Chris Powell's 7 Secrets of Extreme Weight Loss Success

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How would you feel if I told you that you had a year to help 17 people—who weigh a combined 5,275 pounds—fit into their skinny jeans?

Most likely, overwhelmed. But for Chris Powell, the trainer who has helped hundreds of overweight people lose up to half their body weight on ABC’s reality series Extreme Weight Loss, this is an everyday challenge—and one at which he excels. Thanks to his vast arsenal of smart weight loss tricks, Powell helped the 15 participants who completed last season’s show shed a total of 2,476 pounds.

Though anyone can tune into the show and take away some of Powell’s slim down tips, not every aspect of the transformation process is shown on TV. That means some of his best tactics are known only by a select few—until now. Eat This, Not That! checked in with Powell and asked him to spill some behind-the-scene slim down secrets that have helped contestants lose hundreds of pounds—and how the rest of us can use them at home. Read on to get in the know and be sure to incorporate some Powell’s tips into your own flat-belly plan. And sign up and slim down easily with the free Eat This, Not That! newsletter delivered to your inbox. (Bonus: You’ll receive your free gift, The Bikini Body Workout.) Sign up for your FREE newsletter here!

Take-Home Tip #1
They Guzzle Water by the Gallon

You’ve likely heard that you should drink eight cups of water daily, which is a whopping half-gallon. If you thought downing that much fluid would send you running to the bathroom far too often, consider this: Extreme Weight Loss contestants drink more than double that amount every day. “You don’t see it on the show, but our contestants drink a lot of water—at least a gallon every day as a baseline,” says Powell. “Then, they drink an extra 32 ounces for every hour they exercise. Not only does this slightly increase their metabolism, but it also keeps them full between meals and wards off bouts of overeating. This strategy plays a key role in their extraordinary success!” he explains.

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Take-Home Tip #2
They Keep Their Eyes on the Prize—Literally

“When people are in the middle of the grind—working out hard and dieting—they often forget why they’re doing it and just focus on the sacrifices they’re making. This makes it hard to keep going,” explains Powell. “To counteract that, we revisit each person’s motivation to lose weight throughout their weight-loss journey and put a visual to it. We’ll pull pictures of their kids, an aspirational body type, even copies of their medical records,” says Powell.

Eat This Tip! To employ this tactic at home, put visuals reminder of your weight-loss motivator on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, car dashboard or set the image as your cell phone background. Doing so will remind you that you’re working toward something that will improve your happiness and quality of life, according to Powell.

Take-Home Tip #3
They Have Carb Curfews

Though starchy and sugary carbs—like quinoa, potatoes and fruit— aren’t totally off limits, participants never consume them after dark. “For dinner, contestants always have a high-protein, high-fat meal with plenty of fibrous veggies,” Powell tells us. “If they have a post-dinner snack, they stick to protein-rich, high-fat foods like almonds or 2% milk-fat string cheese,” he explains. This is because axing carbs at night flips the fat-burning switch by increasing the amount of fat-burning hormones released while we’re asleep.

Eat This Tip! To discover which carbs would be allowed on a diet plan, click here for the essential list of the 9 Best-Ever Carbs For Weight Loss!

Take-Home Tip #4
They Don’t Watch the Clock

You should complete at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week—that’s long been The Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendation for total health, at least. Chris, however, tells his clients to stop watching the clock—especially those who are new to exercise. “When it comes to cardio, maximizing weight loss is not about a set duration or intensity. It’s about slowly—but surely—making progress. Every two weeks increase the duration and intensity by just a little bit,” Powell suggests. “Month after month you slowly improve, and soon will be insanely fit and see incredible weight loss results!”

Eat This Tip! To maximize results, make time to weight train at least twice a week. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn at rest.

Take-Home Tip #5
Meal Prep is Everything

We asked Chris to tell us his number-one diet tip. His response: Basically, meal prep is everything. “Prep your meals in advance, and always have ready-to-eat healthy snack foods with you,” he suggests. Chris and his Extreme Weight Loss participants bulk-prep their proteins (chicken, turkey, fish) and starches (potatoes, whole-wheat rice and noodles) every four days and store them in plastic containers. This prep allows them to grab healthy eats quickly before they leave the house. “We always carry protein powder with us,” he says about snacks, adding, “You’ll never catch us without almonds in our bags! They’re filled with healthy, satiating fats and protein and don’t need to be refrigerated, so they’re really easy.”

Eat This Tip! Bored with almonds? Expand your fat-blasting options using this definitive list of the The 50 Best Brand-Name Snacks for Weight Loss!

Take-Home Tip #6
They Make Special Requests

“Participants find it challenging to stay on track with their diet when they’re eating out—especially when they’re with friends who don’t share their newly adopted healthy lifestyle,” says Powell. There are a few different ways Powell helps his clients stay on track when facing this obstacle. For starters, he suggests drinking a big glass of water before the meal starts. This tames hunger, making it easier to order a smart entree. “Steer clear of anything fried, sautéed, crusted, or breaded, and order all dressing and sauces on the side,” he advises. “When you order, let the waiter know you would like a to-go box when the food arrives. Cut your meal in half immediately and place half in the box to go,” he suggests. Out of sight, out of mind—and don’t forget, similar rules apply to take out food, too.

Take-Home Tip #7
They Clean House

“Whether you have ten pounds to lose or 100, the first thing you should do is create an environment for success,” says Powell. That requires removing all temptation from your kitchen. “Collect all of the processed, sugary and fatty foods from your house, and bring them to a local food bank for donation. Then restock your kitchen with healthy groceries—real, natural, whole foods—like fresh fruits and vegetables, almonds and lean proteins like turkey, chicken, fish and eggs,” he suggests.

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