There’s a new face on the Biggest Loser ranch, but not one you’re likely to see very often. While her handiwork is witnessed throughout the season, we rarely get to see her teaching the nutritional skills the contestants rely on. Meet Rachel Beller, MS, RD, the new nutrition expert for Biggest Loser. She’s filling a position vacated by Cheryl Forberg, RD at the end of season 12, the co-creator of the current Biggest Loser diet.
“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” she told us, saying there aren’t any plans to change the Biggest Loser diet. It’s certainly not in need of change, since the plan, based on the program outlined in 6 Weeks to a Healthier You written by Forberg, was recognized as the best diet for weight loss and diabetes by US News and World Reports last week. “We at Biggest Loser are so pleased to receive top ratings from so many of the world’s leading nutrition experts who served as judges,” Michael Dansinger, MD, the Biggest Loser Nutrition Doctor and co-author of the plan, told us. “There are many great eating strategies for maintaining or regaining great health and we are proud to be among the very top of a very important list.”
So far Beller calls her new job “a lot of fun and very hands-on.” She has an impressive background in nutrition, coming to the ranch from her own Beller Nutritional Institute, where she translates clinical research into real-world results. Dr. Dansinger, her new colleague, had this to say about Beller: “Rachel is a nationally recognized nutritional authority who knows how to motivate people to be the best they can be. She knows that good nutrition is the best medicine and has a special way about her that helps people gain clarity and perspective about the importance of healthy eating.”
She is a go-to expert for Hollywood celebrities and offers her services pro bono to low-income families and organizations. Across that broad spectrum, including diverse clients on Loser, has Beller look at each situation on a case-by-case basis. What it has shown her is that there’s a commonality where everyone is “discombobulated when it comes to food.”
No matter who she’s working with, the common hurdles she sees affecting clients, on and off the ranch, is that healthy food is too expensive and that they’re too busy. In this season of no excuses, Beller is constantly reminding the season 13 contestants to leave the excuses at the door and focus on what they can do.
“What should a meal look like?”, Beller will ask the contestants. “Their perception versus reality are worlds apart.” And that’s where her work begins. What even the most die-hard fans of Biggest Loser have missed the past 12 seasons is the intense and personalized nutrition training each contestant receives. This is mostly off camera, and was always a problem for Forberg, who told us the one thing she would have changed was more time on camera to help a broader group of people.
Beller suggests that’s changing this season, teasing an episode where we’ll see her chaperone the contestants to the grocery store for a tour where she’ll show them “the tricks of the trade.” With her expert tips, she’ll guide them, and the audience at home, on “how to eat out and at home.”
The best part of her new gig is that she can “see the fruits of my labor. I can see the transformations from beginning to end,” which is different than her clinical experience.
We asked Beller what she’s doing to prepare these contestants to go home, which may be the most important aspect of her job. In light of Shay Sorrells’s weight gain announcement at the beginning of the year, Beller says “My main job is to open their eyes and then start building a basic foundation.” They need to be able to go home and have the “knowledge translate to action.”
The people she’s working with on Loser are very representative of mainstream America, she says. The excuses, the hurdles, and the lack of knowledge aren’t anything she hasn’t seen before, and she knows is rampant throughout our growing country. They key to overcoming all of this, Beller says, is education.
January 9th, 2012