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Maria Menounos 40-pound weight loss secrets: Low carb diet and 5-mile walks

Maria Menounos' weight loss, low-carb diet and workout secrets
Reprinted with permission from Time Inc.

Maria Menounos is fitter than ever at 36, thanks to a low-carb Mediterrean-style diet and intense workouts, Health reported.

Amazingly, the superfit Menounos was once 40 pounds heavier, but has maintained her impressive weight loss for more than a decade, owing to her fitness-minded lifestyle.

Maria piled on the weight during college by gorging on pizza and other high-carb fare, eventually expanding into a size 14. Menounos admits she went overboard binge-eating junk food in college after being raised on a strict diet as a child.

Maria's dad has type 1 diabetes, so the entire family followed an austere diet that included no chips, ice cream, or sugary cereals. Looking back, she realizes that eating with abandon during college was a bad idea.

Menounos eventually lost the weight by keeping a food journal and working out regularly. She has continued exercising since then because she loves how great it makes her feel.

"I just wrote down everything I ate for a week and assessed my problem — it was carbs," said Menounos. "So I made a 10 percent rule in my head: If I was eating seven slices of pizza, I would cut back to six. It was so hard to not reach for that seventh, but I was still eating what I wanted, just one less."

Menounos, who's Greek, now follows the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes healthy fats such as olive oil, salmon and avocados, high-quality animal proteins, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds.

The Mediterranean diet, which is based on the traditional eating plans of Italian, Greek, Spanish, and other Mediterranean cultures, has consistently been rated one of the top diets for its weight loss and heart-health benefits. Maria makes a point to eat well most of the time, but still indulges from to time.

"Breakfast is generally egg whites, or a white smoothie from Harley Pasternak's The Body Reset Diet book [5 raw almonds, 1 red apple, 1 frozen banana, 3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup fat-free milk and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon]," said Maria.

"For lunch I'll have a salad with chicken, a bean-and-cheese burrito or a Greek salad. When I'm really tired or stressed, that's usually when I go to Chili's and have nachos and potato skins."

These days, Menounos varies her workouts, but always tries to walk at least 10,000 steps (or about 5 miles) a day. She also runs on the treadmill, takes spinning classes, jumps rope, plays basketball, and does Pilates and Krav Maga martial-arts workouts. Because of her hectic work schedule, Maria doesn't always have time to hit the gym, so she improvises.

"I'm always figuring out a way to work out throughout my day so I don't have to go," she said. "I have my yoga mat and exercise bar in my office, so I can do a full workout in 15 minutes. I also balance my meals with my movement. I'm a rocket. I actually put a pedometer on. At the base I get 10,000 steps a day, but on certain days I'm getting 18,000 steps. I'm burning everything I'm eating."

Menounos said her fitness role models include Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and celebrity trainers Harley Pasternak and Jillian Michaels.

"The Rock [is an inspiration]," said Maria. "That man is a machine. Also Harley Pasternak and Jillian Michaels. We always make so many excuses. These people remind me that they're just as busy and they're figuring it out."

Pasternak, author of The Body Reset Diet, is responsible for Jessica Simpson's 70-pound weight loss. Jillian, author of Slim for Life, has helped hundreds of morbidly obese people lose thousands of pounds as a trainer on "The Biggest Loser" since 2004.

Menounos said her beauty secrets include careful skin care and a healthy diet. "My routine is very simple and clean: I wash my face every day," she said. "I'm a big fan of the Dermalogica skin care line."

Maria prefers to use lotions to keep her skin radiant and wrinkle-free, saying laser treatment scared her. "Doing a laser was a big deal for me," she recounted. I looked like a monster! "I had nightmares, like, "Oh my God, did I ruin my face?!" You never know if it will heal. When it comes to my face, I don't want to mess around."

The superfit size-4 Menounos shared her weight loss, diet and workouts secrets in her book, The EveryGirl's Guide to Diet and Fitness.