What About “The Biggest Loser”?

Probably 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 on the 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 Biggest Loser, 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 probably 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.


Filed under Exercise, Weight Loss

5 responses to “What About “The Biggest Loser”?

  1. “I know losing 50 to 100 pounds of fat (25–45 kg) and keeping it off for a couple years is hard; most folks can’t do it.”

    Just a thought: If lottery tickets were sold this way (“most folks won’t win”), nobody would buy them.

    After being diagnosed with diabetes in March 2010, I dove into a healthy eating plan and lost 100 pounds in one year. Haven’t gained an ounce of it back because I didn’t go on a diet, but rather made some permanent lifestyle changes.

    Yes, it has been hard. But I hope that right now, somebody out there is thinking, “Maybe *I* could do it, too.”

    • Brenda, congratulations and thanks for inspiring others to forge on! Wow!

      Scientific studies on weight-loss drugs or diets often report “average” weight losses of eight lb (3.6 kg) over three months. That’s not much if you started at 300 lb (136 kg). Sometimes people forget that within that 8-lb average are some folks who lost 25 lb (11.4 kg), and often a few who actually gained weight.

      I get your point about the lottery. I’ve never played a state-run lottery and never will. I’ve heard the lottery referred to as “a tax on stupidity.” I throw my money away on other things. To each his own…

  2. At all times energy in must be balanced by energy out. Exercise plus process burn – breathing, pumping blood, digesting and thinking – brain although that aspect brain is extremely efficient and uses very low energy draw is necessary to keep glucose marching on and out.

    Fact is that all those who drive type 2 solutions suggest that exercise would be nice when in fact it is mandatory and if you are not working on the pharoh’s stone momuments, eddifices, one better control carbs/energy eaten.

    Sad fact is that Human body grabs all calories/carbs available in gut and makes glucose – liquid energy. If the gut bypassed the excess when body saturated ( max insulin resistance) it would be far better.

    It doesn’t and in this 24/7 constant excess of super grains, rice, corns and sugars, today the human needs to do energy balance.

    Unfortunately; there is no warning light on our space ship dash warning of this issue – only every increasing BG values as the daily average crawls out of bounds.

    For type 2 diabetes, those signing off on cures and published data and fairy tails need to come clean on Insulin resistance and the full story of
    food carbs in, insulin and storage of liquid energy and exercise and energy burning off the liquid energy so that there is always room to store more glucose on command of insulin every day.

  3. Interesting! I’ve never watched one of those shows. Happy New Year!