Reality Bites

OK, after recording the podcast the other night I walked into the living room, where the TV was left on (of course) with “Extreme Weight Loss” playing. I have found this show much better than the Biggest Loser in the past, so stopped and to watch a portion. It was the person’s first weight in (90 days) and she was tasked to lose 91 pounds (1 pound a day). She did not make the goal. The host, Chris Powell, was disappointed but still supportive of the weight that was lost.

But then the wife, Heidi Powell, jumped in …

She clapped her hands like she was scolding her and said “there is NO way you stuck to the diet plan. It’s Calorie In – Calorie Out. If you burn more than you eat there is no way you CANNOT lose weight!!!”


I turned it off.

Because I am an example of that not being true … at all … and there are plenty of studies that support it not being true.

I cannot imagine how many people watching that episode became as dejected as the woman standing there, adamantly telling her that she did follow the plan, and being called a liar.

Been there …

Of course I have heard it came out later in the show that she did, indeed cheat.

She ate a half an avocado.

Yep … that’s what did it. Half an avocado.

What really bugged me was that I liked this show when it first came on. I saw it as the “anti-Biggest Loser”. Chris Powell seemed to understand that weight loss doesn’t happen by sequestering someone and making them work out 12 hours a day at the same time they limit their calorie intake to 1,000 or less. He took a year to work with them. Did I like everything about the show? No. But it made more sense than the idiocy that was happening on The Biggest Loser every season.

Let’s not even start with the outdated and untrue premise that CICO works for everyone. Let’s just look at the math, since that’s what Heidi was promoting. A goal of 91 pounds in 90 days, so a pound a day, would equate to a calorie deficit of 3,500 … EACH DAY. To make it simple, let’s assume (though we know it is not true) that she is on a 1,500 kcal diet and burns normally, around 2,000 a day. That leaves a 500 deficit. Subtracting that from the required 3,500 leaves another 3,000 to burn. Every day.

What burns 3,000 calories?

First of all, it will depend on the shape you are in now. An in shape person rowing at a moderate level for an hour should burn 750 calories, while someone built like this contestant, in the 300 pound range, would burn about 1400 calories.

Half way there!

There are many people who ask their fitness instructors “how to lose 3500 calories a day?”. However, since there are 3500 calories in one pound, a person could lose a pound a day, if he or she tried to burn 3500 calories a day. This is not a very healthy weight loss goal for many people and therefore, requires a doctor’s approval. Moreover, burning 3500 calories or 1 lb in a day would mean that an average person weighing around 200 pounds needs to spend at least 5 hours working out. This is why several fitness experts are also against burning 3500 calories or a pound in one day. ~

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, for an average person to burn 3,000 calories, they could do any of the following:

  • Aerobics (high impact) – 6 hours, 20 minutes
  • Biking (moderate, 12-14 mph) – 5 hours, 30 minutes
  • Cleaning – 15 hours
  • Football – 5 hours, 30 minutes
  • Running (10 min. miles) – 4 hours, 30 minutes
  • Swimming (75 yards/minute) – 4 hours
  • Tae kwon do – 4 hours, 25 minutes
  • Tennis – 6 hours, 20 minutes
  • Walking (very brisk) – 9 hours
  • Weight lifting (vigorous) – 7 hours, 20 minutes
  • Yardwork, raking – 12 hours

Per day people. Every day. For 90 days.

Sound like a healthy option for you?

So, if you’re reading this, PLEASE stop watching these programs. They do nothing to truly support prolonged healthy lifestyle changes. They do it to get ratings, and the majority of the contestants gain all of their weight back. It is NOT sustainable in the long run. All I could see in this show was people watching and thinking, “damn, I am such a loser”.

One thought on “Reality Bites

  • July 21, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    The focus on “calorie out” also tends to conveniently ignore the fact that Exercise Drives Hunger, ie Calorie In is a function of Calorie Out.
    Van recently posted…Race Recovery, The Blues, and Looking AheadMy Profile

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