Well: What's Your Workout? A Food Star's Fitness Plan

The Food Network chef Robert Irvine hosts the popular show Restaurant: Impossible, in which he and his team race to turn around a troubled restaurant on a 48-hour deadline. During a recent episode, Mr. Irvine renovated a community center in Washington that provides tutoring and healthful meals to children a challenge issued to him by Michelle Obama.

When hes not filming for the Food Network, he promotes nutrition and exercise at schools, and tours the country doing a live show that revolves around fitness and culinary demonstrations. Mr. Irvine, 47, also manages to squeeze in 5 a.m. workouts six or seven days a week, and in 2007, Mens Fitness magazine named him one of the 25 Fittest Guys in America.

Recently, we spoke with Mr. Irvine about his daily fitness routine and how a top chef manages to combine food and fitness.


You seem to be passionate about fitness and nutrition. Whats your personal philosophy on food?


I was in the military for a long time, and Ive always believed in physical fitness and health. But over the last five years I started to change my diet. Not completely. But when I met my wife, Gail Kim, she had a profound influence on my life because she doesnt eat dairy and a lot of other things like that, and it made me more healthy.

Im a classically trained chef. We put lots of eggs and cream and salt in food. But now, because of Gail, when I cook I use less butter and cream. Weve become so much more than that. And I try and emphasize that when I speak to young children.


Do you follow a strict diet? Do you have any indulgences?


I eat dairy and I eat a little butter, but my wife doesnt, so Ive moderated that. In the morning I eat oatmeal and Ill do eggs and egg whites. I eat a lot of vegetables and salads, mostly high-protein foods and not so many carbs. I try not to do carbs after 2 p.m. I try to follow moderation. I love desserts. I would eat a dessert at every meal. But Gail has really put the kibosh on me eating garbage.


As youve gotten older, have you changed your workouts?


I dont do heavy weights. Im 47 and too old for that now. I think the best way to lift weights is to do light weights and lots of repetitions. I do one body part a day. Normally chest followed by back, shoulders, biceps and then triceps. I very rarely do legs because I do cardio about 20 minutes every day. So I try not to do too many leg workouts other than running. I also like the elliptical machine.


You travel a lot and have a packed schedule. How do you fit in your workouts?


I spend 330 days a year on the road. I make sure theres a gym either next to where were staying or very close to it. Ive got 40 people on my team cameras, audio, production staff and 12 of them are in the gym with me every morning.

Every morning, we work out at 5 a.m. The only time Im not working out at 5 a.m. is when Im home. Then Ill sleep in a little and do the workout in the afternoon.


What mistakes do you think people often make in their workouts?


I think the biggest mistake people make when they first get into the gym is they push and push, and then they get so sore that they dont come back. They use too much weight because thats the macho thing to do. Or they lift with poor form and they get injured.

The exercise has to fit who you are and how old you are and your experience level. Start slow and work into things and youll come back. Ive got a 62-year-old guy on the set who does sound production and works out with me. Hes never been fit. But he started working out with me and hes done amazing things.

Heres a guy who used to carry a big sound boom, so his back was shot; he was always complaining. And now he exercises, he eats well, he feels better when he wakes up in the morning. You can see that hes losing weight and hes gaining muscle, and he gets excited for our workouts. In the beginning I started him out slowly. If I had given him too much weight when we started, he wouldve been so sore he never wouldve done it again.


Do you have any tips on how people can eat well and stay in shape?


Think about your meals ahead of time. You have to have breakfast in the morning. If you dont have much time, then eat instant oatmeal. Itll stay in your stomach for two hours. When youre running around with no food in your stomach, your blood sugar drops, you feel terrible and you get headaches. Two hours after that you can have eggs, whole-wheat toast, things like that. And every two hours from then you eat something. Small meals are way better than large meals. You can digest them faster.

