I Gave Up Caffeine, Alcohol, Dairy, Sugar, Gluten & Joy In Pursuit Of Goop’s Idea Of ‘Wellness’

In the spirit of trying to live my best life and be healthy or whatever, I decided it was time to do something drastic, like not eat junk food for five days. With that said, I would like to take this moment to apologize to everyone that I interacted with this past week as I was without caffeine, and honestly we knew the risks. I can’t be held accountable for my actions during that time. 

In looking for inspiration, I turned to the pioneer of influencers peddling questionable “wellness” tactics: the one, the only, Gwyneth Paltrow. When you want vague promises of “detoxifying” your body, a bizarre approach that may or may not harm you, and candles that smell like your vagina, you go to Goop—and it did not disappoint. In my searching, I discovered Goop’s Annual New Year Detox, a five-day detox that’s free of caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, corn, nightshades, soy, refined sugar, shellfish, white rice, and eggs, and apparently joy. While this sounds intense, and it kind of is, it’s important to note that this is a detox and not a diet, meaning that the purpose of this week is to reset your body and mind for a healthier lifestyle, not lose weight. And it’s also important to note that this is NOT Goop’s COVID “detox”, which health experts have warned could potentially be harmful. With that in mind, join me on my journey of becoming America’s Next Top Wellness Influencer, and see how I did for the week.

Start: Sunday Prep

Sunday funday! Sike, Sundays are for grocery shopping and meal prepping. Goop provides you with a shopping list, but they also invite you to make substitutions and to alter the detox to whatever works for you. They say, “Embrace the swaps and tweaks that make sense for your tastes, your body, and your lifestyle. Opt for some store-bought shortcuts and let them bring you joy.” Furthermore, Goops acknowledges that all the dietary restrictions aren’t necessarily realistic for everyone, and permits you to customize it to your lifestyle. Goop states, “Eat more if you’re hungry. Eat a little less if you’re full. Listen to your body. Maybe eliminating all of the above is too much and you just want to see what happens when you remove dairy from your diet for five days.” I kept this in mind when I did my shopping, because in my humble opinion, there’s no need to buy a whole bottle of something just to use one teaspoon, unless you have a Paltrow-level paycheck. 

While meal prepping is not a required step, it does help in making the first detox day slightly less overwhelming. I started by marinating my chicken, no big deal, and then chopped up all my veggies for the next day. Excuse me while I go accept my Food Network award for culinary excellence.

Day One: Monday

Detox At A Glance:

Day one, I am energized and ready to go. Ok, maybe not “energized” because this detox cuts out caffeine, but I am enthusiastic and eager to start! Every morning begins with a mug of warm water and lemon, which is great for me, because I already do that most mornings. The real first challenge is the Chocolate Cherry Almond Smoothie. Mine consisted of frozen cherries (duh), frozen cauliflower florets, seeds galore, almond butter, sea salt, water, a quarter of a banana, and a dash of mocha collagen powder. So not exactly the Goop recipe, but again, alter to your desire. I swapped out the date for a bit of banana, upped the seed count from a Teaspoon to a Tablespoon of each kind, and added mocha collagen powder instead of cacao powder, because that’s what I already had on hand. The taste? Actually really good! Don’t let the cauliflower deter you, it blends in really well and you don’t even taste it—I think the banana also helped in masking that veggie flavor.

Because I wasn’t super hungry after my mid-morning smoothie, I opted to just make the soup for lunch, and save the curried chickpea salad and bread combo for another day. Honestly, making soup on a rainy day, I felt like I was Martha Stewart. The soup making process was surprisingly easy, and I followed the recipe as listed. As for the soup itself? Unnecessary. I get that this was supposed to be a sneaky way to eat all your greens, but it really was just glorified baby food. The flavor was totally fine, savory and a little salty, but the texture was just not great. Plus, and I get that I was fairly warned with it being called Everything Green Soup, but it was really really green—no thanks. 

Up next was the Super Seedy Apple Rings. Way better, it’s just apple slices with almond butter dipped in some seeds. Standard, simple, and delicious.

Lastly was the Miso Chicken with Cucumbers and Furikake. I let the chicken breast marinate in the miso for 24 hours as recommended, patted off the excess miso, and threw it in a pan. In lieu of furikake, I sprinkled a little Everything But the Bagel seasoning over my cucumbers, which wasn’t that far off from the intended seasoning. Overall, chicken paired with brown rice and cucumbers is basic, healthy, and filling—not too shabby for the first day.

Day Two: Tuesday

Detox At A Glance:

I miss my morning coffee, but I’m powering through. This breakfast was my favorite hands down, because it’s just avocado toast, a staple in my normal diet. I could live off of this every day. I went rogue and mixed my avocado with a little lemon juice and salt and pepper, then added a generous sprinkle of chia seeds, red pepper flakes, and a few cherry tomatoes on top. *Chef’s kiss*. Lunch was easy; I simply heated up the leftover miso chicken, no biggie. However, I have a bone to pick with this so-called Rooibos Almond Latte. Apparently Rooibos is a tea, the almond referred to almond milk and almond butter, and the latte part was… nothing! There wasn’t any coffee, not even decaf. I’m sorry, but you cannot call something a latte that contains zero coffee! Goop did me dirty on that one. They got my hopes up and played with my emotions for some tea with almond milk. The nerve. It was fine, but I drank it with contempt. 

For dinner, I made some more minor adjustments. I am not a fish person, or really even a seafood person, it’s just not my thing. So, instead of haddock, I used chicken breast. This is a classic sheet pan meal, toss it all on the pan and let the oven do the work. The salsa verde was also super basic and easy to throw together. I give it a thumbs up! It’s fresh and healthy without feeling like it’s diet food. I would totally order something like this at a restaurant, just maybe with a margarita.

