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Biggest Loser Diet 2012

Overview

Resembles these U.S. News-rated diets:

DASH Diet

The aim:

Weight loss, disease prevention or reversal.

The claim:

Six weeks of healthy food and regular exercise not only is a great start to a weight-loss journey—it can also help prevent or reverse diabetes; cut the risk for cancer, dementia, and Alzheimer’s; improve your heart health; and boost your immune system.

The theory:

We eat too many of the wrong foods and not enough of the right ones, and we sit around too much. The not-so-surprising solution: eat regular meals that emphasize filling calories from fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources, and whole grains; practice portion control; use a food journal; and get up off the sofa.

How does the Biggest Loser Diet work?

First you have to choose a Biggest Loser book to follow. They’re all based on the same principles. What’s your appetite for reading? There’s the short-and-sweet 2005 edition, the more bulky 30-Day Jump Start from 2009and, midway between the two, 2010’s 6 Weeks to a Healthier You. All are heavy on success stories from past contestants of the Biggest Loser reality TV show, tips for developing your menu based on a special food pyramid, and suggestions for sweating out some calories. Expand this section for more on the most recent version.

6 Weeks to a Healthier You is a crash course in nutrition. You’ll learn about foods with “quality calories” (you can guess which ones they’d be) and acquaint yourself with the Biggest Loser diet pyramid. It suggests four servings a day of fruits and vegetables, three of protein foods, two of whole grains, and no more than 200 calories of “extras” like desserts. That should make for a menu where 45 percent of your day’s calories come from carbs, 30 percent from protein, and 25 percent from fats. You’ll also take a hard look at your risk factors for developing diseases, calculate your calorie allowance, learn about portion control and when to eat, and see why keeping a food journal is important.

The rest of the book is split into thematic chapters—from preventing or reversing diabetes to lowering high blood pressure—and each takes you through a week of meal plans and recommendations for different types of exercise.

Will you lose weight?

It’s likely you will, given the plan’s two foolproof dieting tactics—calorie restriction and exercise. You just have to make sure you stick with it. Expand this section for research on the diet

Some research has evaluated obese or morbidly obese contestants who have appeared on the Biggest Loser show. Interpret cautiously: The sample sizes are small, contestants may have had more—or much more—weight to lose than you do, and many had motivation-boosting TV cameras, prize incentives, and expert advisers surrounding them throughout the process.

  • In one small study, published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2011, researchers reported that 14 Biggest Loser contestants lost an average of 133 pounds (39 percent of their initial weight) after seven months of intense exercise and moderate calorie restriction following a plan where 30 percent of calories came from protein, 25 from fats, and 45 from carbs.

  • An unpublished study split 62 adults into three groups. The first group consisted of 14 Biggest Loser contestants who exercised four hours a day, six days a week and were encouraged to eat a diet largely of protein sources, fruits, and vegetables while avoiding saturated fat, processed grains, and added sugar. The second group—36 “home contestants”—attended a three-day symposium on diet and exercise and were instructed to exercise twice a day for 60 to 90 minutes each session. The third group, the controls, were sent home without any instructions.

    At eight months, those in the Biggest Loser group typically lost from 31 to 39 percent of their initial weight; for those in the home group, the typical range was from 22 to 28 percent. By comparison, the control-group individuals typically added from 2 to 5 percent of their starting weight. At 20 months, those in the first two groups typically had backslid somewhat, but were still 19 to 31 percent below their starting weight.

  • Two additional sets of data on Biggest Loser contestants, published in 2007 in the Journal of Clinical Densitometry and the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, reported similar amounts of weight loss. One reported that on average, 25 women had dropped 25 percent of their initial body weight and 22 men lost 32 percent of their weight after 8 months. Another set of data showed nearly identical figures for 27 women and 22 men after 8 months.
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