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★FitStars: Tosca Reno, Creator of the Eat Clean Diet

Tosca Reno

Can you believe she's 50?!

You guys ever heard of the Eat Clean lifestyle? To eat mostly minimally processed, natural food and as a result feel better and drop unwanted pounds, without starving? Yep, it’s how we eat and basically what we preach here on FBG. The closer your food is to its natural state—being the Earth, not the Twinkie plant—the better in our minds! (Although indulgences in moderation keep us sane.) That’s why we’re happy to feature a FitStars interview with the one and only Tosca Reno.

Tosca is the creator of the Eat Clean Diet series and an overall bad ass. Just look at her. She’s 51, people. One heck of a rockin’ 51. And for those who don’t know Tosca’s back story, let me fill you in. She didn’t look like this (see left photo again) until she was in her 40s, unhappy, out of shape and unfulfilled. It was through exercise and eating clean that she became, well, what you see at left.

Inspired? Keep reading for our Q-and-A session with the one and only Tosca!

  • FBG: It’s well known that you found your inner Fit Bottomed Girl after age 40. What prompted you to change and was it hard?
  • TR: I looked at a photograph of myself and didn’t recognize who I had become. I was a blob, living a dead life. I was inspired to change because I was afraid that if I kept up the way I was going, I would not be around to see my three daughters grow up to be young women. I guess you could say I was hungry for change. Once I made the decision to be different it was all or nothing. I just plugged my nose and jumped off the cliff into the unknown. That was better than the life I was living at the time.
  • FBG: You’ve written a lot of books and articles over the years. What’s your favorite book or article that you’ve written and why?
  • TR: Tough question! My books and articles are like my children. I put so much of my love and time into them. Just as you couldn’t choose a favorite child, I could never choose a favorite book. Each of these books has taught me something about myself. I will say that sometimes the biggest lessons come from the toughest audience members. I have a smart reading audience. They like me raw and real. That is why I make myself so transparent to them in my words. This journey is just beginning.
  • FBG: How is Eat Clean Diet Recharged different from the first edition?
  • TR: Recharged was written in response to what I had learned from my readers. They are a smart bunch. They wanted more and had new questions that had to be addressed. This book puts it all in one place.
  • FBG: Have you ever struggled with emotional eating? If so, how did you overcome it?
  • TR: I am sure the reason I became heavy had everything to do with emotional eating. I would open a carton of ice cream and dig in, not knowing how to or wanting to stop. I didn’t care about myself much, and I loved the companionship food gave me. I just didn’t like the after effects.
  • FBG: What are your feelings on cheat meals or days where you eat whatever you wish?
  • TR: I never take days like this. I enjoy a cheat meal, but I prefer to call it a treat. For example, my birthday is coming up, and I know I would like to have a glass of wine, and I will also enjoy some birthday cake. It’s funny now that I have figured out how to “eat clean,” I love the feeling of being healthy and slim so much I don’t find myself longing for the old trigger foods anymore. I feel a tremendous sense of liberation from food.
  • FBG: What’s your favorite summer lunch or meal? And what’s your favorite summer workout?
  • TR: My favorite thing to do in the summer is to go to my vegetable garden and see what’s up—literally. I will gather up salad greens, onions, ripe tomatoes, herbs and other salad veggies, and create a brilliant salad loaded with texture and crunch. I dress it with pumpkin seed oil and lemon juice. The salad gets topped with grilled salmon, and I am a happy girl. I also love quinoa salads. This food is highly nutritious and super-easy to cook. I cook up the quinoa and then create endless varieties of summer salads, which keep well and taste fantastic. At the moment, my favorite summer workout is training my glutes outside. Glute-training is my secret weapon for keeping my body in shape. If the glutes are tight then the rest of me is tight, too. So I take my weights out to the driveway and do walking lunges uphill and back down again. I also do hip raises and dead lifts for toning these massive muscles. This really challenges my glutes. I also do wind sprints up the hill. Then I hit the pool and do laps for conditioning and cardio.
  • FBG: What is the best snack you can have that’s less than 150 calories?
