Signup for our Newsletter Expand Browser
Calorie Count Blog
 « How To Sell Others On Being Healthy Avoiding the Lunch Time Fast Food Trap »

# Lessons Learned From Rush Limbaugh's Weight Loss

By Mary_RD on Aug 13, 2009 12:00 PM in Dieting & You
Edited By +Rachel Berman

David Letterman, the comedian, might say, “Hey, how 'bout that Rush Limbaugh losing 80 pounds in just 21 weeks?  Isn’t that something?”  Mary Hartley, the nutritionist, might say, “Kids, don’t try this yourself at home.”

The Rush Diet

Rush told American Superstar Magazine that he’s using a diet plan from Florida-based Quick Weight Loss Centers, and he said he is eating about 1500 calories a day of real food with a couple of supplements they provide.  The 80 pound loss occurred between March 9th and July 31st, but I can’t seem to make the math work no matter how hard I try.

Let’s see: according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Rush is a 58 year old male, 5’11”. He said he weighed 290 pounds (at the start of the diet) with a presumed sedentary activity level (he’s not a big fan of exercise - see below) and a daily calorie requirement of 2,589 needed to maintain 290 pounds. I figured Rush would have lost about 45 pounds in 21 weeks consuming 1500 calories a day.

(Note: To get the numbers above, I used the Calorie Count Calorie Target calculator, which is based on the Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids developed by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine.)

Here’s the math:  2589 calories required - 1500 calorie intake = 1089 calorie deficit every day and 7623 calorie deficit every week; 7623 calories x 21 weeks = 160,083 calorie deficit.  Since one pound is lost for every 3,500 calorie deficit, 160,083 / 3500 = 45.7 pounds.)

But, Rush said he lost 80 pounds.  Is my math off?  Well, Quick Weight Loss Centers explains that their “nutritional plans provide up to 1,500 calories a day," but by my calculations, Rush would have to eat an unhealthy 650 calories to lose as much weight as he said he lost.

(Here’s the math again: 2589 calories required - 650 calorie intake = 1939 calorie deficit every day and 13,573 calorie deficit every week; 13,573 calories x 21 weeks =  285,033 calorie deficit.  Since one pound is lost for every 3,500 calorie deficit, 285,033 / 3500 = 81.4 pounds.)

Could the supplements be accelerating his weight loss?  If they are the supplements sold by Quick Weight Loss Centers’, they might contain (in alphabetical order): apple, banaba leaf, birch, bitter orange extract, black pepper extract, borage, camellia sinensis, cassia senna (a laxative), chromium, citrus aurantium, EPA + DHA (fish oil), ginkgo biloba, ginseng, gracinia carabogia, green tea, guarana, gum resins, hibiscus, hoodia pordonii (an appetite suppressant), juniper, nettle, nutmeg, paseolus vulgaria (white bean extract), rosemary, theobromine (like caffeine), vitamins A, C and E, and a multivitamin-mineral supplement.  I checked out NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) as well as the University of Maryland Medical Center Complementary and Alternative Medicine Index (CAM), but I could not find enough scientific evidence to support the effectiveness those herbs for weight loss.

Is Rush burning calories through physical activity?  If his recent comments about exercise are any indication, probably not.  On his show, Rush said, "Those of you who regularly exercise - you're the people getting injured... Showing up at the hospital with busted knees, tendons, skin cancer (and other problems caused by exercise).  All you exercise freaks - you're the ones putting stress on the healthcare system... What happens when people don't regularly exercise and keep their weight relatively under control? Nothing! They probably don't even know their doctors names".

Expert Recommendations

The National Institutes of Health convened an expert panel to study evidence-based research to develop key recommendations for assessing and treating overweight and obese patients. The clinical guidelines recommend a calorie deficit of no more than 1,000 calories a day for an average weight loss of 0.5 to 2.0 pounds per week depending on the patient's starting weight.  The recommendations are made to promote effective weight loss while safeguarding the patient's health.

Fast Forward

Rush told American Superstar that he actually doesn’t know how his diet works.  He said, "It’s too complicated.  I mean putting the menu together is a jigsaw puzzle every day.  It would take me 45 minutes... to tell you what the diet plan is."

