Biggest Loser’s Vegetarian Connection

Last night Biggest Loser crowned its newest winner. Danni Allen won by what is likely the smallest margin in the show’s history – one pound. When you really break down the numbers, she beat her competitor Jeff Nichols by one quarter of a point. That .25 earned her a $250,000 check after this season’s it girl lost 121 pounds!

How did she do it? If you watched this season, or any season of Biggest Loser, you know it was through intense physical exercise, sometimes as much as eight hours a day, and through dramatic dietary changes. Cheryl Forberg, RD designed the award-winning Biggest Loser nutrition plan, which includes a healthy balance of lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. For many of the contestants though, those proteins and fats don’t always translate to meat, and vegetarians are born.

One of Biggest Loser 14′s teens, Sunny Chandrasekar, is one of these vegetarians. At age 16, this young woman is bright beyond her years and after a 51 pound weight loss on the show this season has lit a fire that will make her unstoppable. The show didn’t cause this change, but it certainly reinforced it.

A native of India, it’s no surprise that Sunny and her parents practice vegetarianism. Rethinking the way her entire family approached this style of eating has ensured Sunny’s improved wellness and that of both her mother and father.

She’s not the only one who owes some of her Biggest Loser success to going meatless.

Tracey Yukich went vegetarian for the long haul, telling us she adopted the eating style since her time on the show in season 8. Adhering to a vegetarian diet since 2009, she’s been able to maintain her weight loss, but also cites other benefits like clearer skin, longer hair and better eye sight.

“Food is medicine and being vegetarian is medicine for the body,” Tracey told us. “It can heal you.”

That’s exactly how she discovered a meatless diet. She spent the first 16 days of her time on Biggest Loser in the hospital after suffering extreme heat stroke during a day-one challenge. “They slowly started pulling me off of meat products [in the hospital] for my heart health,” she said, noting a lot of plaque build up on her heart. “When I got back to the ranch I just stuck with that same regimen.”

A fellow Biggest Loser alumni went veg after her time on the show.

“I was vegetarian for almost two years,” said Coleen Skeabeck, a contestant on Biggest Loser season six. “The benefit I gained was definitely knowledge of what my body needs to function.”

She fell in to a common rut for new vegetarians – carb loading. Coleen says it took time to adjust to the missing protein. “I had to do a lot of research on how to replace the protein I wasn’t getting from meat with vegetables, beans, etc.” She also became a more vigilant label reader to make sure she wasn’t consuming any hidden animal products.

“I learned a lot about animal bi-products… such as reading labels of soups, etc. to see what kind of broth it was made with,” she said. “Did you know, veggie soup is made with beef broth! Eek!”

Even the show’s trainer, Bob Harper, is known to not only skip meat, but animal products all together. A vocal vegan at one point, he’s now more along the flexitarian lines, allowing some animal proteins like fish and egg whites. He cites that his body was missing something, and discusses the topic at length in his book The Skinny Rules.


Related Articles:

1,431 Pounds Lost! Bigger Loser 14′s Final Before and After Photos

Petition: Bring the Biggest Loser to Canada

Can a Vegan Diet Cure Diabetes?



Diane L.
Diane L3 years ago

Dale, I agree with you about what you said regarding Dianne D's dad. One doesn't "think" they like something. They either do or they don't. As for cutting back on meat because of Atkins, that makes me wonder about those facts as well. Atkins ADVISES on eating lean meat, fish, poultry and protein is the #1 thing recommended while ON Akins. Atkins is all about eliminating CARBS, not protein or fats, although definitely does not recommend FAT "per se". I don't seem to be able to scroll back to find Dianne D's post (the view all link isn't working tonight) but maybe she is either confused about Akins or her comment was misunderstood, I don't know.

Anne P.
Anne P3 years ago

Tracey put it best: “Food is medicine and being vegetarian is medicine for the body. It can heal you." Amen, sister!

Dale O.

Sorry, that should read: Magdalen B, let me guess and not 'less me guess'.

Dale O.