  • TR: The best thing about Eating Clean is that I don’t advocate counting calories. But if I was going to have a low-cal snack, I would eat an apple with 1 tablespoon natural almond butter on it.
  • FBG: What do you go for when you have a craving for something sweet?
  • TR: When I want to have something sweet I usually reach for Greek yogurt topped with chopped fresh fruit. That is sweet enough for me. However a decadent snack that isn’t sweet is dark chocolate. Anything 75 percent or darker is ideal and totally delicious.
  • FBG: Some believe that eating clean is expensive. How can you do it on a budget and what are your tips for eating clean on the cheap?
  • TR: Most people think Eating Clean is costly, but I disagree. In my experience, the nutritionally dense foods eaten in this plan provide so much nutrition that you require less of them to feel satisfied. Have you ever noticed that when you eat junk food it is easy to eat an entire bag of chips and still want more? That is because the body has not been fed properly. Yes, you have eaten, but you have not nourished yourself, and the body will continue to “ask” for more until you have finally eaten clean foods. Also, if you eat foods grown in season when they are at their nutritional peak, these foods are normally so abundant they are quite inexpensive. Eating in season is always the way to go if you want to save money. Also, you do not have to eat animal protein all the time. You can eat less expensive protein sources including legumes, beans, nuts, dairy and quinoa. Also, if you buy in bulk your price comes down. Eating at a restaurant requires you to drive to that location, have someone else make your food and then you pay for it. But you as the consumer have to pay for all of the costs associated with this, and your carbon footprint is enormous. If you do the math, eating at home is always cheaper. By far the biggest cost in our society today are the costs associated with disease related to being overweight and obesity. These costs far outweigh the cost of illness associated with smoking so much so that we will inevitably bankrupt the health-care system if we don’t change our ways.
  • FBG: Do you count carbs or calories at all? What’s your take on low-carb diets?
  • TR: Counting calories is an exercise in frustration for most people. You cannot relate the 89 calories in an apple to the 289 calories in a donut. While the calories in an apple build you up and nourish the body, the calories in a donut tear you down, weakening your body. It’s far too frustrating an exercise. I rely on portion control, using my hands as a guide. An open palm is the correct measure of protein, a fist is the correct measure of complex carbs from whole grains or fruit, and two open hands is the right measure for leafy greens.The carbohydrate is much misunderstood. I think low-carb diets were made for people addicted to sugar. Few of us can survive on low levels of carbohydrates, but they have to be the right kind. The body needs complex carbs from fruits, vegetables and whole grains to function properly. Simple carbs from refined sugar and cereals are not desirable. This is where the carbohydrate confusion begins. The good and the bad are lumped together under one name. Eating Clean works because you eat lean protein paired with complex carbs from fruit, vegetables and whole grains. The result is good health and a lean physique.
  • FBG: Do you have any advice for women wanting to lose weight?
  • TR: If you wish to lose weight and do nothing but AVOID SUGAR AT ALL COSTS you will begin to experience success in losing weight and you will improve your health. I also urge you not to skip meals. You want to fire up the body’s own natural fat-burning system, which is the metabolism. The best way to do this is to eat regularly, especially breakfast.
  • FBG: How do you stay so motivated?
  • TR: I love the changes that have taken place in my body and want others to realize how Eating Clean can work for them too. I also feel that as a positive role model, I might be able to change how people eat for the better and that includes my children. I do this for them.
  • FBG: What’s next for you? Another book? A workout DVD perhaps? (That’s our vote!)
  • TR: I am currently working on three more book projects and a few TV ideas. I would love to do a workout DVD. Let’s get started!
  • FBG: Any final thoughts or advice for our Fit Bottomed Girls readers?
  • TR: Because your readers are Fit Bottomed Girls, I want to push the good habit of training glutes at least twice a week. I train mine three times per week and love the results. If your buns are tight, the rest of you will be, too!

I really wish I’d read her glute tips before this! Stay tuned to FBG tomorrow for a review of her latest cookbook and a recipe from it, too! In the meantime, tell us, do you eat clean? —Jenn

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!

