‘The Biggest Loser’ Trainer is Selling Some Losers: Why, Oh Why Is Jillian Michaels Pushing Diet Pills?

JillianMichaels“America’s Toughest Trainer” has gone too far.  I hate to see Jillian Michaels get into the supplement business — especially with the types of products she’s chosen to put her name on.   Jillian has a devoted following on NBC’s The Biggest Loser (even with her tough love approach).  She’s even scored her own show called Losing It with Jillian, so I’m sure there will be a lot of eager dieters ready to swallow her weight loss pills — which promise to control calories, burn fat, detox and cleanse.

Sure, she looks great.  No denying that.  But why is Jillian now an authority on nutrition?  Why is she pushing diet pills when she preaches about “no shortcuts” so often on The Biggest Loser. She’s gotten  Run Faster Mommy and Healthy and Sane upset over this apparent flip flopping on her “no magic pills” advice.

Yes, we’re all disappointed.

So, exactly what are in these pills?   The Quickstart Rapid Weight Loss System ($99 at GNC) contains the Jillian Michaels Maximum Strength Calorie Control and the Jillian Michaels Maximum Strength Fat Burner.  The Calorie Control capsules are…

“…a proprietary formula specifically developed to restrict your caloric intake automatically.  In other words, when you take this compound before main meals, you eat less…but the best part is you won’t even know you’re eating less.  It’s like an automatic diet.  What could be easier!”

You’re supposed to take two capsules with a full glass of water 15 minutes before main meals.  They’re described as a high energy formula to fight “diet fatigue.” The instructions say to limit your caffeine throughout the day.  You know why?  You’re getting a giant  jolt of caffeine with these diet pills.  This can especially be worrisome for people who are sensitive to stimulants or caffeine, or have an existing health condition such as heart disease or high blood pressure. The ingredients include:

Xanthine complex
Yerba Mate leaf
Coffee bean extract (70% caffeine)
Guarana extract (a caffeine like compound)
Cocoa extract
Damiana leaf extract
Ginger root powder
White willow bark powder

Primarily you’re dosing up on caffeine and relying on an ingredient, Yerba Mate, that has fallen flat when it comes to weight loss.  Even though this ingredient claims to have weight loss powers, scientific research has shown otherwise.  A review of existing studies on weight loss supplements in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that Yerba Mate (along with several other dietary supplements) is not effective for reducing body weight.  The researchers concluded that the evidence on Yerba Mate as a weight loss aid is not convincing and the supplement is not recommended for over-the-counter use.

The Maximum Strength Fat Burner is formulated to “encourage lipolysis (release of fat from mature cells), promote preferential loss of fat mass and inhibit activity of phosphodiesterase.”  Fat chance. The pills contain:

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
White willow bark powder
Grapefruit extract
Bitter orange extract
Blood orange extract
Sweet orange extract
Coleus forskohli extract
Tribulus terrestris extract
Xanthine complex
Yerba mate leaf
Coffee bean extract
Guarana seed extract

Once again, there are a lot of stimulants in these pills and an ingredient, CLA, that won’t likely do much fat burning for you. A study on CLA that was published in  the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that “daily CLA supplementation for 1 year does not prevent weight or fat mass regain in a healthy obese population.”  The remaining ingredients are basically fillers.  They may sound nice, but don’t offer any real benefits.

JillianDETOXThe line-up also includes Jillian Michaels Triple Process Body Detox & Cleanse plus Probiotic Replenishment. Now it’s really getting strange.  The primary ingredients are magnesium oxide (described as detox & cleanse magnesium) and a proprietary blend of probiotics.  And there’s a long list of extracts from roots, barks and fruit.  The directions say to take 2 capsules with a full glass of water twice a day for 7 days.  The “treatment” may be repeated every 3 to 4 months as desired.  Here’s a great rant about this troubling product from You Are Not a Fit Person.

I don’t get it.  With Jillian’s success, why did she have to go this route.  These products are expensive and there’s no evidence that they’ll be effective.

They also contain a lot of stimulants and questionable ingredients that may not even be safe for some people.

Why is Jillian not following her own advice?  Why is she touting a quick fix, when she preaches about hard work — discipline and daily physical activity.

Sure, there will be plenty of testimonials and people who will swear by the supplements.  But I still think the products are losers. I suggest you stay clear of Jillian Michaels weight loss system.  Watch her show, even buy her tapes.  Just don’t pop the pills.

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  • Great article. I think what bothers me so greatly is that she appeared to have a ‘no magic pill’ attitude about weight loss. She was the rebel who taught us to work harder, to stop having excuses for being overweight. Now she starts her own company, partners with a LICENSING EXECUTIVE and makes him the CEO and now we see this kind of crap coming to market.
    The worst part of it is the story we haven’t heard. The misinformation she is stating on twitter regarding who developed her cleanse. She claims it was a Dr. Astrup, but he flatly denies that he was involved in her cleanse. Then it turns out it was a Dr. Nathalie Chevreau, who isn’t even a medical doctor. In fact, if you want to find out what kind of doctor she is, check here: http://bit.ly/RQ6pS
    Not only does it appear to be all about the money, but it doesn’t even appear that there is a pretense of caring for the people who are buying her product. Just when it seemed that a celebrity would promote a healthy way to get fit, we have another one jumping ship and running for profit. Sorry celebrities, but we all know there isn’t much money in exercising more and eating better. If you are looking to fleece the general public some more, please choose something else, like cosmetics. That is a great racket.

