The popular reality TV show “The Biggest Loser” has taken the nation by storm.  Each season contestants compete to lose the most weight, which adds up to hundreds of pounds! Although I’ve never watched the program, my gut tells me that it’s a recipe for disaster.

Put people on a low calorie, low fat diet (with no attention to food quality) and work them to exhaustion in the gym. This sounds like a perfect set up for what I call the “boomerang effect” -rapid weight loss that comes right back on. The sad truth is that the vast majority of dieters who resort to serious calorie-cutting in order to shed pounds regain the lost weight –and more!

Not surprisingly, a study just published in the journal Obesity that followed “The Biggest Loser” contestants for six years found that nearly everyone regained the weight they lost on the show. That’s because extreme calorie restriction caused their metabolisms to slow. Their bodies were no longer burning enough calories to maintain their smaller size. Many former contestants still have to eat 500 calories per day less than a person of the same size. That’s a big problem and, due to incessant hunger, is not sustainable for the long term.

Simply cutting calories is not the answer. Food is information for our genes. We need to reprogram our metabolisms with sufficient calories from real foods. The key is to determine the macronutrient ratio that works best for you (carbohydrate, fat, and protein).

Calories and macronutrients matter, but food quality matters more. This study provides more proof that diets don’t work.

Until next time, make every bite count!