The Biggest Loser is one of America’s favorite reality TV shows where a group of extremely overweight contestants compete to see who can lose the most weight. They’re put through intense workout regimens, and even tougher diets that they absolutely have to stick to in order to make their weight loss goals. Week after week, viewers tune in to watch as these contestants lose extreme amounts of weight, and watch them slowly transform into a completely different human. Some have lost more than half of their body weight, and the transformations are absolutely insane. They’re unrecognizable once everything is over.
However, things that go on behind the camera on set are much different than what we see on every episode. To us, it seems like a heartwarming tale of these people overcoming so many challenges to reach a goal that they’ve been striving for. During production, on the other hand, it’s anything but a fairytale, but more of a nightmare. Contestants are starved, and face harsh conditions. They’re given grueling workout schedules that aren’t normal for any fitness guru, let alone a morbidly obese person. They’re isolated not only from one another, but from the world too. They’re left to deal with this entire experience on their own. It’s more than just physical abuse, it’s mental too. All of these secrets are swept under the rug and weren’t made public for obvious reasons, until now.
These are 15 behind the scenes secrets you didn’t know about The Biggest Loser.
15 Contestants Were Starved
Although the show was meant to be used for extremely overweight contestants to lose weight and become healthy, the way they went about it was anything but. The show itself leads viewers to believe that contestants are following strict diets, eating healthy foods, and counting calories very closely. In reality, contestants were starving themselves to meet their unrealistic weekly weight loss goals. When it comes to losing weight, calories are monitored to healthily lose a safe amount of pounds week after week. Most diet experts say that you should be losing about a pound or two a week, if you’re doing things the healthy way, that is. We all know from watching the show that contestants are losing much more than that, and now we know why. With the intense workout regimen, and not eating, it’s no wonder they’re losing insane amounts of weight.
14 They Use Steam Rooms To Lose Weight Quickly
In many reports from former contestants, many have said that they were willing to do anything to lose that last minute weight, and turned to makeshift steam rooms, or actual ones. They would layer up in lots of clothing, and workout in an overheated room in order to sweat out all water weight they may have. Season one winner, Ryan Benson said in an interview that he even used the tactic a few times, and that it was encouraged because it worked. He said, “I wore a rubber suit while jogging on the treadmill and then spent a lot of time in the steam room. In the final 24 hours, I probably dropped 10 to 13 pounds in just pure water weight. By the time of the final weigh in, I was peeing blood.” No wonder why he went on to win that season.
13 It’s Edited To Make It Seem Like They Lost More
Many people think that the season takes place over a period of three months, which makes the extreme weight loss even more exciting since it’s so quick. However, that wasn’t always true. When an episode airs, viewers are led to believe that the workouts and dieting that they’re shown take place over the course of a week. One of the infamous trainers, Jillian Michaels even confirmed this, saying, “Americans need to realize that the one week weight loss totals aren’t totally real.” Radar Online also revealed that they’ve done some digging and that during season three, viewers were led to believe that the whole journey took place over the course of three months, while it was actually over eight months of filming, which is why their weekly weigh ins were so high, since things were compressed so much. In reality, contestants were only losing about two or three pounds a week.
12 Weigh In Reactions Are Fake
Arguably, the best part of the show has to be the weigh ins. During the weigh ins, contestants step up on a giant scale where they’re weighed in front of everyone and it’s determined how much weight they lost during that week. Contestants are either extremely happy and celebrate their results, or they’re upset if they didn’t meet their goals. What viewers don’t know is the whole process is fake. They’re weighed behind the scenes a few days prior, so they have an idea where they’re at. Their reactions are filmed over and over until production is happy with it. Suzanne Mendonca, a contestant on season two of the show shared with ET, “It’s a fake scale that you weigh in on. They have the scale on TV. When the contestants step on the scale, they don’t even know their real weight and how much they dropped. You’re weighed two day prior to a real weigh in that’s taped on TV.”
11 There Are Inhumane Workouts
One of the biggest parts of the show are the intense workouts that the contestants have to go through. When contestants are first thrown into the gym, it’s shocking for both them, and viewers. Not used to doing any sort of workout, they’re basically shellshocked with the intensity. Former contestant Kai Hibbard revealed they were given inhumane workouts — they would be in the gym from five to eight hours straight, she told The New York Post. She said, “There was no easing into it. That doesn’t make for good TV. My feet were bleeding through my shoes for the first three weeks.” The trainers were relentless, and didn’t let up on them. Many contestants got sick, and buckets for vomit were on hand at all times. Even a person in the best shape of their lives wouldn’t go through a workout that strict.
10 They’re Provided Caffeine Pills
One thing we have to remember about The Biggest Loser is at the end of the day, it’s still a competition. Yes, the contestants are on the show to better themselves and get healthy, but they’re still competing against one another to lose the most weight and win money. That being said, the contestants themselves as well as their coaches are willing to do anything to help them get the weight off. Trainer Jillian Michaels actually got in trouble for giving her team caffeine pills without an okay from a doctor. The pills are okay with a doctor’s consent. They’re not diet pills, and diet pills are definitely not allowed, however the caffeine pills are supposed to give contestants an extra boost to want to work out more, and have a lot more energy.
9 They’re Isolated From Other Contestants
When watching the show, we’re led to believe that The Biggest Loser takes place entirely on a ranch, where contestants learn how to get healthy, live, workout, and spend the duration of their time on the show. Sure, that sounds all nice, but the contestants are actually secluded from one another in the very beginning of the show. Former contestant Kai Hibbard told The New York Post that when she was first flown out to Los Angeles, when she got to her hotel she was checked in and her key card was immediately taken away by a production assistant. They informed her that she was to stay in her room at all times if she wasn’t filming for the show. She said, “The hotel will report to them if you leave your room. They assume you’re going to talk to other contestants.”