  • I’m so disappointed. I’ve been down on Jillian this season because she seems to have ramped it up beyond what is needed to motivate people but this supplement issue is too much. Celebrity is fleeting and I cannot fault her for taking all she can get because her star will fade soon enough but to promote products like these is going too far. Thanks, Janet, for bringing this to our attention and especially for listing the ingredients. I’ll link to your blog because you’ve done such a good job, no sense trying to write my own “review” of the pills.

  • Awesome info Janet! Thanks for putting this out. Already sent a tweet.

  • Thanks for the scoop on Jillian’s supplement blunder (yes, a blunder is what it sounds like to me). Also very interesting to see what other bloggers are saying about Jillian’s jump into the world of diet supplements.

  • Janet,

    Great post. I have to say I am a HUGE fan of Jillian Michaels’ workout DVDs and weight training approach. But, as a soon to be nutrition professional, Registered Dietitian(RD), her development /promotion of these “magic weight loss” pills causes me to lose respect for many reasons. Primarily, because there is no science behind these weight loss pills–no evidence–and, since she is Jillian Michaels many people will buy them, wasting their money and likely becoming extremely disappointed and frustrated, again, with the “nutrition” field. More importantly, Jillian Michaels is not a RD. Simply put, she needs to stick to what she is best at–fitness, motivational coaching, and her “no magic, no pain, no gain” approach–what happened to that?!?. Celebrities “selling out” and trying to be RDs when they’re clearly not, is unfair and confusing to the general public. I hate to see this.

  • My guess? “it’s all about the Benjamins,” as puff daddy/p. diddy/diddy would say. Somebody probably dropped a huge bag of money on her lap and said “you don’t have to do anything, but you’ll pull in an extra million bucks a year.

    I really wish she had taken a look at the moral implications.


  • Thank you so much for blogging about this. This is the first year I’ve actually started watching Biggest Loser (after being told by MANY people I should be watching it!). I too am disappointed; even thought I haven’t been watching the show for years, I was also under the impression that the show/trainers emphasized a healthy diet/exercise approach to weight loss, not a “magic pill.”

  • How much is a good reputation worth? $50,000? $200,000? $1,000,000?

    Jillian sold hers. Mine’s not for sale. It takes years to build a good reputation, but only seconds to destroy it.


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    […] Helm at her Nutrition Unplugged blog yesterday wrote about fitness guru Jillian Michaels’ endorsement of highly questionable weight-loss […]
    Oops…forgot to say great post! Looking forward to your next one.

  • As always, Janet, you hit the nail on the head. Why is a trainer who promotes physical activity as the key to weight loss selling crappy pills? Thanks for keeping us informed on these important topics.

  • Elizabeth Stasny

    So disappointing. I thought Jillian was authentic in her concern for her clients and I am completely schoked that she has decided to “sell out” to promote voodoo pills. Boohoo Jillian….you just totally lost credibility with me.

  • Janet

    Thanks everyone for the great comments. Glad to see so much agreement on the supplements and Jilllian’s poor judgment. She has, indeed, lost a lot of credibility and this will likely impact her reputation. Or maybe it won’t. She’s a celebrity trainer and she’ll remain a celebrity trainer, no matter what she says. I just wish she’d stick to what she’s good at. Why has she crossed the line? She has truly jumped the shark on this move.

  • Eve

    I agree it’s very disturbing. America looks up to her, and now they’re going to think this is a great product. I’m shocked she felt the need to this with her clear success. I do recommend her DVDs, and a lot of my clients love them, but I’m very disappointed in this new line of products. Thanks for bringing awareness to this issue!

  • Um, money.

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  • I’m disappointed to hear this. While the biggest loser advocates natural ways to lose weight, one of their star trainers is suggesting weight loss pills!

    This is a great blog!

  • It’s too bad when someone like Jillian has the potential to do so much good and doesn’t use it – in fact, ends up potentially doing harm in the long run. I am a fan of the show, so I am really disappointed in her now. I’m sure she doesn’t much care what people think as long as she’s making lots of money.

  • WebGoddess

    You’d think that with all the books, DVD’s, video games, diet plans, online memberships, meal delivery service, etc. — on top of being on a very prominent weight-show and even getting her own show soon — that she’d need to resort to celeb endorsement schemes for diet pills. Is she really hurting for money with all the other stuff she’s selling? I can’t believe she would sell out like this; it’s not like she doesn’t have anything else going for her.

  • Great post Janet!

    This is so upsetting. Jillian is such an authority figure within the fitness realm, and I greatly respected her for her success. However, her crossover into the dietary supplement industry seems like such a sell-out move, not to mention a move into a realm where she is NOT the expert – nutrition. She needs to leave the nutrition up to the RDs, and stick with what she knows best: kicking our butts with her workout videos.

  • SAM

    I fell in love with Jillian Michael’s workouts and thought this detox would be a benefit to my current diet and exercise regime, but, upon reading this article I was given all the information necessary to NOT purchase this product. I completely agree with everything else she’s offered and I’m glad I read this article! Great work and thank you for the ingredient breakdown!!!

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  • I loved the run down of ingredients you gave. But I don’t get why everyone is getting upset at Jillan for selling out over diet pills. Why not be upset at her for endorsing rapid weight loss also, after all she is an integral part of a show that promotes 100+lbs weight loss in less than 6 months give or take??? She sold out since 2004, because to me promoting diet pills is just an extension of facilitating rapid weight loss

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  • carol mills

    Just your wait she will go the same route as Susan Powter. Anyone remember stop the insanity?????

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