Top Chef's Bruce Kalman is starting the year 52 pounds lighter thanks to the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet, which is burning up the scales in the country right now and was one of Google’s top trending health questions of 2018.
Similar to Atkins and other low-carb programs, the keto diet involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. That reduction in carbs puts the body into a natural metabolic state called ketosis, in which the body burns fat for energy instead of carbs.
Kalman and his partner in the soon-to-open Square Peg Pizza, Tyler Anderson, decided it was time to trim down. Anderson has lost 40 pounds.
“Tyler and I were both talking about it,” Kalman told L.A. Weekly recently at the Eat, Drink and Support event to benefit the L.A. Regional Food Bank.
“On Top Chef I got into pretty good shape, and then I came back with a new son at home. When you’re a parent you become less important, everything is about your family. I got busy and let myself go. It was the same with Tyler, and we started talking about it and said we should do keto. I want to be healthy and around for my family. My wife, Gina, is on it too, so that makes it easier.”
Kalman attributes his diet success to changing his way of thinking about food and what he puts in his mouth as well as changing habits that stem from occupational hazards in the kitchen.
“It makes you more aware,” says Kalman. “As a chef, it’s habitual to taste. So then tasting turns into eating. There’s a big difference — you can actually taste a tiny little bit of something as opposed to grabbing a fork and eating half of it. You have to do it right, you can’t just eat hamburgers with cheese all day long, you have to eat vegetables too, and balance it.
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"I’m busy, my wife Gina is busy, we have our son, Jude, so you have to meal plan or you won’t do it. You’ll cheat and start ordering stuff you shouldn’t be eating."
Kalman starts his day with a Bulletproof coffee in the morning, blending butter and MCT oil into it, and often doesn’t get hungry again until noon. He's also working out at the gym, and chasing Jude helped him lose the weight in the past six months.
“I love poultry and roasted chicken and tuna. Salmon is great for the keto diet, as are grass-fed meats. We buy grass-fed bison and make bunless burgers with that," Kalman says. "I did crave sugar, but now if I eat something super sweet I can’t finish it. I stopped drinking soda a long time ago and now if I just have a sip of cola it’s disgusting. It’s terrible.”
Many credit the keto diet with reducing blood sugar and insulin levels; there’s even debate over whether it can help fight cancer.