A shocking moment at last night’s Biggest Loser weigh-in left fans dismayed, confused, and some even celebrating.
Before the contestants stepped on the scale, trainer Jillian Michaels was confronted by Alison Sweeney about giving her team caffeine supplements. “Last week, Jillian broke the rules and gave caffeine supplements to each member of her team without [a] doctor’s permission,” said the host.
NBC responded with a statement this morning, telling us, “While caffeine is allowed in ‘The Biggest Loser’ house, Jillian did not ask permission to give it in supplement form. Because of this rules violation, the previous week’s weigh-in was thrown out.”
Michaels’ white team was penalized four pounds. Bob’s team regained the immunity they would have had last week. And Ruben’s elimination was void, allowing the former American Idol to return.
The trainer said she stands by her professional opinion and the decision she made to give her team caffeine supplements, calling the supplement “significantly healthier than unlimited amounts of coffee.” It should be noted that Michaels does not have formal dietetic training nor certification, but does have a nutrition and wellness consultant certificate with the American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA).
It’s been widely assumed that this sort of back room behavior takes place on the ranch; with accusations of juice fasting, diuretics, and the like swarming for years. One source told us that select players were known to get such caffeine supplements, but it wasn’t something open or available to all contestants. Another source who also requested anonymity, told us, “Everyone knows Jillian has been giving caffeine supplements to her contestants since the first season. And Dr. H prescribes supplements we never hear about.”
If this is fairly common practice on the ranch, a rarely enforced rule, why punish Jillian now? Our first source was shocked that they even aired and explained what happened. Our theory is that the producers needed a reason to get the Velvet Teddy Bear, who revealed a 104 pound total loss in last week’s elimination interview, back on the ranch.
Was this all just a ruse to allow the producers an excuse to bring their star celebrity contestant back to the ranch? Even a trainer save couldn’t keep Ruben from being eliminated last week. Wouldn’t punishing Jillian’s team with a four pound disadvantage be punishment enough? Why would Ruben returning be part of the punishment? If any other player had gone home last week, and this caffeine supplement controversy had surfaced, would they have even a) brought it to light, b) punished Jillian and her team, and c) brought that contestant back? All the way around we think the answer is no.
“Caffeine gives a burst of quick energy,” explained our resident nutrition expert Mary Hartley, RD. She went on to say, “Caffeine is a stimulant which can aid the ability to exercise. Perhaps it could encourage someone who is out of shape to push the body’s limits. It might also do a teeny bit for metabolism.”
How so? She explained that caffeine is purported to support weight loss efforts by increasing the metabolic rate while suppressing the appetite, although she notes, “slightly for both.”
No wonder caffeine is a common ingredient in weight loss supplements, giving users more energy, reducing their appetite, and possibly boosting metabolism, too.
A safe dosage for healthy adults, per Hartley, is 400 milligrams per day, or about the same as three eight-ounce cups of brewed, black coffee.
“I don’t know Jillian’s dose. Perhaps it exceeded those limits.” she said.
Another sad twist of fate is that Jillian’s actions ultimately led to Craig’s elimination, as this member of her white team fell below the red line. Note, this member of her white team who would have been eliminated at the first weigh-in had Jillian not stepped up and cashed in her trainer save so early. What an ironic way to bookend his time on Biggest Loser.
How will Ruben’s return and Jillian’s exposure affect the rest of the season? Only time, and the scale, can tell.