I’ll be the first to admit it — I love The Biggest Loser. I think it’s one of the best reality TV series ever made. I know that saying “best reality TV series” is like saying “least-smelly trash can” or “most-pleasant communicable disease,” but it truly is a great TV show. I find it inspiring to watch contestants change their lives through a new-found commitment to diet and exercise.
But is the show so inspirational that it will make a person lose weight?
According to new research, the answer is NO. In fact, studies showed that The Biggest Loser will actually make us want to exercise less!
Two separate studies examined how The Biggest Loser affects viewers’ attitudes towards those with obesity. Published in the journal Obesity, the studies showed that the program made viewers less likely to want to exercise or expect it to be enjoyable. It’s not hard to see why. Contestants on the show are usually shown vomiting, heaving, and getting verbally abused by a bunch of trainers who make Simon Cowell look like Mr. Rogers.
The contestants also get injured. During the first week of this season, three lost consciousness and one suffered a stress fracture in his knee. Even Biingo, the 13-year old contestant, hurt his foot. That’s right—his name is Biingo. Or should we say, Biingo was his name-o (Sorry, we had to do it. Now back to the serious stuff.)
The Biggest Loser might be giving viewers a poor impression of exercise. “If you’re not a regular exerciser you might think this is what exercise is—that it’s this horrible experience where you have to push yourself to the extremes and the limits, which is completely wrong,” said the study’s lead author Tanya Berry of the University of Alberta.
Of course, the contestants don’t only lose weight through exercise, they also diet heavily. They’re forbidden from eating any of their favorite foods. While that looks emotionally painful for the contestants, experts say it’s also unnecessary. Studies have shown that while certain foods should only be eaten as treats (think cakes, cookies, fried foods, etc.,) we can basically eat our favorite meals as long as we consume smaller quantities of them.
It all boils down to portion control. Scientists have spent decades researching how to control appetites so that people reduce the amount of food they consume. One leading expert is Dr. Alan Hirsch. He discovered several tasteless and odorless compounds that he named “Tastants.” When sprinkled on any food, Tasteants reportedly made people eat less and feel full quicker.
In an independent study, those who dieted with Tastants lost an average of 30.5 pounds—nearly 15% of their total body weight! Also, none of them experienced any unpleasant side-effects because Tastants do not directly interact with the body’s digestive system.
Tastants are now available in a flavorless, odorless sprinkle called SENSA, which many people are now familiar with due to the company’s TV infomercials and advertisements. Does it work? According to numerous sources it does, and the best results come from combining SENSA with a balanced, sensible exercise plan. No screaming coaches, no insane diets, just your regular routine but with a little sprinkling of help.
And while that method may not make for good television, it does make for a good life.