Angie Kassabie, Ph.D., is an internationally acclaimed expert in nutrition, health and fitness, image consultation, and personalized diet programs. As a self-proclaimed “food psychologist,” Dr. Kassabie specializes in emotional eating and the mind-body connection. She is at work on a book about nutrition and holistic health.
Dr Kassabie is the founder of AND Diet. AND Diet offers balanced nutrition and calorie intake, a unique selection of various international recipes, prepared with extra virgin olive oil and AND DIET herbs, to achieve goals.
She has worked with international celebrities Silvester Stallone, John Travolta, Britney Spears, Robert De Niro, Jean Claude Van Damme. She worked with European Celebrities like Azis, Anelia, Andrea, Stefan Danailov and Reni. Kassabie supervised the ex-minister of Bulgaria’s Diet and she currently supplements the European Bulgarian parliament from her kitchen. She has worked with the cast of 300, The Expendables and the Killing Season
1.How did you start off in the nutrition world and working for the politicians in Bulgaria?
It actually started off surprisingly, as I wanted to go into a different field. I finished school at a very early age and I wanted to get into show business, but I ended up working as the doctor working for everyone in the show business! I started off by giving diets to normal people and I had a patient who was very young with very serious psychological issues. She was seeing one of the other dieticians in Bulgaria. So this dietician told this girl that she was never going to lose weight and that she had the kind of issues that would make her fat all the time. This poor girl had a huge complex after that. I was at the store one day and I saw this girl and met her and I ended up doing her diet for free. At this point, I was still a student. While I was helping her, I graduated. Turns out, the prime minister of Bulgaria was a client of her mother. Now he wanted to know how this girl lost so much weight as he also wanted to lose weight right before the elections. So, he called me, and he had success in losing weight. When he won the elections, people asked him how he lost so much weight and he told everyone that I had helped him. So that is how I started.
2. Tell us a bit about how you went from being a nutritionist for politicians to really famous celebrities in Hollywood? I am sure it was an exciting journey and our readers will want to know.
Once the news was out I had helped the prime minister, I started working with the owner of Warner Brothers in Bulgaria. They heard about me and called me for an interview and then the first actor I saw was Stallone. Then through Warner Brothers, I transitioned through them to Sylvester Stallone, Eva Longoria, the cast of the Expendables, Gerald Butler, the cast of 300, Chuck Norris, Superman, Robert DeNiro. It all started off so surprisingly.
3. How was it to work with action heroes like Stallone and Van Damme? These are already very fit men celebs – so what was their goals when they came to you? Share with us how you transformed them and some interesting experiences you had along the way.
For every movie, they have to get ready for the role they are playing. So they may need to drop weight, or gain weight or bulk up. My team and I took care of everything that has to do with their food, workouts, diet plans, skin. My whole team was on site working on each and every one of the stars. Stallone’s goal was that he wanted to stay fit. He has always been fit and is a super professional but every professional has some weaknesses. Having Italian roots, he loves pasta! He also loves the Lebanese Baklava and he sneaks in those food items! Those types of food from time to time makes you want more food.
4. So what kind of diet was he prescribed?
Diet wise, he was more on lean proteins and refined carbs. He likes porridge/oatmeal in the morning, scrambled eggs, he likes desserts a lot! Because of that, wee normally give him the desserts low in calorie, high in protein and low in sugar. And they taste really really good. We make a high in protein chocolate fondant. That is one of the first things he tried and that is what made him start following our plans.
5. Interesting, so do you supply the foods to the actors working with you?
Yes, we supply all the foods for all the celebrities on set. We had a kitchen on set. So it was not just Stallone but all the actors on that set. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Jet Li, etc.
6. Did they all have different nutrition plans or did they all eat what was made that day on set?
Of course they all had different nutrition plans. There are menus, and they have to choose off the menu and according to their nutritional status we send them the plan. Every one of them trains differently, so they all have completely different food plans and quantities.
7. I noticed you created your own plan called the AND diet. Can you talk about what that is and how did you come up with it?
I came up with that because I say diet is not only food but a combination of things: Lifestyle AND, Workout AND movement AND the way you drink (water and drinks anything) AND the way you look at things. The core of everything comes before nutrition. That is what affects us psychologically by making us look better, making us feel better, improves self confidence and do better at work or school. When you feel good, you present that out everywhere. So that’s why I say AND because it is not only diet. It is about changing people’s life, the way they think. I change their character more than I change their weight. I work in person with each and every one of my clients, celebrity or not celebrity. And when you don’t see results, you stop wanting to follow that kind of plan. This gives you the yo-yo dieting effect where you start wanting more food, wanting to cheat more, etc. So I work on a daily basis with my clients. They take their weight every morning, I check on everything they eat, especially the first two weeks. I give them a food plan. I change their diets according to their tastes because I believe diet starts with pleasure. If there is no pleasure, there is no diet.
8. Let’s talk Britney Spears – am a personal fan of her. She went through lots of ups and downs in her personal life as well as career and it certainly showed in her body. How did you help her?
She had to change the way she thinks about food. She got back in shape without too much effort. She did not really have to go to extremes. What she was eating was the big issue. There was no nutritional value in what she was consuming. We basically started off getting her back on track. The first 10 days, we focused on regulating her meals. And then after that we got into starting off the full plan. She dropped a lot of weight starting from the first month. Close to 10kg!
9. You also helped both Alia Bhatt and Mouni Roy from India with their diets in Bulgaria. Let’s start with Alia who is a vegetarian. What were her challenges and what recommendations did you give her for her diet chart?