Day Three: Wednesday

Detox At A Glance:

Did I mention that I miss my coffee yet? Because it’s day three and I’m not not cranky. I’m into the routine at this point: wake up, warm water with lemon, check. Breakfast though, breakfast was interesting. I had to take a separate trip over to Whole Foods, aka a whole paycheck to pick up this small pack of fonio, which is a grain that is similar to couscous. I opted to blend it after heating in a saucepan to achieve that porridge-like consistency, and it was great—at first. But then it oddly solidified. I don’t know if I didn’t stir in enough almond milk, but something happened where it turned into this block of goo. Not overly appetizing. This could be user error, but I’m hesitant moving forward. 

After a lackluster breakfast, I am looking forward to lunch. And what’s on the menu? Baby food soup—ugh. Hard pass. Luckily, I still have the curried chickpea salad to try. Fingers crossed! Verdict is, it’s okay. Is it my favorite thing that I’ve had so far? No, but it’s still good, and relatively easy to make, so I’ll take the W. I mashed the majority of my chickpeas, because I prefer a creamier, hummus-like consistency, but to each their own. 

Then, like the previous day, apples and almond butter for a snack, super chill. Time for dinner, and to be honest, I’m a little sick of cooking at this point. I know it’s only day three, but having to cook four meals a day, every day, is a lot. I miss takeout. Anyway, I pretended I was on Chopped and made the fastest meal ever. Once again, I made another substitution, and swapped the sweet potato for some chicken breast, because I have the taste buds of a 10-year-old and I’m not a fan of sweet potatoes. But I did eat the cauliflower rice, so like, I semi-adulted. This was good, similar to your standard power bowl. Nothing to write home about, but the chicken paired with the pickled cabbage was a good call! 

Day Four: Thursday

Detox At A Glance:

Home stretch! I am feeling good, feeling healthy, missing my pizza delivery guy—shout-out Sal—but I feel light and clean. This morning is laid-back—I love my lemon water, and I love my cherry smoothie, all good there. Lunch was also a relaxed event, which after being tired of cooking, was ideal. But can you guess what my swap was this time? If you rolled your eyes and said sweet potatoes, then you are correct! Instead of making a sweet potato hummus, I opted for a store bought organic avocado hummus with a side of veggies, which was freaking awesome. I also made my “latte” at the same time and “enjoyed” it simultaneously. By now I am somewhat recovered from my cooking burnout, and can handle making the stew for dinner. Like with most things in this detox, the prep isn’t overly difficult, though the end result isn’t overly great. It’s good enough to have a healthy dinner. All in all, I would say it was a fairly successful meal day. 

Day Five: Friday

 

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Detox At A Glance:

Today is the last day of this detox, and I am proud to say that I successfully survived the week, and I did it all without caffeine. I will pause for your applause—thank you. At this point, I have accepted my destiny as a wellness influencer, and will now look down on others as they eat their french fries and pizzas—just kidding, I’m totally getting McNuggets tomorrow, but I’ll wash them down with a green juice, because balance. 

The menu for this day was a round of celebratory courses. To start, I had avocado toast instead of the fonio, because I know what I like. I then finished off the leftover stew, thus eliminating all traces of this week’s meals in the fridge. Followed that with more avocado hummus, which I will continue to eat all day, every day, till the end of time. Lastly, I had one final recipe to try out: the Veggie Fritters with Avocado Cilantro Sauce. This one was worth the wait. Easy prep, I utilized a bag of store-bought organic slaw, and easy execution, as all you had to do was form the fritters and toss them on a pan for a few minutes. I may have slightly burned my fritters, but the flavor was still incredible, and the sauce was unmatched. I can confidently say that I would make this meal again. Seriously, 10/10—and I never thought I would say that about something where the main ingredient was vegetables.

Post-Detox Thoughts

Reflecting on the week, I wouldn’t say I feel completely detoxified, but I did prove to myself that I could go five days without coffee, pizza, or a midnight Kit Kat—so I considered that much a success! Basically, I ate healthy for a week and it didn’t kill me. It’s not fun, but it’s completely doable, and probably necessary every once in a while. My main takeaways? I don’t super enjoy cooking and a caffeine-free diet is not for me—and is also not for the well-being of everyone around me (again, so sorry). This new year reset was essentially a crash course in how to not order off the kid’s menu for a week—which isn’t a bad life hack.   

In the end, what I loved most about this detox plan was how flexible it was. There was no guilt in making substitutions or swapping out a meal. At no point did I ever feel like “I blew my diet” because I changed it around to make it more suitable to my tastes and needs. That’s the beauty of a detox versus a diet, yes you may still drop a few pounds, but you don’t feel deprived or guilty for altering the regimen. While I wouldn’t recommend 100% of the provided recipes (looking at you, baby food soup), I would favor a healthy detox every once in a while to refresh the body and the mind. Not anytime soon, but let’s talk again this time next year!

Images:

Artem Labunsky / Unsplash; Giphy; dietstartstomorrrow / Instagram
7 Questions To Stop Asking Newly Engaged Couples

‘Tis the season to get engaged, amiright? Just about two weeks ago, my fiancé (still feels weird typing that) proposed to me and I’ve been over the moon ever since. I’ve had more people reach out to me in this short time period than I have in my entire life combined, and while most of the interactions are super fun and positive, there are some repeated questions popping up that are simply getting on my nerves. While most of these questions are asked innocently, they’ve gotten old quickly, so here’s the 101 on questions to *please* stop asking newly engaged couples.

