After working on "The Biggest Loser" for years, celebrity trainer Bob Harper decided to create his own weight loss plan based on what really worked for his clients and contestants. He called them the "Skinny Rules." Bob talked with us in an exclusive interview about the new cookbook, published Tuesday, that he's concocted to complement that diet: "Skinny Meals: Everything You Need to Lose Weight-Fast."
The cookbook contains more than recipes. It also provides an overview of Bob's "Skinny Rules," including the details on why each rule exists and how it fits into a weight loss plan. Bob explained that he designed the cookbook so that it can provide dieters with the information that they need to shed pounds as well as the recipes to make it tasty.
When it comes to dieting, the biggest challenge typically is hunger. The other common barrier: Constantly having to weigh and measure every item. To meet both concerns, Bob told us that he encourages dieters to nosh on his unlimited vegetables list. His cookbook provides a variety of ways to prepare those "freebie foods," including using herbs.
"In 'Skinny Meals' I encourage you to take advantage of trying different ways of preparing your veggies like roasting or grilling and adding herbs and spices to vary flavors," Bob noted. "You can get a lot of flavor into your veggies by using these cooking techniques and won't have to rely on all those hidden calories in your salad dressings."
Although low carb high fat (LCHF) ketogenic diets and Paleo diets that restrict carbohydrates have become increasingly popular, Bob says that you don't have to surrender those carbohydrates completely. He offers a unique twist on those plans by instructing dieters to time their carbohydrate intake. Enjoy those carbohydrates before lunch, advises Bob.
And if you're craving carbs after lunch? Bob told us that he recognizes the validity of "carb attacks." But he's got a solution: Enjoy "hunger-satisfying protein and greens. It will be an adjustment at first if you've been conditioned having something 'white' in a quadrant of your dinner plate but you will adjust more quickly than you might think."
For example, if you're used to including pasta, rice or potatoes at dinner, try making Bob's Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Cream Sauce for that evening meal instead. Studies have shown that eating protein curbs cravings and suppresses the appetite. By including a recipe such as Chimichurri Steak with those zucchini noodles, you've got a meal designed to satisfy even the biggest carb cravings.
Bob is known for his belief in the benefits of CrossFit. While that form of exercise often is accompanied with a Paleo diet, Bob says that he designed his "Skinny Rules" to use some aspects of Paleo guidelines. However, he allows more carbohydrates than on the prototypical Paleo plan in his book "The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to Thin."
"I have many friends who have tried Paleo and have gotten great results from it," said Bob. "In 'Skinny Meals' I rely heavily on plenty of protein and veggie options, which is in line with Paleo but I do incorporate fruit and some complex carbs that I feel are a great fuel source for a person's diet."
And for those who want a jump-start to taking off the pounds, Bob has crafted a short-term solution in "Jumpstart to Skinny: The Simple 3-Week Plan for Supercharged Weight Loss." After the three-week diet has ended, Bob suggests seguing to his other diet. It's designed to take off pounds more slowly. It also offers a plan for maintenance.
We also asked Bob for his advice on a subject dear to his heart: Pets. For every pet owner who can't resist those meows and arfs for tastes from the table, Bob suggests following his rules for his own dog. The "skinny rules" for pets are designed for their health.
"I try to rarely give my dog table scraps even though I know he enjoys it very much and I spoil him sometimes," admits Bob. However, although it's tempting, pets who enjoy people food too much "can become very finicky. I want my dog to be around for a very long time and keeping his weight down will definitely help with that."
Try Bob's recipe for Peachy Keen Smoothie below (and don't let your dog lick the blender!). As shown, all recipes in the cookbook include complete nutrition information. The additions are designed to help you monitor your own calorie counts, although the recipes are under 350 calories per serving.
You can use another fresh summer stone fruit like a nectarine, plum, or apricot for
this recipe. During the winter or other times when you don’t have access to fresh
fruit, use frozen fruit (but make sure no sugar was added!). Add a 3+1 or 5+1
Skinny Scramble on the side (see page 33) and you won’t be hungry for hours!
- 1/2 peach, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup frozen mixed berries
- 1/3 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 persian cucumber, diced
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Nutrition information: 291 calories, 28g protein, 29g carbs, 10g fat, 7g fiber
Excerpted from "Skinny Meals" by Bob Harper. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House LLC.