Celebrity trainer and nutritionist Harley Pasternak's tips for eating a healthy diet

You’ve heard the saying before: “Abs are made in the kitchen.” But, are they really? Harley Pasternak, celebrity trainer to stars like Ariana Grande and Gwyneth Paltrow, told AOL that it depends on who you are. 
If you eat extremely well but are sedentary all day, then abs will come from exercise, he explained. On the other hand, if you’re an exercise fanatic, but eat very poorly, then yes, you should change your diet. 

“The fastest and simplest way to lose weight is to change your diet. But the most sustainable way, where you don’t have to go as extreme with your diet, is to incorporate physical activity,” he said.

Pasternak specifically recommended five healthy habits that should be done daily:

  1. Walk at least 12,000 steps
  2. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep
  3. Unplug from technology for at least an hour
  4. Resistance train (even 5-10 minutes will help!)
  5. Eat three meals and two snacks filled with protein

Within those meals and snacks, Pasternak suggested including dairy. 
About nine years ago, Pasternak traveled the world to gain even more insight on healthy eating. “I’d written a number of nutrition books at the time, but I wanted a more global perspective on what [the US is] doing wrong, and what’s the rest of the world doing right? So I traveled to the 10 healthiest countries in the world,” he said.

He traveled to places like Japan, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean and found that eight of the top 10 countries focused on dairy-based diets. 

“It was interesting to see, not just that they were dairy-based diets, but to see the kinds of dairy that they used—from fermented dairy in Greek yogurt, to kefir, to quark in Eastern Europe, to beautiful cheeses in Italy. And realizing that dairy was a significant part of a very, very healthy diet,” he explained.

Flash forward to now, Pasternak is working with Undeniably Dairy, a campaign supported by the U.S. dairy industry that aims to teach people the benefits of dairy and where their glass of milk or slice of cheese comes from. 
“[I’m] really excited for the chance to work with Undeniably Dairy to really bring truth and reality and fact to what this great food is and how we’ve been using it for a long, long time, and what it is and what it’s not,” Pasternak said. 
One way he likes to consume dairy is in a smoothie (he even sells his own blender!). In Pasternak’s creamy green smoothie, he mixes avocado, banana, spinach, apple, Greek yogurt and whey protein.

“The dairy in there tells multiple protein stories. You have the whey, which is a fast-acting protein and actually has been shown to help with your immune system. You have casein in the strained yogurt. And you’ve got the fermented story there as well for gut health,” he explained.  

“I think all of these ingredients collectively give you something that otherwise you would not have if you didn’t blend them, but by blending them together, the sort of the gestalt is pretty strong, which is nice.”

The smoothie can be used as a meal replacement or split up into two and consumed as snacks throughout the day. You can find Pasternak’s dairy-packed smoothie recipe below and read more about Undeniably Dairy here.

Harley Pasternak’s Creamy Green Smoothie recipe

Photo: Courtesy of Undeniably Dairy

Servings: 1 smoothie


  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ small frozen banana, chopped
  • 2 ½ cups of fresh spinach
  • ½ cup chopped cored unpeeled apple
  • 1/8 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • ½ serving whey protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt (or yogurt of choice)
  • ice cubes (optional)


Place ingredients in a blender in the order listed. Add ice if preferred. Blend until desired consistency is reached. (You can add more water for a thinner consistency.)

Harley Pasternak holds a masters degree in exercise physiology and nutritional sciences from the University of Toronto and an honors degree in kinesiology from the University of Wester Ontario. He’s certified by the American College of Sports Medicine and The Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology, and has served as an exercise and nutrition scientist for Canada’s Department of National Defense.