The Biggest Loser The Weight Loss Program to Transform Your Body, Health and Life
Maggie Greenwood-Robinson, PhD Reviewed by Amy Jamieson-Petonic, MEd, RD, LD Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson January 2007
The book claims to help you lose weight, lower cholesterol, decrease blood pressure, strengthen the body, make you feel more youthful, increase your energy level and help you take control of your life.
The book focuses on strategies and personal testimonials from participants from the reality television contest the Biggest Loser, including the 4-3-2-1 Biggest Loser Pyramid. From bottom to top, the pyramid is comprised of at least four daily servings of fruits and vegetables, three servings of protein, two servings of whole grains and 200 calories from the "Extras" category at the top.
The serving size for fruit and vegetables is defined as one cup, or one medium piece of produce. The serving size for protein is one cup of lean meats, eggs, beans, low-fat dairy or soy products. A whole-grain serving is two slices of bread (preferably "light"), a whole-grain bun or roll, two light crisp breads or one whole-wheat tortilla.
The book recommends you:
- Eat four to six meals per day, or one about every three hours, for fuel and to prevent hunger.
- Adjust your caloric intake as you lose weight. According to the book, you should decrease your caloric intake by 10 calories for every one pound of fat you lose. For example, if you were taking in 1,510 calories per day and you lost one pound of fat, you should reduce your daily intake to 1,500 calories per day.
- Choose lean proteins and healthy whole foods such as whole fruits and vegetables and other unprocessed foods.
- Use the 4-3-2-1 Pyramid to guide your food choices.
- Drink six to eight glasses of water per day.
- Control portion sizes.
- Avoid certain foods such as caffeine, simple sugars and any foods that will increase blood sugar levels quickly, and then drop rapidly.
- Read food labels.
Nutritional Pros and Cons:
Like the television show, the philosophy of the book is based on losing weight and gaining health through diet and exercise. The book outlines many examples of how to choose healthy, low-fat foods and includes an exercise program based on cardiovascular fitness and circuit training. Participants offer a number of helpful tips for success during the weight-loss period, as well as methods on how they have stuck to the program after leaving the show.
The book recommends three daily calorie intake categories, with the lowest ranging from 1,050 calories to 1,399 calories. However, it does not explain how the reader determines which calorie range is for them, making the author's recommendation to gradually reduce calorie intake problematic. It would be better for the readers to increase duration or intensity of exercise as they lose weight, as opposed to continuing to drop their calorie intake levels.
The Biggest Loser (continued)
Furthermore, it is not recommended to consume fewer than 1,200 calories per day because it becomes difficult to obtain the necessary vitamins and nutrients needed for daily activities. In addition, when fewer than 1,200 calories per day are consumed, the body is put into a semi-starvation mode, which tends to lower basal metabolic rate and fat-burning capability. At the very least, a multivitamin should be recommended for people consuming fewer than 1,200 calories per day.
In general, the Biggest Loser diet is a healthy way to lose weight, become stronger and lead a healthier life. The tips and success stories from the television show's participants are very motivating, showing that people can make dramatic improvements to their health if they are willing to work hard and change their long-term eating and exercise habits.
My only recommendation would be that readers consume a minimum of 1,200 calories to 1,400 calories per day along with a multivitamin to obtain the necessary nutrient intake.