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Florence’s Biggest Loser contestants test their nutrition knowledge

FLORENCE, S.C. - Contestants from the Florence’s Biggest Loser gathered at the Leatherman Senior Center late Monday evening for the second nutrition event of the competition.

During the event, contestants were split into teams and asked to work together to complete three nutrition-related handouts. The first handout “Rethink Your Drink” tested the contestants’ knowledge on just how much sugar is found in many popular drinks. The contestants were given ten drinks and had to arrange the drinks in order from least amount of sugar to greatest amount of sugar. Quite a few contestants were able to place a 12 ounce Diet Coke as the first answer (it contained 0 grams of sugar), but could not get the last answer correct; which was 16 ounces of 100% apple juice at 56 grams of sugar.

“I was very surprised by some of the answers,” said contestant Cindi Laws. “A lot of them had much more sugar than I thought they would. The apple juice especially got me.”

Other drinks that surprised the contestants included Gatorade (34 grams of sugar for every 20 ounces), Coca-Cola (39 grams of sugar for every 12 ounces), and Monster Energy Drink (54 grams for every 16 ounces).

Lindsay Fraser, the registered dietitian/nutritionist for the competition, explained that when selecting a drink, it is important to consider your activity level. If you are doing an intense workout or have a job that requires a lot of physical labor, a sports drink like Gatorade could help replenish what your body is sweating out. However, if your child rides his or her bicycle outside for five to ten minutes and then comes inside to relax, their activity level was not high or long enough to warrant a drink like Gatorade and they would be better off drinking water instead.

Fraser also said you need to pay attention to the recommended serving size for each drink.

“A serving size of juice is typically four ounces which is around 15 ounces of sugar,” Fraser said. “So if you are drinking 16 ounces, which is only two cups, you are getting four times the serving size and four times the sugar. Some of that sugar comes naturally from the apples being pressed, but a lot of it is added.”

The second handout the contestants completed was called “Fact or Fiction” and contained ten popular nutrition statements that the contestants had to label either true or false. The first statement on the handout, “Muscle weighs more than fat”, had the contestants divided on whether it was true or false.

“This was more of a trip-me-up question,” Fraser explained. “One pound of muscle will always weigh the same as one pound of fat, because they are both one pound. The thing is, one pound of fat is more voluminous and one pound of muscle is much more dense and tight. When you are losing weight, you may not see the scale move because the amount of fat is decreasing and the amount of muscle is increasing. However, you should see that you are losing inches since the muscle is less voluminous and tighter.”

On the third handout, “Finding Your Balance”, the contestants were given six examples of meals and snacks and asked to decide whether the meal/snack was well-rounded and balanced. If the meal/snack was not well-rounded or balanced, the contestants had to think of ways to alter it. The contestants agreed that only one Meal #3 (a blackened tilapia filet, side of streamed broccoli, sweet potato with a dab of butter and a water) and Snack #6 (large apple, a low-fat mozzarella string cheese stick and water with a Crystal Light packet) were well-rounded and balanced.

Suggestions on how to alter the other meals/snacks included switching out sweet teas and Gatorades for water, grilling chicken instead of frying it, swapping a side of fries for steamed vegetables and making sure each meal and snack had a good source of protein.

At the end of the event, the “Pink Team” (contestants Katie Cullen, Stephen Cullen, Michael Hesbach, Betty Lawrence and Cindi Laws) ended up winning after beating the “Blue Team” (contestants Marcy Emanuelli, Nikki Haffner, Brian Hill, Monte Michelsen and Kym Rush) on a tie-breaking question. Each contestant on the “Pink Team” won a lunch box that included a water bottle, t-shirt, and a free meal provided by McAlister’s Deli in Florence.

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