8 They’re Not Allowed Any Contact With Family
Not only are the contestants isolated from one another in the very beginning of the show, they also can’t have any form of contact with friends or family. Many contestants have stated when they first get to the set, their phones, computers and any other forms of communication are confiscated. They’re completely cut off from everything, no exceptions, whatsoever. Former contestant Kai Hibbard shared with The New York Post that you’re not allowed to call home because you might give away show secrets, and that you can only call home after six weeks for five minutes that is monitored by someone in production. It was a lonely life for the contestants, and it had to be really hard going through something so challenging without even being able to go and talk to their families when they really need to, making things that much harder for them.
7 There Was A Psychologist, But Never Around
The contestants on The Biggest Loser are going through so many changes. They have to learn so much — how to eat healthy, how to work out, how to change their ways completely to have a better life. They’re facing challenges on a daily basis, and doing things they’ve never done before. Many times they’re pushed to the edge with their hard workouts and being away from their friends and family. It’s a lot to wrap your head around and deal with on your own, and it’s understandable if some contestants aren’t able to deal with all these changes. Former contestants have noted that they were told that there would be a psychologist on hand, if they chose to see one. However, if they wanted to, they couldn’t since he was never around and never called if they needed him. Dealing with physical health is one thing, but mental health is another, and it should’ve been taken care of as well.
6 Contestants Can Only Eat Sponsored Food
You would think that contestants on The Biggest Loser would have access to the healthiest and best foods that anyone could buy. The whole point is to learn how to lose weight by eating right and exercising, so it’s natural to believe that they have the best food on hand for them. Well, that’s far from the truth. They don’t have the finest fruits and vegetables, instead they only have access to foods that sponsor the show. So instead of contestants having healthy meats, fats, and fruits and veggies, they’re eating some of the worst things they could possibly have while on a diet. Former contestant Kai Hibbard told The New York Post, “Your grocery list is approved by your trainer. My season had a lot of Franken-foods: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray, Kraft fat-free cheese, Rockstar Energy Drinks, Jell-O.” Doesn’t sound very nutritious to us.
5 They Purposely Dehydrate Themselves
As we’ve seen, contestants are willing to do anything to lose weight, even if they aren’t the healthiest or safest of tactics. Many contestants have been known to actually intentionally dehydrate themselves before their weigh ins. By doing so, they’re not adding on water weight and can help them drop pounds even faster. A former contestant that remained anonymous told Star magazine, “One ore two days before the weigh in, we would cut liquid consumption and we wouldn’t eat. The morning of the weigh in we’d get up in the 113 degree heat and put on several layers of clothing under a zipped up sweatsuit. We’d shut the windows of the gym and we’d work out for two or three hours, not drinking water.” Sure the idea worked out for them in the end when it came in to weigh ins, but they were only hurting their bodies more and more.
4 There Have Been On-Set Hookups
There have been many times on reality shows that contestants have hooked up with one another for the duration of the show, or even continue on into real life. Two contestants from season three, Marty Wolff and Amy Hildreth kindled their romance when they were both competing on the show. In a special show once the season was over, contestants were brought back to see if they kept the weight off or not. During the show, Wolff proposed to Hildreth in front of everyone. Although everyone was happy for the newly engaged couple, it wasn’t done without scandal. Former contestant Kai Hibbard revealed that Wolff had cheated on his wife Barbara when he started his relationship with Hildreth on the show. Wolff and Hildreth aren’t the first ones to fall in love on The Biggest Loser, and they most certainly won’t be the last.
3 Production Psychologically Hurts Them
Everyone needs a little motivation to workout and get fit, however, the trainers take full advantage of that, and as a result, psychologically play with the contestants. Former contestant Kai Hibbard told The New York Post that the trainers get some sick pleasure out of taunting them and fat shaming them. She said, "They would say things to contestants like, ‘You’re going to die before your children grow up.’ ‘You’re going to die, just like your mother.’ ‘We’ve picked out your fat person coffin’ — that was in a text message. One production assistant told a contestant to take up smoking because it would cut her appetite in half.” They would play at their emotions, to try to get them to workout harder and try harder, it didn’t matter if what they said was hurtful. Not everything makes it to TV, of course, and disgusting and vile words are left off screen for the contestants to deal with.
2 Contestants Suffer Severe Health Problems
The extreme dieting, weight loss, and exercising really takes a toll on the body. As a result, many contestants actually developed some serious health problems once the show came to an end. Season one winner Ryan Benson, admitted to dehydrating himself, and working out in layers of clothing to get rid of all of his water weight to lose more weight. Because of that, it affected his kidneys, and he started urinating blood. Kai Hibbard said that she began to develop an eating disorder toward the end of the show. She said, “I got to the point where I was eating less than 1,000 calories a day. I was working out five to six hours a day. My hair started to fall out, and I was covered in bruises. When I told production this, I got no help.”
1 They Almost Always Gain It Back
The main goal of The Biggest Loser is to lose enough pounds to have a healthy body weight, and most importantly to keep it off and maintain the lifestyle. Many contestants have found that once they left the show and went back to real life, they weren’t able to maintain the extreme workouts and diets, and as a result, they gained back almost all of their weight. Season one winner Ryan Benson, gained over 100 pounds back, while others gained back other increments. While on the show, their metabolisms are in overdrive because of the extreme diet and exercise. When they go back to normal life, their metabolism is all out of whack, and it’s harder for them to lose weight, and unfortunately that’s why they gain some of it back.
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