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The Biggest Loser, the hit NBC reality show has taken the country by storm. The series, in its fourth season, has attracted a weekly audience of seven million viewers this fall.

The 18 obese Americans, vying for a cash prize of $250,000 are sequestered on the shows campus, work out with a trainer up to five hours a day, vote people off their teams and participate in challenges to earn immunity and extra privileges. Such stunts may be embarrassing because they are recorded on film and viewed by millions, but the 24-7 focus on weight loss leads to major reductions.

The most riveting part of the show is when each contestant steps on an enormous scale for the weekly weigh-in. One male contestant dropped 31 pounds in his first week on the reality show this season. That is almost impossible to comprehend. So much for slow and steady as prescribed by the medical community. Don’t fear – The Biggest Loser employs four doctors, including a psychiatrist to ensure the contestants are safe during their stay on campus.

The formula is simple: a pound of fat is roughly equal to 3,500 calories. Get on a treadmill 5 hours a day and limit your daily food intake. The female contestants consume 1,000-1,5000 calories and their male counterparts 1,500-2,300. Staying motivated to do this for 3 months on campus and for an additional period of time at home before the finale is the trick. The winner of Season 3 dropped 213 pounds. His before and after photos are amazing.

Perhaps the greatest motivator on The Biggest Loser is the $250,000 prize that will go to the contestant who loses the most weight. Nearly anyone could get their arms around that carrot. Season 4 producers received over 250,000 tapes from wannabe contestants prior to selecting the golden 18 – proof positive that people are clamoring to know the secret to significant weight loss.

The Biggest Loser is reality tv at its finest. The Biggest Loser brand has also spun a multimillion-dollar franchise selling goods and services to viewers hoping to lose weight. The show’s first two books were best sellers, as were two workout DVDs.