1. When And Where Is The Wedding?

Don’t get me wrong, I am excited about the wedding too. I’ve been dreaming about this sh*t since I was a little girl. That being said, it’s almost mind-boggling how many people have asked me WHEN the wedding is. Ma’am, I got engaged one week ago. If you think in seven days’ time I toured multiple venues, picked the venue and booked it, you’re buggin. What’s even more fun is when I say “I’m not sure yet” and it’s followed up with a, “well you should really get on that because weddings are likeeee booking into 2022“. Thank you, I know. Your added stress is not necessary, especially when you’re just stating the painfully obvious. Sorry if this sounds cold, but on behalf of all the newly engaged people out there, it had to be said.

2. Are You Stressed About COVID-19 Impacting Your Wedding?

Short answer, DUH. Given the uncertainty of the virus, I’m absolutely nervous about COVID-19 impacting my wedding. That being said, I find this question oddly irritating. As someone who had the virus myself, there are so many more important things to worry about being impacted by COVID-19 than a giant party. I’m nervous for my family, my friends, my loved ones, our world as a whole. While I’m less worried about the virus impacting my wedding day and more overwhelmed that it will result in me getting married two to three years from now, it feels like a slightly obnoxious inquiry. If COVID-19 doesn’t make you stressed, you scare me.

3. Who Is in Your Bridal Party?

There are two parts to this question. It typically starts with, “So, who’s going to be your Maid of Honor???” followed by, “Actually, who is in your bridal party in general?” When my family asks me this question, I’m cool with it. They’ve watched me grow up, they know my friends well, and they are genuinely curious. The problem is when *others* ask. If I haven’t asked my bridesmaids yet, why would I tell YOU who they’re going to be? Half the people asking are subtly hoping to be in the bridal party and the other half are asking just to be nosy and get the scoop. This question makes me super uncomfortable because I’d never want someone to feel left out, but at the end of the day, it’s my business and my business only.

4. Are You Going on a Diet? Are You Getting a Personal Trainer?

This is perhaps my LEAST favorite question of all because it’s just genuinely rude. I’ve been a bit taken aback by the amount of people who have asked me this, because I just can’t wrap my head around thinking it’s appropriate. To be honest, I don’t know the answer. If I decide that I want to tone my arms for my dream dress, maybe I will. If I decide I want to change the way I eat for health and wellness purposes, maybe I will. That being said, it will most certainly not be influenced by anyone else trying to pressure me to do so. This question is tacky and unnecessary and I know my fellow fiancé(e)s out there will agree.

5. So Like, How Much Was Your Ring?

On the theme of tacky… this question is just beyond me. There is a zero percent chance someone has good intent when asking this question. You’re either asking because you think it looks expensive and you want the tea, or because you think it looks cheap and… you want the tea. If you hit me with the “DiD hE sPeNd ThReE mOnThS sAlArY” please go away. I’m in love with my ring and that is the only thing that matters to me. That being said, if you’ve complimented my ring without asking about the cost, I appreciate you. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t basking in glory from any/all positive feedback so… KEEP IT COMING!!!!! (Put that under the category under things you should say to a newly engaged person. Accolades are always allowed.)

6. Am I Invited?

If you have to ask, it’s probably a no. Weddings are expensive. Like… really expensive. Would you treat me to a $200 dinner? No? Then I probably won’t do the same for you. Half kidding, but I personally am not trying to recreate My Big Fat Greek Wedding, so chances are my list will be narrowed down to the real ones. This question falls under the category of super uncomfortable because I hate leaving anyone out and, despite my evil sarcastic tone throughout this article, I actually love to make people feel warm and welcome, so by default I’ll feel guilty about those who don’t make the cut. Long story long, please don’t ask me this question, because it WILL keep me up at night.

7. Can I Give You Some Advice?

This question is super circumstantial, because some people offer fantastic advice and it’s extremely appreciated. Advice about how to conquer visiting multiple venues and what to look out for? Yes please. Advice about how to budget and what is and isn’t worth splurging on? I’m all ears. The problem is, people typically offer advice that is opinion-based rather than fact-based, and that’s where it gets hairy. I don’t want your advice on things personal to me, because it’s my wedding. When it’s your special day, you call the shots. When it’s mine, let me enjoy. (LMK if this is giving bridezilla vibes so I can stop before I start.)

Bonus: Questions I Enjoy

In order to redeem myself for all the spiciness above, I want to include some questions that I enjoy getting. Those exist too, I swear. I’m happy to answer questions about the engagement because quite honestly, I still get butterflies. How did he ask? Easy, I have a response saved in my notes that I can send along to anyone and everyone who wants to know. Were you surprised? Excited? Nervous? Yes, all of the above. What kind of style is your ring? More than happy to answer this (mine is emerald) and I’m also happy to answer personal questions about the ring if they are productive and helpful for my fellow future brides (or friends looking to get engaged soon). What is your dream dress? Oh, I’m glad you asked… let me show you my Pinterest board. You get the point.

If you take away one thing from this piece, it’s to be respectful of others privacy and to know what questions are appropriate vs. uncomfortable. Pre-engagement I likely asked half of the above questions myself, so we’re all learning here. The more you know!

Images: Scott Broome / Unsplash; Giphy (9)

3 Celebrity Diet Trends That Are Bad For You

We’re all fascinated by celebrities. We study their every move: what they wear, what their skin care routine is, what they eat.

