Kim Kardashian’s Body Guru Has a Liquid Diet for Middle America

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Photo: Courtesy of Harley Pasternak; Splash News/Getty Images

Trainer and nutritionist Harley Pasternak, of 5-Factor Diet fame, can regularly be spotted in the background of tabloid shots of Katy Perry, Hilary Duff, and Amanda Seyfried mid-workout, still adorable in leggings, sweaty baseball caps, and no makeup. (Stars: They’re not at all like us.) But Pasternak’s latest fitness program, the Body Reset Diet, was designed with a less photogenic cohort in mind: middle America. Pasternak got acquainted with the demographic last year, when he was a host on ABC’s The Revolution. “It took me away from living in L.A. and exposed me to the other 99.999 percent of women and men across the country with a more traditional lifestyle, concerns and goals,” he says. “I realized that the slow-and-steady message I’d been espousing is not a real world solution for everybody. People don’t want to wait 30 weeks, dropping a half a pound a week, to look and feel better.” He knew they didn’t want to wait because he saw them all turning to juice fasts, master cleanses, and diet pills. “I thought I’d give them a healthier solution to rapid weight loss and immediate health improvement.” So while it’s not as drastic — or as expensive — as a juice fast, the fifteen-day, smoothie-based diet does involve more liquid meals than middle America has seen this side of jaw surgery. The Cut caught up with Pasternak about the new diet, the shoes to go with it, and the couple client known as Kimye.

How are normal dieters different than your celebrity clientele?
My clients need to lose, maybe, three or four pounds, and tone or sculpt, but real people need immediate results and I need to give it to them in an immediate way. They are really interested in dropping weight and need to shed a lot of pounds. Their biggest obstacle to dieting is time. By using a blender, we eliminate the time it takes to make a meal.

That depends on how you define “meal … ”
A meal is a when you eat something that incorporates multiple food groups. The smoothies in phase one of the Body Reset Diet, they have everything —  fiber, healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals — your body would normally get from a meal. You’re getting it in a drinkable form.

So it’s like a juice cleanse, but with smoothies.
It’s not a cleanse. There is no such thing as a cleanse. Cleanses tell you that you need to get rid of that piece of gum you swallowed in fifth grade that is still stuck to your intestinal lining. That’s not true. We replace every cell of our intestinal lining every 90 days. Phase one of the Body Reset Diet, which consists of three smoothies a day, lasts five days. It’s to reset your metabolism, digestion, and palate. And between those three smoothies you’re having crunchy snacks: air-popped popcorn, cut veggies and hummus, crackers and sliced turkey. Right after this rapid weight loss, I replace one of these smoothies with a solid meal, and then two of those smoothies with solid meals. A recent study found that people who lose a significant amount of weight early in a diet are most successful in the long-term. It creates a confidence and a momentum that carries over to sticking to the plan.

You designed a not-running shoe, for New Balance, which launched at the same time as the book. I noticed The Body Reset diet involves minimal cardio. 
There’s a direct relationship between intensity of the cardio you do and your appetite. After you do that 50-minute spin class, you’re leaving there ravenous. We overestimate how many calories we actually burn. There was a study recently with two groups of people, and over twelve weeks, one group was told to walk 10,000 steps a day, to just be active throughout the day, and the other group did a one-hour intense boot camp. The group that never went to the gym lost significantly more weight. Plus, there’s the social aspect. What are you not doing during that time you’re at the gym?

Enough about us mortals. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are clients. Which one did you work with first?
Kanye has been a good friend for ten years. He flew back from London to Los Angeles for 24 hours just to go to my wedding. He introduced me to Kim. We’ll go out for dinner on double dates. If it’s one of our "free meals," we’ll indulge.

Speaking of Kim, is the Body Reset Diet and workout appropriate for pregnant women?
I would suggest upping the overall calorie intake for a pregnant woman. I primarily work with Kim on her nutrition, not exercise. And out of respect for Kim, I’m not going to talk about her diet while she’s pregnant. We’ll make sure she gets the things she needs, but it’s about being healthy, not dieting. And, for once in her life, not being strict, not getting ready for a bikini shoot, and embracing the beauty of being pregnant. But before being pregnant she was doing the Body Reset Diet, you can actually see her making a smoothie on the last episode of Kourtney and Kim Take Miami.

You took a hit on the blogs last week for comparing and contrasting the fitness levels of former Disney stars on your People magazine blog — and graciously apologized on Twitter.
People is an entertainment website and celebrity bodies is my business, but I would never critique someone’s body. Some of those women I wrote about are clients, and we’ve known each other since they were very young. Somewhere along the line, someone taught them how to eat properly and they’ve become such incredible role models. And, gosh, on the other end of the spectrum, aren’t there Disney actresses who haven’t been good role models? No matter what I write, people get angry. What was interesting was that the response from Canadians on Facebook was much more positive than comments. I think the U.S. has ultrasensitivity about weight loss. They’re sick of people telling them they’re obese and they only rank 40th in life expectancy. Canada ranks eleventh.

You’re Canadian.
Yes.

Famous women often get reduced to their body type or a prominent body part — Jessica’s boobs or Kim’s ass — in the public imagination. Do you take special precautions to make sure they maintain their body brand, if you will?
I think God maintains their body brands. It’s mostly genetics. When you make someone shrink, they shrink proportionally. I will say, though, that when I started training Halle Berry for Catwoman I got a lot of hate mail. “If you make you lose her butt, I’ll hunt you down. I’ll find you.” Same thing with Alicia Keys. Five years ago, I got her in really good shape and I got the e-mails. “Make sure she still has a butt. Don’t make her a boy.”

Can your celebrity clients chill out a little now that awards season is over?
Not at all. Ten years ago, maybe, it was like that. I used to train clients for an award or an event. Now, with paparazzi, my clients need to look good going to the grocery store. There’s a constant need to keep people looking good, which is why a juice cleanse isn’t enough.