I say, if you can't easily explain how you got there, how difficult will it be to keep the weight off?  Apparently, Rush doesn’t expect to stay at his new weight.  On his show Rush said, “What I’m thinking of doing this time is... losing 25 (more pounds) than I want to so I have another year of fun and frolic to put it all back on.”

I’m still not sure how Rush dropped the weight he lost, so please educate me if I’m missing something.  There’s no mystery about one thing though.  If he doesn’t follow a more sensible approach to weight loss, the pounds will be back in no time.

You thoughts...
Have you tried a quick weight loss plan?

UPDATE:

## How to Get into the 2015 New York City Marathon

We have a known junkie who manages to lose weight dramatically.... At the risk of being overly judgmental.... I'd say that he's playing with the pills again.

If he really means he's taking off more weight just so he can eat whatever he wants to then gain the weight back, then he is talking about yo-yo dieting. That's a well-known health risk leading to heart trouble, strokes, and other not-so-nice things.

As far as exercise is concerned, yes, there is some risk involved but certainly less risk then the risk involved in being a couch potato. Everyone who can walks after all so if you want to play it safe and still exercise, take a walk!

He doesn't know how his diet works, therefore he doesn't know what risks he is taking with his health. The pictures I've seen of him do not seem to be pictures of a healthy man. Give me strong, lean muscle that comes from a healthy diet with lots of many-colored veggies, fruits, and whole grains and sensible exercise, please. Short cuts have already been proven many times over not to work in the long run.

HA!  I guess my question is this: why did CC go for such low hanging fruit when preaching to the choir?

C'mon give me articles that provide viable information for my health, diet, exercise, or anything else I would really be interested in!

Disappointing ... really

I have heard of this weight loss plan he is on and it is not uncommon for members to lose 4 pounds a week.   It's high protein and very restrictive in carbohydrates and not easy to follow on a day to day basis.   Would not advise anyone to follow it as the weight does and will come back.   Counting calories or points or any other moderate (livable) option would be the best way to go, even though the "quick" fix is always tempting to all of us.

I try to focus on my own weight loss and not be critical on on how others accomplish theirs.  Good for him.  I wish I had the funds to get professional weight loss assistance.

His approach is ALLLLLLL FUBAR'd!  He really doesn't get the concept at ALL.  If you've been overweight for as long as HE has, you HAVE to change the way you EAT.  And he is in NO WAY doing that!  He's going to lose more weight so he has a year to "par-tay".  Unh-hunh...  And IN that year, he will gain TWICE what he lost!  Not to mention that his diet is so complicated that it would take him half an hour to explain what he ate in one day?  Obviously, this is NOT something the he's capable of doing without supervision and guidance...and it's NOT something that he will be able to continue.  He's DOOMED!

Wouldn't a diet high in protein with low or no carbs cause rapid weight lose?

If that's what his diet was, then perhaps the supplements are meant to stave off the hunger pains ketosis produces.

The math is right on, but the opening lines of the article are WAY off! David Letterman is a die-hard Liberal Democrat. He would never make a comment about Rush Limbaugh without making extremely cruel jokes about him.

Maybe he's lying?

I remember a quote once from an Hollywood personal trainer she said, 'All those actresses and models that drop 40 or so pounds in next to no time, all those actresses that say I eat loads I guess I'm just naturally thin... don't believe a word of it, it's crack cocaine.'

Ok this clearly doesn't apply to every person but it does make you think.

Whilst it's tempting to go for a quick fix in life in all things not just weight loss the only way is one step at a time and yes it does take longer but it's more rewarding when you get there and kinder to your body.

Congratulations to Rush!  No matter how he did it I am glad that he did.  He's got enough money to hire a chef to prepare low calorie foods that taste delicious, jut like Oprah does.  I cannot understand why any of these mega-rich people would be overweight.  I think Rush needed someone to motivate him and now he is in love and that is very motivating.

I have been counting calories for quite some time now and that seems to help more than anything.  I too hate exercise although I've always been an active person (tomboy).  So, since I abhor exercise the one thing I can do that doesn't make me ill to think that I have to do it is to walk.  I started walking for 30 minutes, then up to 60 (3 miles).  It's not so bad and I do it on my lunch break.  It's helping me to lose those few that I needed to lose.

