I had never watched the Biggest Loser until recently. Hearing that two of the contestants, Irene and Courtenay went paleo sparked some interest. The show’s pretty much what I expected – conventional weight loss wisdom pushed to the extreme and dramatized for television. Obviously anyone following the paleo/primal lifestyle would have many issues with the show’s approach to weight-loss, from the chronic cardio/over-exercise, to a low-fat starvation diet, to even the very accelerated rate of weight loss. And considering that it’s conventional wisdom that helped these people along the path to obesity, the contestants’ struggle with weight-loss won’t simply end when the show does. I definitely don’t want to take away from the contestants’ accomplishments though – the amount of weight they lose and their determination to keep losing is impressive, and clearly judging by the show’s popularity, inspiring to many.
Having said all that, I was excited when I heard that Irene and Courtenay were going paleo to up their odds of winning. That’s a pretty gutsy move considering it’s basically the complete opposite of their weight-loss strategy thus far. Irene, if she gets voted to be part of the final three, is basically betting $250,000 on paleo. Courtenay, who had already been eliminated, is betting $100,000.
Mind you, the gals seem to be in pretty good hands. They’re being trained and housed by STARK, a fat-loss facility in California. On the team of specialists guiding them is Brad Davidson, who was mentored by Charles Poliquin, a world-class strength-training coach (he has trained professional athletes as well as Olympians), and a proponent of the paleo diet. Poliquin does things a little differently with his Biosignature program. The program focuses on supplementation to restore hormone imbalances based on caliper measurements of the different patterns of fat deposition around the body. But the paleo nutrition aspect remains the same.
This isn’t the first time that paleo has popped up on the show. Season 10’s Adam also took the paleo approach with LEAF Wellness Centre. While there, a lot of the emphasis was on healing and restoring his body. He slept a minimum of 9 hours a night and meditated during sauna detox sessions. His workout regime went from 4 hours of daily chronic cardio to 6 hours a week of resistance training and metabolic conditioning (sled pushing, battling ropes, kettlebells). Nutrition-wise, Adam went from 800 calories/day to 2,500 – 3,000 calorie/day of high quality, nutrient-rich foods. He lost 33 pounds in his 35 days there, down to 219 lbs from 252 lbs. And that was after he had already lost 150lbs on the Biggest Loser (starting at 402lbs).
Irene and Courtenay’s program is probably along the same lines, and I’m sure they’ll also see great results. It’s another opportunity for more people to learn about the paleo lifestyle, especially if the girls win. The results show airs May 24th at 8:00 pm Eastern.