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Penn Jillette Talks 'Hard-Core' Magic He Uses to Stay Slim

Magician says he fasts 23 hours each day to maintain 100-pound weight loss
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2019 7:21 AM CDT
Penn Jillette, left, before he lost the weight, with fellow magician Raymond Teller are seen in San Diego in this July 21, 2011, file photo.   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)
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(Newser) – "I don't respect moderation." That's the reasoning magician Penn Jillette gives the Los Angeles Times for both the diet that helped him lose over 100 pounds in just a few months in 2015, and now for the "hard-core" way he maintains that weight loss. In 2016, the 64-year-old "Penn and Teller" star explained for Grub Street that he dropped major poundage by embarking on a "mono-diet" for two weeks—which in his case meant eating nothing but potatoes, "because they're funny"—then switching over to a whole-food, plant-based eating plan. "I went for a radical change," he now tells the Times. "Easy is your enemy." That initial weight-loss attitude has since transferred to his current maintenance routine: fasting for 23 hours a day.

"No one brags about walking up the little grassy slope. They brag about climbing Everest," Jillette says of eating just one hour daily, during which he chows down on "huge amounts of salads, steamed vegetables, [and] brown rice." A nutrition expert tells Good Housekeeping that Jillette's initially restrictive weight-loss plan isn't advisable: "It's never good advice to completely eliminate food groups in order to lose weight for the long term." There's evidence, though, that intermittent fasting, if done right (and perhaps not as extreme as Jillette's method), can be safe and effective. Jillette admits it took years to get over wanting fast food and other snacks, but his extreme regimen has had effects beyond his physical health. Not only can he take the stairs without getting winded, he says, but "I started writing at twice the speed. We got much more material at Penn and Teller. Everything went better." (Read more fasting stories.)

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