Season after season, The Biggest Loser is one of the most popular reality competition shows on television. While the show is a fan favorite and considered some of the best reality TV out there, more and more scary stories are starting to emerge that show The Biggest Loser is brutal. And not just brutal, but dangerous and inhumane to boot.
The dangers of The Biggest Loser aren't due to fake intense conditions like those created on other reality shows; the conditions really are as hazardous as many claim. Contestants engage in hours of exercise and are put on starvation diets, all in the name of an extreme makeover. While obesity poses many health risks, the weight loss regimens espoused on The Biggest Loser are potentially harmful, too.
If there's one thing reality TV has taught the public, it's that human beings are willing to do just about anything in front of a camera for money. The show is so couched in cheap sentiment and feel-good-quick emotional payoff that ardent fans seem willing to overlook the reasons why The Biggest Loser is dangerous. That doesn't, however, take away the legitimacy of the stories that have leaked from the set. The Biggest Loser behind-the-scenes accounts are far too compelling – and far too believable – to ignore. This show is savage.
Contestants Work Out For Up To Eight Hours Every Day
Regardless of the exact time, prolonged exercise is risky for anyone, particularly a person carrying considerable extra weight. Too much exercise can lead to muscle strain and injury. Add into the equation the extremely restricted calorie intake the participants must adhere to, and you have a recipe for disaster. Just because a person has a fully equipped gym at their disposal around the clock doesn't mean they should be there 24/7.
Contestants Are Restricted To 1,000 Calorie-A-Day Diets
Simply put, the human body requires more than 1,000 calories a day, regardless of weight or gender. On average, women need to consume around 2,000 daily calories and men need to consume 2,500 daily calories to maintain a moderately active lifestyle. Limiting one's diet to 1,000 calories for the long haul is just not going to provide a body what it needs to accomplish even the easiest tasks. Plus, you are depriving yourself of much needed nutrition.
The Biggest Loser contestants are put on these dangerous crash diets in order to lose the maximum amount of weight in the minimum amount of time. That makes for good television, but poor health. As for the food itself, former contestant Kai Hibbard says it's all processed stuff from sponsors:
"Your grocery list is approved by your trainer... My season had a lot of Franken-foods: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray, Kraft fat-free cheese, Rockstar Energy Drinks, Jell-O."
Contestants Are Shamed Into Losing Weight
Many people who struggle with their weight also struggle with self-esteem issues. This is hardly surprising when you consider the importance society places on being thin. But even if you've only seen The Biggest Loser once, you know all too well the main tactic the trainers use: a little thing called shame.
Screaming, berating, and belittling people is not a weight loss strategy, nor is it a way to inspire people to want to be their best selves. The trainers' approach borders on cruelty, and that can be detrimental to weary minds that are dealing with low self-esteem anyway.
Even more disturbing, some of the show's trainers (and former trainers) seem to thrive on this. One former contestant claims that trainers would push contestants until they collapsed or vomited:
"They’d get a sick pleasure out of it... They’d say, ‘It’s because you’re fat. Look at all the fat you have on you.’ And that was our fault, so this was our punishment."
Contestant Kai Hibbard adds that trainers got vicious with their comments:
"They would say things to contestants like, ‘You’re going die before your children grow up.’ ‘You’re going to die, just like your mother.’ ‘We’ve picked out your fat-person coffin’ – that was in a text message."
Contestants Are Rumored To Be Drugged
The Biggest Loser contestants have claimed that both trainers and doctors regularly offered them drugs to enhance their performance and achieve better results for the cameras. Ephedra, Adderall, and other pharmaceuticals were apparently on hand to speed up the weight loss and skyrocket energy levels. Suzanne Mendonca from Season 2 said, "People would take amphetamines, water pills, [and] diuretics."
While the show denies the allegations, more than one contestant has come away from the show with this same story.
Contestants Are Dehydrated At Weigh-Ins
Many people carry excess weight in the form of water. Restricting water intake, however, is never recommended, even in the rarified air of The Biggest Loser. But some contestants had to get resourceful to shed a few extra pounds before a weigh-in. They put on layer after layer of clothing, shut all doors and windows, and worked out furiously to sweat out the water weight. One contestant got so dehydrated he actually started urinating blood.
Contestants Are Reportedly Urged To Vomit To Lose Weight
Vomiting is encouraged behind the scenes of The Biggest Loser. Or at least that's the claim many former contestants have made. After being given drugs and undertaking far-too-intense workouts, it stands to reason that vomiting would eventually start sooner or later.
"I vomited every single day," Season 2 contestant Suzanne Mendonca said. "Bob Harper tells people to throw up: 'Good,' he says. 'You’ll lose more calories.'"