Biggest Loser diet’s calorie requirements are “pretty severe”

How does one lose weight like the contestants on The Biggest Loser, who lose it via strict diet and intense exercise alone?

You could buy the book (The Biggest Loser: The Weight Loss Program to Transform Your Body, Health, and Life, which details the weight-loss plan) or pay to join the online club. Or, you could read the Los Angeles Times’ condensed version of the plan.

The show’s diet allows “Four servings daily of fruits and vegetables,” “Three servings daily of protein,” and “Two servings daily of whole grains,” and “Up to 200 calories daily in extras, such as fats, oils, spreads, sugar-free desserts, reduced-calorie jams and syrups, sauces, olives and nuts,” according to the paper, which used the book as its source.

However, in total, dieters are only supposed to consume seven times their weight in calories. Thus, the paper says, “if you weigh 200 pounds, ideally you need to restrict your calorie consumption to 1,400. To those familiar with counting calories, this is a pretty severe diet.”

A UCLA dietitian says “the calorie recommendations are somewhat low. I would be concerned for someone on an unsupervised diet (of so few calories). It’s hard to get your nutritional needs met on calories that low.”

As to exercise, “The cardio workout starts with 20 to 30 minutes of walking, three days a week, and progresses to two days of steady cardio for 60 minutes and three days of interval cardio, which involves alternating between high- and low-intensity cardio exercise.” And then there’s “circuit training,” which “includes push-ups, squats, shoulder presses, biceps curls, walking lunges (five minutes), standard lunges, chair dips and abdominal crunches (seven minutes).”

The diet plan [Los Angeles Times]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.