I shouldn’t watch the “previously on” segments, because this is always a distillation of the most “tv-worthy” moments from the last episode. The first line out of the gate, my least favorite from last week “burn off those cheeseburgers.” Dude, the cheeseburgers are the fuel! It’s the sugars and grains he DIDN’T eat that make weight loss. Oy, I get distracted…..

It’s time to meet a new trainer. This guy is all about nutrient timing. He has credentials, including certifications, an absolutely ripped body, and some kind of affiliation with Ah-nold. He seems genuine right away, but his plan also strikes me as bro science right out of the gate.

What’s bro science? Imagine yourself at a gym, and you go past all the ellipticals to the weight room, where the actually muscular people hang out. There are guys that look like they were born in the gym. Some of them kind of were. They’re sharing advice on how to get the most ripped. “Yo, bro, what you gotta do is this…..” That’s bro science. Sometimes it comes couched in really officially sounding jargon, and the dude telling it to you is the picture you want to look like, so hey, let’s do exactly that!

Timing? Four meals a day? I am skeptical. Not that these techniques can’t have some type of effect, but because those are the kind of elements that come last. They may have a 1-2% effect for those people really optimizing every last aspect of their nutrition and training. But for an obese person trying to lose weight, I am afraid that the focus on this kind of thing is just a hurdle that focuses on the wrong “tricks.” It becomes complicated, and the whole point of this show is to build something workable for you in your real life. Then again, maybe this will be just what our contestant needs, because the Clean Momma wasn’t doing it for her.

I do have a bias against the higher meal count plans. I know they are popular among body builders, and I was all about the 6 small meals of Body-for-Life back in the early 2000s. But a low sugar diet that I favor (team Abel) tends to yield lower hunger and people end up doing intermittent fasting without even trying. The evidence for benefits of IF is mounting all the time, and it probably does the endocrine system good to rest it part of the day. But without in-depth analysis and understanding, for TV that would just sound like “OMG! They’re STARVING THEMSELVES!” So a much more appealing overarching concept for the masses is eating several meals a day. We will have to see what he actually has people eating. If it’s a lowfat boneless chicken breast with a potato, I will be disappointed.

Milestone Challenge

The “dreaded” 5K? Since they are ostensibly training to a half-marathon 10 weeks from now, completing a 5k should be no worry. We also finally learn how the half marathon works. You have to complete it to go to final weigh in. It’s not a race against each other for best time.

Abel’s guy Kurt is feeling great. He’s definitely portrayed at the overall front runner. Close behind is our Superfood Swap contestant, Jasmin. She’s feeling good and competitive. Taj is only two weeks into her new trainer’s pescetarian plan, and she’s having trouble completing the 5k. Jeff is out due to illness.

It is good to see them taking walk breaks and not being screamed at. Jennifer does prod Taj, but it’s not nasty. Shaun T gets involved too and presses her, but she is very resistant. She walks off the field when he tries to get her moving faster.

Latasha is getting good coaching, and she feels ready to get back in the game.

Yo Kurt, you got passed? Come on man! Get wild!

Taj is having conflict with her trainer. I’ve been there when I felt like I couldn’t go any faster and the last thing I wanted was someone telling me to pick it up. It was in my first half-marathon where I told my dear wife to run ahead of me because I loved her and wanted to stay married, so doing the race separately at our own faces was the best bet. (That’s the after-description. What I said was a bit saltier.)

Jasmin wins the 5k. 36:02. First 5k for an overweight person? Not a bad time.  Kurt is in 2nd at 38:09 and thrilled to feel so great. Latasha finishes strong at 45:23 and she is also confident. Out of 5 contestants, only 3 actually finished the race. The finishers are all motivated.

Taj appears to have walked away entirely, but we’re not sure what is going on quite yet.

At Home Segments

Nutrient Timing

La’Tasha is very excited to get started with her new trainer. He has her describe her old plan. He is as annoyed with taskercizing as a lot of us. He’s all about intentional hardcore working out. He’s also describing a diet that sounds pretty close to Abel’s. Starts with vegetables, then complete proteins, then moderate fat. Wait, no mention of those “necessary” grains? Hmmm….. we may find an ally here. I’m less skeptical than I was in the intro.

As he is describing the specifics, the text on screen is this:

The Nutrient Timing Plan Tip

Small Portions can reduce glucose & insulin levels. 

It is encouraging to see this as a central concept. Of course, I’d quibble that it is accurate by itself. That’s a true statement to a degree, but I eat large portions (I would assume large by his standards) of fat twice a day, and I see stable blood sugars. He is not specifically talking about being low carb (yet) so we’ll see how that comes into play.

This is giving me Bill Phillips flashbacks. A palm sized piece of protein. Yup, Body-for-Life. Is the next part a fist sized carb like a sweet potato?

No – two fists of vegetables, and we’re talking greens here. Then two thumbs of fats. And hey, did I hear him say the protein was three eggs? I checked again. It wasn’t egg whites, it was EGGS. I like this guy.

I think the Nutrient timing plan is a cousin to The Wild Diet. It is nice to see more reasonable trainers coming on to replace the wack jobs.

Strong Safe Sexy Plan

Jennifer is upset with Taj for walking away at the 5k, and they have a serious conversation about commitment. It was interesting to see a true back and forth without yelling or drama on a network reality show. Jennifer is seeing Taj as an easy quitter, and tries the tactic of putting her inaction in context of letting down a team.

