RACHAEL RAY has whipped herself up a sizzling new figure!

The 41-year-old TV cook has shed a whopping 28 pounds through a strict new workout regimen – and her weight-loss efforts have been helped along by the fact that she is no longer taking steroids for her previous throat problems.

The 5-foot-3 culinary cutie now weighs 137 pounds, says a close source.

"I started running 3 1/2 miles every morning after throat surgery to remove a cyst last year," Rachael revealed a few months ago. "The gym used to be my adversary. But that has all changed.

"Now, I look forward to it every morning."

Rachael added that she runs for 30 minutes then exercises for an hour in the gym.

In February 2009, The ENQUIRER exclusively revealed that doctors had prescribed the steroid drug prednisone to shrink a cyst they’d found on her vocal cord. Aside effect of prednisone is weight gain – and Rachael appeared to pack on the pounds in the following weeks because of the drug therapy.

"Everyone was worried for her because her weight ballooned," said the close source. "But getting the cysts treated was the most important thing. She’s now off the steroids, and it’s helped her lose weight.

"It’s a BIG difference."

Rachael showed off her hot new physique during a trip to Washington, D.C., on May 11 when she lobbied the Capitol to increase funding for healthier school lunches.

"I think she looks great," Rachael’s dad Jim told The ENQUIRER.

"She’s doing very good work with her school lunch programs. I’m very proud of her."