Getting your body beach-ready isn't just about working out, but making changes in the kitchen, too. For some tips on getting fit, we turned to Chef J Maxwell. For the past two years, the Harlem resident has served as personal chef to Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia -- whose own body transformation has made waves in recent months.
What were your goals when you started cooking for CC?
I'm a firm believer in that just by cutting out simple things, your body metabolism just changes. With CC, it was cutting out all preservatives, carbs and doubling up on vegetables and protein to help his metabolism speed up.
What other things did you change?
The first week for me being there, we started a juice cleanse, which basically detoxed his body. From there, it was an easy transition. His cravings were no longer as hard as it was before. After the cleanse, we slowly put him back on veggies and protein. He lost weight pretty fast that first year. After that, what we really had to do was build his muscles back up.
How can someone without the luxury of a personal chef eat better?
For getting ready for the summer, you definitely want to cut out the carbs. Once you cut out the carbs, eat lean meats like fish and chicken breast. Transition over to olive oil or coconut oil. Try to stay away from a lot of sugars, like in soda. Drink lots of water. This can make a drastic change even before you start to exercise. When you eat a lot of carbs and sugar, you tend to crash and feel bloated. To relieve some of the bloating, stay away from carbs and eat a high-veggie diet. You're going to make your body feel more energetic.
What should your day look like?
It definitely speeds up your metabolism by eating those essential meals. In the morning, you should definitely eat breakfast. If you're going to eat carbs, I recommend that you eat them early in the morning. For lunch, you could do a side salad with fish or a lean meat. I would stay away from red meats -- maybe not every day, but every other day. It really takes 48 hours for red meat to leave your system. If you eat it back-to-back, it slows down your metabolism. Also, if you go to sleep at say 9 p.m., you should have your last meal by 7.
What's the reasoning behind the two-hour window?
When you eat something heavy and go to sleep, it slows down your metabolism. Fat tends to build up in your body. You really want to stay away from eating late at night, but if you do eat, you should eat something like raw almonds, which are a natural hunger suppressant.
What are other good snacks?
One thing I do for my client is parfaits. CC loves parfaits. I'll do a fresh fruit parfait -- cut up some apples, grapes, bananas, with non-fat Greek yogurt. You can put granola in if you like, or some flax seed. Eat a small bowl -- no more than 10 ounces. If you like almonds, you can do sliced or chopped almonds as well. It gives you that energy boost.
What are your tips for staying on course?
You always have to have a cheat day. This is a necessity. I find that it works with most people I've dealt with, even my current client. When you have that cheat day, you work hard to get to that day and really appreciate it. It's a mental thing. I feel like taking everything away all at once and not going towards it, you can relapse.