Bollywood started off Hollywood I was working at the Warner Brothers Bulgaria studios where they are now shooting the movie Brahmastra with Alia Bhatt and Mouni Roy and many other big stars. Warner Brothers referred me to Alia. She had some nutritional issues, so we started off there. She had some problems with the food she was eating. We started taking care of her meals and she got into a very good shape during her shoot. We had a certain diet to cut off the bloating, all the refined carbs, the gluten. We got her on my special detox that cleanses her body of all the toxins. It gets rid of all the cellulite in the body I gave her some of my supplements and we got her back on track and released some of the bloating and annoying feeling. Keep in mind she is shooting for long hours every day. She works out a lot but because she is a vegetarian she was not getting enough protein. She gets it from plants but it was not enough.
10. Mouni Roy has lost a ton of weight!! Everyone wants to know what her diet and workout was. Can you share some specifics?
Mouni is my favorite person.I love her. She is so humble, so down to earth and she has a great personality and she has a great body and she puts in a lot of effort to keep it that way.
She has a very thin structure with tiny bones. She is not one of those people where even if they are skinny, they still look big. She worked out, got into yoga. I gave her our special coffee we provide and that managed her appetite a certain level and we got her on track with her meals. She does not usually have so many meals but instead a lot of snacks. She showed me some of the Indian snacks which are very good but very fattening. She is also a vegetarian and barely has eggs. From all the celebs I have trained from Hollywood to Bollywood, Mouni has a very special place in my heart.
11. What kind of diets do you recommend men who are trying to build muscle and lose fat?
They have to have enough consumption of protein and carbohydrates. To build a mass of muscle you need 1/3 of your plate to be carbs. Decrease the amount of dairy and sugar to the minimum. And if you keep the sugar level low, the body does not produce any fat. So we balance the insulin through the refined carbs like brown rice, potatoes. We barely have pastas and no bread because bread has sugar.
12. Many women travel and work and have less time to cook at home yet want to stay fit or get fit. As someone like you who travels quite a bit, How can that be achieved with eating out ?
I will tell you how I do that. I believe there is nothing called diet. I don’t believe in anything that is low calorie and low in carbs, unless there is a goal behind it. I want all the people to live a happy, normal life with pleasure. I do not want people to be stuck in trouble and worrying about what they will eat and not be able to socialize with friends. The most important thing is calculating the amount of food they are intaking. It is important to focus on having regularity in your meals, as if you have regular meals, you have smaller quantities.
In terms of eating out, it is absolutely fine to eat out. For example, in Lebanese cuisine, we do not order big plates like American or Italian food like a burger with fries or a big portion of pasta, etc. We order a bunch of small plates and go from there. We need to figure out what are we eating? So you take portions of each dish on your own plate so you can see the quantity of food you are eating. And that is how you can balance the meals.
Going into extreme diets is not healthy. You will drop a lot of weight and muscle mass and muscle does not come back. It turns into fat.
13. Indian diets have a myth of being unhealthy and high in carbs yet if we look at the traditional meal it is very balanced. What Indian foods are recommended in a healthy diet and what should be considered “once in a while cheat meals”?
Indian food is balanced and spicy. From one perspective spicy food is very healthy as the chilli boosts your metabolism and very high in antioxidants. But that makes you want to eat more. When I look at Indian food, I do not see it as unhealthy with the exception of the fried bread. Even with friend bread I don’t say don’t eat it, limit it. Bread that is fried or the ones with sugar and milk, when it has that sweet taste and melts in your mouth, it makes you want to eat more like croissants. I do not believe Indian food is not allowed in the diet. The Indian way of eating is wrong. Most Indians, (not everyone but the ones I have worked with), they snack a lot. It is the snacks and nibbles all day that contributes to the weight gain. You never gain weight from breathing the air.
14. Women who have just delivered a baby and trying to lose the post pregnancy weight. What do you recommend for them ?
Due to the hormones, we try to cut all processed foods. If you want to drop weight fast, you get off sugar, dairy which makes you retain more water and the main issue with pregnant women is the water weight. I try to get them to eat clean especially the first 60 days post-delivery. Until the time you get your first menstrual period post pregnancy, your body is not the same internally. After the 60th day, everything starts to get back on track but getting into a certain diet plan is difficult.
15. Anyone looking at you would say you are very fit and totally hot! What’s your own personal diet and workout regimen that is sustainable?
Diet is 70% of your weight loss. Being fit is totally different. Some people are born fit and lucky, but most of us are not so we have to work hard to build that beautiful body. If you want that model look you see in pictures, you have to work out a certain way. Some of the ways when you start working out with heavy weights, especially if you are a woman, it may not be good for that person. Some people already have bulkiness in their legs, so adding more weight to that is not going to give you that look. But that 30% is a huge result when you add it in with the right diet. I don’t recommend doing only cardio. I recommend having some cardio and a weight program where you are doing lighter weights and an intensive workout with very short breaks in between. This will boost their metabolism and count as a cardio as well.
16. Anything else you want to add in?
Anyone can drop the weight they want but they have to have consistency. It is all about consistency and changing the way you think and accepting that life is not easy. But life is beautiful when you think about it in the right way. You can’t say I can’t live on fruits and not eat them. Fruits are very good. Fruits are delicious, but you cannot live only on fruits, or only on veggies. You have to have a little bit of everything. Elegancy starts from your plate. When your plate is elegant, you are going to look elegant yourself.