All About the Biggest Loser

Counting Calories

What is a calorie? A calorie is defined as the measurement of how much energy a food gives your body after eating it. However, if you consume more calories than you burn on a daily basis, you will gain weight. The formula for losing weight is simple -- eat less and exercise more. But how many calories can you eat to lose weight?
The Biggest Loser's equation is fairly simple -- if you weigh between 150 and 300 pounds, multiply your present weight by 7. This number is your "caloric goal" for each day for the Biggest Loser diet. If you weigh more than 300 pounds, use 300 pounds as your starting weight for this formula. Also, if you weigh less than 150 pounds, use 150 as your starting weight.

What Can I Eat on the Biggest Loser Diet?

Based on the Biggest Loser's 4-3-2-1 pyramid, you should eat at least four servings of fruits and vegetables daily, three servings of proteins, two servings of whole grains, and one serving of "extras" equaling 200 calories. A serving size in this program is equal to 8 ounces or 1 cup. So let's take a closer look at what these various foods may consist of and how to optimize this diet program.
Fruits and Vegies
With the Biggest Loser diet, you will eat more fruits and vegetables than anything else during the day. These foods provide the most nutrients for the fewest calories. At least half of your four daily servings should come from vegetables and the rest from fruits. If you want, you can consume more than four daily servings, as long as you don't eat more fruits than vegetables.
There are some recommendations for this food group, which include:
  • Avoid eating white potatoes, as they can increase your blood sugar levels and lead to food cravings.
  • Avoid eating more than a few servings of starchy vegetables each week, as they are high in calories and carbohydrates. These may include pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and yams.
  • Avoid eating dried fruits, as they are high in calories and fruit sugar and tend to contain additives.
  • Eat whole fruits rather than fruit juices, as whole fruits offer more fiber and are more filling than juice.
With the Biggest Loser diet, you must eat three 8-ounce portions of protein foods. Some sources of protein include:
  • Animal -- meat, seafood, poultry
  • Vegetable -- beans, legumes, soy
  • Low-fat dairy -- milk, yogurt, cottage cheese.
It doesn't matter when you eat your protein portions during the day, as long as you make sure to eat some at each meal and that you achieve the 24-ounce total protein count each day. It's also generally recommended to limit your servings of red meat to twice a week, as this form of protein is higher in saturated fat. Also, avoid processed meats, as they tend to be high in fat and sodium nitrites.
Whole Grains
You will be eating two 1-cup servings of whole-grain foods each day on the Biggest Loser diet. Whole grains are those that haven't had much processing, so they retain their nutrients. Some examples of whole grains include:
  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Corn grits
  • Cream of rice
  • Cream of wheat
  • Millet
  • Oat bran
  • Quinoa
  • Rolled oats
  • Whole-wheat cereal
  • Wild rice
  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • Barley
  • Couscous.
For this food group, try to avoid processed or refined carbohydrates. This includes most ready-to-eat breakfast cereals (which are loaded with sugar). Also, look for "whole-wheat" bread. One bread serving is equal to:
  • Two slices of whole-wheat bread
  • One whole-wheat roll
  • One whole-wheat flour tortilla
  • Two light Wasa crispbreads.
The 4-3-2-1 Biggest Loser pyramid allows you to have no more than 200 calories of "extras" each day. Although you may be tempted to use these extra calories to eat whatever you want, try to choose healthy alternatives, such as:
  • Oils, such as olive oil, canola oil, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil
  • Condiments, such as salsa, mustard, horseradish, ketchup, or barbecue sauce
  • Other healthy splurges, such as nuts, olives, pickles, and avocado.
Because you are aiming for "natural" foods, avoid using reduced-fat, sugar-free, fat-free, and low-carbohydrate products, as well as artificial sweeteners -- these products are not as nutritious as natural products.
There are also a number of calorie-free extras you can add to help add flavor to your meals, such as garlic, herbs, vinegar, and spices.
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