Health & Wellness

How does ‘Loser’ cast drop so much weight?

The fall reality shows are coming to a close. “Biggest Loser 2” ends Nov. 29; "Survivor Guatemala" ends Dec. 11; "Apprentice 4" ends Dec. 15, and Martha Stewart's "Apprentice" will end Dec. 21.

But never fear, more shows are on the way, including the return of "Fear Factor" on Dec. 6; the second season of "Project Runway" on Dec. 7; the second season of "Dancing With the Stars" on Jan. 5; and the umpteenth season of "The Bachelor" on Jan. 9

Standard weekly reminder: Your question may have already been answered, our archive tells all.

Q: How did the curly haired guy on "The Biggest Loser,"lose 26 pounds in 1 week. I don't care what diet you are on that just doesn't sound like it could happen. Are the men and women on the same diet?    —S.J., Texas

On "The Biggest Loser", do the contestants really drop 5, 8, or even 10 lbs per week? This seems very unhealthy. What sort of medical supervision is provided?   —Kirsten, Wisconsin

How do the contestants on "The Biggest Loser" lose that much weight in one week? It just doesn't seem humanly possible to lose 17-25 lbs. in a week and then do the same thing a few weeks later!    —Kristi, Atlanta

A: We get a lot of questions like these. Even viewers who enjoy watching contestants drop pound after pound on "The Biggest Loser" are sometimes skeptical about how that's actually possible.

I talked to Dr. Michael Dansinger, a consultant on "The Biggest Loser 2" and a physician at Tufts New England Medical Center, who explained that the "people in the show are in a fantasy, unrealistic environment where everything is optimized for weight loss." He notes that everything from working with a trainer to having absolutely nothing else to do makes it possible for contestants to completely reconfigure their diet and exercise routine.

Dansinger says that "50 to 60 percent of [contestants’] weight-loss success comes from dietary change." They're used to consuming around 3000 calories a day, but on the show consume about 1500 calories a day.  As he says, "few people are really in a position to cut their calories by 1500 a day, but that's what these people are able to do." He says there's "nothing controversial" about the diet, nor are the contestants given pills or other shortcuts.

The other 40 to 50 percent of weight loss comes from the three hours of exercise the contestants do every day: an hour of strength training and two hours of cardio. That helps them burn an additional 1200 to 1500 calories, Dansinger says. "It's hard to do by yourself, but on the show it's easy to do," he said. "When people allow themselves to be put in that kind of environment ... when you pull out all the barriers to weight loss, that's when the weight loss can come very quickly."

While Dansinger consulted daily with the producers over the phone and via e.mail during production about diets, fitness, and other issues, there was another physician on set with the show who was responsible for patient care and monitoring contestants' physical fitness. That doctor also had the ability to veto challenges or pull a contestant from a challenge if he felt that it was unsafe.    —A.D.

Q: The song “Rubble Man” that Wyclef Jean helped the [“Apprentice”] guys [produce] together on a reward task was kinda catchy. Can I download it anywhere or at least get the lyrics?  —Tim, Winnipeg

A: Couldn't find a download, but you can listen to all four-plus minutes of Excel Corporation's reward from the Oct. 20 episode online (click on "Rubble Man" full-length song in the right margin). And here are the Dylan-esque lyrics, as best I can decipher:


You know who this is!


Ladies (orgasmic sigh)...if you see us in a club, dancin', join in

He's the Rubble Man

You know who this is!


Ladies (orgasmic sigh #2)...if you see us in a club, freakin', join in

He's the Rubble Man

You know who this is!


Medium pimp, got girls around the world

Always in the club, gotta watch the girls twirl

Ain't hard to find if you've got the mental power

You can find me in the suite at the Trump World Tower

Proper attitude you don't have to be rude

Skinny supermodel, you put me in the mood

Music bump-bumpin' it, sound system thumpin', Trump Trump-Trumpin' it

...and then it just kinda repeats, endlessly, as far as I can tell.     —G.F.C.

pagebreak'American Idol' singer now a soap startrue

Q: Can you tell me if one of the contestants that was on “American Idol” (not sure of his name or what season he was on) is a regular on the soap “One Live To Live” playing Duke?    —Bonnie, Illinois

A: Yep, Matthew Metzger, who didn't quite make it to the final 12 on "American Idol 3," plays Duke Buchanan, a character who had been offscreen since babyhood. It's Metzger's first acting role. Since his "Idol" days, Metzger has also married Natalie Witwer, a former Miss Ohio.    —G.F.C.

Q: What was the cause of [death for] Michael Dada of "American Casino"? Will we see more of Green Valley Ranch Casino in the future?    —Anderson

A: “American Casino” star Michael Tata died in July, 2004 at age 33. His death was discussed on episode 11 of the first season, when his fellow Green Valley Ranch employees learned of his death.

He died after accidentally overdosing on alcohol and fentanyl, a powerful opiate-based painkiller, according to the Clark County coroner. The Las Vegas Sun reported on the investigation that August, and noted that “[i]t’s not clear if Tata had a medical condition that would result in pain or if any other drugs were found in his system, but the combination of the fentanyl and alcohol were the only factors in his death.”

Despite his death, “American Casino” continued into a second season. For its third season, the show moved from the Discovery Channel to its sibling station, the Travel Channel. A new episode airs in its regular timeslot this Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. This will be the final season of the series.    —A.D.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is's Television Editor. Andy Dehnart is a writer and teacher who publishes reality blurred, a daily summary of reality TV news.