Bad nutrition advice from the Biggest Loser

I have to admit... up until this season, I have never watched that much of the "Biggest Loser" tv show.

And although I hear a lot of people criticize the show for many reasons, one thing I like about it is that I feel it gives people hope... people that have long given up on getting the body they want and falsely think that they are "cursed with a bad metabolism" or other garbage that goes through their minds. I think there's definitely a great motivating aspect to the show that can really help a lot of people to finally lose weight.

Although one criticism I have is that I think it makes people think that losing 10-15 lbs a week is normal, when it most certainly is NOT.

Obviously the people on the show are basically in a camp where calories are controlled and they work out for ridiculous numbers of hours per day. So then when average Joe or Jane goes to try to lose weight, and he or she only loses 2 lbs per week, they think they are "failing", when in reality, that's a perfectly healthy weight loss pace.

And now comes my nutritional criticism of the show...

I couldn't help but cringe about some of the nutrition advice on several of the recent episodes.

The first example...

On one of the recent shows, they had one of those "trainer tips" 30-second spots on the show, and the recommendation was to eat MORE cereal if you want to lose weight.

Are you kidding me?

The ONLY time I would recommend more cereal is if somebody's goal involved wanting to GAIN weight.

Seriously, I've had clients in the past that had difficulties gaining weight, and one of the techniques we use in those cases is to have them eat more grains like cereal, because it tends to stimulate weight gain nicely. But it's few and far between where people actually want to GAIN weight, so this recommendation to eat more cereal to aid weight loss is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard.

Of course, this little 30-second "trainer tip" was sponsored by a cereal company... big surprise.

I could go on and on as to why we DON'T need any more grains in our diets... but I think this previous article of mine explains it well:

3 foods we should STOP eating

The second example...

The next nutrition criticism I had wasn't a bad trainer recommendation, but it shows some misunderstanding of nutrition by the contestants. One of the contestants chose a breakfast sandwich of egg whites on whole wheat bread.

This shows 2 things that they misunderstand about nutrition... for one, they falsely think that they need to avoid egg yolks, when those yolks are vitally important to controlling their appetite and balancing their fat burning hormones.  As you know from one of my previous articles, egg yolks are actually the MOST important part of the egg!

And the second misunderstanding they have is that "whole wheat" is good for you and a good thing for fat loss. Again, I would only recommend bread (even so-called "whole wheat" bread) for somebody that is trying to GAIN weight... not for somebody who is desperately trying to lose weight.  Read this article to see more details about the problems of eating lots of wheat.

If I was to recommend one of the best breakfasts for fat loss, I'd recommend several WHOLE eggs with lots of veggies.  I personally LOVE a 3 or 4-egg omelet with onions, mushrooms, zucchini, red peppers, spinach, and topped with salsa and sliced avocado! 

The third example...

This is another example of a misunderstanding of nutrition by the contestants. In one of the shows, several of the contestants scolded another one of the contestants because he was thinking of making a steak for dinner. They told him that he MUST have fish instead of steak.  They seem to have this false assumption that steak is somehow horrible for you.... which in the case of a corn-fed steak, may be the case.

However, this ignores the fact that a grass-fed steak can be equally as good of a fat loss meal as a piece of fish. Actually a steak, vegetables, and a salad is a perfect meal plan, especially if it's a grass-fed steak, which contains that oh-so important healthy fat called CLA, which can help you to burn fat and build muscle.  And CLA is something that fish doesn't have.

I would be more concerned about his choice of side dish rather than the steak or fish question. The more important thing is to avoid the starchy carbs and focus on the meat and vegetables if fat loss is the goal.

I could go on with more examples of nutritional misunderstandings on the Biggest Loser show, but I think this gives some good ideas for now.

If you want to be set straight for life on nutrition, make sure you have a copy of my Fat-Burning Kitchen program.

Mike Geary
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer