Discussing her participation in the hit television series, The Biggest Loser, Kai Hibbard, who was a contestant during season three of the U.S version of the show doesn't pull any punches. "The whole fucking show is a fat-shaming disaster that I'm embarrassed to have participated in," she says today. Hibbard, who started the show weighing 300 pounds, followed the strenuous dieting and exercise routine that featured up to 6 hours a day of exercise and lost 121 pounds to end up weighing 144. Since then, she's gained most of the weight back, although she won't say how much. In the course of losing that much weight, Hibbard experienced a plethora of side effects. Her hair started falling out, which is to be expected since you cannot consume sufficient protein while consuming only 1,000 calories a day, which is the average amount consumed by Biggest Loser (BL) contestants. She couldn't sleep more than 3 hours a night, which itself makes dieting a lot harder because of adverse changes in hormones related to appetite control. Her thyroid gland output, normal even though she was obese, "went to crap," as she put it. She had to take showers with other female contestants because their muscles were so sore that they couldn't lift their arms over their heads. So they had to shampoo each other. In the meantime, the inept trainers on the show, such as Jillian Michaels, whose knowledge of exercise could easily fit on the head of a pin, told contestants that "Pain is just weakness leaving the body." Hibbard dropped down to only 400 calories a day (800 or less is considered a starvation diet), and couldn't remember anything from one minute to the next. Not surprising since her brain was severely deprived of fuel. She also had increased her workout time to 8 to 9 hours a day. Hibbard's story is a common one with BL contestants. Although the show has "medical advisors" the exercise and diet plan espoused on the program is anything but science-based. Without crash dieting and extreme exercise, there would be no Biggest Loser show.
The Biggest Loser show premiered on U.S television in October 2004. From the start, the show drew good TV ratings, since many of the viewers who were obese could relate to the typical contestant on the show, with the minimal weight for men being at least 300 pounds and 200 pounds for women. While some champion male bodybuilders do approach the 300-pound mark during the off-season when competition isn't imminent, their body composition is likely 380 degrees the reverse of most BL contestants, being mostly muscle with relatively low body fat levels in the bodybuilders. The BL takes in over $100 million in advertising sales and sales of related products, such as cookbooks, DVDs, video games, and even clothing. About 7 . . .