Al Roker: America’s Favorite (Skinny) Teddy Bear

Funny, charming and now fit - how Al Roker is running away with our hearts.

Al Roker used to known as the fat, funny weatherman. Today, he’s just a funny weatherman. He underwent a drastic weight loss procedure called gastric bypass surgery. Often done as a “last resort,” Al’s procedure involved rerouting the small intestine and dramatically shrinking the stomach. After the procedure, appetite levels decrease and an incredible amount of weight is lost in a patient’s first year. In the end, a new person emerges. The surgery is not a magic bullet, however. Keeping the weight off requires a lifestyle change with constant vigilance, discipline and restraint. How does Al do it? Does he have a secret diet plan? Does he have a personal chef cooking all of his healthy meals? Here’s his secret.

Burn, Baby Burn

Al follows a diet I like to call the HWD diet or the “Hard Work and Discipline diet.” No miracle in a bottle, no gimmicks, just hard work. Patients undergoing gastric bypass surgery always risk regaining weight after the procedure, even years later, according to the Mayo Clinic. To help keep the weight off, he follows a work out plan that incorporates strength training. As we age, we lose muscle, gain fat and our metabolism slows down. Strength training on a regular basis can help prevent this. Al doesn’t just lift weights in any way, however. He follows the “super-slow burn” method. The idea of this method is that the slower you lift and resist weights, the more tension you place on the muscle. In doing so, you wear down the muscles by keeping them loaded which triggers the body to respond by making muscle fibers grow. Each exercise in this workout is performed for only one set, which lasts around 80-160 seconds, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Sounds easy? Think again. Getting the slow burn method down takes a lot of practice and concentration to make sure you are keeping the form right and maintaining the mental stamina to keep pushing your muscles even when sore.

Diet Changes

In addition to pumping iron, Al follows a strict detox cleanse program which prohibits him from consuming foods with added sugar, gluten, dairy, caffeine, alcohol for about a month. He also stays away from red meat and utilizes portion control. This program seems a bit harsh. For example, avoiding gluten is very difficult. Gluten is in all types of bread and many cereals. The theory behind the detox cleanse program is that toxins in food such as pesticides, artificial sweeteners, preservatives accumulate in our bodies. Without periodic cleansing, they can cause a variety of things such as headaches, fatigue, weight gain, joint pain, and more. There are two things wrong with this program: 1) it is very difficult for to follow and 2) it is scientifically flawed and not clinically validated. Our bodies have their own detoxification system namely the liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract that can eliminate these harmful toxins from the body within hours of consumption, according to physicians at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the Capitol Gastroenterology Consultants Medical Group in Sacramento. Additionally, a very restrictive diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies or heart rhythm problems.

Cue in the Rocky Theme Song

If you see Al running in Central Park, do not disturb him. He’s training for the New York City Marathon. He puts on his sneakers and hits the pavement 4 miles twice a week. Al’s probably going to want to multiply this effort by 3 or 4 if he wants survive the marathon. The marathon isn’t a joke. Al is most likely following a program followed by a trainer. Hopefully he is getting in enough calories and nutrients if he’s “cleansing” during his training. You have to admire Al for doing what he’s doing though. Eight years ago he was a size 60, weighed 320lbs and had trouble walking. Today, he is training for one of the biggest marathons in the world while juggling a high profile job.

The Bottom Line

Al Roker’s workout plan will probably only work if you have a personal trainer and dietitian working with you almost all of the time. The slow burn training takes a while to master and can be very exhausting; the detox cleanse is not for the weary or people looking for a permanent weight loss program; and the marathon is its own monster. The good news about his plan is that it isn’t easy. Yes, you read that right. That’s the good news. Al seems to be in it for the long run and his workout plan may give him the long lasting results he desires. Too many celebrities push quick fix products that don’t keep the weight off. It’s refreshing to know that he’s marketing hard work.

In a nut shell:

Pros: Al Roker’s work out plan will probably allow him to do the weather and run a marathon at the same time. It requires a lot of sweat, discipline and sacrifice. While the detox cleanse program is difficult, cutting out alcohol and foods with added sugar is better for you anyway. The dairy and gluten might be going too far, however. Be sure to consult a dietitian to make sure you are getting the proper daily nutrients if you are considering any type of cleanse program.

Cons: No more morning Starbucks trips. His detox cleanse program cuts out added sugar, dairy, and caffeine. Also, a program like his requires a team of people to help you along the way; a personal trainer to make sure your slow burn form is right and a dietitian to smack that Oreo out of your hand.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 protein shakes

al roker, gastric bypass, running, superslow training

  • Expert

    Anna Lisa Somera (annalisasomera)


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