The Health Guru

Facts, Hints, Tips, Advice and Inspiration on everything to do about health & weight loss.


Posted on | December 14, 2009 | No Comments

I have mixed emotions about episode 2.  As an exercise physiologist I saw a few negatives in the show that highlight what not to do if you’re trying to lose weight. I’m sure we don’t see alot of behind the scenes stuff, I’m sure they have a strong team of medics available to attend to the contestants and of course they have to dramatise things so the show is watchable – but here are some negative things that stuck out for me:

#1:  Listen to your body – Never, Never, Never exercise intensely if you are injured.  I don’t always believe in No Pain, No Gain. (One contestant had a dislocated elbow for 2 weeks before he saw a doctor)  Your body needs rest to recover and get stronger.  Always get injuries attended to quickly or they will most definitely get worse.

#2:  You must eat. Starving yourself doesn’t make you lose more weight.  It can infact have the opposite effect.  Food is fuel.

#3:  You must hydrate with water. You must drink about 1.5 – 2 Litres of water daily.  You will need more if you are sweating and exercising in the heat.  This is particularly important here in Singapore where humidity is high and the sun is fierce.

#4:  Monitor your Maximum Heart Rate – especially if you are overweight. Your maximum heart rate is calculated by:  220 – your age in years.  I.e. If you are 40 years old:  MHR = 220 – 40 = 180 beats per minute.  That means your heart rate should not be higher than 180 beats per minute.  If it is – SLOW DOWN.

#5:  You shouldn’t be punished with exercise. After losing a challenge one of the teams had to do a 2 hour training session while the others had fun.  In my opinion – this is far too much.  As well as it is conditioning people to think that exercise is torture.  My motto is that exercise should always be fun.  If it’s not fun you’re doing the wrong type of exercise with the wrong people (trainer)  And also, you cannot expect that intensity of exercise possible once the competition has ended for the contestants.  Which means for most of them, they will regain weight.

Over exercising is not the key to weight loss.  A 60kg person will only burn off about 7 calories per minute walking briskly –  the higher the intensity, the more calories you burn.  A hamburger has about 500 calories.  That means that it would take approximately 71 minutes of walking to “burn” that burger off.  Therefore, you cannot rely on exercise alone to lose weight and keep the weight off.

Weight loss & weight management is controlled through your food and portions.  I have no doubt that on the Biggest Loser behind the scenes they are monitoring their diets closely – but I think that the show really promotes over-exercise, that for most is unrealistic and unachievable for your lifetime.

Let’s hope episode 3 brings more education about food, portion control, calories and maintainable exercise for your lifetime.

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