Doomed?  Yeh, right.  You wish.

I love you Rush - keep up the great work.

Try these two words - MEGA RICH

or maybe ULTRA POPULAR (30 million listeners)

and now

VERY HANDSOME

Well, good for him.  I would never try it, but i don't have his money to pay for the doctors in case I totally messed up my system.

It took me about 9-months to do that.  But of course I intend to keep it off, I hope, and will try.   How  you get there does count, but I believe the important thing is that you get there without messing up your health in the mean time.   So congratulations Mr. Limbaugh.

I don't care for what he said about exercise.   When I weighed 280, my legs hurt and went numb consistently, I was having heal-spurs, my back hurt constantly, and there was constantly something wrong with my body.  Now that I am down to 185, there is no pain in my feet, legs, or back, other than the occassional irritating muscle spasm.  That came from both exercise AND counting the calories, and its a great feeling.  Contrary to what Mr. Limbaugh said, I do not go to the doctor as much anymore, and I feel much better about myself, and I can take a 20-mile bicycle ride without feeling pain.

Quite honestly, I am more impressed by the average Joe, going to college or keeping a home or working full time, who is able to have the self-discipline to lose the weight over the long haul.  The guy who was in the post yesterday really impressed me, as have the others who have posted their weight loss.   I really admire those who were truely heavy, 300-400 lbs, and now weigh less than I do.  Wow.   That is amazing to me.

It seems as though every celebrity goes through these weight-loss cycles and gets glamorous media coverage.

I want to hear about the man who works in a factory or an office and has to stress over whether or not he can feed his family, spend time with his wife and kids, and maintain his weight or even lose a hundred pounds that he gained because he didn't have the time to eat right, or the woman in a similar position.  Those are the ones whom I admire.

Isn't it a huge stress on your heart to gain and lose, gain and lose? It doesn't sound like a recipe for long term success too me.

We hear those stories (the man who works in a factory or an office...) daily on CC.  I'm glad to hear about the Rushbo's weight loss - it is quite an accomplishment.

He is not a Hollywood star, although well known he is not on television all the time and I am glad he's getting the coverage for a positive that he has done instead of the constant spotlight on anything negative he might do.

As another poster mentioned, rapid weight loss-regardless of whether he intends to keep it off or not- is likely to lead to yo-yo dieting, which can lead to increased strain on his heart. It doesn't sound as if he's making a permanent change to his lifestyle (just a crash diet), and he doesn't seem interested in exercise, so how will he keep the weight off permanently.

I sympathize with him wanting to lose the weight rapidly (I'd like to do so myself), but the consensus is that a moderate weight loss over time with exercise is a more sustainable solution.

So what, who cares??

Original Post by: thegoodjohn

HA!  I guess my question is this: why did CC go for such low hanging fruit when preaching to the choir?

C'mon give me articles that provide viable information for my health, diet, exercise, or anything else I would really be interested in!

Disappointing ... really

We think that his diet is an interesting case, since it summarizes everything that's wrong with fad diets. Learning to objectively examine the so-called success stories of crash diets and gauge their potential for long-term success is essential for choosing a more moderate and stable approach that Calorie Count promotes.

I equate Rush Limbaugh with Sacha Baron Cohen who plays the controversial character, Borat. Rush Limbaugh plays the controversial character of Rush Limbaugh. They are both simply actors and entertainers. That is how they make their living. They say and do things to "entertain" people. Both do not believe a single word they say.

So, just to provide a counterpoint to Limbaugh's statement quoted in the article (which is, again, just something said to entertain us) -- It seems to me that Limbaugh's unhealthy weight loss/gain and lack of exercise will cause more strain on the health care system than those who keep a healthy body. I'm definitely not a medical expert, but sports injuries can be managed with proper physical therapy and restrictions. Diabetes, high blood pressure, vascular problems, etc, all require expensive medication to control (unless, of course, one is able to control these with proper diet and exercise - which doesn't seem to pertain to Limbaugh). Not to mention the multiple doctor's visits just to make sure one is controlling their diseases properly.

