Kate Upton Shares Her Secret to Looking Super Fit Without Giving up Chocolate or Fries

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit's 2017 cover girl Kate Upton makes health and fitness a priority in her life, but instead of killing herself on the treadmill day in and day out, she sticks to a method many women shy away from.

We’ve seen Upton lift a 200-pound bar during hip thrusts and push 500 pounds on a sled during those sessions she frequently posts to Instagram, but she says her diet is a major reason why she hits the gym—and why she’s able to crush it so hard.

"I eat a lot of protein like chicken and tons of greens. I'm like a female Popeye: I eat so much spinach that it's insane. I love it with a little bit of cheese drizzled on it–it's one of my favorites,” she tells Shape of her normally healthy lifestyle.

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And she knows exactly how to fuel her body for either a long day of work or a tough gym session. “I always have breakfast because I can't do a hard workout if I don't eat. I usually have eggs and spinach beforehand or an omelet with a bunch of veggies in it and maybe a little feta. If I'm at the gym acting like a badass lifting all those weights, it would be pretty embarrassing if I fainted."

Still, the 25-year-old says she doesn’t make any food off limits as that would only make her crave it more. "I like to have a little 'bad' every day. Whether it's chocolate, some chips or French fries, or croutons on my salad. Or cheese and bread, which is my absolute favorite if I have to pick one. Having a treat makes you feel like it's worth it,” Upton says.

When she indulges in that daily treat, it makes hitting the gym a source of motivation rather than a punishment. “It’s all about balance. If I want to have a really awesome dinner, I might use that as motivation. I'll tell myself, 'I will have that dessert tonight if I just get my ass to the gym!' Then I end up going and being so grateful that I did."

And when she hits the gym with trainer Ben Bruno, it’s no joke.

For best results I recommend matching your outfit to the weight.. #FitnessFriday @benbrunotraining

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“I found a training plan that really works for my body,” the model told People. “I love feeling strong, and strength training has really changed my body.” In preparation for her SI Swimsuit cover shoot, Upton trained with Bruno at least one hour five to six days a week.

Her seriously trim, toned figure is the product of rocking through high-energy circuit training with weights. She and Bruno incorporate moves like landline bench squats, weighted hip thrusts, single-leg deadlifts and TRX rows without rest, so it also counts as her daily dose of cardio. She spends zero time on the treadmill!

“Lifting heavy weights leans you out if you do it the correct way. Ben Bruno, my trainer, always makes sure I'm getting it right,” Upton told Shape. When she began training, the model could only lift a 20-pound kettlebell. Now she deadlifts over 200 pounds! And her first sled pull was about 180 pounds; now it’s over 500 pounds.

But for Upton, the focus on nutrition and fitness isn’t to help her fit the mold for modeling. ”What really helped me deal with the pressure of the fashion industry and having to be a certain weight was taking myself out of that conversation completely,” she said. “Once I started focusing on being strong and doing weight training, I became the size that I needed to be for modeling. I changed the battle inside my head to be about strength and having balance in my life instead of fitting into a pair of jeans."

Photo credit: Instagram / @kateupton