Last updated: Oct 15, 2009
biggest-loser-diet-guide
Based on the reality hit The Biggest Loser, this diet plan translates the show's extreme weight loss to real life through calorie-cutting and exercise.


Basic principles:
Eat a lot less, move a lot more. This is a calorie-controlled, carbohydrate-modified, fat-reduced plan high in lean protein and wholesome fruits and vegetables.

How it works:
The daily calorie budget varies from 1,050 to 2,100, depending on your starting weight. You follow a "4-3-2-1" Biggest Loser Pyramid to guide your food choices: You should get four servings of fruits and veggies, three servings of protein, two servings of whole grains, and stay within a 200-calorie budget for healthy fats and treats. Eat three meals and two snacks a day to stay satisfied.

What you eat:
You'll eat wholesome fruits, veggies, and grains, plus a fair share of lean protein. Limit white potatoes and starchy vegetables, and avoid refined grains and sugar. The website has a meal-planning tool that allows you to choose from healthy meals and snacks and does the calorie-counting for you.

How much can you lose?
The show touts big weight-loss numbers, with some contestants dropping double-digit pounds in one week. The diet's experts say that when you do the program at home you'll lose about 1% of your body weight per week.

Is it healthy?
Not really. This plan is too low in calories, especially if you are practicing strength and cardio as recommended.

The Biggest Loser Pyramid emphasizes wholesome foods, but healthy fats should not be lumped in with the "extras" budget.

Expert opinion:
Don't try it at home. "Participants on the show receive medical screenings and they are at very low risk of problems as a result of extreme measures to lose weight," says Lona Sandon, RD, Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern, and spokesperson for the American Dietic Association. "Someone who might be out there on their own implementing this plan could do themselves harm if they go about it without medical supervision."

Try this diet if you:
• Have medical supervision

1-day sample menus for the 1,200 calorie plan:
Breakfast: 3 egg whites scrambled with 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp chopped basil, 1 tsp grated Parmesan, and ½ cup cherry tomatoes; 3/4 cup fat-free milk; 1/3 cup fresh blueberries; 1 cup decaf iced tea with lemon

Midmorning Snack: 1/2 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt (or frozen yogurt) sprinkled with 2 Tbsp sliced strawberries

Lunch: Southwestern bulgur salad; 1 tsp chopped cilantro with 1 Tbsp Mo Walkers Salsa Vinaigrette; 2 tsp shredded low-fat Cheddar cheese

Midafternoon Snack: 2 tbsp hummus and ½ cup jicama slices

Dinner: 1 cup Lisa Andreones Wild Rice and Toasted Almonds; 3 ounces grilled salmon fillet; 1 cup wilted baby spinach with 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, and 1 tsp grated Parmesan cheese; 1/2 cup diced cantaloupe

Evening Snack: 1/2 cup Kathryn Murphys Easy Raspberry Sorbet with 1 tsp chopped almonds