The Biggest Loser did not disappoint last night with its ridiculous product placements masked as “recommendations” to the players. I hate to dwell on Trainer Bob, but, he definitely seems to be the shill for the more questionable foods/supplements, while Jillian seems to be able to choose her endorsements more wisely (and less blatantly).

Last night after watching his team’s video food journal, Bob recommended to his team that they need to get “more protein.” While that may or may not be true, Bob didn’t perform any scientific calculations to assess if they actually did need more protein, therefore his suggestion to them that they use a supplement such as “Designer Whey Protein” is ridiculous.

Overkill for the Biggest Losers

Overkill for the Biggest Losers

Why else is it ridiculous? Well, for one thing, it’s my understanding that the show is supposed to be teaching the players how to eat better. I’m confident that taking protein supplements does not fall under the category “making better choices.”

If you are wondering what whey protein is, it’s a clear liquid leftover from the cheese-making process. Though whey used to be a waste product, it now is dried and used as an ingredient in other foods and supplements. Whey is a source of lactose, which can be an irritant to some people.

So many people already think they are not getting enough protein, but the truth is that most people get more than enough protein from their diets. If you are losing weight while working out, your best bet is to increase your protein by actually eating protein in food, not a supplement.

By obtaining your protein from food, you will also benefit from all of the other vitamins and minerals present in the food, as well as save money on buying unnecessary supplements.

If we give the players the benefit of the doubt and call them athletes, the recommendations for protein based on the American College of Sports Medicine range anywhere from .6-.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

The high end of the range would apply to a growing teenage athlete (Mike) or athletes restricting calories (technically the rest of the players). The catch here is that the players are not at normal body weights and thus protein recommendations cannot be based on their actual body weight, but rather should be based on what we would clinically describe as their adjusted body weight. The adjusted body weight is based on a calculation using one’s ideal body weight, which is based on height.

Since I am not privy to the contestants’ heights, I’m unable to figure out what their adjusted body weights are. For argument’s sake, we could look at Helen, who is now 161 lbs, and perhaps getting close to a healthy BMI. If we use her actual weight, her needs would be anywhere from 97 – 144 g protein per day. This is on the high side for protein, but could easily be met by diet, for example:

4 ounces of chicken breast has 35 g of protein

6 ounces of tuna has 40 g of protein

6 egg whites has 20 g of protein

This alone would meet the lower end of the above mentioned protein recommendations, not to mention other food items like dairy, peanuts, peanut butter and beans which are also very good sources of protein AND to a lesser extent there is protein in several grains and vegetables.

Designer Whey protein has 6 grams of protein and 50 calories per scoop, which really is not that much. I know of several protein supplements used in the acute care setting that would offer more protein per serving. To meet the amount postulated here (97 grams) you would have to use roughly 16 scoops.

Bottom Line:

We as a population and the Biggest Loser contestants are more than likely already meeting protein needs by diet.

If for some reason that was not the case, it is very easy to consume adequate amounts of protein both from animal and plant based sources.

Protein supplements are expensive and unnecessary, especially in the case of the Biggest Losers.

And once again, Bob gave a recommendation and it ended up that one of his players not only gained a pound, but was also sent home. Coincidence?

References:

Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, http://www.nancyclarkrd.com/books/sportsnutrition.asp

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