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Q: Robert, I am looking for some healthy alternatives to cook on my smoker. I am working towards opening a BBQ sports bar so I am constantly practicing cooking. I currently weigh 400 lbs. and am starting to develop health problems due to the weight. Both of my knees are bad, so walking is very painful. Any suggestions for food or exercise would be helpful.

—Greg C., via the web

Answer by Robert Irvine:

Greg, first things first, weighing 400 pounds is a serious concern. Every day you spend at that weight puts you at greater and greater risk for serious health complications, including a sudden heart attack. I drew up a simple bodyweight routine in Fit Fuel that I recommend for obese individuals, which I’ll personally send to you. You could start with that, though I must also insist you to speak with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.

As for smoker recipes, it’s not my specialty but I have dabbled. Since you didn’t say what you cook on your smoker, I’m working with the assumption that you’re using the standard smoker proteins of brisket and ribs. Both of these options are a non-starter for anyone trying to lose that much weight—there’s just too much fat and overall calories for them to be a regular part of your diet. I’d encourage you to experiment with lean meats like chicken and pork tenderloin. Try different dry rubs and Cajun seasoning and let the smoke do the rest. Keep tweaking your recipes and you could probably innovate something delicious and healthy in the process.

The next time I hear from you I want it to be through a news story. I can see the headline now: “DELICIOUSLY HEALTHY: Customers rave about BBQ guru’s amazing nutritious fare.” Now you need to see it, too! Imagine opening your restaurant and doing so at a healthy, comfortable weight, with no pain in your knees. Remember: Wherever you are in life, you always have the power to write your own story. If you write this story, you can make a real impact in your community—and save your own life in the process. Go get it, Greg!

Originally published in Robert Irvine Magazine.

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