We are excited to share one of our fave stories from Fitness Magazine here on FitSugar!
When Cheryl Forberg — registered dietitian, James Beard award-winning chef, and creator of The Biggest Loser meal plan — signed onto the show for its first season, she was shocked at the contestants' states of health. "Most of what I did was not on camera; at the beginning of every season, the applicant pool was huge. Season five alone had 220,000 applicants. Once we weeded applicants out down to about 75, we could start doing physical tests while I met with them to talk about eating habits and their weight loss and weight gain tendencies," she said. "The first season was shocking to hear their eating habits, but after a few seasons, I realized I was hearing the same thing over and over again."
Read below as Forberg shares her experiences with The Biggest Loser, the nutrition factors she used to make the meal plan, and a healthy spread you can make easily at home.
What were you most surprised to discover about with the diets of the past contestants on The Biggest Loser?
I found all the contestants had things in common, like the belief that skipping meals promotes weight loss, drinking too many calories, having too much processed fast food, not eating very many fruits and vegetables, little to no water consumption, not eating enough whole grains, and forgetting to plan ahead. Everybody had a different combination of one these things, but what they all had in common was prioritizing their family, work, or something else over themselves. They needed to put their head in the game and get healthy so that they could be around to take care of the people and things they loved. They needed to start taking care of themselves.
More healthy eating tips after the break.
For someone looking to make their own meal plan for weight loss, what foods should be on their list?
To start, steer clear of the white stuff. That includes flour, rice, sugar, and pasta. Try to focus on whole grains instead. Also be careful of how many carbs you are eating, since they are often the biggest culprit for people who are looking to shed major weight. People feel like they need them at every meal and snack, but that’s just not true. Kick up the amount of fruits and veggies you normally eat, with a majority of that being on the vegetable side. They have high water content and little starch. Things like tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, and bell peppers are great to stock up on and low in calories, so it is OK to munch away. Make sure you are eating some lean protein such as egg whites, beans, edamame, and vegetables (are you sensing a theme here?). Lean beef and pork work great for dinner, along with chicken, turkey, and plenty of fish. And don’t assume fat is bad. We all need good fats, which you can find in things like avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
What other tips do you have for someone trying to lose weight?
I used to teach everyone at the beginning of the season to learn their calorie budget and break that down into the right number of calories per meal. You should be eating three meals and two snacks a day. If your calorie budget is 1,200 calories a day, divide that into three 300-calorie meals and two 150-calorie snacks. Keep a food journal for a few weeks until it sets in and eating like this becomes second nature. By doing this, you see what a 300-calorie meal looks and feels like. Then when you go out to eat, you can see right away that the portion size is twice the amount you should be eating. Ask for a doggy bag before you start to eat, take half the food off your plate and wrap it up to resist temptation.
Also, as soon as you start to feel hungry is when you should start planning what to eat, not when your stomach is growling. Have a snack with you so you don’t eat too fast or choose the wrong thing. It’s when we get hunger pangs that we gravitate toward something fattening because we know it is going to fill us up.
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Photos courtesy of NBC