Mr. Olympia Phil Heath gives diet and exercise tips before the holidays

Phil Heath, famed bodybuilder and 4-time Mr. Olympia winner, is obviously an expert on being firm and fit. Currently the world’s top bodybuilder, Heath recently launched a new supplement line, Gifted Nutrition, that features everything from fat burners to pre-workout fuel. We caught up with Heath before his visit to Miami to attend the NPC National Bodybuilding Competition to discuss some exercise and diet tips heading into the holiday season.

As we head into the “eating” holiday season (Thanksgiving and Christmas) what would be your top tips on how to still enjoy mom’s good cooking but stay healthy and fit -crunches and lunges before dessert?
I would start by making sure you’re getting in your 30 to 45 minutes of empty stomach cardio when you first wake up. Whether a brisk walk or a bike ride, everything counts. Next I’d suggest starting your holiday meal with protein. Turkey is a great source of protein which fills you up and helps keep the carbs at bay. Turkey also has tryptophan so hopefully you’ll fall asleep before you have a chance to eat the whole pumpkin pie.

What was the most challenging part of winning Mr. Olympia four times?
The pressure is definitely higher each year. It’s usually pressure I put on myself. With the sport growing the way that it is, the arena was sold out very early this year and there was a lot of hype. I won my 4th Olympia title at 34, the same age that Ronnie Coleman was when he won his 1st Olympia [he famously won 8 in a row] so that let me know I have a real chance of getting 8, maybe 9 titles in a row. I’m halfway there!

Six-pack abs are on the Most Wanted list in Miami Beach. What one tip do you have for attaining them?
A healthy clean diet with low fats and low sugars while performing cardio five times a week.

For young people who are interested in competitive bodybuilding, is there a recommended roadmap or path they should take?
The most important thing is to learn about your food. You can train all you want but if you don’t understand how to make healthy choices at home and out, because let’s face it, we all have to eat on the run sometimes, you won’t get anywhere. You need to know that you can even go to Wendy’s and get a salad with three breasts of grilled chicken if you ask for it. It’s about being willing to learn and knowing when to ask questions.

If you weren’t bodybuilding or creating your new supplement line, Gifted Nutrition, what would you be doing? “
I went to school for IT, so I’d probably be doing some sort of software engineering. I also was very interested in law enforcement for a long time so I think I’d select one of those two careers. I know I am most fulfilled when I am able to help people and still have time to take care of my body.