Flay, whose “Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook” was published by Clarkson Potter on Tuesday, says his weight-loss effort wasn’t motivated by health concerns. “I wanted to feel better about myself,” he says. He’s also aware that, “as you get older, your metabolism changes,” making it harder to shed unwanted pounds.
So, how’d he trim the fat?
“For me, it’s all about moderation,” Flay says. “I don’t kick things out of my diet, like carbs,” he says. “But I’m not going to eat fast food.”
Beyond that, Flay says four basic changes in his diet have fueled his weight loss:
●“When I go to a restaurant, I eat three-quarters of the food in front of me. That cuts my calorie intake by 25 percent.”
●“I work out to eat.” Flay’s exercise of choice is running; he’s done several marathons, and he says he always runs as if he’s training for the next one.
●“If something doesn’t taste good, I stop eating it.”
●“I don’t eat late at night.” Flay says he used to eat out with restaurant staff members after hours and has now changed his eating schedule.
That “small-changes” approach is heartily embraced in nutrition circles.
Katherine Tallmadge, a D.C.-based registered dietitian and author of “
” (Lifeline Press, revised edition July 2011), notes that even a relatively small weight loss such as Flay’s “can make a dramatic difference in your health,” improving your blood sugar, cholesterol levels and other factors that contribute to your body’s well-being. “And it’s not just the weight” loss itself that helps, she says. “It’s the new habits themselves that make people feel better.”
Make some small changes, Tallmadge says, and “within a few weeks you feel on top of the world. You haven’t lost that much weight, but the behavior changes are making you feel better.”
Tallmadge notes that when “boring” dietitians, such as herself, mention moderation and small changes as a weight-loss strategy, “it’s usually something people roll their eyes over. It’s hard to tell people to avoid rigid diets, fad diets. But research shows those diets can’t work. They’re temporary. They don’t last.”
Making a handful of doable lifestyle changes is a better way to achieve lasting weight loss, Tallmadge says. And while she loves “absolutely everything” I told her Flay had done to shed pounds, she points out that others don’t need to follow his lead precisely.
Instead of running, for instance, Tallmadge says many people benefit more from walking. Although Flay is motivated by his next marathon, Tallmadge suggests the rest of us “find a cause to walk for.”