HEALTH & WELLNESS

Actress Alyssa Milano: Why low-carb is the only diet that works for me

Actress Alyssa Milano said she's never experienced Hollywood-induced body-shaming. Not even after she gained 50 pounds with her first pregnancy, and then 55 pounds with her second.

Her attitude toward the weight gain was, "'It just is what it is.' I just fed my body whatever I wanted."

After the birth of her son, Milo, all the weight came off her 5-foot-2-inch frame slowly but relatively easily. It wasn't the same after she had Elizabella. "The first 30 pounds were OK. But the last 20 were like pulling teeth. I had to reach out for help, which honestly I would have never have done that before, but I needed it." She turned to Atkins because a low-carb approach had worked for her in the past, and aligned with her preferred way of eating. She has since become an ambassador for the brand, even writing a weight-loss blog on the Atkins.com website.

One of her biggest revelations after adopting Atkins will sound familiar to us dieters: Milano, 43, was shocked to see how many excess carbs she was eating due to hidden sugars or large portion sizes — even as she thought she was making wise choices. The well-known Dodgers fan and social media wizard said those habits were cured almost instantly by logging every bite into Atkins' smartphone app.

How did you finally lose the baby weight?

It was a slow, transitional process. I was gravitating in that direction but I wasn't doing Atkins because I was concerned with, "Oh, I'd need to eat a lot of red meat for the protein." And I don't eat red meat. But I found out that you can eat lean meats like fish and chicken and turkey, which is what I was already eating. And then it was an easy fit. I can do this forever. This is just super easy, I don't have time to think about a meal plan. It's all there. And I like the fact that I can be part of a community.

What is a typical day of eating for you like? And how do you manage food for yourself, and then for the kids?

For breakfast I usually have some sort of egg dish with turkey bacon or chicken sausage. Lunch is a protein and vegetables. They have a really good cheesy broccoli recipe that I love. I could eat it every day. That was another revelation for me: Fat is not bad for you. You can have cheese and cream and really fulfilling, flavorful foods, and it's OK.

Dinner is usually a fish and some sort of vegetables. I also love any kind of Mexican dish, and I've found ways to make it a low-carb dish. Like, turkey ground beef tacos using lettuce cups [instead of tortillas]. Cauliflower and cheese instead of mac 'n' cheese.

How many net carbs do you eat each day?

Sometimes it will be about 40 [grams], some days it goes down to 20.

What do you do for exercise?

I work out seven days a week. I like classes. I do Zumba and a modern jazz class and Pilates. I've found out that you will do what makes you happy, and this makes me happy. I don't enjoy working out with a coach. We used to live in a very village mentality, when women would come together and help each other through things. We've gotten so away from that … but I think it's important to lift each other up. That's also what I think maintains stability too. You are a lot less likely to make poor health choices. [Your community] would be disappointed if they saw you fail.

Is that peer pressure?

No. It's peer support.

rene.lynch@latimes.com

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