Taj is calm, understanding and well-spoken in her point of view. Then Jennifer bluntly retorts “actually, you’re wrong….” yeah, not so fond of that especially when she changes the terms of what Taj is saying. But they move on.

Taj seems somewhat stubborn, but I love how she stands up for herself and says she can’t be responsible for other people. I don’t disagree. Then we learn that the relationship issues that were mentioned previously have fallen apart. She and her wife are divorcing. So I get that Taj doesn’t need this challenge to be about the other contestants at all.

“Let’s hit stuff.”

Where’s the diet?

Superfood Swap

Jasmin has gotten her husband on board. This is yet another great aspect of the show’s focus on this weight loss as a whole life issue, not a locked-away game show. He seems truly supportive. She has gotten into old formerly non-fitting jeans. Her husband articulates a simple understanding of their switch. She says “we’ve been down this path before, this weight loss path.” He replies “we took what we were still eating and just made it smaller. It was still unhealthy, it was just less of it.Which can only last for so long.”

DING DING DING DING!!! Give the man the brass ring! Yes! The dysfunctional American response to everything is the red herring of portion control and moderation, while still eating crap. Who talks about calorie counting and moderation? McDonalds and Coca-Cola. Getting out of that trap and eating quality food is far more important than saying “Well, an oreo has this many calories….”

He goes on to say “this time we’re eating healthy AND less of it, so if we do end up eating more, it will be healthy eating more and not crap.”

OK, I’d like to unpack that more and see exactly what they are eating. But yes, good attitude shift. He has lost 25 pounds. They can both put their wedding rings back on. It is nice to see a couple doing this together and being so positive about weight loss.

Wild Diet

Abel is blunt that yes it can cost more to eat this way. I started getting into this conversation on facebook lately. But right after looking at seafood we get some actual talk about lowcarb! He’s all about training low, racing high. They get into the specifics of how to prepare a sweet potato for slower glycemic load, a topic I’ve heard from many different sources. I wish they had more air time, but I am glad they got what they did.

Nutrient Timing

I don’t know why we have to flashback to the old trainer. OK, I do. It’s TV. They need to get as much wacky stuff on screen as possible to keep America watching. But she is comparing how she reacted to her last trainer, and how she is much more trusting of Rob. We see him acting as an actual expert, with reasoning behind the supplementation he’s recommending. Nothing like whey protein, basic vitamins like calcium and magnesium.

No Diet Plan

Hey, the tent guy is still here! We get to see him use a blender in a front yard! Isn’t that crazy?

Great idea, give the 300+ pound guy a smoothie made up of mostly fruit.

Yes man, sleep and water are important. But you just jammed a ton of sugar into the guy who was told his blood sugar was prediabetic just a couple weeks ago. I officially have No Confidence in the No Diet man. If he has a reasonable food plan, we haven’t seen it yet.

Strong Sexy  – We’re now in training montage season. For 10 seconds.

Wild Diet  – Can they maintain the lead?

Superfood Swap – Training build was apparently working as she won the 5k. It continues. I believe Jasmin and Kurt will do the best on this show.

No Diet – We finally get Jeff running.

Nutrient Swap – reality TV show editing at its finest. They spend a ton of airtime on all the little adjustments and foibles of Tasha getting on the treadmill, tying her shoes, dealing with hair, worrying about the machine settings. It leads us to think she’s not really trying. This is one of those things that could have easily been left out and provided a wholly different impression. But we are focused on the narrative of the trainer being frustrated in getting her going.

Weigh In

No Diet – Jeff had a rough week. But hey, he had a fruit smoothie! He lost 6 pounds. From a TV erspective he is magically back, but we have no sense of his overall food progress.

Strong Safe Sexy – Taj just wants to see any bit of progress. That 200 mark is frustrating for her. 198. She is thrilled. I know about those round number benchmarks. It is motivating. She “only” lost 2 pounds, but it was at a place of a major mental barrier.

Wild Diet – the teaser earlier implied that maybe the Wild Diet was being “tamed.” We have some expectations as Kurt is skeptical about his weight loss. He doesn’t feel it. He doesn’t see it in the mirror. Yet he lost 7 pounds. Steady progress.

Nutrient Timing – La’Tasha’s new trainer. Hey, they talked about food! Omelettes and lamb meatballs! I love this guy! She’s lost 3 inches off her waist. I still want Abel to win outright, but I really hope to see this contestant do well. Let’s see some wins for real food. She has finally seen weight loss. 5 pounds.

Superfood Swap – our girl Jasmin has been doing very well. I wish we were seeing the nuts and bolts of the food plan she is on. But she has lost another inch off her waist. A total of 5 inches in four weeks. She’s feeling great. She also has a round number benchmark to break, and she does. She is down 6 pounds to 176. She has lost the highest percentage for the week. She edged out Kurt on the percentage. The women get a win!

The Big Switch

Will anyone switch? I doubt it. Two people are ineligible. But everyone has confidence in their trainers and they all saw weight loss. No surprise, everyone is sticking with their trainer. Even the blue plate special.

Final Thoughts

At the end of five weeks, everyone has seen progress. With nine weeks left, host Shaun T is hyping up pushing harder next week. The title of episode six is something like “Fighting for your life” so it will be probably be all dramatic. But so far, I am still confident in this show as it stands in the confines of network TV. Our newest trainer has a real food plan, and everyone seems to be finding balance. And that is what weight loss is about, not stunts, not extremes, real life.












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