The Biggest Loser was the Worst Thing to Happen to Nutrition and Fitness in the Past 50 Years
Updated: Sep 29, 2019
Recently one of the trainers featured on the hit TV series The Biggest Loser attempted to keep herself relevant by bashing one of the most effective fitness programs in history. This was after she bashed the keto-diet the week prior. No doubt her publicist told her she was losing engagement and needed some click bait.
The issue I have is not with said trainer's target, it's with her and the training methods she uses, the nutrition she and her medical staff on The Biggest Loser used and the ideas that were proposed by that show.
The idea that a lifetime of obesity can be reversed in weeks or months is absurd. The idea that it can be reversed by screaming at someone on a treadmill is beyond absurd, it's abusive. The job of a coach or trainer is to show empathy, compassion and to encourage.
The fact that this was allowed to thrive is criminal:
Here's what they were doing on The Biggest Loser:
"(Name redacted) was my trainer,” says Joelle Gwynn, of 2008’s 'Couples' season. “He goes away and his assistant comes in. He’s got this brown paper bag that’s bundled up. He says, ‘Take this drug, it’ll really help you.’ It was yellow and black. I was like, ‘What the f- -k is this?’ ”
This article includes a lot of the pit falls, but fails to clarify that crash dieting and a sudden increase in calorie burn from over-training untrained populations inevitably leads to fall off and weight regain. It's not prior obesity that caused the weight regain, in my opinion, it's the methods that were used to reach the weight loss.
The genius behind the fitness program that the trainer on TBL bashes is that it's highly effective in short doses, and when combined with wise nutrition is more effective than anything else. Period.
To bash it is to prove your own ignorance. To say it's dangerous is disingenuous. To say it doesn't work is to have never done it in earnest.
Anything is dangerous if you do it incorrectly. Driving a car without learning to drive is a bad idea.
Swinging a kettlebell without knowing what you're doing is a bad idea.
TBL is off the air, finally.
The idea that crash diets and over training are effective tools for training obese clients is extremely dangerous. Obesity is only partially a problem of over eating and under-moving. At it's root it's a deeper issue. The cause for massive weight gain is many times trauma. Without addressing this trauma, you're only addressing a small portion of the problem.
Indeed, “the mere recommendation to avoid calorically dense foods might be no more effective for the typical patient seeking weight reduction than would be a recommendation to avoid sharp objects for someone bleeding profusely” (1).
In the end, this was a play by an increasingly irrelevant trainer to stay 'up' in a field she has never really been anything other than an embarrassment in.
To say kipping is dangerous but plyometric weighted swings for an at-home-workout geared toward people on the couch is safe is harmful and incorrect. Kipping is dangerous if used before 5 or more strict pull ups are achieved. Any trainer worth a dime knows this.
If you do nothing else today, please....stop paying attention to television trainers that make broad sweeping statements without research to back up their statements. Dig deeper.
I believe in simple nutrition and simple exercise. For someone who is very overweight or undertrained (or both) this will likely be a program of walking and MAYBE some simple modified bodyweight exercise in the lowest possible dose to avoid injury and drive adaptation.
1. Ochner CN, Tsai AG, Kushner RF, Wadden TA. Treating obesity seriously: when recommendations for lifestyle change confront biological adaptations. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015: