'Biggest Loser' Made Us Take Diet Pills, Contestants Claim 

More troubling news has surfaced about The Biggest Loser. 

Earlier this month, a study published in the journal Obesity revealed that 13 out of 14 former contestants, who each lost an average of 100 pounds on the NBC hit show, were unable to keep the weight off six years later. The study findings suggest that changing metabolic rates and shifting levels of the appetite-regulating hormone leptin made it difficult for participants to maintain their slimmer physiques.

Now a new article in the New York Post alleges that the show encouraged some seriously unhealthy dieting tactics, which may also be to blame for the contestants' ultimate weight gain.

RELATED: 6 Myths (and Facts) About Weight Loss Supplements

The Post quotes multiple sources who claim the show pushed them to take diet pills and severely restrict their caloric intake in order to shed pounds. One anonymous source said Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper supplied contestants with Adderral and weight loss pills containing ephedra extracta substance the FDA banned in 2004 after it caused several deaths. 

Another source, Joelle Gwynn from the 2008 "Couples" season, said Harper instructed her to lie on-camera about how many calories she was consuming. Gwynn says Harper told her to say she was eating 1,500 calories a day, while he was actually pushing her to have just 800, "or as little as you can."

"People would take amphetamines, water pills, diuretics, and throw up in the bathroom," Season 2's Suzanne Mendonca told The Post. "They would take their spin bikes into the steam room to work up a sweat. I vomited every single day. Bob Harper tells people to throw up: ‘Good,’ he says. ‘You’ll lose more calories.’ "

RELATED: Popular Weight Loss Tricks That Backfire

Many of the sources claim the show's resident doctor, Rob Huizenga, MD (often referred to as Dr. H.), knew and supported these unhealthy practices. "People were passing out in Dr. H’s office at the finale weigh-in," Mendonca said. "On my season, five people had to be rushed to the hospital. He knew exactly what we were doing and never tried to stop it."

Dr. Huizenga—who collaborated with researchers for the Obesity study—is strongly denying these claims. "Nothing could be further from the truth,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Post. "Contestants are told at the start of the show that there is zero tolerance for any weight-loss drugs. Urine drug screens and the evaluation of serial weights are repeatedly used to flush out possible illicit use."

The show's producers are also refuting the claims. In a statement to The Post they stressed that the use of illegal substances is prohibited on the Biggest Loser: "The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and always has been, paramount."

Source: http://www.health.com

5 Little Tricks to Avoid Vacation Weight Gain

Whether it's wine tasting in Italy or a backyard barbecue at your pal's beach house, most summer getaways involve major food indulgences. Plus, many jetsetters adopt an all-bets-are-off mindset, allowing healthy eating habits to go totally out the window during travel.

"A vacation eating attitude typically means indulging in the moment and worrying about the consequences later," says Health's contributing nutrition editor, Cynthia Sass, RD. And research agrees: A recent study out of the University of Georgia found that some people who take one- to three-week vacations put on nearly a pound during their trip, while others gain as many as seven pounds. (Yikes!)

To help you avoid the same fate on your next summer vacay, we asked experts to share their no-hassle nutrition practices that keep any trip from turning into a gluttonous getaway. By following these tips, the only thing you'll have to worry about packing is your bags, not any extra flab.

Control your morning meal

Few people want to hold back at every meal on vacation. Instead, try to set the tone for the rest of the day by practicing a little bit of mindful eating and control during your first dish. "I tell clients they can control breakfast, snacks, and portions," says Stephanie Middleberg, a New York City-based RD. "Typically lunches and dinners tend to be the wildcards [on vacation], and more indulgent. So I have clients skip a carb at breakfast and keep it to one plate."

If breakfast or brunch is likely to be a decadent one, eat something beforehand, recommends Jackie Newgent, RD, author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook. "Enjoy a cup of berries before you go to brunch. It’ll help take the edge off of your hunger so you can order smartly," she adds.

RELATED3 Travel Tips to Help You Feel Zen Before Your Vacation Begins

Snack smarter

If you're going on an all-day excursion and don't bring snacks, you'll likely be ravenous by your next meal. Or, if there aren't any healthy options available en route, you may end up choosing food you normally wouldn't eat.

Newgent's fix? Remember the three P's of snacking: plan, pack, protein. "Plan ahead, pack portable snacks, and be sure your pick has protein," she says.

Take the tip a step further and build every snack with a protein and a produce. Pick a piece of fruit and pair it with Greek yogurt, a cheese stick, two tablespoons of nut butter, or 10 to 15 raw nuts. The protein element keeps hunger pangs at bay until your next meal (unlike a carb-only snack that doesn't have satiating power), while the fruit packs fiber and other key nutrients.

Grocery shop

A trip to the nearest supermarket is one of the first stops on Sass' vacations. "Go to the grocery store and load up on things to either make meals on your own or complement room service or restaurant meals," she says. Stock up on fruit, yogurt, and oatmeal for a light breakfast. As well as plain popcorn, hummus, individual nut butter packets, and healthy crackers to have smart snack options on hand at all times.