As dietitians, we know that nutrition can be overwhelming and it’s easy to look to celebs for diet advice. After all, they look fabulous, and if it works for them, shouldn’t it work for us? (Aside from the fact that they have a trainer, dietician, and probably an unlimited food budget, we mean.)

Unfortunately, celebrities can fall victim to diet culture just like the rest of us, and they usually aren’t the best source for nutrition advice. Not to mention, they’re working in an image-focused industry that prioritizes looks over health. So maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t take their diet advice after all. Need proof? Here are some trending celeb diets that may do more harm than good.

Adele’s Sirtfoods Diet

First question: what are sirtuins? Silent information regulators, or SIRTs, are enzymes that regulate pathways in the body that may boost metabolism and reduce inflammation. The creators of the Sirtfood Diet claim that certain foods like blueberries, kale, and dark chocolate contain antioxidants that increase SIRT activity, thus helping you burn fat more effectively. Apparently, you can lose seven pounds in seven days by following the Sirtfood diet. 

Sound too good to be true? It is…

There is some evidence that SIRTs may benefit your metabolism, but the research on SIRTs is actually stronger when it comes to aging and longevity. More importantly, there is no research that specific foods activate the SIRT enzymes per se. Yes, some antioxidants in food stimulate SIRT activity, but it would take an exorbitant amount of those foods to make this happen—much more than you can reasonably eat in a day.

Another kicker: the first phase of the Sirtfoods diet requires a pretty extreme calorie restriction: 1,000 calories a day for three days, mostly coming from juices. No thanks.

RD verdict: Even if SIRTs help burn fat, we probably can’t enhance their activity by eating normal portions of so-called “sirtfoods”. Any weight loss you see on this diet is probably from limiting your calories and eating nutrient-dense foods. While the Sirtfoods diet is rich in healthy foods we love, it’s basically a calorie restricted Mediterranean diet repackaged and sold with another name. Good thing the Mediterranean diet already exists, doesn’t rely on intense calorie restriction, and has proven benefits.

The Kardashians’ Flat Tummy Tea

The creators of Flat Tummy Tea claim that it “aids in the detoxifying and digestion process”. This word “detox” is used a lot in diet culture, but what does it really mean?

Your kidneys, liver, and digestive systems metabolize and help eliminate harmful substances from your body, also known as detoxification. While some herbs may help to support these processes, your organs are pretty effective at doing them on their own, so you really don’t need a tea to do what your organs were built to do.

Another important caveat: one of the main ingredients in this tea is senna leaf, a potent laxative that can actually alter your gastrointestinal motility and potentially do irreversible damage if used in the long term. Eek! That’s not detox—that’s diarrhea. Pass.

RD verdict: The best way to get a flat tummy, if that’s one of your goals, is by eating a whole foods diet, limiting alcohol, controlling your blood sugar with regular, balanced meals, drinking lots of water, and eating foods that are rich in fiber and probiotics. While you’re at it, add in 30 minutes of movement per day and voilà, a flat tummy—no harmful laxatives necessary. 

Beyoncé’s Master Cleanse

The Master Cleanse, also called the Lemonade Diet, is a liquid-only diet consisting of four ingredients: water, lemons, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. Proponents of the Master Cleanse (which also include celebs like Michelle Rodriguez and Demi Moore) claim that the specific combination of these ingredients helps detoxify the body and support weight loss. Spoiler: any diet that promotes you consume nothing but a lemonade mix for days on end is not going to be good for you, and if you need more convincing, check out this account from a brave soul who tried it.

RD verdict: While it might be true that short-term liquid fasting gives your digestive and detoxification systems a little break to work more efficiently in the future, a liquid diet usually leads to binge and overeating which taxes your detox systems even more! 

Yes, there’s some evidence that spicy foods like cayenne pepper may slightly boost your metabolism, but any weight loss you see from doing this diet is likely from the severe calorie restriction from not eating. If you have enough willpower to drink this concoction, why not adopt a healthy diet and get more exercise? It’s more effective and sustainable for long-term weight loss and supports overall health. 

The hard truth about celebrities is that they look fabulous because they have the money for chefs, personal trainers, and dietitians to help them eat and exercise for their personal and professional weight goals. They are not qualified to give nutrition advice, but if asked, most of them will tell you that the secret to feeling and looking great is not a fancy tea, but a healthy, balanced diet with regular exercise.

Vanessa Rissetto and Tamar Samuels are registered dietitians and co-founders of Culina Health, offering nutritional coaching and a science-based health and wellness education. Taking the complicated diets, numbers, and more out of nutrition, Vanessa and Tamar simplify healthy eating ideals and plans in order to stop stressing about food and start living life. Vanessa has over ten years of experience as a RD, and currently serves as the dietetic intern director at New York University. Tamar is a RD and National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach, with a unique and holistic approach that integrates functional medicine, positive psychology, and behavioral change techniques.

Images: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

Former F-Factor Employees Detail Toxic Culture Of Shaming & Food Policing

Even if you are not tuned into the diet industry and its happenings (for which you are 100% better off), you may have heard about the problems with F-Factor, the high-fiber, high-protein diet started by Tanya Zuckerbrot and followed by the likes of Katie Couric and Olivia Culpo. To sum up the issues briefly, a little over two weeks ago (over the course of which I aged at least two years), the NY Times published a story detailing the efforts of influencer Emily Gellis to expose allegedly harmful practices and products of the F-Factor diet and its founder, Tanya Zuckerbrot. Gellis began posting anonymous accounts, and later on-the-record accounts, on her Instagram story of people claiming they had either gone on the diet, consumed the F-Factor products (including high-fiber, high-protein powders and bars), or both, and suffered distressing side effects. These reactions ran the gamut from rashes to lactose insensitivity to G.I. issues and more. That was just one problem; the issue was threefold.

