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Rocco DiSpirito, 41 lbs lighter, shares diet and low-carb chocolate smoothie

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It's difficult to believe that Chef Rocco DiSpirito, who looks like a GQ clothing model, could ever have been overweight. But as he told Katie Couric on her talk show today, he used to be "puffy" with a big belly. Now he's lost 41 pounds and is sharing the diet plan that helped him take off the weight without sacrificing the taste.

Rocco has created recipes to accompany his diet plan and put them into a book: "The Pound a Day Diet: Lose Up to 5 Pounds in 5 Days by Eating the Foods You Love." He told Katie that his emphasis is on more than weight loss: He's concerned that many people think that eating healthy foods costs more. Therefore, his recipes and diet are designed to be inexpensive.

One of the keys to losing weight without feeling hunger: Fiber. He showed Katie a large table filled with food, emphasizing that although it looks like a lot of volume, the calories are low because most of the items are vegetables.

"No one ever got fat eating broccoli," says Rocco. He emphasizes the importance of filling your plate with generous amounts of vegetables, such as iceberg lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus and zucchini.

If you've got a sweet tooth, Rocco told Katie that he recommends monk fruit as a sweetener. It has zero calories but is natural rather than artificial like Equal or Sweet'n'Low.

For Rocco, weight loss achieved more than a slimmer waistline. He recently told People magazine that at his top weight of 226 pounds, he suffered from dangerously high cholesterol levels and hypertension.

"Everyone thinks I look younger," he commented. "Some people think I had plastic surgery, which I take as a compliment."

Along with the diet, Rocco recommends exercise. He follows his own recommendations, and has even completed a 70.3 mile-long Ironman challenge.

The low carb diet recipe below illustrates Rocco's point that low calorie and low carb foods can taste just as good as their fattening counterparts. His high protein smoothie puts a healthy spin on traditional chocolate milkshakes.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 cups cold water
  • 2 scoops fiber powder
  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 24 packets monk fruit extract (optional)
  • 4 scoops unflavored egg-white powder
  • 2 cups crushed ice or small ice cubes

Directions

1. Put the water and fiber powder in a blender and blend on high until smooth and slightly thickened, about1 1/2 minutes. Turn the blender off and add the protein powder and the cocoa (and monk fruit if using); blend until smooth, about 30 seconds, and turn off the blender.

2. Add the egg-white powder and blend until smooth, about 10 seconds, then add the ice and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour the smoothie into four pint-sized glasses.

Hot Tip: Add a pinch of salt if your diet can afford the sodium -- it will really draw out the full flavor of the cocoa.

THE SKINNY: 198 calories, 2g fat (0.25g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 488mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 30.75g protein

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