RELATED: 17 High-Protein Snacks You Can Eat On the Go

Avoid the buffet

It's tempting to pile a plate at the buffet with pancakes, fruit, bacon, scrambled eggs, and a chocolate-filled croissant on the side. But you could easily pack in a day's worth of calories if you're not careful; buffets make it far too easy to overdo portion sizes and eat past the point of fullness.

"I never eat at buffets unless they're included or my only choice," says Sass. "And if so, I stick with customizable dishes, like a made-to-order omelet with lots of veggies and avocado paired with fresh fruit, or a made-to-order stir fry that allows me to choose lots of veggies, lean protein, and light sauce with a portion of brown rice that I can control." You could also regulate portions by ordering a la carte, or treating yourself to room service if necessary.

If you do decide to stick to the buffet, don't feel obligated to eat everything in sight. "Even if I have to pay for a buffet and don't eat much, I don't see it as not getting my money's worth," Sass explains. "I tell myself I'd rather pay more for a correctly sized meal that leaves me feeling energized, rather than getting more food for that amount of money that leaves me feeling stuffed and sluggish. It's just not worth it, especially if it zaps your energy for the whole day on vacation."

Take the long way

Whether it's walking to dinner, jogging to a museum, or taking a paddleboarding break from reading on the beach, move as much as you can—even if it means taking a bit of a detour (an adventure in itself!). "Plan extra—and fun—activity into your itinerary so you can have extra delights at your destinations to fully enjoy your travel experience," Newgent says.

Source: http://www.health.com

Cutting Calories Improves Mood and Sex Life, Even If You're Not Seriously Overweight

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 2, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Dieting might help improve your health, mood, sex drive, and stress levels even if you’re not obese, a new clinical trial reports.

A group of either healthy weight or mildly overweight people who followed a calorie-restricted diet for two years lost nearly 17 pounds on average and enjoyed significant quality-of-life improvement, said lead author Corby Martin. He is director for behavioral sciences and epidemiology with the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La.

“Even among people who are relatively healthy, you see these positive biological and physiological changes occurring with calorie restriction,” Martin said.

Participants felt better and lost weight even though they fell short by half of their original calorie-cutting goal, Martin noted.

Researchers had asked study participants to restrict their calorie intake by 25 percent, but over two years they only achieved an average 12 percent calorie reduction.

“A 25 percent reduction in caloric intake for most people is going to be very challenging,” said Dr. Scott Kahan, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, D.C. “Despite only achieving 12 percent, you still see the really big benefits of that degree of caloric decrease, and we have lots of data from other studies showing even smaller changes lead to very impressive outcomes.”

Until now, studies have shown that cutting calories can make a big difference in the health and well-being of obese people, but it’s been an open question whether dieting would help or harm people at or near a healthy weight, Martin said.

For their clinical trial, Martin and his colleagues recruited 220 people with a body mass index (BMI) between 22 and 28. Average age was nearly 38, and 70 percent were women.

Healthy weight runs from 18.5 to 24.9 BMI, while overweight runs from 25 to 29.9 BMI, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.

Almost two-thirds of the participants were asked to restrict their daily calories by 25 percent for two years, while the other third could eat whatever they wanted.

By the end of the second year, people on the calorie-restricted diet had lost nearly 17 pounds on average, or 10.4 percent of their initial weight, the researchers found. There was no significant weight change among the people eating whatever they liked.

Compared with the no-diet group, the investigators found that people restricting their calories experienced: improved mood, including less depression; better quality of life; improved sleep; and enhanced sexual drive and better relationships.

The biological changes that accompany weight loss—lower blood sugar, improved cholesterol, better blood pressure—appear to translate into a happier life for people who cut calories, even if those people are in good shape, Martin said.

“The presumption is that these general health improvements that are really kind of biologically based are reflected in how we subjectively feel,” he said. “We feel as if we have more energy. It’s easier to move around and be more active and not have sore knees or a sore back.”

Another expert said the weight loss, not the calorie restriction, caused the improved mood, well-being and sex drive. “When people lose weight they feel happier, healthier, more satisfied with their appearance and even sexier,” said Lauri Wright. She is an assistant professor in the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health in Tampa.

Martin and Kahan agreed that to successfully reduce calorie intake, you should find the diet that feels best for you and fits best into your daily lifestyle.

Some people may respond well to a traditional low-fat diet, while others might find that a low-carb diet is easier to follow, they said. The goal should be to lower daily energy intake in a way that is sustainable.

“If one way fits for you better than another, don’t listen to the noise out there that says it has to be one way or the other way,” Kahan said. “We have good data suggesting the opposite. Everyone is different in terms of their bodies, their tastes and their need for convenience.”

The trial results are published in the May 2 online issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.

More information

For more on healthy eating, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Source: http://www.health.com