After 13 seasons of The Biggest Loser, contestants who end up on Bob Harper’s Blue Team probably know what they’re in for: a tough-love trainer who will push them beyond what they believe their bodies can do. Now everyone can get a taste of that no-nonsense guidance with Bob’s new book, The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to THIN. We caught up with the Southern-born trainer after an early morning workout in New York City.
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Spry: One of your toughest rules is “Eat at least 10 meals a week at home.” We’re all so busy—what can people do to minimize their time in the kitchen?
Bob: When you prepare your meals at home, you have full control. I’m a big fan of planning ahead and taking time on the weekend to fill your fridge with all the foods you need for a healthy week.
Spry: Rule No. 7 is “No carbs after lunch.” Why not just eliminate carbs altogether?
Bob: I don’t believe in cutting out a major food group completely. Carbs are an excellent energy source. If you “front-load” your carbs—eat them earlier in the day—you stand a really good chance of burning them off.
Spry: What’s your favorite no-carb meal?
Bob: “Lean & Green”: I will get a good-size serving of any kind of lean protein that I’m in the mood for, some great roasted veggies and a big salad. I love eating this way.
Spry: You don’t agree with allowing dieters a “cheat day.” Why not?
Bob: If you think you can eat whatever you want on one day, it continues the idea that binge eating is acceptable. I tell people to approach a healthy lifestyle as 80-20. If you’re eating right 80 percent of the time, there’s nothing you can never have. And here’s the best thing: Your body starts to get used to that, and you’re not going to be able to eat the way you did before. I come from Tennessee, where fried food was a part of my diet. I can’t eat French fries anymore—they make me sick. Even when it’s time for my splurge meal, there are some foods I just don’t want.
Spry: One trick you advocate is “Harpersizing” your serving of veggies—eating more than a “standard” portion. How does this help someone to lose weight?
Bob: This allows a person who is struggling with their weight to have a healthy portion of food and still lose. Veggies will add bulk to your plate without adding bulk to your waist.
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Spry: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently predicted that 42 percent of Americans could be obese by 2030. What do you think is the answer to this problem?
Bob: It’s really cheap to eat unhealthy foods. We have to realize that we’re either going to pay now at the grocery store or we’re going to pay later with healthcare costs. I tell the people I train that the foods I want them to eat are going to be more expensive, but you have to find a way to manage it for the sake of your health. It’s almost like putting money in your savings account for when you get older.
Spry: What was it like to film last season’s The Biggest Loser episode at the White House with Michelle Obama?
Bob: It was the coolest thing ever. The First Lady’s a real role model: She is extremely fit, and she makes time to work out. People always say, “I have no time to work out,” but she’s the First Lady and she manages it!