Penn Jillette opens up about the diet tips and tricks that enabled him to jump start his 105 pound weight loss. He also details the whole-food, plant-based diet and fitness routine that’s enabled him to keep the weight off.
The iconic 61-year-old magician and illusionist has drawn headlines for his dramatic weight loss and while he’s given interviews here and there, he now has a book with a compelling title; “Presto! How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales.”
For him the turning point was not fat shaming on social media, but something quite literally life threatening. His weight, at its highest point was 334 pounds. Even for the towering six-foot-seven frame that was clearly excessive, and gave him a BMI of 37.6; anything over 30 is considered obese.
In October 2014 he underwent heart surgery for a blockage. Already at the time he was on no less than six prescription drugs for his high blood pressure which he said “were all at the highest doses available.” And, given that his situation was so dire, as told The New York Post, doctors were recommending gastric bypass surgery to enable him to lose the weight to control his hypertension.
He said, “The measurement was so extreme that it gave me license to do something crazy [in order to avoid it].” And the “something crazy” in contrast was literally more palatable than surgery.
Penn Jillette ate potatoes. That’s the headline, at least, that’s drawing notice. But it’s a little more involved than that. He explained that he happened to meet a former NASA scientist, Ray Cronise. Under his guidance he adopted the whole foods plant-based eating plan that Cronise himself had followed with success. Along with avoiding all process foods and animal foods as well as sugar oil and flower, Cronise also recommended a two-week potato fast.
For two weeks Jilette ate only potatoes for the first two weeks before transitioning to the plant-based diet that enabled him to shed in total 105 pounds. This meant potatoes of all kinds from exotic varieties like fingerlings and Yukon Gold to sweet potatoes. Just potatoes prepared any way except fried or otherwise with the typical heavy additives — sour cream, butter, etc. — that can make potatoes a dietary disaster.
Cronise himself weighted in on the choice of a potato, saying, “People think of it as a carbohydrate, but for a lot of the planet it serves as a protein source.”
Now in maintaining his current weight of 229 pounds, Jilette says, “I eat no animal products and no refined grains.” He went on to explain that typically he eats one meal a day at 5 p.m. consisting of a giant salad along with an enormous amount of fruit.
He echoed comments he made earlier this year telling People magazine, “I eat unbelievable amounts of food but just very, very, very healthy food.” At the time, he also confirmed that he follows New York Times bestselling author Dr. Joel Furman’s whole-foods, plant-based nutritiarian diet as outlined in ‘Eat to Live’ and subsequent books.
You can see the full interview here and get all the details on some of the sophisticated metabolic tips and tricks that also contributed to Jilette’s succeed.
The key takeaway is that for him it is a sustainable lifestyle change. He allows a cheat day every two weeks and he’s also incorporating a fitness routine of cardio and weight training. It’s been quite the odyssey from six blood pressure meds to a sustained weight loss of 105 pounds. Penn Jillette ‘s weight loss success is inspiring!
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