The second complaint was that the F-Factor program itself was nothing short of an eating disorder, with Instagram users describing the diet as a highly restrictive one in which even fruits like bananas were frowned upon, if not outright banned, due to their carb content. (Because we all know someone who’s gained weight from eating too many bananas.) Former F-Factor clients said the program exacerbated or caused disordered eating habits—and that’s only prong two. Prong three is that the reason this information took so long to come out was because of allegations that Zuckerbrot would use various tactics including sending cease and desists to silence detractors, as well as deleting negative comments on Instagram. And now, a new article in Business Insider detailing alleged incidents of shaming and food-policing of former employees at the F-Factor workplace rounds out this picture.

Or, if you didn’t follow any of that: the F-Factor products are causing harm, the diet itself is problematic, and F-Factor is a toxic place to work, allegedly.

Zuckerbrot, for her part, has categorically denied that her products are harmful, eventually releasing a Certificate of Analysis for F-Factor’s chocolate protein powder. She has also refuted any claims that the diet promotes disordered eating and is rejecting allegations that F-Factor was a hostile work environment.

Zuckerbrot told Business Insider in an interview that the bad press about her is “shocking” and “horrible”, saying, “If you Google my name, up until the past three months, you’ve never read of any complaints or negative comments”. The comment is reminiscent of her persistent claims that of the 170,000-something purchases of F-Factor products, the company only received about 50 complaints. So what’s with these complaints, that as Zuckerbrot puts it, are only mysteriously appearing “10 years later while a smear campaign about is occurring”?

Indeed, according to Jessica Rossman, F-Factor’s Sr. Associate Brand Manager, “people are just trying to take her down.” She says the recent slew of bad press is “absolutely disgraceful,” adding, “these allegations are wild.” While Zuckerbrot feels she’s being personally victimized (I paraphrase), multiple former F-Factor employees told Business Insider that they were actually victims of food shaming and inappropriate behavior at work. They said they feared retaliation or retribution from Zuckerbrot for going public with their claims about the work environment at F-Factor. Zuckerbrot has hired Michael Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis to correspond with reporters covering the F-Factor allegations, and she’s sent cease-and-desist letters to at least six associates and former employees who decided to speak out publicly against her and the company. She told Insider that the allegations against her are “all either false or misleading”.

So let’s go through some of these allegations.

Sarah (not her real name), a dietician who used to work at F-Factor, told Insider that she was met with judgmental comments from Zuckerbrot within minutes of eating her first homemade lunch on her first day on the job. The lunch was whole-wheat pasta and turkey meatballs. She claims Zuckerbrot said to her, “I can’t believe you’re eating pasta. We never do that.” Another employee who witnessed the incident corroborated her account. Zuckerbrot said, “Healthy eating was encouraged, but not policed” in the office, clarifying that when clients would come in, out of respect for them, staff would be encouraged to put unhealthy foods out of sight.

Even though Zuckerbrot claims that you can eat whatever you want on F-Factor, telling Betches co-founder Aleen Kuperman on a January 2019 episode of the Diet Starts Tomorrow podcast, “I get to eat mac ‘n cheese. I get to have jalapeño cheddar biscuits. F-Factor gives you carbs,” claims of both followers of the diet and former employees paint a different story. For one, there are the claims that even fruit is demonized on the diet, leading Zuckerbrot to go on IG Live earlier this week to make a smoothie using half a banana, remarking that half a banana has the same amount of carbs as a slice of white bread. Similarly, former employees claim the “you can eat carbs” attitude F-Factor and Zuckerbrot proudly tout did not extend to the office. In one alleged incident, cupcakes that were brought into the office for someone’s birthday were packaged up before anyone could eat them, with Zuckerbrot instructing the person whose birthday it was to take them home. A former intern also told Insider about a team holiday dinner at a restaurant that served popovers, recounting how the team were sneaking them under the table because they didn’t want Tanya to catch them eating the popovers. Zuckerbrot said the cupcake allegation was “false” and also told Insider that she “enjoys popovers and eats them from time to time,” adding that she “feels badly that someone felt uncomfortable eating popovers in front of her.”

There are other examples like this—one where the dietician claimed the team went out to lunch at Bloomingdale’s, and a secretary tried to order frozen yogurt (frozen yogurt!) but took it back upon receiving a pointed glare from Zuckerbrot. Zuckerbrot’s rep claims she “never would have done this,” though, since she loves froyo, “particularly the chocolate flavor ‘Forty Carrots’ from Bloomies.” You get the gist: all these very specific and detailed allegations are completely false, and in fact, Tanya would never discourage anyone from eating because Tanya loves !

In response to growing calls for an apology or acknowledgement of any kind, for either the disordered eating practices or the products or both, F-Factor announced on their Instagram that they have dedicated a new page on their website where they “correct the record and provide factual support to the most common questions receive”. The webpage is appropriately located at the URL ffactor.com/facts. On the page, F-Factor maintains that out of 174,000+ orders over the past 2 years, they have only received 50 health-related complaints. They insist that F-Factor products are safe, “manufactured in the United States, are NON-GMO, and use only natural ingredients”, and repeat Zuckerbrot’s earlier claims that the products contain trace metals only because they are natural. There is also a link to the Certificate of Analysis for the chocolate, vanilla, and unflavored protein powders, with certain information redacted.

