“Biggest Loser” Contestants Lose More Than Weight

Contestants on The Biggest Loser are shedding more than weight.

They are frequently saying goodbye to many of their medications!

Dr. Robert Huizenga, the medical advisor for the show, reported that contestants with diabetes and pre-diabetes  were off their medications within a few weeks of starting the show.

His presentation, at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (doctors who treat patients with hormone problems), showed improvement in blood sugar after just one week, and that even contestants who were on multiple insulin shots a day were off all medications by week 5.

But that’s not all. Contestant with high blood pressure showed dramatic improvement almost immediately, and all were able to stop blood pressure medications as well.

According to Huizenga:

All diagnostic criteria for pre-diabetes, diabetes, and hypertension were absent in each participant, despite discontinuation of all diabetes and hypertension medications.

It has to be mentioned right here that the exercise and dietary regimen the contestants followed was not easy:

  • Calorie intake was limited to 70% of the participant’s estimated resting daily energy expenditure (how many calories they would use if they rested all day).
  • AND they had 4 hours of daily exercise: 1 hour of intense resistance training, 1 hour of intense aerobics, and 2 hours of moderate aerobics.

But Huizenga stresses that just exercising more is not sufficient, you also have to get up out your chair more:

We know being active is good for you, but we also know that sitting for hours a day has a negative effect. We found that our participants tended to sit less after going through the program.

These are good points, but Huizenga is neglecting another aspect of weight loss and the treatment of diabetes- it’s not just how much you eat, but what kind of food you are eating.

For example, we’ve done a number of stories about the use of low carb/slow carb diets in treatment of obesity and diabetes:

Our personal view is that the pathway to a healthy weight is about 70% diet and 30% exercise and that what you eat is more important than how much you eat.

Exercise is great to give you a sense of physical well-being but you have to balance the risk of injury if you exercise too strenuously.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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