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Maria Menounos credits Mediterranean diet, Krav Maga for 40-lb weight loss

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Maria Menounos is now a petite size four, but was once 40 pounds heavier thanks to pizza binges and a sedentary lifestyle.

Menounos was raised in a strict low-sugar diet as a child because her dad had type 1 diabetes, so when the brunette beauty went to college, she went overboard with her junk-food indulgences.

"There were no chips, ice cream, or sugary cereals anywhere at home," Maria told Ladies Home Journal. "I didn't even know what bagels or waffles were until late in high school. For dinner we ate a variety of dishes made with lentils, vegetables, and beans from the garden. Our dessert? Fruit."

As a result, Menounos went overboard with binge-eating when she went to college, and promptly gained 40 pounds eating huge portions of candy, chips and pizza.

"I didn't gain the Freshman 15 — I gained the Freshman 40," she recounted. "I could keep candy and chips in my room and eat all the late-night pizza I could afford. I grew to a size 14 and kept growing. I felt sick and lethargic. I wanted to nap all the time."

Tired of being overweight, Maria completely overhauled her diet and began exercising during her early twenties. Within a year, she lost 40 pounds and slimmed down from a size 14 to a 4.

Maria Follows the Heart-Healthy Mediterranean Diet

Menounos was so encouraged by her dramatic weight loss that she has maintained an active, health-conscious lifestyle ever since. Maria, who's Greek, follows a Mediterranean diet, which has consistently been rated one of the top diets for its weight loss and heart-health benefits.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes healthy fats such as olive oil and avocados, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. The diet is based on the traditional eating plans of Italian, Greek, Spanish, and other Mediterranean cultures.

Maria's daily diet features Greek yogurt with blueberries for breakfast; a Mediterranean salad with olives, chicken and feta cheese for lunch; and vegetarian chicken teriyaki with peas and cauliflower for dinner.

Running, Pilates and Krav Maga Workouts Keep Her Fit

For exercise, Menounos tries to walk 10,000 steps (about five miles) every day. The 5-foot-8 brunette beauty also runs on the treadmill, takes spinning classes, jumps role, plays basketball, and does Pilates and Krav Maga martial-arts workouts.

"[Krav Maga is] the best overall workout I've ever experienced," she gushed. "It's cardio. It's strength. It's reflexes. It's everything."

Maria is against extreme diets, saying they always backfire. "Depriving myself didn't work because I'd resist a craving one night, but then it'd come back the next day and it'd be worse," she said.

Menounos shared her weight loss, diet and workout secrets in her new book, The EveryGirl's Guide to Diet and Fitness.

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