Hacking Biggest Loser?

by (5624) Updated March 16, 2011 at 3:52 PM Created March 13, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Yes I still watch Biggest Loser. I am not a fan of the nutritional message, however, I still feel the message of eating better and exercising is positive compared to the other crap that is on TV. Anyway, during one of last weeks Biggest Loser's promotional segments they were pushing LaraBars! They even made a point to say that it's Gluten Free (said as a positive thing).

Do you think this is a step in the right direction or did LaraBar just give them enough money?

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13 Replies

4813 · March 13, 2011 at 8:59 PM

I watched some of the episodes, I think three years ago or so. I find it a very dangerous program. It sends a very misleading message - all fatties are overeating, lazy, and are paying for their own mistakes. They select the people appropriately, so there are no serious medical issues like thyroid, genetic dysfunctions... they don't talk about hormones or enzymes and the complexity of humans' bodies.

They sell an illusion that as long as you try to kill yourself on chronic cardio, lift a few heavy weights, and eat only salads and low-fat foods, you will be ok. I've read an article that most of the "losers" yoyo back to their weight, can't do it on their own, lack the radical and extreme rigor. After getting back to work, family, stress, issues, they can't keep it up. It's great they show that soda are bad and pure sugar... but they also show meat and BBQ as equal evil.

It perpetuates the old theory that connects obesity with mental illness, seeing the sources of it in lack of will power, laziness, cheating, overeating, lying about food etc. It also patronizes and disrespects the participants. They treat them like brain damaged children who have to be yelled at suffer for the guilt of being fat.

The trainers live from the DVDs (and now also supplements promising weight loss), so they see the most important part of weight loss in exercise, which we know is not true. This is all about money, not health.

552 · March 13, 2011 at 4:39 PM

Lara Bars aren't that bad, but I'd much rather see them advocate eating real food.

1045 · March 13, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Promoting processed products is along the lines of selling out. Eating pre-made and pre-wrapped food is one of the easiest ways that someone can consume an excess of calories, whereas someone who is sticking to just food will basically eat the correct quantity and composition (no pre-sliced bread, etc) automatically.

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39204 · March 13, 2011 at 9:18 PM

Anything pushing the anti-wheat message is a positive development.

That being said, I think the Biggest Loser in general is a horrible program that sends the wrong message in a lot of ways. From what I've seen of it, the message seems to be that you're fat because you have some kind of emotional problem that makes you eat a lot and you need to address that problem by having some wannabe drill sergeant berate you while you do ridiculous amounts of exercise. They eventually crack under the pressure, have a nice cry and all is better.

The people aren't fat because of an emotional problem, as we know, they're fat because the SAD diet is a lipogenic minefield of garbage "food." What happens if you eat steak and eggs emotionally? You get full and feel great. Your husband left you for another woman so you eat bacon all the time? No big deal, bacon's great. It's the massive fructose, and to a lesser extent excess carb intake, that has caused obesity, not country-wide emotional eating.

The cure for existing obesity isn't being yelled at by some lady with a husky voice while you're on a treadmill training for a marathon. We all know what the real cure is, so this message being sent to people that if you do reach this point, the only way out is through huge amounts of suffering and eating bland food is ridiculously insulting. These people could go from obese to just slightly overweight or flabby without leaving their couches. Obviously exercise is good for you, but I'm of the opinion that the overweight and obese should lose a lot of the mass way before they take up (especially high-impact) exercise so as to save their joints the huge amount of stress.

I don't think the obese/overweight need to think that weight loss is a soul-crushing affair at the end of a cracking whip. It's not that you need to fight hard against your body to lose the excess fat, it's that you need to give your diet a carbectomy and start eating like a human instead of a hummingbird. The current extent of adiposity in America is a phenomenon built on HFCS and a deranged food pyramid aimed at disposing of subsidized grain.

1650 · March 13, 2011 at 8:44 PM

At our last Paleo meet-up I was talking about the Biggest Loser, and one of the other members mentioned that I should look into the real story behind the Biggest Loser. I did, and it was pretty disappointing.

-The reason why they have such dramatic weight loss has a lot to do with water weight. For about 24 hours prior to the weigh in, contestants don't drink water, and do anything they can to sweat out water, and they avoid all salt (even when the doctors recommend an electrolyte solutions for their health). This is pushed by the trainers.
-Also, a week is not a week. Sometimes a week is 5 days. Sometimes a week is 12 days. Helps with the drama, I suppose.
-I question how healthy it is for their bodies that they go from being completely sedentary to working out 6 hours a day. According to one former contestant, there were injuries that occurred, and the trainers would make them push through them, despite doctors advice.
-At least the one contestant who spoke out (and I'm sure she is not alone), an eating disorder developed after leaving the ranch.
-And, as for the product placement (subway, lara bars, what have you), I was told that they just spit that stuff out once the cameras stop rolling.

