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Maria Menounos details 40-pound weight loss: Her bikini-body diet secrets

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Maria Menounos has a hot bikini body at 36, thanks to a low-carb diet, daily five-mile walks and Pilates workouts. But Menounos doesn't believe in extreme diets, saying they set you up for rebound weight gain.

“I now don’t even say the word 'diet,' ” Menounos told Life & Style. "It sets you up for failure."

Maria said she has tried every trendy fad diet, including the grapefruit diet and coffee fasts, and said eating well most of the time and walking at least 10,000 steps a day (or five miles) keeps her fit without too much effort.

“I eat clean 75 percent of the time," said Menounos, who recommended keeping a food journal to identify your trigger foods and scale back on them. Maria said her weaknesses are for carbs and sugar.

“Slowly cut back on that area,” she said. “It was carbs for me, but I didn’t totally give up pizza! I just ate less of it.”

Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet and Daily Workouts

Menounos is now a petite size four, but was 40 pounds heavier during her twenties, thanks to daily pizza binges and a sedentary lifestyle.

Maria, who's Greek, has maintained her weight loss for the past 16 years by following the heart-healthy 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.

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. As a result, Maria promptly gained 40 pounds binge-eating huge portions of candy, chips and pizza.

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. She now maintains her weight loss with an active lifestyle and a sensible diet.

In addition to walking 10,000 steps every day, Menounos also runs on the treadmill, takes spinning classes, jumps rope, plays basketball, and does Pilates and Krav Maga martial-arts workouts.

Menounos, author of the 2011 bestseller The EveryGirl’s Guide to Life, shared her weight loss secrets in her new book, The EveryGirl's Guide to Diet and Fitness.

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