Thinking About Trying Bob Harper's Super Carb Diet? Read This First

Photographer: Emily FaulstitchInternal and editorial use approved. OK for Native and co-branded use.
POPSUGAR Photography | Emily Faulstitch
POPSUGAR Photography | Emily Faulstitch

With the keto diet, intermittent fasting, and the Paleo diet gaining in popularity, it can feel like all paths to weight loss involve cutting out the things you love.

So upon hearing about the super carb diet, you may feel like you've hit the jackpot. Does this diet mean you can eat all the bagels and pasta your heart desires?

The simple answer is no — if your goal is to lose weight, a carb-friendly diet still doesn't mean that you can fill your dinner plate up with an entire box of pasta. So what does the super carb diet involve, if not unlimited bread?

What Is the Super Carb Diet?

The super carb diet was popularized by The Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper. He decided to write a book about the diet after he personally suffered from a massive heart attack and took his recovery seriously by making big changes to his diet.

While the name suggests that the diet lets you eat as many carbs as you want, when you want them, it's actually much more structured than that.

Lindsey Mathews, a CISSN certified nutritionist, NSCA-CSCS certified trainer, and head trainer for IdealFit, describes the super carb diet as eating a balance of nutrient-dense foods. "It focuses on consuming complex carbohydrates at the right times (before a workout or in the morning) in order to promote effective weight loss and optimal health," Mathews says.

So what are these complex carbs that you're allowed to have on your plate? They can range from a 100 percent whole grain muffin to cauliflower, oatmeal, or sweet potatoes.

How Is Super Carb Different From Other Diets?

The South Beach Diet and the keto diet limit carbs. But the super carb diet does the opposite.

"Many popular weight-loss diets are very low-carb, which oftentimes also means high-fat," says Mathews. "The super carb diet creator points to these high-fat diets as being unhealthy for the heart and potentially even dangerous in the long-term."

Who Should Consider the Super Carb Diet?

This diet could be great for someone who has had problems sticking to low-carb diets in the past. Mathews notes that low-carb diets tend to cause carb cravings among users, which reduces adherence and makes these programs potentially unsustainable. Super carb could also be an option for those with heart issues who are worried about the effects of a high-fat diet.

In Harper's book, he writes that trendy diets tell you that you have to cut out all carbs, but he doesn't believe that to be true. "I want bread," he says. "So does Oprah. So do you. I want to eat a sandwich at lunch without feeling like I'm committing a crime. Did you know a sandwich isn't a sandwich unless there's bread?"

Harper isn't suggesting sitting down and having a big bowl of pasta every night, but he is recommending adding in whole grains. His approach is about balanced macronutrients that will work to help you lose weight.

The Super Carb Diet in Action

This is what a day on the super carb diet looks like:

  • Breakfast: scrambled egg whites with spinach with a toasted whole grain muffin and some avocado
  • Lunch: sauteed or grilled chicken breast with roast cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, and slivered almonds
  • Dinner: "extrabig salad" with a lean ground chicken burger on a whole-grain bun
  • "Floater": nonfat Greek yogurt with 1/2 tablespoon of nut butter