• Celebrity trainer Bob Harper, of the weight-loss TV show ‘The Biggest Loser’, has said that for significant weight loss, diet is key
  • Admitted that he once believed people could ‘beat everything they eat out of them’ but that he has since discovered this simply is not true
  • Still believes fitness is essential for health but for those who need to need to lose weight, food should be the focus

Daily Mail Reporter

09:42 EST, 23 August 2013


13:10 EST, 23 August 2013

Bob Harper said that he once thought you could work everything you eat off, but that in reality it isn't that simple

Bob Harper said that he once thought you could work everything you eat off, but that in reality it isn’t that simple

Celebrity trainer Bob Harper, of the weight-loss TV show ‘The Biggest Loser’, has built a career putting very obese people through some gruelling 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.

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.

fat man gym

Don’t sweat it: Those who are keen to lose weight must address their eating habits if they really want to shift the pounds. Exercise is, however, still essential for fitness and wider health

‘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.

But Dr. Mark Kelly, an exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise, said that even with supervision, CrossFit can be risky if the fitness groundwork isn’t in place.

‘CrossFit has very ballistic training. You’re asking people to move fast through a large range of motion. Even with coaching, the foundation of stability, mobility and psychomotor skill has to be laid (first),’ he said.

Kelly agrees that diet is the main factor that can lower weight, but it’s exercise, he adds, that allows that lower weight to stick.

He cited the National Weight Control Registry, a research study that includes people 18 years or older who have lost at least 13.6 kg (30 lb) of weight and kept it off for at least one year. Ninety percent of those in the study exercise regularly.

‘They’re the biggest losers across the nation,’ Kelly said. ‘And the No. 1 thing they did was exercise on a regular basis. Many simply through walking.’

The comments below have not been moderated.

Keep a daily log of calories consumed, and stay active, the weight will drop off. The key word is discipline. Download a food calorie chart, or see the food packaging for calorie and fat content. Also, you can download a ‘calories consumed’ table which lists most of the everyday activities and the calories you use up depending on your weight. You do not need to pay someone to help you lose weight.


Banbury, United Kingdom,
23/8/2013 22:39

But we already knew that.


23/8/2013 22:37

When is the world going to wake up and realise that diets don’t work. how many people do you know that have been on a diet, stopped the diet and put all the weight back on again. Exercise is for life, diets are not. What we all must understand that if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to make a lifestyle change, thats eating correctly and exercising, its not a short term thing, its a full-time lifestyle change. Speak to the professional at Fit Fast Trainers

Peter Sleight

London, United Kingdom,
23/8/2013 22:35

The sky is blue!


23/8/2013 22:19

I’m amazed how someone is allowed to get 45kg overweight in the first place. Drugs, alcohol and tobacco are controlled because they can harm people, but excess weight harms far more people.


23/8/2013 22:05

I have exercised all my life, gym most days and running, working out hard, not just turning up at the gym and watching tv but could never lose weight. Following thyroid cancer my weight increased and although not obese i was chunky. After 3 months on high protein, low carbs and exercise the weight fell off and now 8 kilos lighter i now know how easy it can be to lose weight. Exercise is important but so is diet.

Algarvean resident

Lagos Portugal,
23/8/2013 22:00

Has this ever been a secret?


UK, United Kingdom,
23/8/2013 21:54

Wow, so if you exercise and burn more calories than you consume, you’ll lose weight and if you maintain a balance between calorific intake and calorific expenditure, the weight will stay off. Well I never. Give that man a Nobel prize for stating the blindingly obvious

Mustapha Liyek

23/8/2013 21:31

The key is diet and lots of water!!

Hugh Jasole

Healdton OK,
23/8/2013 21:18

Diet is key but I think we underestimate exercise. I have low blood pressure despite being a caffeine addict and low blood sugar despite being a bit of a sugar junkie. All of this is because of exercise. I try to eat natural, unprocessed foods but I have noticed that having a higher muscle mass means that I have increased my metabolism so if I ever do fall off the bandwagon and have something I shouldn’t I don’t need to feel guilty as I won’t gain a pound. I pushed my son out in 25 mins in labour and didn’t have a single complication in pregnancy.

My friend on the other hand, is a lot stricter with her sugar intake yet has suspected diabetes. She also does no exercise. I personally think it’s 60-65% diet and the rest exercise.


23/8/2013 21:17

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