Is the “Calories In/Calories” Theory Outdated?

Not watching The Biggest Loser

Dr. Barry Sears (Ph.D., I think) recently wrote about a lecture he attended by a dietitian affiliated with “The Biggest Loser” TV show.  She revealed the keys to weight-loss success, at least on that show.  Calorie restriction is a major feature, with the typical 300-pounder (136 kg) eating 1,750 calories a day. 

On my Advanced Mediterranean Diet, 300-pounders get 2,300 calories (men) or 1,900 calories (women). 

Although not stressed by Dr. Sears, my impression is that contestants exercise a huge amount. 

Go to the Sears  link above and you’ll learn that all contestants are paid to participate.  In researching my Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes book, I learned that the actual Biggest Loser wins $250,000 (USD).  Also, “The Biggest Loser” is an international phenomenon with multiple countries hosting their own versions, with different pay-off amounts.  A former winner, Ali Vincent, lives in my part of the world and still has some celebrity status.

This TV show demonstrates that the calories in/calories out theory of body weight still applies, including the fact that massive exercise can help significantly with weight loss.  In real-world situations, exercise contributes only a small degree to loss of excess weight. 

The major take-home point of the show, for me, is that you can indeed make food and physical activity choices that determine your weight.

Most of us watch too much

I know losing 50 to 10o pounds of fat (25–45 kg) and keeping it off for a couple years is hard; most folks can’t do it.  Do you think you’d be more successful if I gave you $250,ooo for your success?

Steve Parker, M.D.

3 responses to “Is the “Calories In/Calories” Theory Outdated?

  1. Money is certainly a great motivator! Of course, maintaining weight loss long term is far more difficult rather than losing it in the first place, and calories in vs. calories out will always be the major factor regardless of the type of diet one choses.

    • Hi, Franziska.
      Someone should do a study on all the Biggest Loser contestants, noting their progress over time since leaving the program. We must have five or six years of potential data. An ambitious person could get a good book out of it.

  2. Under what conditions are the Laws of Science invalid? Our hormones and enzymes cannot and will not violate any Laws of Science. Energy is always balanced. Calories in/out is the effect not the cause.