by Matt Weik
As a bodybuilder, you are always striving to add lean muscle mass while reducing body fat. Researchers are now showing that when you are dieting and losing weight, you are actually affecting those around you as well. In fact, those around you don’t even need to be trying to lose weight in order to see similar results.
The Ripple Effect
Researchers at the University of Connecticut are calling this phenomenon “the ripple effect.” They conducted a study where they gathered 130 couples (individuals who lived together regardless if they were married or not) and worked with them over a six-month period. What they found was that when one person began a weight loss program to drop body fat, their partner actually lost weight too (3% of their weight to be exact) – even when they were not following the same fat loss program. Oddly enough, there was a correlation between how quickly the weight was lost/gained. They noticed that when one partner lost weight quickly so did the other. Likewise, when one partner gained weight, again, so did the other.
One of the researchers said, “When one person changes their behavior, the people around them change. Whether the patient works with their healthcare provider, joins a community-based, lifestyle approach like Weight Watchers, or tries to lose weight on their own, their new healthy behaviors can benefit others in their lives. How we change our eating and exercise habits can affect others in both positive and negative ways. On the positive side, spouses might emulate their partner’s behaviors and join them in counting calories, weighing themselves more often, and eating lower-fat foods.”
This Is Quite Interesting
I read this study and to be honest, it’s not painting a true picture in my opinion. Sure, it’s possible that this could occur, but I know from personal experience that this isn’t 100% always the case. I could start a cut to get ready for the summer months and my wife’s weight doesn’t change. So, I’m not so sure there is a direct correlation. Additionally, my healthy behaviors have not affected or changed my wife’s to mirror my own.
There are also other parameters that need to be looked at and studied further. A larger sample size is also needed. While 130 couples is a good start, I’m curious to see what happens with more participants from various demographics and different home situations (living conditions, lifestyle of the family, etc.).
Additionally, if this were the case, how would it fair with others who live in the house such as possibly parents/grandparents as well as children? If one person is looking to drop body fat and partakes in a program, does everyone lose weight? I’m sure we are going to see more research surrounding this topic, but for the time being, I’d take what is shown with a grain of salt at this point. And I’m telling you this off of personal experience and what I’ve seen and noticed with my own personal training and nutrition clients.
Amy A. Gorin, Erin M. Lenz, Talea Cornelius, Tania Huedo-Medina, Alexis C. Wojtanowski, Gary D. Foster. “Randomized Controlled Trial Examining the Ripple Effect of a Nationally Available Weight Management Program on Untreated Spouses.” Obesity, 2018.