In the Spotlight: Bob Harper
How The Biggest Loser trainer and host turned a major health scare into a new path to wellness.
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Bob Harper couldn’t have been more fit at 51. Working out by day, the bestselling Skinny Rules author was penning his next diet and nutrition book by night. And then, on February 12, 2017, a massive heart attack—due primarily to a genetic condition called high lipoprotein(a)—nearly took his life.
“When I woke up two days later in the hospital, I was in the middle of writing this book,” Harper says. “I had to go back to the drawing board because I knew that so many things were going to be different, and I wanted my personal story in the forefront. Because what happened to me became so public, I knew that I’d have to address it. And after all of the conversations I’ve had with different nutritionists and doctors, the word that kept coming into my head was ‘balance.’ I needed balance in my life and on my plate.”
Enter The Super Carb Diet: Shed Pounds, Build Strength, Eat Real Food. “I decided that this book’s plan needed to be more of a balance of macronutrients—protein, fat, and carbs—and then incorporating more vegetables. This was how I was being told to eat, and this was how I really wanted the book to be geared.”
Also reflecting his new emphasis on stress reduction, this nutrient-rich, food-measuring protocol recommends specific workouts, stress-alleviation strategies, and sleep habits. Although it’s designed as a weight-loss and management program, the Super Carb principles can change your plate for good. “It’s a 90-day plan, but this book can also be a way of eating for the rest of your life,” says Harper.
Why the change of heart about carbs, which you used to rule out after lunch?
If you’re trying to lose weight quickly, a great way to do it is to eliminate your carbohydrate intake. What I’m realizing now is how difficult that is to sustain. So when I decided to put The Super Carb Diet to the test, I wanted it to be balanced. And instead of having those several smaller meals throughout the day, I wanted to go back to having three square meals a day with one (carb-free) floater meal. When you eat like this, you can eat carbs at night because you’re balancing them out with the proper amount of protein and fat. Together it makes for a really strong combination and something you can do for the long run.
So what is a “super carb”?
The super carbs are your fresh fruit, your leafy greens, your complex carbohydrates. I’m a person who wants to be able to eat a sandwich and not feel like I’ve committed a cardinal sin. To be able to have a breakfast sandwich is something I really enjoy. And if I wanted that breakfast sandwich at 8 p.m. for my dinner, then it’s also going to work into my plan. I love pasta, and I’ve been having this lentil pasta that I really, really like. So lentil pasta and a chickpea pasta that I found are two of my favorite super carbs.
What are the waistline benefits of such high-fiber carbs—versus “carbage”?
You want food that’s going to take longer to digest. Fiber-rich complex carbohydrates are a slower burn in the system. When they team up with proper portions of protein, fat, and fibrous vegetables, you’re going to be satisfied. What I call carbage are the simple carbs that rip through your system and leave you hungry 30 minutes later. Suddenly, you’re like, “Why am I gaining all this weight? It’s got to be the carbs.” Well, no, it’s the choice of carbs, the choice of all the foods you’re eating.
How do healthy fats fit into this diet?
We want those good fats—like those in avocados, almond butter, and healthy oils—that help to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol). But people have kind of gone overboard. People out there are saying, “Have all the fat you want as long as you don’t have carbs.” What I try to tell people is that if you’re trying to lose weight, don’t feel like you can sit in front of the television with a bag of almonds. There are benefits (to
eating healthy fats), but it has to be portioned out.
The Super Carb Diet requires a food scale. Isn’t this a bit daunting?
People get frustrated about that in the beginning. But the way I want you to eat, you’ve got to measure out your protein, your fat, and your carbs—and then you’ll start to realize what a real portion size looks like. At first, I was so annoyed that I would have to do this, but now I don’t have to do it. I know what 5 oz. of protein looks like. After you start understanding this and seeing the results of scaling, it becomes second nature.
Win a Copy of This Book!
Bob Harper is giving away 15 copies of his new book to Better Nutrition readers (thank you, Bob!). Enter to win by emailing your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “Bob Harper Book” in the subject line.