Home Healthy Eating Celebrity trainer and nutritionist Harley Pasternak's tips for eating a healthy diet – AOL

Celebrity trainer and nutritionist Harley Pasternak's tips for eating a healthy diet – AOL

19 min read

You’ve heard the saying before: “Abs are made in the kitchen.” But, are they really? Harley Pasternak, celebrity trainer to stars like Ariana Grande and Gwyneth Paltrow, told AOL that it depends on who you are. 
If you eat extremely well but are sedentary all day, then abs will come from exercise, he explained. On the other hand, if you’re an exercise fanatic, but eat very poorly, then yes, you should change your diet. 

“The fastest and simplest way to lose weight is to change your diet. But the most sustainable way, where you don’t have to go as extreme with your diet, is to incorporate physical activity,” he said.


Harley Pasternak on Instagram

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Want be one of the first people to have one of the newest Fitbit’s? I’m giving away two of Fitbit’ newest models to the person that posts the highest step count at the end of the day today. Just post a screenshot of your Fitbit app or any other step counting app you have on your phone, and make sure to tag Fitbit and me. Today Fitbit launches the Versa Lite, Inspire, Inspire HR, and the Ace 2!!! #FitbitVersaLite (ridiculously amazing colors) #FitbitInspireHR (all the fantastic features you would ever want for under $100) #FitbitAce2! (swim proof fun for kids) #FitbitAmbassador

Today I tried to prove the calories in/calories out debate. I went to my favorite bakery in Montreal and bought the most delicious chocolate Babka coffee cake in the world. I then attempted to sprint up to the top of Mount Royal in order to burn as many calories as possible so I can eat my treat. Turns out I only burned 175 cal more than if I would’ve just stayed seated for the same amount of time. A far cry from the 7000 cal cake I wanted. I did this to prove a point. You cannot out run a bad diet. All the spin classes and boot camps in the world severely over exaggerate their calorie burn, and won’t put a dent in over consuming the wrong foods. #exercise #healthyfood #mountroyal #montreal #logic

I know it’s Sunday, but get off the couch and GET IT! #workout #fitclients #exercise

What’s your absolute favorite lower body exercise? If I was to choose one lower body exercises to do for the rest of my life, it would definitely be a lunge. Whether it be a reverse lunge, forward lunge, lateral lunge, walk lunge, skater lunge, Bulgarian lunge, or jump lunge, there’s nothing quite as versatile as this exercise. it works one side at a time so you’re weaker side doesn’t get overshadowed by your dominant side. It includes a combination Of your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. It does not require any equipment, and can be done just about anywhere. #lunge #exercise

At least the kids are enjoying this. 💪🏽😅 #exercise #fitkids

Getting our steps in Omotesando #insearchoftheperfectcoffee #takoyaki #steps

25 years!!!!!! This week marks the 25th year since I started in the fitness industry. 7 books, 2 video games, 6 television shows, 122 gym designs, 3 patents, and a bagillion clients later… I still really love what I do. I get to wear a track suit and sneakers to work everyday, hangout in a gym, listen to great music, and work with amazing people! Here’s to another 25 years! #fitness @uoft @universityofwesternontario

My secret favorite breakfast. Next day pizza! Take one slice of pizza and cut it in half. Sauté three fists of spinach and chop finely. Cook four egg whites. Put cooked spinach and egg whites on last nights pizza, and then bake in oven for five minutes. Heaven! The whole thing is no more than 400 cal and has tons of protein and fiber to start your day. #healthyfood #breakfast #nextdaypizza #bodyresetdiet

3 men + 6 dumbbells +3 cappuccinos + triceps extensions to failure = my Wednesday mornings ! #exercise #fitclients #triceps

I’ve yet to meet a client who has perfect symmetry of strength between left and right sides. Wether it be the ankle you rolled playing basketball as a kid, the toe you stubbed on the way to the bathroom at night last year, or a leg length discrepancy, rarely are left and right strength/ function even. It’s for this reason that I generally train my clients lower bodies iso-laterally (One side at a time). If you do have the strength and balance, and train both legs at the same time, you will inevitably be strengthening the stronger side disproportionately more and making yourself susceptible to a knee, hip, or lower back injury in a long time. Here are three hamstring exercises that I love to train one leg at a time. #exercise #isolateral #bodyresetdiet

