With just 10 percent body fat, celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito runs triathlons regularly. It's hard to believe that this fit and trim chef is a former fat guy. But in a Feb. 12 interview with U.S. News and World Report, Rocco revealed how he "melted the lard off his butt" with a self-devised low-carb Mediterranean-style diet.
Rocco's weight problems began when he was a chef at a three-star New York City restaurant who "ate too much of his own merchandise," as he describes his fattening feasts.
But when his weight topped 220 pounds, Rocco knew he had a problem. So he came up with his own plan that resulted in his current weight of around 180 pounds.
The diet, which he details in his new book "The Pound a Day Diet: Lose Up to 5 Pounds in 5 Days by Eating the Foods You Love," is designed to prove "that healthy and flavor are not mutually exclusive.”
Rocco had two goals in designing his weight loss plan:
Reduce the calories as low as possible, but at the same time provide enough fill power so people don’t feel hungry or deprived. Everyone knows someone who can stretch a dollar. Well, I can do that with a calorie.
I can stretch a calorie unit like nobody’s business, by making food with low-calorie-density ingredients – like vegetables and non-starchy carbs.
And for those who say that eating right costs too much, Rocco makes the argument that good health is priceless.
"What does it cost a family when their primary income earner dies 20 years too young due to Type 2 diabetes? I think eating healthy itself is less expensive, but when you add the costs of being unhealthy, there’s no argument," he declares.
In addition to diet, Rocco uses exercise to maintain his own weight loss success. His routine: "A lot of spinning and a lot of steps. I wear a FitBit bracelet, and I try to reach at least 10,000 steps every day. In the summer, I cycle constantly – hundreds of miles a week," he says.
However, if you feel that you have to choose one or the other: "Nutrition would be more effective," Rocco adds.
Just starting out on your weight loss journey and seeking encouragement? Rocco offers these words of advice:
I’m a former fat guy with a crooked back and flat feet who worked in a restaurant in New York, surrounded by and indulging in all the finer things in life. And I went from that to an Ironman in a year. If I can do it, anybody can do it.
And as a first step, he recommends eliminating sugar, which he calls "more poisonous than heroin. If refined sugar were discovered today, it would be categorized as a narcotic like cocaine and heroin."
Rocco believes in the benefits of a healthy diet for practical financial reasons as well as health.
"Our country is suffering economically, and a big reason for that is the diminished productivity of our work force – which is largely coming from the poor health we’re in," he contends.
"If you look at the cost of obesity, airlines spend millions of dollars on gallons of extra fuel every year, simply because of the law of physics: The more weight you have, the more fuel it takes to move it. The costs to our society of obesity are enormous and unsustainable."