Losing weight the healthy way according to fitness coach Dave Catudal

Are carbs really a bad thing?


By Rachel Au

Losing weight the healthy way according to fitness coach Dave Catudal

He is a celebrity fitness trainer, certified nutrition consultant, an author, a Health and Fitness Director at PurelyB and he has been given the nickname ‘Physique Transformation Specialist’. Dave Catudal is more than just a professional coach, he is a walking embodiment of healthy living. 


From Hollywood celebrities to top models to professional athletes to busy parents worldwide, Dave has helped thousands of people achieve their holistic wellness and physical goals. Now in his early 30s, the passion he has for his current way of life only began around his teenage years when his younger brother was diagnosed with leukaemia and subsequently, his father with stage three adenocarcinoma several years later. 


Having dedicated the last 14 years of his life to wellness and learning everything available about preventative disease and illness prevention, we decided to nitpick his brain about everything we thought we knew about living well and losing weight—and came back with several things debunked. 

dave catudal interview

You created a 30-day weight loss programme for PurelyB—which editor-in-Chief Cai Mei is currently trying out—who is it for and what was the inspiration behind it?

I designed it to be a personal challenge for people who really need to make a complete and healthy change to their habits and lifestyles. It’s designed for busy people who are on the go and who finds going to the gym or exercising three to four times a week simply inconvenient—my workouts can all be done at home, and the meals are simple to prepare or can even be delivered!


What are some results we can expect after the 30-day programme? 

As with any weight loss programme, the results directly reflect the effort that you put in. My programme has rather challenging exercise routines; and when someone follows the diet cleanly and does three to four of my workouts each week, most people will easily lose three to four kilos by the end of the 30 days. Most importantly, the programme is designed to be educational and enlightening; so for most people, the weight loss in the initial 30 days is only the beginning to their new, healthier body and life.


In the fashion industry, there’s a constant debate on models being too skinny. What, in your opinion, is a healthy size and is BMI a good indicator? 

A healthy size is the size that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. There’s a happy middle point where people’s bodies actually want to be, and this is the ideal goal that everyone should aim for. 

If you are too far below your natural body weight, your body and mind will suffer. The same goes for when you are too high above your natural body weight. 

As far as measurements go, BMI is definitely not a good indicator—when I’m in my peak shape, I’m considered obese by the BMI standards… So no, do not focus on BMI. I generally tell all my clients to ignore the scale and simply focus on how they feel about themselves.

If you want a helpful number, body fat percentage is a very good indicator of healthy weight. Most men should be between 13 to 17 per cent and most women should be between 18 23 per cent. In my 15 years as a health coach, these are the numbers where I find people looking and feeling their very best. 

dave catudal interview - abs

Are carbs really a bad thing? 

They’re not at all—but they are so easily abused. Since we are all mostly raised as sugar addicts (remember what you used to get as a child when you were “good” or what stopped making you cry: candy or ice cream, or other sugary treats), this requires us to be aware about our carb intake, and most importantly, it is the quality of carbs that we must focus on. 

A croissant and strawberry jam (refined wheat and processed sugar) will do nothing positive for your body whereas the same amount of carbs coming from brown rice and pumpkin is extremely healthy for you. It’s a complex subject but the bottom line is that nobody ever got fat from eating too much broccoli and salmon. 99 per cent of cases where people are gaining weight is because they are eating too much sugar (AKA detrimental carbs).


Can you share any memorable moments from when you were coaching Hollywood celebrities? 

I’m not able to use actual names for many of the celebrities that I worked with; but one that I can mention is a good friend and longtime client, Kate Hudson. I once showed up to her house to train her somewhere along the coast in Malibu, and it just so happened that a friend of hers (an A-List celebrity that I can’t name) answered the door. Since Kate was in a meeting, he suggested that we play tennis on the backyard court. When we got to the court, there was another friend of Kate’s who happened to be one of the top tennis players in the world. The celebrity who answered the door and I took one side as a doubles team and played the tennis star – we weren’t even able to return one ball. No chance. That was one of the most memorable events that I had encountered while working in LA.


Any workout tips for people with busy schedules?

STOP DOING CARDIO AND CRUNCHES! If there is one tip I can give to busy people who want to maximise their results in the gym, it’s to never do another abdominal crunch again; and do more dynamic, compound movements like push ups, squats, walking lunges, and burpees. 

You will never, and I repeat NEVER, get better abs by doing crunches. Only an enhanced metabolism will do that and the best way to boost your metabolism is to do HIIT-style exercises with compound bodyweight movements. 

Cardio burns calories and nothing else. It has very little positive effect on your metabolism, so by switching to short, 20 to 40-minute bodyweight exercise routines, you will burn extreme amounts of fat and get great ab—without ever doing an ab crunch again. 

dave catudal interview 3

We have a column called #CheatDayEats—what food do you indulge in on your cheat days? 

Well, first of all, it’s really only professional athletes who need a cheat DAY—for the average person, this is completely unnecessary. Cheat meals can be a beautiful thing, and mine used to always be a margarita pizza and a pint of coconut ice cream (about 1,600 calories). However, ever since I started eating vegan for the past year, I haven’t had the urge to have any cheat meals! I guess eating more fruit satisfies the sweet cravings. 


Best travel destination for a fitness retreat? 

Anywhere tropical with a beach! I design and host wellness retreats all around Pacific Asia—mostly in Thailand and Bali. My favourite retreats to design are ones with surf lessons and ocean activities because it’s so good to be able to get in shape outside in nature! Forget “energy” and pre-workout drinks—being out in nature gives you all the energy you’ll ever need. 


What is your advice for those who want to lose weight—the healthy and sustainable way?  

The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is to shift your mindset from “I want to lose weight and be healthy” to “I am in shape and healthy”. Once you make this switch, you stop looking at clean eating as a challenge and you start LIVING healthy.

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