How Do the Biggest Losers Lose Weight So Fast?

A Biggest Loser contestant trying on a new dress.
Image Credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The famous reality show "The Biggest Loser" takes people with overweight and obesity and trains them how to use diet and exercise to reach their weight-loss goals. The show's popularity is partially due to your ability to relate to contestants, as most Americans struggle with weight issues. Contestants often lose weight very quickly as they compete for the $250,000 grand prize, which leaves many asking how they do it.

Exercise

An integral portion of the show is watching the contestants work out. One of the personal trainers, Jillian Michaels, told Time.com that contestants train for at least four hours per day, which is largely responsible for how quickly they drop pounds. Workouts include both cardiovascular training and resistance training, but Michaels warns that without medical supervision, exercising to this extent is not safe. She states that if you have less than 50 lbs. to lose, you should be exercising no more than eight to 10 hours per week.

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Diet

Part of the show often not televised is the eating plan. Michaels told Time.com that she is horrified to see people eating processed foods, so the program consists mainly of fresh, whole cuisine. Nutrition counseling teaches participants how to cook homemade meals while they are given a list of forbidden foods including white flour, white sugar and butter. They are also given food journals and a minimum number of calories.

The first two weeks contestants spend throwing up from the tremendous amount of exercise and later use tactics like asparagus binges to induce diuretic weight-loss results for weigh-ins, according to the "New York Times" article "In Kitchen, 'Losers' Start From Scratch."

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Environment

Another aspect critical to contestants' rapid weight-loss is a brand new environment. Being taken out of your home full of tempting food, comfortable rituals and a non-supportive family may provide you with a greater chance of overcoming eating disorders, according to September 2010 research published by the "Archives of Internal Medicine." Short-term removal from your home can accelerate initial weight loss and provide you with fast, dramatic results. A real-world option would be fitness camp or weight-loss camp, available to children or adults, which sometimes offer possible long-term success, as per study findings.

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Support

Emotional support helps contestants lose weight quickly. The cast has access to medical doctors, a nutritionist, a dietitian and personal trainers, in addition to a large group full of like-minded peers enduring the same trials. Research published in May 1987 by the "American Journal of Public Health" indicates that weight loss and glycemic control are both easier to obtain when education and peer support are concurrently provided to dieters.

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