Lunge around the clock! Try this sequence for your legs, hips, and glutes. Lunge forward, backwards, sideways, back and across. #exercise #lunges #reebok #propelwater

Being fit and healthy is simple! Move more, eat better, sleep more AND better. Keeping track of how much you move, what you eat, and how well you sleep, is essential to reaching your goals. I make sure all of our clients use a Fitbit to keep track of all of these, and give us the data we need to make small changes in our life style, which overtime,create habits that will make us look and feel our best. If you have a Fitbit, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t have a Fitbit, today the new #FitbitCharge3 got released. Longer battery life, waterproof, and all the other tools that you need to be aware of where you are and where you need to be. #exercise #health #FitbitAmbassador

When your clients are fitter than you! 💪🏽#fitclients @gwynethpaltrow






Pasternak specifically recommended five healthy habits that should be done daily:

  1. Walk at least 12,000 steps
  2. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep
  3. Unplug from technology for at least an hour
  4. Resistance train (even 5-10 minutes will help!)
  5. Eat three meals and two snacks filled with protein

Within those meals and snacks, Pasternak suggested including dairy. 
About nine years ago, Pasternak traveled the world to gain even more insight on healthy eating. “I’d written a number of nutrition books at the time, but I wanted a more global perspective on what [the US is] doing wrong, and what’s the rest of the world doing right? So I traveled to the 10 healthiest countries in the world,” he said.

He traveled to places like Japan, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean and found that eight of the top 10 countries focused on dairy-based diets. 

“It was interesting to see, not just that they were dairy-based diets, but to see the kinds of dairy that they used—from fermented dairy in Greek yogurt, to kefir, to quark in Eastern Europe, to beautiful cheeses in Italy. And realizing that dairy was a significant part of a very, very healthy diet,” he explained.

Flash forward to now, Pasternak is working with Undeniably Dairy, a campaign supported by the U.S. dairy industry that aims to teach people the benefits of dairy and where their glass of milk or slice of cheese comes from. 
“[I’m] really excited for the chance to work with Undeniably Dairy to really bring truth and reality and fact to what this great food is and how we’ve been using it for a long, long time, and what it is and what it’s not,” Pasternak said. 
One way he likes to consume dairy is in a smoothie (he even sells his own blender!). In Pasternak’s creamy green smoothie, he mixes avocado, banana, spinach, apple, Greek yogurt and whey protein.

“The dairy in there tells multiple protein stories. You have the whey, which is a fast-acting protein and actually has been shown to help with your immune system. You have casein in the strained yogurt. And you’ve got the fermented story there as well for gut health,” he explained.  

“I think all of these ingredients collectively give you something that otherwise you would not have if you didn’t blend them, but by blending them together, the sort of the gestalt is pretty strong, which is nice.”

The smoothie can be used as a meal replacement or split up into two and consumed as snacks throughout the day. You can find Pasternak’s dairy-packed smoothie recipe below and read more about Undeniably Dairy here.

Harley Pasternak’s Creamy Green Smoothie recipe

Photo: Courtesy of Undeniably Dairy

Servings: 1 smoothie


  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ small frozen banana, chopped
  • 2 ½ cups of fresh spinach
  • ½ cup chopped cored unpeeled apple
  • 1/8 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • ½ serving whey protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt (or yogurt of choice)
  • ice cubes (optional)


Place ingredients in a blender in the order listed. Add ice if preferred. Blend until desired consistency is reached. (You can add more water for a thinner consistency.)

Harley Pasternak holds a masters degree in exercise physiology and nutritional sciences from the University of Toronto and an honors degree in kinesiology from the University of Wester Ontario. He’s certified by the American College of Sports Medicine and The Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology, and has served as an exercise and nutrition scientist for Canada’s Department of National Defense. 


Ways to get more milk into your diet

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Make milkshakes and smoothies with just milk and frozen fruit rather than adding ice cream. 

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Thicken up your homemade soups by adding milk to the broth.

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Try making new kinds of pudding — especially rice pudding! — with milk at home.

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Cancel out an unhealthy snack by having milk with your cookies — a perfect, classic pairing!

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Add milk to your tea or coffee instead of cream or just having it black.

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Have a mug of warm milk before bed to help you fall asleep.

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Don’t pour out your leftover cereal milk, drink it up!

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