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Padma Lakshmi consumes a shocking amount of calories while filming ‘Top Chef’

“I typically gain anywhere from 10 to 17 pounds every season," Lakshmi revealed in 2017.

Being the host of “Top Chef” may be a dream gig full of caviar and Champagne, but according to Padma Lakshmi, it’s also full of calories.

On May 2, Lakshmi visited “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to talk about the slew of projects she has coming down the pike and how they affect her diet.

During the sit-down, Lakshmi talked about filming in Puerto Rico for the second season of her Hulu show, “Taste the Nation,” her love for In-N-Out Burger while she’s on the West Coast, and how she prepared to pose in a bikini for the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

“I did not believe the news on the phone, and then I started freaking out, I’m like, ‘I gotta go to the gym, oh, my God,’” the 52-year-old mom said to Kimmel about receiving the call from SI. “Luckily I was already hitting the gym pretty hard because it had been just a month since I just got home from filming ‘Top Chef.’”

Kimmel then asks how many calories Lakshmi eats on the show, which is in the midst of its 20th season.

“First half of the season when we have a lot of contestants, eight or nine thousand calories a day … easily,” Lakshmi said, before joking with Kimmel's sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez that she would challenge him to an eating contest. “Hot dogs with no ketchup.”

This isn’t the first time the star has talked about her "Top Chef" diet. In a 2017 essay for the Hollywood Reporter, Lakshmi wrote about how hosting the popular culinary competition show has led to weight fluctuations and how her focus on it has affected Krishna, her now-13-year-old daughter.

“When filming ‘Top Chef,’ I consume about 5,000 to 8,000 calories a day. 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,” Laskmi wrote at the time. “I typically gain anywhere from 10 to 17 pounds every season. Once I get home, what’s taken me six weeks to gain takes me 12 weeks to take off.”

Krishna Thea Lakshmi-Dell and Padma Lakshmi at the Blossom Ball Endometriosis Foundation of America held at Cipriani 42nd Street on March 20, 2023 in New York City.
Krishna Thea Lakshmi-Dell and Padma Lakshmi at the Blossom Ball Endometriosis Foundation of America on March 20, 2023 in New York City.Aurora Rose / Variety via Getty Images

In her piece, Lakshmi reflected on times she has opted to eat less around her daughter, like eating leftover rice and lentils on pizza nights; having a taco salad with “just a few crumpled chips,” forgoing tortillas, sour cream and cheese; and instead of pasta, eating the ragu with greens.

“Recently, I realized my daughter, who is 7, has been listening to me talk about my weight,” she wrote at the time. “She’s noticed, and suddenly she’s told me and others in our circle, ‘I don’t want to eat because I’m watching my figure,’ or, ‘I weigh too much.’ I wasn’t thinking anything of the sort when I was 7 or 10 or even 13.”

Lakshmi wrote that even though the requirements of her job have led to red-carpet-prep stress, her experience with her daughter changed her thinking.

“So, this year, I’ve decided my weight will not be my focus,” Lakshmi wrote. “If I need a bigger dress, so be it. That one day — or any day — on the red carpet isn’t nearly as important as making sure my daughter doesn’t measure her worth by her dress size.”

In her interview with SI Swimsuit, Lakshmi said, “I have never felt better about myself” at age 52. “I hope they see a full woman in all my facets and nuances and some contradictions. I wouldn’t go back to my 20s if you paid me all the money in the world.”