Essentially, I have to agree with thegoodjohn that this article is irrelevant to those of us on CC looking for tips and motivation to help us acheive a healthy body. If perhaps I am mistaken, and it is relevant, then maybe we will start to see more articles on how Nicole Richie and the Olsen sisters maintain their bodies. How about Screech's diet plan on MTV's Celebrity Fit Club or Star Jones' miracle surgery treatment? If we must feature an actor, lets choose someone who provides motivation for us.

Nicole Richie - you've got to be kidding - maybe it's by starving herself or drugs.

The Olsen sisters - oh, maybe by staying drunk all the time.

Who the he---- is Screech ?  MTV ... oh, yeh MTV  (that's educational and so motivating).

Star Jones - surgery - yeh, that's how I want to control my body fat.

If it's drugs (again) or just a severe diet, we will most likely see him fat again soon-(I'd prefer not to see him at all, thanks)-but I am suspicious of  another gastric bypass fake out (ala Starr Jones) - maybe with with an diet endorsement to boot!  Easy to stay on "the plan" if you have your stomach shrunk down to the size of an egg...

You are right salgep -he is no different than any of us.  He struggles with weight just like most of us and has found a way to get some of the weight off - I admire the heck out of him for this accomplishment.  Not to mention he's right 98.9% of the time.  That being said - the people here who plainly don't like him probably have never really listened to him.

Let's go to the basics!

How can I lose 2 lbs every week? I'm 210 lbs; 42 yrs old; workout 5-6 days/wk (weights, walk, aerobics,& bootcamp; I've taken on a semi-pescetarian lifestyle; Last, I don't eat after 7pm

Since it doesn't sound like he intends to keep it off and has plenty of money to pay for the consequences of his actions...it's his business.  Not a terrific idea but still his business.

Original Post by: that1grrl

I equate Rush Limbaugh with Sacha Baron Cohen who plays the controversial character, Borat. Rush Limbaugh plays the controversial character of Rush Limbaugh. They are both simply actors and entertainers. That is how they make their living. They say and do things to "entertain" people. Both do not believe a single word they say.

So, just to provide a counterpoint to Limbaugh's statement quoted in the article (which is, again, just something said to entertain us) -- It seems to me that Limbaugh's unhealthy weight loss/gain and lack of exercise will cause more strain on the health care system than those who keep a healthy body. I'm definitely not a medical expert, but sports injuries can be managed with proper physical therapy and restrictions. Diabetes, high blood pressure, vascular problems, etc, all require expensive medication to control (unless, of course, one is able to control these with proper diet and exercise - which doesn't seem to pertain to Limbaugh). Not to mention the multiple doctor's visits just to make sure one is controlling their diseases properly.

Essentially, I have to agree with thegoodjohn that this article is irrelevant to those of us on CC looking for tips and motivation to help us acheive a healthy body. If perhaps I am mistaken, and it is relevant, then maybe we will start to see more articles on how Nicole Richie and the Olsen sisters maintain their bodies. How about Screech's diet plan on MTV's Celebrity Fit Club or Star Jones' miracle surgery treatment? If we must feature an actor, lets choose someone who provides motivation for us.

I apologize, however, I must clarify that the comment about Richie, the Olsen sisters, Screech, Star Jones was sarcasm. If we feature Limbaugh, we might as well feature those actors who also participate in other unhealthy "diets."

Original Post by: Igor

Original Post by: thegoodjohn

HA!  I guess my question is this: why did CC go for such low hanging fruit when preaching to the choir?

C'mon give me articles that provide viable information for my health, diet, exercise, or anything else I would really be interested in!

Disappointing ... really

We think that his diet is an interesting case, since it summarizes everything that's wrong with fad diets. Learning to objectively examine the so-called success stories of crash diets and gauge their potential for long-term success is essential for choosing a more moderate and stable approach that Calorie Count promotes.

Thanks goes to Igor (who is CC's founder by the way) for explaining the reason for this featured article.

Original Post by: that1grrl

I equate Rush Limbaugh with Sacha Baron Cohen who plays the controversial character, Borat. Rush Limbaugh plays the controversial character of Rush Limbaugh. They are both simply actors and entertainers. That is how they make their living. They say and do things to "entertain" people. Both do not believe a single word they say.

