Diet Review: Bob Harper’s Jumpstart to Skinny

Featured Article, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Plans
on April 24, 2013
Biggest Loser's Bob Harper's diet tips.
Adam Riley

Spry editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes–and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.

DEAR READERS: In lieu of the usual Q and A, here’s another in my series of diet reviews based on the latest and/or most popular regimens.

The plan: Jumpstart to Skinny, by Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper

The premise: This plan is meant to be just what the title says: a jumpstart, a three-week, super-intense diet and fitness regimen aimed at getting you fit and ready for some big body-conscious event—wedding, beach vacation, high school/college reunion. Bob lays this out at the beginning, directing readers to his previous tome, The Skinny Rules, for a program to pick up after the veritable honeymoon’s over.

RELATED: Bob Harper’s Favorite Recipes

Key details: This is purportedly the same program Bob uses to get celebrity friends red carpet-ready. He makes it clear at the outset that your success depends on adhering to his 13 must-follow rules to the “T”—any deviation will undercut your desire to fit into that LBT. That means no cheating on his 800-calorie (!) daily diet (1200 for men), a number that’s well below what’s typically recommended for long-term weight-loss success. But to his credit, Bob is not positioning this as a long-term solution—it’s a get-thinner-quick scheme comparable to the highly restrictive first phases of other diets like Atkins and South Beach. I have a hard time believing you’d have enough energy to get through the days (let alone the short-but-intense Jumpstart workouts) on so few calories, though. Other than the calorie levels, though, many of his “rules” are completely sensible: Include protein in all meals to prevent carb cravings; go for high-fiber fruits; drink 16 oz. water before every meal and every snack; cut WAY back on salt. My personal favorite is eat unlimited non-starchy vegetables—a tactic that got me through when I was on Weight Watchers years ago, and one that can only improve your health and wellness on all levels. As for fitness, the plan features a mix of 45 minutes of low-intensity cardio—surprisingly, Bob suggests simply walking—preferably before breakfast, mostly to make sure you get your daily exercise. In addition, he requires (remember, this is not a recommendation!) 15-20 minutes of his “jumpstart moves,” which include push-ups, sit-ups, squats, kettle-bell moves, burpees (ugh), etc. five days a week. The moves are all very simple and easy to understand (if not execute). Bob’s affection for Crossfit is obvious in his workouts. Recipes seem reasonable, and I have to say I love the focus on prepping ingredients like raw and roasted veggies, grains like rice and quinoa, and chicken breast to make meals easier to throw together.

RELATED: Diet Review: 10 Minutes to Thin?

Quick cautions: As I said above, this is a HIGHLY restrictive diet. Sticking to 800 calories, even for three weeks, may be tough. If you have ANY health issues, talk to your doc before you try this program.

FFG fave? I have to say no. I don’t love the focus on losing weight for a particular event—while many people have that goal, it’s too easy to, after the event is over, go back to old, unhealthy habits, until the next event rolls around. Adopting lifelong healthy habits is better for your body, mind and spirit than yo-yoing back and forth. While this program may be effective in the short term, my fear is that people who use it will not, as Bob suggests, “graduate” to a maintenance program, where they learn to make more real-world choices regarding their diet, exercise and health.

Lisa Delaney is editor of Spry magazine and Ask her your question here.