Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi faces an annual struggle to lose the weight she's gained from the show in time for the Emmy Awards. The 46-year-old star consumes four times the calories of an average healthy American thanks to the dishes she samples on the U.S. cooking competition - and slowly piles on the pounds.
"When filming Top Chef, I consume about 5,000 to 8,000 calories a day," she writes in a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter. "We start with anywhere from 15 to 18 contestants, and I have to take a bite or two from each of their plates to adequately judge each dish.
"Every day. It adds up. I typically gain anywhere from 10 to 17 pounds (five to eight kilograms) every season. Once I get home, what's taken me six weeks to gain takes me 12 weeks to take off."
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The gorgeous star, who has earned a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program nod for Top Chef in the past, admits looking perfect for the annual prizegiving is absolutely essential for her.
"Getting ready for the Emmys is always fun, and it's truly an honour to be nominated," she adds. "But at the same time, in spite of my high metabolism, I worry each year that I'm not going to fit into anything nice.
"Like many women in Hollywood, I gear up for the awards by dieting, vigorously exercising, searching for a dress no one else will have and hoping for the best. It's always a nail-biting extravaganza at fittings, praying that a few pretty dresses that came down the runway on a teenage model who is a size 0 will miraculously fit my 40-something body."
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But Padma manages to reach her goals despite her diet and exercise challenges: "Every year I manage to somehow make it to the awards, usually with two hours of working out a day and a disciplined diet," she shares. "My diet for the Emmys is pretty straightforward. It's like a poem: no meat, no wheat, no cheese, no fried foods or sweets. And, of course, no alcohol."
The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards will be held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on 17 September.