Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Problem with "The Biggest Loser"

I was flipping through the channels a few minutes ago and came upon The Biggest Loser. I've watched some of the show before and know that the person who loses the greatest percentage of bodyWEIGHT is deemed the winner and is destined for fame and glory...well, maybe not fame and glory, but I guess they get some money or cool stuff.

Anyway, as I'm watching this poor woman try to decide whether she'll trade in the $10,000 prize she won for a 1 pound advantage at weigh in, it hit me - they're doing it all wrong! The person who loses the highest percentage of bodyWEIGHT at the end of this show isn't necessarily the fittest person there. The winner could be totally skinny-fat like I was just two months ago. I was still squeezing into a size 4, yet I had no muscle tone at all. I thought, how dumb.

Granted, I was never morbidly obese like many on this show, but let's take me as an example: I lost about 13 lbs or nearly 10 percent of my bodyWEIGHT in two months of IF, high protein/carb cycling diet and lifting heavy before my weight stabilized at 115 lbs where it has been for the past two months. Based on the scale, I've made ZERO progress in two months, yet the mirror doesn't lie. My body is changing tremendously - I'm getting delts for the first time in my life; my biceps have exploded; my chest is more defined and my quads are growing. I'm even getting obliques and lats and my strength continues to increase weekly. My body is undergoing a tremendous transformation as I trade body fat for lean mass yet the scale isn't budging. Does that mean I'm not getting into shape? Hell no.

The more I think about it, the more this show pisses me off. No WONDER people in general don't know what it means to be in shape. If this is the example they're striving for - the greatest bodyWEIGHT lost, then they will always fear the scale.

Based on the current rules of the show, there is absolutely no incentive to build muscle because it'll end up making you heavier than if you just strip off the fat. I guess they can't judge by body fat percentage lost b/c calipers and tape measures aren't as "sexy" as the stupid scale shit they use that makes them look like they're at a damn weigh station.

I wonder if this is the reason so many contestants regain their lost weight after the show? If they're not packing on lean, metabolically active mass, they're going to rebound. Build muscle, eat clean and turn your body into a 24/7 fat-burning furnace. They really ought to rethink this concept.

In the meantime, if you're a fan of the show, keep this in mind: The last man/woman standing may not actually be the fittest. Sorry. *shrugs*


Lisa@The Nourishing Homemaker said...

Well said. They work way too hard. Too much time in the gym and no rest. Who can keep that up indefinitely?

I'm doing the same thing too. Scale has shown no change but I can look in the mirror and see the muscle growth. I know we can't convert fat to muscle but apparently we can trade it.

Workshy Joe said...

Great post.

Aside from the body composition issue, I also think the huge level of overtraining in the show will just make obese people think "Screw it. I'll stay huge."

I recently did a post on Rebecca Wheatley who went from 24 stone down to 18 stone with changes to her diet alone. Then she added exercise to get down from 18 stone to 12 stone. Took her a little over two years. She has kept the weight off for several years now. That's the key thing.

Ulfur said...

Hey Jen, have you stopped blogging?

Jenn said...

@Ulfur - no, haven't stopped, just been very busy. I'm working on some new stuff and will be posting again soon!