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Food Talk: Harley Pasternak

January 11, 2013
Trainer to the stars Harley Pasternak believes in eating 5 meals a day, stop eating before you're full, and that juice "cleanses" are a bad idea.

He’s made Halle Berry, Lady Gaga and Robert Pattinson look great—and not just on the outside. We asked LA-based celebrity trainer and nutritional expert Harley Pasternak to share his A-list dietary advice.

Q. How did you arrive at your current food philosophy?

A. I have a Masters in nutrition, was a nutritional scientist for the Department of National Defense, and both my brothers have Type 1 diabetes. In private practice, I have visited the ten healthiest countries in the world (and discuss it in my book, The 5-Factor World Diet).

And I’ve found a million things. People in Sweden eat sandwiches with only one piece of bread and they practice lagom, which means they stop eating when they’re about 70% full. Same in Japan—the Japanese practice hara hachi bunme which means they eat only until 80% full. They use chopsticks in certain countries, which means you can’t shovel food down as quickly. They have multiple courses, like in France, so meals take longer. Italians take walks after dinner—it’s called a passeggiata. They eat a lot of different ingredients in many countries in a way that we don’t here. For example, in the bread in Sweden you can actually see the grains. Many countries use pickling in a way that we don’t, from Korea and kimchi to the ceviche styles of Spain.

Q. How do you recommend people eat?

A. People should eat five times per day—three meals and two snacks—which contain a low fat protein, a healthy carb, fiber, healthy fat and a calorie-free beverage. Low fat protein [can be] anything from fish, seafood, egg whites, Greek yogurt, poultry, beans, legumes. Healthy carbs: whole grains, quinoa, oats, wild rice, vegetables, fruits, fiber. Healthy fat: from olive oil to avocados to fish oil. Calorie-free beverage: sparkling water, tea.

My new book coming out soon, called The Body Reset Diet, is a 15-day reset for your appetite, metabolism, palate and digestion.

Q. Is it another liquid cleanse?

A. Absolutely not. There is a glaring ignorance about how the human body functions and complete absence of science and/or evidence-based knowledge when it comes to cleansing or fasting. The human body is so resilient—we replace every cell of our intestinal lining every 90 days, we replace all of our red blood cells every 30 days. Cleanses tend to eliminate essential food groups and nutrients. They can do a lot of damage to your metabolism, your palate, your energy levels and your mood. No one in the field would ever condone a cleanse unless you’re Jewish and fasting for Yom Kippur.

Q. Are there restaurants in LA that work with your food philosophy?

A. Toast Café does an incredible egg white burrito with black beans and avocado. Kings Road Café has amazing huevos rancheros. Hugo’s has a traditional Moroccan dish called tagine that I like. The shrimp pho at 9021PHO is great. And Amici’s has a delicious herb crusted salmon on a bed of lentils.

Q. How do you define “healthy and fit” with your clients?

A. If you feel good and look good, that’s all that matters. Doesn’t matter what the scale says.

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