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15 Comments
  1. Jennifer says:

    I am not eating perfectly clean yet, but I adore Tosca’s book and cookbook, and have used both to try to eat cleaner!! She rocks!

  2. The Fat Reader says:

    Clean eating is good and I’m a big Tosca fan, but don’t expect clean eating to solve all of your problems. I make almost everything I eat from scratch (and grow some of the ingredients myself) but I’m way overweight because I eat too much!

  3. Kim says:

    I certainly eat a lot cleaner than the average American, but not clean enough! I need to go out and get her book, stat!

  4. nellie says:

    I’ve adopted clean eating over the last few months, and the weight is just effortlessly coming off! And I don’t skimp on my calories either…the only difference is I limit my dairy and Just Say NO to grains…and any sugar not in fruit (I think I’m sensitive to both…), like Tosca said….I hope her books do well, because we need more people pushing this message!

  5. renae says:

    Love her, love her cookbook. And it’s really not that difficult of a lifestyle to adopt. After only a few days to a week, you will notice a huge difference in how you feel which only makes you want to continue the journey!

  6. Amber K says:

    I have been trying to eat clean after reading about all of the harmful effects of the things I was eating. I’m not great about it, but I’m certainly better!

  7. Alia says:

    Eating Clean has changed me forever! I decided to pick up Tosca’s books and give it a go – I was amazed at the differences i felt and saw in just a few days! my energy levels, my skin – everything just felt better. I felt better knowing I was making healthier choices. If you haven’t read The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged! yet, it’s definitely a must-read if you want to get healthier and look fabulous for life without having to count calories, carbs, points etc. =)

  8. Erin says:

    I’m definitely not as clean of an eater as I could be. I just try to keep a balance because I really do value convenience and sometimes I just don’t have enough time.

  9. Angela says:

    i love that Tosca said she changed her lifestyle because of her kids. i firmly believe if you start taking care of yourself for a bigger reason than just i-wanna-wear-skinny-jeans, you’ll be MUCH more successful. skinny jeans don’t motivate; at the end of the day, you know you can do without. your kids though, you can’t.

    and i think she’s right, eating clean doesn’t have to be costly. (except here in Australia where one red pepper is near $2.00. what the???) but then i just learned not to waste food. i eat every piece of fruit and veg that comes into this house, and i think my body is thankful for it.

  10. Darcy says:

    Tosca’s diet is really inspiring and MAKES A LOT OF SENSE! It’s logical that natural, local foods provide a lot more nutrition than processed junk.

    I really appreciate what Tosca has to say about emotional eating. I think she’s spot on with a lot of her analysis of why people engage in such an activity.

    Tosca, we are all big fans of your work. I’m a reader over at http://www.TheDietSolutionProgram.com. Isabel shares your philosophy on eating natural. Check it out.

  11. Rachel says:

    I’ve been Eating Clean for about 4 months now. I’ve lost 15 pounds and gone from a junk-food-loving couch potato to a fit and active healthy person. The best part of Eating Clean is watching my sons embrace healthy eating. They love it! Tosca is a big inspiration to me!

  12. Brittany says:

    Great interview!

    I’ve been trying to eat clean for quite a while but have really started to put Tosca’s principles to use recently. My next post is going to be about eating clean and what my goals are.

  13. Anna says:

    The eat clean plan has helped me loose weight and keep it off.
    I am a believer!

  14. Ivori says:

    ” You cannot relate the 89 calories in an apple to the 289 calories in a donut. While the calories in an apple build you up and nourish the body, the calories in a donut tear you down, weakening your body. ” AWESOME !

  15. Tina says:

    Limiting sugar and white flour is definitely the way to lose the “dough.” Working out without adding the clean diet just Didn’t get the results for me. I finally lost the twin tummy after years of trying. And the longer you eat clean, the more you don’t even want the other junk. I love that now I have total power over the junk instead of the other way around. I finished P90x and am now in my second week of Brazil Butt Lift, and it was interesting to read Tosca comment about strengthening our glutes for better overall body strength. I was doing it for toning and appearance, but Tosca’s reasons are just as motivating!