 

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A post shared by F-Factor® by Tanya Zuckerbrot (@f_factor) on

Additionally, there is a section dedicated to dispelling the claim that F-Factor encourages “unhealthy weight loss and even possibly eating disorders”, quoting portions of the book, including one part that states participants on Step 2 (of 3) can choose how many carbs they want to eat. There’s also a part that encourages followers to eat vegetables (though above the quoted passage, the site specifies that means “non-starchy vegetables”, which can be eaten in unlimited quantities at any stage of the plan).

Instagram users still aren’t satisfied, and many are clamoring for an apology. One commenter wrote under @f_factor’s newest post, “You know what’s so crazy about all of this? The fact that as a company you can’t just say hey, we’re sorry if our products have caused you any harm.” Another Instagram commenter asked, “Why haven’t you issued an apology yet?”

Instead of apologizing, Zuckerbrot went live on Instagram on Wednesday to express her shock and dismay that people are accusing F-Factor of promoting disordered eating. She also urged users not to trust nutrition or diet advice they see on Instagram—even her advice.

This article has been updated to correctly reflect Rossman’s title at F-Factor.

Images: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images; @f_factor / Instagram

How I Lost 50+ Pounds On “The Fast Metabolism Diet”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a difficult relationship with food. I don’t mean that as just something people say—the whole “as long as I can remember” thing. I literally recall being five years old, looking in the mirror, and thinking, “I’m fat.” Pretty brutal for basically an infant to think about herself, but as the years went on, those critical thoughts only grew and evolved. I hated my thighs, the ones that smushed together when I sat, and I hated my wide hips, the ones that pushed me into the juniors section long before my third grade classmates joined me there.

It wasn’t just puberty and the appearance of my childbearing hips that made living in my body feel unbearable. It was my addiction to food that caused the never-ending battle. One I didn’t even realize I was fighting until I was fifteen. Until I started skipping meals, tracking calories, and eventually, throwing up everything I ate.

As a recovered-ish binge-eating-anorexic-bulimic with severe food anxiety (doesn’t that sound like something straight out of a bullsh*t movie starring Emma Roberts?), diets have been my foundation since I started trading my lunch for a Diet Coke in 5th grade. As someone who was always just overweight enough to warrant comments from family members about her “plump” figure and “chubby” frame (*cough* assholes *cough*), I’m no stranger to viewing the scale as the enemy. Eating in moderation does not come naturally to me, and the sporadic “treat yo’ self” meal can cause a spiral that results in a 10 pound weight gain in the blink of an eye.

So, naturally, I’ve done all of the diets. ALL of them. I’ve done all of the teatoxes. I’ve tried all of the bullsh*t shakes and supplements that girls from my high school who got knocked up and stayed in our hometown sold via Facebook messenger. I am that cliche. From Keto to Whole30 to The South Beach Diet and to my own special diet called “eat everything in your pantry in one sitting and hope your body won’t transform it into fat”—I’ve tried them all. Most I’ve had some success on because when you cut out having cake after dinner and pizza four times a week, odds are you’ll drop a few pounds.

The tricky part of my diet and health journey, however, has always been restriction and control. As someone with a LONG history of eating disorders, any doctor can tell you, diets are pretty precarious. It can take one slipup, one day of being too lax or too strict to completely relapse. So, sure, I can have success with these diets, but when they involve cutting carbs for months or foregoing fruit for weeks, it really f*cks with my head.

When a friend of mine told me about a diet where you’re literally eating nonstop, not expected to work out like a crazy person, and don’t have to give up carbs, I was intrigued. I was staying at her house for a weekend and she came into the kitchen, blurry-eyed, and said she needed to eat breakfast right then. She made a piece of toast, topped it with some turkey bacon and an egg, grabbed some carrots and a carton of raspberries, and went back to her room. When she emerged an hour later, bright-eyed and showered, and I asked her what that was about, she told me about the diet. The diet that requires you to eat within 30 minutes of waking up. That forces you to eat TONS of food. The diet she had been on for a week and already lost five pounds on. The diet that would quickly change my life.

Enter: The Fast Metabolism Diet (and by “diet” the author coined the phrase “Did I Eat Today?”).

From the excerpt on Amazon, this pretty much sums up the whole eating plan:

“On this plan, you’re going to eat a lot. You’re going to eat three full meals and at least two snacks a day – and you’re still going to lose weight. What you’re not going to do is count a single calorie or fat gram. You’re going not to ban entire food groups. You’re not going to go carb-free or vegan or go cold turkey on the foods you love. Instead, you’re going to rotate what you’re eating throughout each week according to a simple and proven plan carefully designed to induce precise physiological changes that will set your metabolism on fire.”

Created by celebrity nutritionist and best-selling author Haylie Pomroy, this is the first and only actually healthy diet I’ve ever been on. It encourages resting the body, not overworking it with tons of exercise, and eating delicious, wholesome meals. And before you think this is an ad, it’s not. If Haylie wants to pay me, that’s cool (my DMs are open, girl), but the truth is this plan just really f*cking works. Don’t believe me? Take a peek. I was on and off the diet for a little over a year, and here are the results:

I lost 51 pounds on The Fast Metabolism Diet over the course of a casual 15 months. That was including indulging over the holidays, drinking at parties, and taking breaks in between months of being steadfastly healthy. I could have lost it faster if I did the month-long diet back-to-back, but that’s just not how I function. I’m like, really popular, and giving up drinking (yup, you have to give up alcohol) for multiple months at a time was a no-go for me. While I did gain a decent portion of it back post-wedding (that’s what going to Italy for a month will do to you), so now I fall somewhere between those two photos, I’m officially back at it. In the 12 days that I’ve been on the FMD, I’ve lost just over 10 pounds. And that’s from eating a sh*tton, doing very light (if any, tbh) exercise, and messing up a few times when I forgot to go to the grocery store.

