Diet trumps exercise in weight loss, says trainer Harper

Published: August 19, 2013
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Bob Harper’s book, The Skinny Rules, offers tips on how to drop excess weight. PHOTO: FILE

Bob Harper’s book, The Skinny Rules, offers tips on how to drop excess weight. PHOTO: FILE

Celebrity trainer Bob Harper, of the weight-loss TV show The Biggest Loser, has built a career putting very obese people through some grueling fitness paces but if he’s learnt anything from the experience, it’s that diet trumps exercise every time.

The Los Angeles-based trainer said gone are the days when he believed it was possible to just exercise the pounds away.

“It is all about your diet,” Harper, 48, said during a break from filming Season 15 of the long-running US show. “I used to think a long time ago that you can beat everything you eat out of you but it’s just absolutely not the case.”

Bob Harper’s book, The Skinny Rules, offers tips on how to drop excess weight. PHOTO: FILE

Harper has spun his TV fame improving the fitness of people who are 100 pounds (45 kg) or more overweight into an empire with DVD workouts and the best-selling book The Skinny Rules, which offers tips to drop excess weight.

He said if the ‘skinny’ of his book titles and fitness DVDs is meant tongue-in-cheek, it is also the word that his morbidly obese clients attach to most.

“People say, ‘Shouldn’t I be fit? Shouldn’t I be healthy?’, and I say ‘Yes, absolutely. But what I always hear from my contestants on the show is, ‘I just want to get skinny.’”

In addition to promoting a healthy diet, a big part of his exercise routine includes lunges and other core-strengthening moves to burn enough fat to let the inner six-pack shine through.

Harper said the workout is aimed at getting the heart rate up because that’s when people are going to be able to burn fat. When fat is burnt off, the abdominal muscles are exposed.

He also adheres to the no-frills strength and condition program called Crossfit, which is a series of timed, ever-changing physical challenges that he says are suitable for everyone.

“I’m working with people who are 500 pounds [227 kg] and doing Crossfit on a regular basis,” said Harper, who described the approximately 20-minute workout as well-balanced.

“To me Crossfit just completely makes sense, as long as you work at your level doing the things you can do with proper coaching,” he explained.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2013.

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