At last, we can all agree: carbs are not evil! In Bob Harper's new book, The Super Carb Diet, the celebrity fitness trainer reiterates something we at EatingWell have known for a long time. It's not about cutting out carbs, but instead it's choosing the right kind of healthy carbs. The Super Carb Diet covers which carbs are super and which carbs Harper dubs "carbage," the type of refined carbs and sugars that spike your blood sugar and don't do much for you nutritionally. Harper's approach to eating carbs has changed since he suffered from a near-deadly heart attack last year. But his new style of eating—more of a Mediterranean-style diet—is one of the healthiest ways to eat. We wanted to ask the man himself for some of his best advice for those of us looking to eat healthier, what's new in his diet and exercise routine and what a typical day looks like. See his answers below.
If you were to give someone looking to start eating healthier one piece of advice, what would that be?
"The first thing I would say is to pick just one thing to change in regard to their diet first. Too many changes too soon could be overwhelming and you may be less likely to stick with it. Choose one thing and gradually incorporate other changes."
What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
"I tend to not have my first meal until after my yoga class in the morning or my CrossFit workout. After that I will have my first meal which could be a nonfat Greek yogurt with fresh berries and a teaspoon of nut butter. I will add extra berries since I'm not likely to add any veggies to that meal. Lunch will usually be a BIG salad with plenty of peppers and chicken. I'll add a quarter of an avocado and use balsamic vinegar. Dinner is when I do most of my cooking, I LOVE TO COOK! I'll always roast up some veggies and put them on the brown rice, and my protein will more than likely be a white fish or a chicken breast. Sometimes I will go ALL veggie and grain and make an eggplant steak (one of my favorites)."
Why do you think people are so afraid to eat carbs?
"Carbs have gotten such a bad rap for so long. With certain diets out there, people realized that if you drastically reduce your carb intake, you would see results quickly. The problem there is that it is very hard to sustain. The key is to put balance back on your plate and eat the right amount of all the macronutrients."
What's the difference between a super carb and "carbage"?
"Super carbs are fiber-dense carbohydrates that act as a great fuel source to the body and have a slower digestion process. Carbage is more-sugary carbs that easily transport into the blood system and quickly leave you wanting more, hence the overeating of carbage that happens to many people. Empty calories are never a good thing when you are trying to lose weight."
Don't Miss: What Are Complex Carbohydrates?
How do you feel about "carbage" in moderation?
"My hope is that when you commit to my plan you will be less likely to crave those types of foods because you are conditioning your body to get what it needs, and in return you get what you want out of your body. I am completely realistic and know that no one is perfect, and I know that I am never going to NOT HAVE some pretzels in my life, but sometimes rules can be a good thing."
How have your beliefs around food and diet changed since having your heart attack?
"I have done a lot of soul-searching when it comes to my diet since my heart attack. I have found that balancing my macronutrients like in The Super Carb Diet, with an emphasis on using foods found in a Mediterranean-style diet, has been very beneficial to me."
How has your workout routine and philosophy changed since your heart attack?
"I am definitely easier on myself than I ever have been. Yoga and meditation are on the top of my to-do lists and I find time in my day to stop and smell the roses. Life is fleeting and we can all get so caught up in the day-to-day. I have found a whole new appreciation for life when I'm walking my dogs in the city and just taking it all in. I am also doing CrossFit again but I have a different approach. I'm not looking to work at super-high intensities anymore. I know where I like to keep my heart rate when I work out and I don't stray from that."
Besides eating a well-rounded diet and exercising regularly, what else do you do and recommend to be healthy?
"I can't stress this enough … YOU MUST MANAGE YOUR STRESS!!! Stress management is absolutely the key to a healthy lifestyle. When you manage your stress you will be more likely to make better food choices during the day because you won't be acting on impulse. Managing stress can also help in prioritizing your day so that you are more likely to find time to get to the gym. It is all about taking care of yourself in the best possible way."