Dianne D mentions that her dad ‘thinks he likes meat’ and had to cut back on eating meat as a result of the Atkins diet. Also mentioned a rancher on Dr. Oz who ate meat three times a day but then by attempting a vegan diet he had lost weight and had normal vitals.
Well, one either likes meat or not, you don’t simply ‘think’ you like it. One either like Brussels Sprouts or not, especially if one only tries the overcooked version. (That would be enough to scare anyone away from the delightful green orb.)

Some people simply don’t know what a correct portion of meat or uncooked veggie is (for the raw food purists). A meat serving the size of a deck of cards is the proper portion and one need not eat meat three times a day either. Factory farmed meat is full of growth hormones, antibiotics and GMO fed feed. Organic meat is healthy if you consume the proper portion. One woman was into eating raw food and went overboard while eating 3 pounds of raw bok choy a day and almost died as a result. Had she eaten it cooked she would have been fine. Health problems occur if one doesn’t know the proper portions of certain foods. One can drink a lot of carrot juice and your skin can turn orange but it won’t hurt you, however.

Dale O.

Carolyon H says that: "Vegeterian is the way to go, no need to eat animals that are beaten and abused." There are many of us who are omnivores and we don't purchase meat from abusive factory farms. Organic farms allow the animals outside, feed them species specific diets (not unnatural herbivore feeds such as grains/corn). One can even visit a farm to check out the conditions depending on where you live.

Dale O.

Magdalen B…less me guess…Dr. Greger with the YouTube video re: the ‘big bad egg monster?” If so, not surprising, he is vegan and eggs are a big no no, even organic non-factory farm eggs.

Checked out the link provided by Syd H, not much detail there. I eat small amounts of meat.
Here's another link. However, one can simply follow a balanced diet, eating proper portions including organic meat if one is an omnivore along with exercise. That also helps. Wonder if they do a lot of farming with physical labour as well like the Amish? Some links re: the 7th Day Adventists.

Diane L.
Diane L3 years ago

Okay, Syd, I try very hard to be open-minded and fair, so realized that my last comment came across as being stubborn and closed-minded, so I DID check out the link you provided. First of all, it makes absolutely NO reference to how many people were involved, and secondly, it was a "partial" reprint of an article taken from 2005 Nat. Geo. magazine. That's really current information, isn't it? The reasons provided for the health and longevity of those being described just makes flat out common sense. It also did not say they were vegan or vegetarian. Read it again. It said they ate lean red meat "sparingly", and exercised regularly, thereby had low BMI's. That is good advice for everyone and guess what? Those of us who eat meat abide by it as well.

Diane L.
Diane L3 years ago

Syd, I "keep up" quite easily if or when the writer makes sense. Yes, I quoted her and that's what she said. Maybe she should have said the 5 people in Loma Linda who are 7th Day Adventists, or however many there are! I personally don't care, since first of all, most who follow that "faith" are extremists or as some would refer to them, "religious fanatics". They, as a group are far from the healthiest or most long-lived population anywhere. I won't even waste time checking out your put out by a "travel bureau" (and yes, I see National Geographic in the link). If you believed EVERYTHING put out by National Geographic, tell 'ya what, I have a bridge in my back yard I'll sell you very cheap.

Syd H.
Syd H3 years ago

Geez Diane, she said those who are 7th Day Adventists in Loma Linda, not the entire city. You even quoted her words.

Now, here's the easy to find substantiation:

It's a Blue Zone which has been talked about for years. Do try to keep up.

Diane L.
Diane L3 years ago

"People in Loma Linda who are 7th Day Avenists are the longest lived and healthiest group of people in the Untied States. The population is vegeterian/vegan.".........Deborah, you aren't SERIOUSLY trying to tell others here that the entire population of the city of Loma Linda (California) are vegetarian or vegans and are 7th Day Adventists (you didn't even spell the word right), are you? Where is your substantiation that even a small portion of a city is the "longest lived and healthiest" group of people in the U.S.? Wonder why there is no mention of that anywhere until now, nor any of the news media picked up on that one? You say there are people who eat meat who are 100+ but their quality of live is lacking? And you know this just HOW?