The Biggest Loser Study On RMR Using Indirect Calorimetry

by David on May 6, 2016

The following excerpt is from a research article title, “Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition”

The Biggest Loser reality television show uses the MedGem indirect calorimeter to monitor the contestants Resting Metabolic Rate, as it changes from their exercise and diet plan.



To measure long-term changes in resting metabolic rate (RMR) and body composition in participants of “The Biggest Loser” competition.

Body composition was measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, and RMR was determined by indirect calorimetry at baseline, at the end of the 30-week competition and 6 years later. Metabolic adaptation was defined as the residual RMR after adjusting for changes in body composition and age.


Of the 16 “Biggest Loser” competitors originally investigated, 14 participated in this follow-up study. Weight loss at the end of the competition was (mean ± SD) 58.3 ± 24.9 kg (P < 0.0001), and RMR decreased by 610 ± 483 kcal/day (P = 0.0004). After 6 years, 41.0 ± 31.3 kg of the lost weight was regained (P = 0.0002), while RMR was 704 ± 427 kcal/day below baseline (P < 0.0001) and metabolic adaptation was −499 ± 207 kcal/day (P < 0.0001). Weight regain was not significantly correlated with metabolic adaptation at the competition’s end (r = −0.1, P = 0.75), but those subjects maintaining greater weight loss at 6 years also experienced greater concurrent metabolic slowing (r = 0.59, P = 0.025).


Metabolic adaptation persists over time and is likely a proportional, but incomplete, response to contemporaneous efforts to reduce body weight.

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The show’s doctor, Robert Huizenga, says he expected the contestants’ metabolic rates to fall just after the show, but was hoping for a smaller drop. He questioned, though, whether the measurements six years later were accurate. But maintaining weight loss is difficult, he said, which is why he tells contestants that they should exercise at least nine hours a week and monitor their diets to keep the weight off.

MedGem Indirect Calorimeter for RMR - Resting Metabolic RateThe Biggest Loser uses our MedGem indirect calorimeter to help contestants adjust their Daily Calorie Budget.  Dr. Robert Huizenga, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at UCLA and Medical Advisor to The Biggest Loser chose it “based on its accuracy in comparison to other indirect calorimeters.”

The above study proves why it is so important to measure your clients Resting Metabolic Rate with a MedGem indirect calorimeter, to track how RMR changes so that you can adjust their program accordingly.

Get more information on the MedGem indirect calorimeter

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