A handful of former Biggest Loser contestants are alleging they were starved, fed diet pills and forced to lie about how much they were eating, according to an exclusive U.S. report. But the reality show’s producers say the contestants are spewing lies.
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The latest accusations follow on the heels of a study that found former contestants regained the weight they lost after the strict diets they were on wreaked havoc on their metabolisms, making weight maintenance nearly impossible to keep up.
Former contestants turned to the New York Post to shed light on the show’s “secret and brutal tactics,” according to the newspaper’s exclusive story.
READ MORE: A new study explains why ‘Biggest Loser’ winners regain their dramatic weight loss
They allege that the show had contestants taking Adderrall and “yellow jackets,” or pills with ephedra extract. Ephedra was once used as a weight loss aid, until it was banned by U.S. officials over a decade ago.
“Bob Harper was my trainer…he goes away and his assistant comes in. He’s got this brown paper bag that’s bundled up. He says, ‘Take this drug, it’ll really help you.’ It was yellow and black. I was like ‘What the…is this?’” 2008 contestant Joelle Gwynn told the NY Post.
She said she took the pill once and felt “jittery and hyper.”
Dr. Rob Huizenga, the show’s resident doctor, denied the allegations.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. 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,” he wrote in an email to the newspaper.
READ MORE: ‘I feel like a failure’: ‘Biggest Loser’ winner shares her story of gaining back the weight loss
Other allegations include being forced to lie about how many calories the contestants were actually eating – they say that they were told to say they’d eaten 1,500 calories but they’d really take in about 800 or “as little as you can.”
One contestant said her peers would pass out during medical examinations. Another said they’d take water pills, diuretics and they’d even throw up in the bathroom.
“They would take their spin bikes into the steam room to work up a sweat. I vomited every single day,” a Season 2 contestant told the outlet.
The show’s producers provided a statement to the Post:
“The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and always has been, paramount…we prohibit the use of any illegal substances, in addition to the many other rules and procedures of the show that are designed to ensure safety,” the statement read.
READ MORE: Fasting for weight loss? Here’s why scientists say it works long-term
Earlier this month, a National Institutes of Health study offered the first glimpse at what happens over a years-long period to Biggest Loser contestants once the production wraps up and the trainers and nutritionists leave their side.
It included 14 people from Season 8. Results suggested that their “resting metabolism” – how many calories you’re burning when at rest – was, in simplest forms, destroyed post-show.
“These folks lost all this weight but despite all this exercise their metabolism slowed dramatically … many of them had regained a substantial amount of weight but their metabolism stayed so low,” the lead researcher, Dr. Kevin Hall, told Global News.
Read the full New York Post piece.