For 'Biggest Loser' trainer, diet trumps exercise in weight loss

Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:48pm EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - 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 learned anything from the experience, it's that diet trumps exercise every time.

The Los Angeles-based trainer, who was born on a cattle farm in Tennessee and arrived in California some 20 years ago, 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 U.S. show. "I used to think a long time ago that you can beat everything you eat out of you and it's just absolutely not the case."

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 and when fat is burned off, the abdominal muscles are exposed.   Continued...

Trainer Bob Harper takes part in a panel discussion of NBC Universal's show "The Biggest Loser" during the 2013 Winter Press Tour for the Television Critics Association in Pasadena, California January 6, 2013. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas