Fitness guru Jillian Michaels, the tough-love trainer on NBC's hit reality show "The Biggest Loser," gives exercise instructions while promoting her new workout for the Curves franchise in New York January 15, 2014. Contestants on the reality TV show "The Biggest Loser" put in a gargantuan effort to lose weight: They diet rigorously, exercise for hours a day, and compete with each other to completely change their bodies. Weight loss is more complex than a€?eat less, exercise more.a€? Our bodies are designed to hang onto every pound, an unhelpful habit in a society overrun with excess calories.
Two recently published weight loss books address aspects of metabolism, a term that covers everything living cells must do to maintain themselvesa€”including production of calorie-burning energy.
In Accidentally Overweight (Hay House), nutritional biochemist Libby Weaver, PhD, tackles factors that affect metabolism, such as thyroid function, stress hormones and insulin usage.
It isna€™t always easy to find added sweetness in packaged foods, though, given that there are dozens of ways to say a€?sugara€? on food labels. Researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine followed two groups of people with type 2 diabetes for more than 10 years.
As noted in the journal Diabetes Care, those in the second group lost less weight and were less fit. For many older people, a dog provides a companion who is always ready for an outdoor excursion. A study team at the University of Missouri set out to see how the bonds between seniors and their dogs affected walking behavior. In addition to ascertaining the participantsa€™ body mass index (BMI) figuresa€”an estimation of body fata€”the research team also examined the participantsa€™ answers to questions regarding difficulty with everyday activities, such as dressing oneself, along with how often volunteers had visited a doctor over the previous two years and what chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, they had. According to results published in The Gerentologist, the team found that dog walking a€?is associated with better health and health behaviorsa€? as well as fewer doctor visits, lower BMIs and a greater capacity for daily activities. Young children who were given vitamin D developed more lean mass and less body fat, according to a McGill University study. Researchers looked at results of a trial in which children in their first year of life were given vitamin D supplements.
However, the body scans they did to assess bone density produced an unexpected result: Children with optimal D intakes showed less body fat and more lean mass by age three, according to results published in Pediatric Obesity. Ditch four wheels for two: People who bike to the office weigh about 11 pounds less than those who drive.

Adults who bicycle to work weigh about 11 pounds less than those who drive cars, and have less (heart-damaging) body fat, according to U.K. Even if cycling to work isn’t practical for you, keep this principle in mind: Every single thing you can do to get your butt out of the car is a step toward staying slimmer and healthier.
Accidentally Overweight helps the reader discover how these concerns, among others, retard weight reduction, and the best ways to counteract them. The writing team, led by weight loss expert Charles Nguyen, MD, explains how high insulin levels disrupt fat loss.
The sweet stuff is sour news; consuming too much has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cognitive dysfunction and cancer. One way to uncover these hidden sources is to download a free phone app called SugarChecked.
The 164 volunteers in the first group received intensive diet and exercise counseling designed to help them lose at least 7% of their body weight. Their brains also had less gray matter and more white matter disease, changes linked to cognitive decline. Now it appears that those trips outside may decrease a seniora€™s body mass while increasing his or her well-being.
The team took its data from the ongoing Health and Retirement Study, which targets adults age 50 and older.
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The key to controlling insulin, they say, is to cut carbs, particularly the ones that dramatically increase blood sugar, while increasing protein and fiber intake.
Created by a team of nutritionists, this app lets you quickly scan product barcodes for sugar content.
It turns out that, like many people who lose weight, maintaining that smaller frame is hard, even for those whose bodies changed so rapidly and completely.
Nguyen and his coauthors say their two-phase Thinsulin Program is a€?grounded in research and clinical experience,a€? a claim the book supports with dozens of patient profiles.
It recognizes everything that falls under the four main types of sugarsa€”added sugars, artificial sweeteners, natural low-calorie sweeteners and sugar alcoholsa€”and receives recommendations for healthier alternatives in real time as you shop.

A new study of 14 contestants from Season 8 of the show found that the majority had gained weight in the six years since, and some of them had gained back most or even all of what they lost.
What surprised the researchers was this: While a drop in metabolism after the initial weight loss was expected, every participant’s metabolism remained much slower than it should be for someone their size — despite the passage of time. He said it took paramedics 45 minutes to get to her, and she was taken to the hospital and treated."No one should be forced to wait in traffic that long," Asaka explained.
And what we think that we're able to show here is just how strong that can be when you look at extreme weight loss like these folks have experienced. I don't think that everyday folks will experience either this extreme amount of weight loss or this metabolic slowdown that these folks experienced in a quantitative sense, but they will experience it to a smaller degree.” Hall compares the body to a spring, saying that it seems like the body might have a ‘set weight’ that it always ‘wants’ to return to. Weight loss is incredibly difficult, and takes a lot of work to both initially lose pounds, and then maintain that new weight. And you can pull on the spring and intervene by dieting and exercising and you're able to stretch the spring out and analogously lose weight.
And so the folks who are most successful are pulling the hardest on the spring and stretching it out the most, but they're also the ones that are experiencing the greatest pull back.
But that was obviously not the case in ‘The Biggest Loser’ contestants,” Hall says.  In other words? Bariatric surgery seems to lead to longer-lasting weight loss than extreme lifestyle change weight loss. If you could change your diet and eat healthier foods and add some exercise in your life — not crazy amounts like the biggest loser does on the program — you're going to see independent health benefits regardless of your weight. And if you make those changes and make them in a sustainable way that you could actually keep them and integrate them within your life over the long term, you know, your weight will settle at a different value or it might not settle at a different value but regardless your health will be improved.” This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI's Science Friday.

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