate).
    Add to that, losing weight this fast is a surefire way to lose a lot of muscle mass which will also contribute to a lower metabolism
    Diet pills are potentially dangerous and should be avoided

  12. Yisrael. You said you disagree and then you bring up a bunch of points that are not technically in disagreement of the article. For example, everyone knows that calorie reduction results in decreased RMR. His arguement is that it decreases within normal range as science predicts its supposed to, but doesnt permanently damage metabolism like the biggest loser study claims. Your other points are also not in disagreement if you read the article carefully. I.e he says this is but one of several issues with the study.

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