Reverend Al Sharpton is in the best shape of his life after losing 170 pounds since 2009, thanks to a low-carb vegan diet and daily cardio workouts.
Sharpton, who once tipped the scales at 305 pounds, now weighs 135 pounds after following a mostly vegan diet and working out every day.
“I gave up meat and I started watching my diet,’’ Sharpton, 59, told the Today Show. "I work out.’’
Rev. Al also gave up starches and sugar, and follows a low-calorie diet, usually consisting of two pieces of whole-wheat toast for breakfast, a salad with a banana for lunch, and two slices of whole-wheat toast again for dinner.
Sharpton recently told Oprah Winfrey the weight loss was important because he wanted to prove to himself that food did not have power over him, as it did for so many years. Rev. Al denied widespread speculation that he underwent gastric-bypass surgery, saying his transformation was "all mental."
Rev. Al, who has been overweight all his life, lost 30 pounds in 2001 during a hunger strike in Vieques, Puerto Rico, while serving jail time for protesting the U.S. Navy bombing exercises.
Sharpton's weight fluctuated dramatically until 2009, when he adopted a vegan diet at the suggestion of former president Bill Clinton, who lost 30 pounds after switching to a mostly-vegan diet. Clinton, 67, said he has never felt better.
The once-sedentary Sharpton also makes working out a part of his daily routine. "You live seven days a week, that means you should exercise seven days a week," he said.
Rev. Al, who was once addicted to fried chicken, said it was important for him to get healthy so he could be a positive role model for his community.
You can’t address our issues and demand social justices when you are a prisoner in your own body. How do you pastor when they are in the church cafeteria frying? We can’t preach community control when we aren’t practicing self-control.”
In addition to making him physically healthier, Sharpton said his vegan diet has made him more emotionally resilient.
"A vegetarian diet has a way of absorbing the stress and gives you greater endurance," he said. "I don't eat many starches or [refined] sugars. I just love greens and grains. I eat a lot of salad and fruits. I feel like a new, improved me."