For the source info fro my above comments, go here:

Now! On to HACKING! Because that is what the question was about.

I have often dreamed about a Paleo biggest loser sort of show. Where contestants aren't eliminated, but are put through a battery of medical tests initial (fitness, blood work, psychological/mood etc). Then are fed appropriately, get proper sleep, get outside a lot and soak up the sun, and are exercised similar to HGs. Walking, dancing, climbing, resting, playing. Taught how to shop, how to cook, how to avoid processed crap, how to live.

Then, show how they improve. Not only in health, but in mood and self esteem. Personally, I think you can get just as dramatic results with Paleo in that time period, though a lot of those dramatic results will be on touchy feely things like HAPPINESS. Which is not as sexy to the camera. But still inspiring!!!

1945 · March 13, 2011 at 6:32 PM

I wonder if we might expand this discussion to hacking the show in general? I was discussing it with a friend, and pointing out what I thought were faults with their approach: CW approach to diet, chronic cardio, running marathons, emphasis on the scale, etc. The response? "Yeah, but they sure get dramatic results. Those people lose hundreds of pounds, go off their BP meds, cure their diabetes, etc." How do you respond to that, through a paleo lens?

811 · March 13, 2011 at 5:20 PM

I love the concept of some of the physical challenges they devise, but I've grown less enamored with their constant pushing of losing 10+ in a single week. True, if you're over 250#, you're going to lose those first dozen or so pounds more rapidly. But the constant mental pressure of requiring high amounts of weight loss seems like it is setting some already rather emotionally sensitive people up for increased internal conflict.

155 · March 13, 2011 at 4:37 PM

those are paid promotions, commercials. better than whatever nonfat pudding type crap they typically push, but one lara bar is 220 calories and 20ish g sugar.

150 · March 16, 2011 at 3:52 PM

You may find these of interest: Biggest Loser Biggest Loser 2 Biggest Loser 3

440 · March 16, 2011 at 1:21 AM

"Biggest Loser" has turned in to "Biggest Product placement" over the years. It started with chewing gum and it has taken off from there. I think losing weight that fast is not healthy and hard to sustain (i.e. contestants tend to gain the weight back). The cortisol levels in the contestants must be through the roof!

How cool would it be to create Biggest Loser "Paleo Edition"?

4171 · March 13, 2011 at 4:40 PM

They also have a ton of carbs because of the dried fruit in them. I wouldn't call it "healthy", I call it a candy bar they want you to not feel guilty about eating. I watch biggest loser too but I don't appreciate the product placement ads they have. Bob pushing Quaker oatmeal, subway etc. People CAN lose weight doing any number of different scenarios but they aren't all healthy and I don't think it's helping people aside from the people already on the show that they are pounding the weight off. The average American doesn't have the time or the patience to do 6-8 hours of working out, that's why those people are dropping the pounds, it's not from the "health" food they're pushing.

384 · March 16, 2011 at 5:13 AM

I've seen that one dude who won the first season back to his old weight. Horrible. Not only is it not healthy but those poor rats in the gym for 6 hours a day cannot keep that up at home.

Another thing I always wonder is hoe they deal with their loose skin. It is a horror thought for me to have lost so much weight and having to deal with all the loose skin that had no time to recover. I rather do it slowly with a higher chance of maintaining and healthy eating. Subway certainly isn't.

24012 · March 13, 2011 at 5:41 PM

I think Larabars did give them enough money but I'm o.k. with that. It's a step in the right direction IMO. I would much rather see them promoting Larabars than pretty much any other bar on the market. If we take people where we find them and just offer then easy options for change I don't see how that can be bad? Today they choose a Larabar. Maybe tomorrow they'll actually buy a piece of fruit for their afternoon snack? Baby steps can be amazing little things.

I happen to love Larabars and use them as a rare treat. I even make my own. The dried fruit is somewhat problematic but no more carbs than a sweet potato (since someone mentioned carb count) My bottom line is that I am grateful to have an option like this to go to when I need a sweet treat. Yes sometimes I still comfort and reward myself with food. It is what it is. And if every SAD eater out there would reach for a Larabar instead of a Snickers bar yes I do think the world would be a slightly better place so I'm thrilled to see this kind of exposure and even more thrilled they used the words gluten free.

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