So, just to provide a counterpoint to Limbaugh's statement quoted in the article (which is, again, just something said to entertain us) -- It seems to me that Limbaugh's unhealthy weight loss/gain and lack of exercise will cause more strain on the health care system than those who keep a healthy body. I'm definitely not a medical expert, but sports injuries can be managed with proper physical therapy and restrictions. Diabetes, high blood pressure, vascular problems, etc, all require expensive medication to control (unless, of course, one is able to control these with proper diet and exercise - which doesn't seem to pertain to Limbaugh). Not to mention the multiple doctor's visits just to make sure one is controlling their diseases properly.

Essentially, I have to agree with thegoodjohn that this article is irrelevant to those of us on CC looking for tips and motivation to help us acheive a healthy body. If perhaps I am mistaken, and it is relevant, then maybe we will start to see more articles on how Nicole Richie and the Olsen sisters maintain their bodies. How about Screech's diet plan on MTV's Celebrity Fit Club or Star Jones' miracle surgery treatment? If we must feature an actor, lets choose someone who provides motivation for us.

Our intentions were good, but it seems that it's difficult to look at an individual's eating habits without being affected by who they are. Therefore, we'll make sure to focus on less controversial people in the future. In the meantime, please avoid political comments since we'll have to delete them.

I enjoyed the article. The math offered seems to dispute Limbaugh's claim that he's accomplishing his weigh loss on 1,500 calories/day. It's like most of Rush's "facts and insights," which are usually based on half-truths and exaggerations. Now he's bragging about not exercising and it seems he plans to regain the the weight within the next year. Yesterday he claimed that it's people who exercise use most of our healthcare. That's rubbish. He's a heart attack looking for a place to happen and yo-yo dieting will just speed up the process.

Did he really lose 80 lbs??  Have you ever seen these people on TV or in a magazine that say how much weight they lost and now they are a size 4, and one good look at them says you are a 14, who are you kidding!  lol  I always wondered why someone would say that.  Do they really think us size 14's can't recognize what size they are?

Thanks Igor for featuring Rush.  He DID lose a lot of weight no matter who he is.  He struggles like the rest of us.  I think these comments are very "healthy."

and YES he may gain his weight back, but he still wants to be thinner, like the rest of us...

If he cannot explain how he did it..then, how will he be able to hold longer with his present weight?  Is he really comfortable now with that weight? Or is he still starving himself?

Maybe this is just a show and a good publicity too.

About 20 years ago I followed the Opti-fast diet plan (about 600 calories per day) and lost 70 lbs in 4 months.  Naturally, I couldn't keep the weight off and gained it all back plus another 60 lbs.  This time around I'm being kinder to myself, utilizing the Calorie Count resources and losing at a much slower pace.  The difference is that I am learning that one day of indulgence should not make me feel guilty, especially if I counter it with 6 days of careful calorie counting and an appropriate level of exercise.  I'm sorry for Rush because I think he's not learning how to manage his personal eating and exercise habits.

Go Rush! No matter what he does there will be haters. I am happy for him, because we all know how hard it is to lose the weight. It's his decision how he wants to do it. If you choose to do it a certain way then good for you. If he chooses to do it a different way from you then good for him. People need to stop being so arrogant when it comes to dieting.

I am all for cheering people on as they lose weight and I definitely am not prejudiced against fat like a lot of people are. However; this is hilarious ROFL Whoever said that he is handsome now has some looooow standards. Even after losing 80 lbs the unhealthy way; this college dropout, junkie, know-it-all is still fat. He's probably obese according to the BMI. He obviously does not care about his health but hey, maybe this will get him his 4th wife.  Thanks for showing us what NOT to do and for the laugh CC, I needed it!

what I say is recovery from the surgery took 21 weeks! haha!

Drugs? Surgery? Didn't really lose 80 pounds? I saw him briefly on TV not long ago, and I don't believe he'd lost weight. He looked like a whale.

Re: Robin. I thought this wasn't supposed to be about anything but Rush's claim of weight loss. It's a free country--I think--and I don't want to listen to him.

I think he's funny.  he loves life and doesnt care what he looks like.  good for him.  also you keep saying he doesn't exercise at all and in a sense you're right.  he doesn't go out and jog 5 miles a day...but he does golf a TON.  Although he probably doesn't want to admit it but it is exercise.  He's not laying around on his couch all day doing nothing.  He's a very busy person.

