The Biggest Loser ran for 17 seasons on NBC and changed the lives of hundreds of contestants -- and even more viewers at home. Now America’s favorite transformation show is back on USA, starting this month.
Hosted by Bob Harper, USA Network’s “The Biggest Loser” will follow the journeys of 12 contestants as they transform their lives. Audiences will see them not only focus on losing weight and achieving better overall health, but also confronting the obstacles in their lives that made them unhealthy in the first place.
Host Bob Harper, new trainers Erica Lugo and Steve Cook, and USA’s Senior Vice President of Alternative Series Development & Production Heather Olander attended a panel Saturday to introduce the new Biggest Loser to the Television Critics Association.
Here’s what you can expect when the revamped Biggest Loser returns on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 9/8c on USA.
1. It’s about more than a competition
The Biggest Loser declares a winner at the end of every season and sending someone home each week remains part of the competition, but the show wants to make sure that there’s more to the experience than just winning the final prize; it’s about getting on a healthy path for the rest of their lives.
“What we decided is that the competition is only part of the storytelling in the show,” Olander said. “It’s a motivating factor for the contestants, but we found it’s part of their story and their transformation as well -- the failures and the successes both. We saw it impact who they were from the start of the show to the end.”
2. USA’s Biggest Loser will continue after the show ends
Knowing that long-term weight loss is a holistic lifestyle change, The Biggest Loser wants to extend the experience after the show ends.
“We wanted to give those people who did maybe go home early on in the process the best chance possible to continue a healthy lifestyle,” Olander shared. “So we gave them a gym membership -- and fitness is a part of it -- but also, a nutritionist. Everybody is different, and every nutrition plan is different and needs to be specific to each individual.” And that's not only during the taping -- each contestant gets a year-long Planet Fitness membership and a personal nutritionist for year!
3. The trainers are walking the walk
Trainer Erica Lugo lost 160 pounds from 2013 to 2015 and she’ll be sharing her personal experience keeping it off for five years with The Biggest Loser contestants.
“Honestly, it’s the tools that I learned throughout my weight loss journey that we are teaching on the show to keep it off long-term,” Lugo said. “It is a choice that you have to make day in and day out. What we really hone in on with these contestants is making sure that they have the tools and the knowledge and the resources to continually be able to keep it off.”
4. The Biggest Loser offers a support group
One of the biggest challenges in adopting a healthy lifestyle can be feeling like you have to go it alone. A part of The Biggest Loser is a support group where people can share their journeys with others. The show will also continue providing that support group after the season ends.
“Words are power,” Harper said. “When we get together and we just go through what we’re feeling and the struggles that everyone goes through, I think not only does it help the contestants, but the viewers will get so much inspiration and hope from their stories.”
5. The contestants are more focused on health than weight
The title The Biggest Loser is a play on words, making it an ambition to lose the most weight. Weight is just a number though. The point is for every contestant to be the healthiest they can be.
“These contestants primarily came to the show because they wanted to live a longer life,” Olander said. “They unanimously talked about health issues that they are having because of the weight. Being thin and fitting into skinny jeans, if that’s what you want, fabulous. But that’s not the end all, be all. It’s not about getting thin at all costs. It’s about getting healthy and setting these contestants on a healthy lifestyle path.”
6. The Biggest Loser has unseen experts monitoring contestants’ progress
The Biggest Loser encourages contestants to do their best, but there are safeguards in place to make sure people don’t push themselves too far. You won’t see this on the air, but there are experts behind the scenes making sure the contestants are healthy and balanced during the competition.
“Behind the scenes, we did have a nutritionist who provided individualized meal plans for each of the contestants,” Olander said. “We had two doctors on set and a set of trainers that vetted the nutrition plans. The trainers also vetted all of the challenges and the workouts that they did, and they were constantly monitored to make sure that all of their vitals were where they needed to be and they were losing weight at a healthy rate.”
To that point, Steve Cook added that they made sure everyone drank enough water.
“Hydration was key,” Cook said. “They were checked for hydration, and we were very big on this really being about self-love.”
7. Nutritional education is a major part of the series
You don’t need to be an expert to know that starving doesn’t make you lose weight. Your body goes into defense mode, and when you need to eat again you’ll end up eating too much. Cook confirmed that each contestant had a minimum daily calorie requirement. They couldn’t shortchange themselves for the contest.
“They all needed to hit a certain amount of calories, and then also, each week we all sat down, the dietician and the doctor,” Cook said. “We went over blood work as well as each person’s specific diet for their week, their training protocol with the athletic training staff. So if there was ever somebody that was over-training, had a strain in their quad, we had to come up with a different way to train them. This is the healthiest way to lose weight.”
8. The Biggest Loser will offer more resources to viewers online
When The Biggest Loser began in 2004, the internet was not as integral a part of television as it is now (and social media hadn’t really been invented yet). In 2020, The Biggest Loser can utilize all of these tools to give viewers even more information than they see on the show.
“We are really taking that opportunity to give viewers who want to start on their own fitness journey and healthy lifestyle journey, to find that information,” Olander said. “So we are going to make sure that it’s filled with content about specific workouts that the contestants did on the show. You can get recipes, tips, even just motivation. Sometimes it’s just, like… who wants to eat another chicken breast or whatever? [We need] a little bit of motivation to stay on that path, so we have all of that available to people on the digital platforms.”
9. The Biggest Loser will always be inspirational
It’s been 16 years, but one thing will never change about The Biggest Loser: It will always be about inspiring the contestants and the viewers.
“That’s what it was in the past: inspirational,” Olander said, “for people who may not believe that they can take that first step or who want to take that first step and don’t know how, to be able to watch people and their stories and relate to them and see ‘Oh, wow. I have a similar story, and they took that first step. Maybe I can too.’ If you’ve never walked into a gym before, what’s the first thing you do? So our philosophy around it is inspire people to take their step, and whatever step and direction they want to go, that’s individualized, but we want to offer that inspiration and a little information.”
Meet the 12 contestants who will begin their wellness journeys when Season 1 of The Biggest Loser premieres Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 9/8c on USA!