So, how does it work? Let’s break it down:

Phase 1 (which happens every Monday and Tuesday) is all about healthy carbs and sugars. So, your meals are full of fruits and rice and pasta and sandwiches. Sure, you have to have sprouted grain everything, but honestly? Any diet where I can have quinoa and bread without shame is one for me. As for exercise, you need to do one day of cardio (which I skip a lot, tbh).

Phase 2 (which happens every Wednesday and Thursday) however, is where things get tricky. This is the only 2 days of the week I dread because honestly they’re lame and they low-key kinda suck. Basically, you’re restricted to meat and veggies these two days. That’s it. But if you’re on a strict diet and only 2 of the 7 days kinda suck, then I’ll take it. Exercise? With all the protein, this is the time for strength training. You’re required to do one day of weights or something similar (again, an activity I keep “accidentally” missing).

Phase 3 (which happens, you guessed it, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) is a mix of both of the above phases, plus you get to add in healthy fats like oil, nuts, and avocado! Easily the best of the phases, this is where your meals are full of lots of colors and lots of variety. You can make almost any meal you love fit into this phase (one of my favorites is making a mock Chipotle bowl. WITH guac, of course). If you thought this was great, the exercise portion of this phase is even better. You’re required to do something light that promotes blood flow like stretching, yoga, or getting a massage. Seriously. It says it in the book. GETTING A MASSAGE COUNTS AS EXERCISE IN THIS DIET. HAVE WE DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN?!

What does a day on each phase look like? Glad you asked. Here’s an idea of what I eat:

Phase 1:
Breakfast: Fruit smoothie and 10 brown rice crackers
Snack: Apple
Lunch: Open-face turkey sandwich on sprouted grain bread with carrots and berries on the side
Snack: Bowl of cherries
Dinner: Turkey chili

Phase 2:
Breakfast: Turkey bacon and egg white scramble with veggies mixed in
Snack: Deli turkey slices
Lunch: Salad with chicken with balsamic dressing
Snack: Turkey bacon wrapped asparagus
Dinner: Steak and asparagus or celery

Phase 3:
Breakfast: Sprouted grain toast with an egg and turkey bacon plus celery and berries on the side
Snack: Carrots and hummus
Lunch: Chicken curry
Snack: Nuts
Dinner: Steak, veggies, guac, and salsa wrapped up in a sprouted grain tortilla with some extra carrots on the side.

The pros: You get to eat a ton, you don’t cut out full food groups, and you really will lose weight without feeling like you’re totally restricting yourself. Plus, as someone who can backslide into disordered eating easily, there are no points, no counting calories, and no tracking grams of fat. You just eat the foods you’re supposed to eat at the times you’re supposed to eat them and you lose weight.

The cons: Like most diets, it’s hard to go out to eat/have a normal social life. While, sure, you *can* manage it, it’s easier just to make your own food. Which brings me to another con. You have to make A LOT of food. Plenty of it you can cook in bulk and freeze for later phases but ultimately, it takes a lot of cooking and prep (and pricey grocery runs) to pull this one off. And the worst part? No alcohol and NO caffeine. None. Nada. During later months when I was already losing lots of weight, I added a cup of coffee back into my life, but until then waking up without that jolt took a longggggg time to get used to.

Ultimately, despite the cooking and the lack of coffee and cocktails, I’ve never met an eating plan that I’ve loved as much as the FMD. And because Hayle (and her PR team) sum it up much better than I ever could:

“This is the silver bullet for the chronic dieter who has tried every fad diet and failed, the first time dieter attempting to kick her metabolism into gear, and anyone who wants to naturally and safely eat her way to a skinnier, healthier self.”

A-f*cking-men. Follow along with me as I continue along with this plan or join the metaphorical club and start with me. The best part? When you finally drink again, your tolerance is so low you’ll get schwasted on like, one glass of champs (which will save you time AND money). If that isn’t the best reason to diet, idk what is.

Images: Gardie Design & Social Media Marketing / Unsplash; Rachel Varina (4); Giphy (1) 

The Absolute Worst Wellness Trends Of The Past Decade

It’s no secret that we live in a society obsessed with wellness. According to one statistic, the global wellness market is estimated to reach $4.75 trillion in 2019. And while some wellness trends are genuinely beneficial, plenty are complete and utter bullsh*t. Read on for some of the worst wellness trends over the last 10 years.

2010: The Shake Weight

It’s hard to believe that just ten years ago, millions of people thought they could outsmart common sense science and lose weight by remaining sedentary and holding an oscillating weight for a few minutes each day. *Sigh* a girl can dream. Despite the claim that the Shake Weight can provide a total upper-body workout “in only 6 minutes per day,” this is highly unlikely. What it will do is make the holder look like they’re giving a hand job to a disembodied robot dick.

2011: HCG Diet

The HCG Diet involves taking the hormone HCG, eating a 500-700 calorie diet (not a typo) and forgoing exercise altogether, all for almost a month. There’s way too much to unpack here. First, altering your hormones is far from casual and should be a larger decision made under the care of a doctor. But even without that element, the diet is absolutely insane. The average woman needs to consume 2,000 calories per day to maintain weight and 1,500 calories to lose one pound per week. While these figures are obviously not one size fits all, suggesting that a person should eat one-third or half that amount is not sustainable and frankly, is probably starvation. And no exercise at all? Something’s not adding up here.

