Rob Lowe Gets Candid about Fatherhood, Fitness, and the Diet That’s Been a ‘Very Good Fit’

Rob Lowe sat down with The Healthy @Reader's Digest to talk about healthy eating, his natural love of exercise, and all the proud dad feels as he works on a new Netflix project with his son.

For over four decades, Rob Lowe’s career has brought him in and out of the spotlight. From iconic roles in The Outsiders and St. Elmo’s Fire to The West Wing and Parks and Recreation, Lowe has created character after character in the public eye.

Now 58, he’s still not slowing down—that means off-set, too. “If I have a window in the middle of my day, I’m going to work out,” Lowe told The Healthy @Reader’s Digest. In an interview last week he discussed his upcoming projects, his favorite ways to sneak in a workout, and his partnership with Atkins to create low-carb treats for summer.

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TOUR Championship Actor Rob Lowe hangs out at the 18th hole during the third round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf ClubChris Condon/Getty Images

Lowe said he’s relied on a low-carb, Atkins-style diet for about 20 years now.

“I think we all get to a point as we age where we go, ‘Oh, turns out I can’t eat like I’m in college anymore.’ And at that point I started really cutting the carbs and watching sugar,” he told The Healthy. “It may not be easy, but it’s not complicated. When I started working with Atkins, it was a very good fit because that is my number one thing: watch those carbs, add healthy proteins, cut the sugar. Everything falls into place after that, whether it’s more specifics of the diet or workout regimen or sleep or any of that. All important—but none of it as important as watching your carbs, [eating] healthy proteins, and cutting sugar.” 

But for Lowe, cutting sugar doesn’t mean prohibiting it. In fact, he’s had better luck with the occasional indulgence. Ice cream and milkshakes might be his guilty pleasures, but he says he doesn’t let treating himself feel like a bad thing. “Let me be perfectly straight,” Lowe said. “I do not bat a thousand. It’s important that people realize you need to be realistic with yourself. I think you’ve got to treat yourself to something now and again because nobody can be perfect, and I’m not looking to be. It really is like a batting average in baseball. Over the course of a season, I feel like my average is going to be pretty damn good.” 

Of course, some of us are more little league and others…well, are Rob Lowe. Whether it’s squeezing in a swim or heading out for a hike, Lowe loves using his free time to stay fit. He prefers High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, to long cardio—but really, he said, his main secret is open-mindedness: he’ll try anything once. “I’m super excited when people come to me with a new workout or a new gizmo or piece of equipment,” he said. “I absolutely love it and am happy to do it. So that makes taking care of my workout part of my regimen really, really easy.”

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‘The family business’

Though he’s been a working actor since he was 15, Lowe’s career is still going strong. In fact in his upcoming project, the Netflix comedy Unstable, Lowe is taking on a new challenge: co-creating, producing, and starring alongside his son John, 26.

The industry may have changed a lot since he started acting in the ‘70s—back then, Lowe said, “you literally waited for the phone to ring”—but he still has valuable perspective of his son’s budding career. “At his age, I’d gone through three careers already,” he said. “I’d been the hottest thing ever, the coldest thing ever, the hottest thing ever. At 26, I was well, well, well—double well—into my career. He’s still just starting. I find that to be an interesting contradiction, but he’s in the family business. And it gives me a ton of satisfaction that we get to do it together.”

John isn’t the first relative Rob has had the chance to work with over the years. His brother, Chad, has directed and starred alongside him in 9-1-1: Lone Star, and that experience has already shown him how valuable working with family can be.

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Trust, he says, is the biggest silver lining. “I don’t know if it’s because we’re brothers, but we have the same taste,” Lowe said. “So I trust him, more than I would trust somebody else. Same with my son. I’m happy to let Johnny speak for me, because I know we share the same sort of values. I love that shorthand. It’s very hard to develop that with somebody that’s not a family member.” 

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Lowe says building that language with John on the set of Unstable and watching him take the lead on creative decisions has been a great reward for him. “It’s really gratifying,” he said. “It makes me a proud dad.”

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Miranda Manier
Miranda is the Associate Editor for TheHealthy.com and The Healthy section of Reader's Digest magazine. Previously, Miranda was a producer at WNIT, the PBS affiliate in South Bend, Indiana; and the producer in residence for Minneapolis TV news KARE 11, where she won an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award for producing gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial. Miranda also interned at Chicago’s PBS station, WTTW, and worked as the managing editor at the Columbia Chronicle at Columbia College. Outside of work, Miranda enjoys acting, board games, and trying her hand at a good vegan dessert recipe. She also loves talking about TV—so tell her what you’re watching!