First of all, for comments of a political nature being deleted, someone missed their responsibilities.

If this diet is as successful and as easy as Rush claims, why hasn't the AMA or WebMD endorsed this program. If there is any organization or website that provides a review and or unbiased commentary on this, and any other types of suspected frauds or unproven proposals, I would appreciate knowing of such a source.

Far too many fraudulent, harmful and/or money making advertisements are putting people at risk either healthfully or financially. Where are the watchdogs of our society?

I, personally, do not believe any of the claims of the "Talking Heads" of the media, but I would welcome truth if there is a positive way of losing weight other than "calories consumed less calories burned".

Thank you and have a better day than today.

Don't appreciate you using Rush Limbaugh as an example without his consent. Seems to be more of a political statement than honest to goodness weight loss advice. Please restrain from politics in the future and stick to good old fashion real advice about diet.

Rush is playing on dangerous ground, the fact that he says he doesn't exercise, he has a sedentary job, he's going to balloon back up again. And at his age can be dangerous.High Blood pressure if he doesn't already have it,diabetes, andf of course his heart.

I'm a 75 year old who hasn't smoked or had a drink for 31 years and have exercised regulary all that time.

You don't have  be a jock as I once was,I've got a total gym at home and it's great. Rush is heading for trouble I beleive,but happy to see he has lost the weight.

Now get a good physical Rush, get an exercise machine for your home, and do a little bit every day. Remember "A Habit Is Like A Cable You Weave A Strand Of it Every Day Until It's So Strong It's Unbreakable" Ed H San Francisco

Good for Rush. However, your article should have been with the QWL people to explain the diet - Rush just gives a chef the diet instructions and sticks to the plan.

I wonder if his goofy attitude about 'living it up' when he's 'done' is so he can't possibly fail.  If he keeps the weight off, he gets accolades but if he gains it back, he's just being Rush.  Either he really doesn't give a rat's hairy one if he gains it all back and more, or he lacks the courage to publicly set a goal he might not reach.  I can sympathise with this -- I'm pretty hesitant to tell many people that I'm aiming to lose a lot of weight.  His blather about regular exercisers stressing the health care system is laughable, but I hope his disciples don't take it too seriously.

Well, he is a public figure who seems to enjoy being in the spotlight and he did talk openly about his weight loss, so he's fair game.  Jeez.  "Back off and give him space" is a silly thing to say about a celebrity -- if Rush wants privacy and space, he has a spectacularly ineffective way of indicating as much.

Your numbers (3500 calorie deficit) don't match my experience. Example: The week of August 2, I consumed 8,495 calories. (The only exercise I noted in my diet journal is "Ironing - 2.5 hours.") I began the week at 137.5 pounds, which would require 9,625 calories to maintain, so my deficit was 1,130 calories. According to you, I should have lost about a third of a pound. But my weekly weigh-in was 135.5 - I lost 2 pounds.

That weekly calorie deficit is typical for me, and my average weekly weight loss is a pound and a half.

I bet he will gain it back faster than he took it off.  One can't starve themselves thin without having a backlash.  He better smarten up on the intake/output math and how the body responds to starvation.  I predict he will have gained the 80 and probably another 20 more by this time next year.  Even celebrity loud mouths have to obey the calorie intake and expenditure rules to stay thin!

Not being a golfer and being sedentary, I'd say Rush exercises way more than most sedentary people.

He has a chef. Why should he know how to put together what he eats.

Many of you are such haters it matters not how much you weigh since you'll be sick because of  your lack of appreciation for diversity.

Surgery or hes back to using huge amounts of drugs, either way hes pathetic.

"Rush Limbaugh is an obnoxious human being who spews hate"

-Aug 13, 2009 05:27 AM

Why has that comment not been removed then?

Some people of a certain political orientation, supposedly of an "open-minded, tolerant, and diverse" outlook, sure have a hard time granting respect to those who they disagree with. Use of the word "spew" is always a good indicator of this prime juicy hypocracy.

But back to Rush. He is rich enough to pay someone to do the calorie counting for him. He can afford a good doctor to make sure his health is stable. Most of us cannot have those things, so we must do things for ourselves. And of course everyone on this site knows that yo-yo dieting is extremely deleterious to your health (but how many here still do it, anyway?).