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  1. Reply

    Workout Tips? Want to get abs asap, need workout tips

      • HealthNut
      • September 7, 2012

      Best video ever made for abs. Shows every ab workout and it’s quick.


  2. Reply

    Is There An Online Site That Gives Free Workout Tips? I’m looking for a site that gives free workout tips and tips on getting abs. I don’t need a so-called “quick trick” that will supposedly get me a six-pack in 2 days. I just want tips on how to work out and what to eat to get in shape.

      • HealthNut
      • September 7, 2012

      If you want to stay in shape, you need to adopt healthy eating habits and make exercise a part of your daily life.

      How to start?

      Choose exercises you enjoy according to your fitness level. Aerobics exercises move the muscles fairly continuously and strengthen the heart and lungs. Examples of such activities are brisk walking, jogging, aerobic dancing, swimming, badminton, cycling and football.

      If you have not exercised for a long time or just started, start slowly and increase gradually over a period of 3 to 6 weeks.

      For those who are above 35 years old, overweight, or have medical problems, you need to check with a medical doctor before you embark on an exercise programme.

      Frequency or How often?

      Exercise for at least 20 minutes, 3 times a week or more

      Intensity and duration?

      Do exercise until you perspire and breathe deeply without getting breathless. You should be able to talk or whistle while exercising.

      Do warm up and stretch for at least 5 minutes before exercise. Also not to forget to cool down and stretch after exercise.

  3. Reply

    Can You Give Me Some Workout Tips On Buns? I have a big butt and I don’t know how to lose the waight. Can someone help me out? Can you name some workout tips that might work for me?

      • HealthNut
      • September 7, 2012

      Squats….work a treat, trust me!

  4. Reply

    Allover Workout Tips For 17 Year Old Female? I want to flatten my stomach and tone up my arms. Does anyone have any good tips or links to simple workout routines?

      • HealthNut
      • September 7, 2012

      Try having fun while doing a workout, and incorporate both toning and cardio. watch tv or listen to music while doing sit ups or push ups. or just find random things around your house that are heavish for you and lift while watching tv or smoething. dance, or find workout videos on youtube. it helps:) good luck!
      this is one that i tried out…
      also watch what you eat!

  5. Reply

    What Diet/workout Tips Do You Have To Become Thinner, More Lean? I don’t want to gain muscle, I have huge thighs. I am just trying to slim down. What workout/diet tips do you reccomend?

      • HealthNut
      • September 7, 2012

      Aerobics + diet.

    • XP
    • September 7, 2012

    Can I Have Some Good Workout Tips? Hey could I get some good workout tips. I’m medium built but i want to be lean and fit. I also want to tone and shape my legs a lot. Please tell me if you have any good tips!

      • HealthNut
      • September 7, 2012

      Yes,visit the following sites for fitness.You may not need a full-fledged diet right now, but you can still incorporate some slim-down strategies into your daily life.

      Eat breakfast. Studies show that eating breakfast is associated with keeping weight off once you’ve lost it.

      Fill up on low-cal foods. Start every meal with the items on your plate that are lowest in calories. By the time you get to the other foods, you won’t be so hungry, possibly decreasing your total intake.

      Begin with soup. Starting lunch or dinner with a broth-based, vegetable-filled soup will curb hunger so you’ll be less tempted to eat higher-calorie foods.

      Arrive fashionably late. Without as much time near the buffet table at parties, you’ll eat less.

      Divide your lunch. Afternoon snacker? Cut your lunch in half: have part at mealtime and the other half later in the afternoon.

      Swap mustard for mayo. A tablespoon of mayonnaise has 100 calories, compared with 10 calories for a tablespoon of yellow mustard.

      Duration of Exercise
      You may not be exercising long enough. The rule of thumb is cardio for 30 minutes, three times per week. If you really want to reach your goal, try five 45-minute cardio workouts per week. That sounds like a lot of exercise, but remember this is in order to meet your goal, not necessarily maintain it.

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