The Biggest Loser: Taking It Too Far?
Rachel Frederickson, this year’s winner of reality soap The Biggest Loser, went from 260 to 105 lbs. What a bad example.
The Biggest Loser
Saying that I’m not a fan of freak show The Biggest Loser is an understatement.
From coaches of questionable pedigree to unhealthy dieting methods, that show is what coal is to white linen when it comes to sensible and maintainable weight loss.
This season’s winner did little to change my impression. Rachel Frederickson started at a 260 lbs (118 kg) tonnage and with the help of the show’s fitness coach Dolvett Quince and nutritional advisor Cheryl Forberg lost 155 lbs.
How that was achieved makes me shake my head.
The Old Rachel Frederickson
Let’s look at the numbers.
Frederickson began the show at 5’4″ and 260 lbs body weight. The minimum amount of calories per day a person like that needs to eat to lose weight healthily (her BMR) is 1,974. Otherwise you run the risk of malnutrition. To maintain 260 lbs while having an average level of daily activity (the TDEE) takes about 3,000 kcal / day. If she ate the BMR, she’d have been at a daily deficit of more than 1,000 kcal, equalling a weekly loss of 2 lbs of weight.
But those 2 lbs would be meager by the show’s standards. That’s why she was given 1,600 kcal / day and put through a daily activity schedule I, being rather fit, would find harrowing. It probably burned another 500 to 1,000 kcal, resulting in Miss Frederickson nourishing her body with fewer than 1,000 calories per day. Given that the entire ordeal took seven months and that she lost 155 lbs, the weekly loss was more than 5 lbs (7 months = 28 weeks; 155 / 28 = 5.53).
That’s commonly called a “crash diet.”
The “New” Rachel Frederickson
Fast forward to now and her weighing 105 lbs (47.5 kg).
I calculated her BMI with her new weight and her height of 5’4″ and it was 18. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, being underweight starts at 18.5. A great example for any overweight girl: go from obese to anorexic and let a whole nation be your guest on the way.
But Frederickson isn’t too perturbed by any criticism her overenthusiastic weight loss garnered her. Whenever she gets a question about being too thin, having lost weight too fast or maybe even being anorexic, she answers like this (from Reality TV World):
I feel like my journey on The Biggest Loser was my path and I followed the advice and has the support of the medical team at The Biggest Loser the entire journey. So it’s just been natural and I’ve enjoyed every part of it. So I’m going to continue on that path and maintain this healthy lifestyle and just really enjoy this new life.
Yeah, you go and maintain this healthy lifestyle.
What About Her Coaches?
Above I gave you a link with background info on Jillian Michaels. When she thinks she has to distance herself from the show she co-hosts, that’s not a good sign. Frederickson’s coach, Dolvett Quince sees less of a problem. On Instagram he posted:
Last night’s Biggest Loser Finale has sparked a huge reaction and I do not want the day to end without addressing it. Biggest Loser is a journey which has its ups and downs. Please try not to look at one slice of Rachel’s journey and come to broad conclusions. Rachel’s health is and always has been in my main concern and her journey to good health has not yet ended!!
Her health is his “main concern”? That’s from the guy who wrote a diet book advising women to live on as little as 1,200 kcal / day.
And Cheryl Forberg, the dietitian who monitored Frederickson? She sells books that promise they’ll stop you from aging. On the positive side, she has a correct explanation of BMR and TDEE on her personal website. Maybe she should show that to Quince. Or step in when a contestant she monitors clearly goes way below that.
But what do I know? I’m not a nutritional advisor for a major television production.
Woe Is Me!
No matter how often I stress the simple and sustainable principle healthy weight loss works by, shows like The Biggest Loser will always win. The PR they can generate is a tidal wave compared to what my and other less sensational websites are capable of. Last but not least, the show plays on and delivers what people want to see: fast results.
But that doesn’t make it any less despicable.
Picture courtesy of “pop culture geek“.
Nothing it shows is sustainable, achieve able or realistic for your average person. And that is sad because it is based on promoting and helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle, which clearly it doesn’t do!
Yeah, that’s what they say: it’s all for the common good. They just want us to become better, healthier people.
Why can’t I believe it?
I was so dissappointed… she looked terrible. On the other hand, if i was to win 250 000 dollars, I would also stay away from chocolate for a while 🙂 So hopefully, she’s got it right in her head and she will gain some healthy kgs back.
Hahaha, yes, there’s an argument! 😀
Seriously, I sure hope all this works out for her.
Now, I know I’m going to be labeled as a “Marxist, socialist, tipping-over-left, Stalinist” for saying this, but if the money spent on producing this show was used instead to produce a publicly available series on diet change, that showed you how to apply concepts like choice architecture, we’d be ever so slightly better off.
Yep, but where is the profit in that? 😉
I do not support the show.
I do not find the problem others seem to have with this young lady’s weight loss. If she was a professional athlete, like a pro basketball player for example, her daily workout would be just that. It’s just with her, she wasn’t replacing the calories. I think there is nothing wrong with fast weight loss especially for a young person who is under medical supervision. Additionally, because I was curious, I looked at the history of all the winners of the show to see how they have done with maintenance and the vast majority have done a very good job with that.