2012: Raw Food Diet

Not even Smith Jerrod could convince me to try this farce of a diet. Adoptees eat a diet, usually only plant-based, consisting of completely raw (that is, never heated over 104-118°F or 40-48°C) and unprocessed foods. I could eat 100 pounds of raw carrots and still be starving, so I do not understand how this diet is sustainable for more than one meal. If that weren’t unappealing enough, experts say that all of the slicing and dicing required to prepare raw foods actually strips them of many of the nutrients that proponents of the diet claim are lost to traditional cooking methods. Hard pass.

2013: Open Bar Gyms

I’m not here to ruin your good time on this one. In fact, I’m the first person to crave a cold, hard glass of Chardonnay after a moderately difficult grueling workout class. So why not save yourself the trip and have a one-stop shop in your gym? The issue is that alcohol decreases the level of glycogen in your muscles, which creates the energy the muscles need to repair and strengthen themselves, not to mention increase your metabolism. I guess there’s a reason most gyms don’t have a vodka fountain, and it’s because alcohol basically sabotages your workout. So as tempting as it might be to toss one back immediately after barre, opt for some water instead.

2014: Hot Exercise

We all have that one friend who swears by hot yoga and insists that she “doesn’t feel like she’s getting a real workout” unless she leaves the class in a pool of her own sweat. Unfortunately, these hot classes can do more harm than good. While many hot exercise classes turn the heat upwards of 100 degrees, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends temperatures between 68° and 72° F degrees for athletic facilities. In other words, there’s really no reason to make the room that hot, except for the false perception that you got a great workout because you sweated out half your water weight. Then there’s the risk of dehydration, heatstroke, and heat exhaustion. I’ll stick with my normal temperature yoga, TYVM.

2015: Vaginal Steaming

This list wouldn’t be complete without an entry from our favorite pseudo-medical professional wellness expert, Gwyneth Paltrow. In 2015, she recommended that women steam their vaginas, claiming “It is an energetic release—not just a steam douche—that balances female hormone levels.” The hormone claim is patently false. But that’s the least of the troubles with this bogus trend. First and foremost, the vagina doesn’t need help regulating itself. Second, steaming raises body temperature, opening the door for unwanted bacteria and yeast and poor lubrication. No thanks. And finally there’s the risk of, you know, burning your cooch. As with most things Gwyneth says, you should probably ignore this one.

2016: Detox Teas

Detox teas are yet another product of dubious efficacy shilled by celebrities and, in this case, Bachelor rejects, Kardashian-Jenners, and Real Housewives. Funnily enough, none of the #ads promoting these products show the user sitting on the toilet, even though that’s where these teas will take you. As we’ve explained before, detox teas are essentially liquid laxatives, and prolonged use can cause diarrhea, cramps, dysfunction of the bowels, and dependence on the laxatives. Yikes.

2017: Activated Charcoal

I’ve never really understood this one. The idea of drinking a black smoothie, or worse, brushing my teeth with black toothpaste never really held much appeal. I can kind of see where we went wrong with thinking this would be a wellness product, since activated charcoal is most commonly used in the case of an overdose because of its ability to absorb toxins. But as far as its detoxing properties go, there’s no need to use it to filter out toxins because we have kidneys and a liver to do exactly that. There’s also no clear evidence that it whitens teeth, clears acne, or controls odors. Even worse, it can reduce the effectiveness of certain medications. So basically, it makes you look demonic in pictures and that’s about all we can guarantee.

2018: Colonics

Continuing the theme of completely unnecessary detoxing procedures is colonics, popularized by, you guessed it, the GOOP-meister herself. Colonics are procedures that flush your colon with water in an effort to detox the body. As we’ve covered above, our bodies are more than capable of purging themselves of toxins without any outside help. In addition, colonics can cause cramping, vomiting, electrolyte imbalance, rectal tears and even death. Just a few more reasons to spare your butthole.

2019: Vaping

Despite the douche factor, as vaping began trending, it was thought to be a healthier alternative to smoking. And when used as a means to quit cigarettes and other tobacco products, it may be effective, though it hasn’t been approved by the FDA for this purpose. We are, however, starting to see its risks. Just a month ago, a study found that Juul e-cigarettes deliver nicotine similarly to regular cigarettes. Considering that teenagers are some of the biggest users of e-cigarettes, this raises the concern that e-cigarettes are creating a whole new customer base of nicotine addicts, some of whom will eventually either turn to regular cigarettes or supplement their vaping with smoking. Then there’s the potential link between vaping and lung disease, and the instances of people who have ended up in the hospital because of vaping. While there’s still a lot we don’t know, it’s safe to say that vaping is far from the miracle it was originally thought to be (and still incredibly douchey).

If this list is any indication, our collective obsession with wellness, no matter how absurd, will continue for many decades to come. What other ridiculous wellness trends have you noticed over the past decade? Sound off in the comments!

Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (10)

5 Ways To Fight Seasonal Depression This Winter

Every year in early November I feel personally attacked by a little thing called Daylight Saving Time. Though it’s said that it was put in place to reduce the use of electricity by extending daylight hours, the effects can feel anything but sunny for late risers like myself who are lucky to see eight hours of actual sunlight. If you tend to feel more sluggish and sadder during this time of the year, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder or SAD, a type of depression that usually happens in the fall and/or winter and is more likely to affect women over the age of 20, according to Dr. Jenny Taitz, clinical psychologist and author of How To Be Single And Happy. Dr. Taitz and I discussed some strategies to combat SAD and help you to feel your best, even when the weather and amount of light are literally the worst.

1. Find The Light

It’s not just you—there’s a science behind why you feel so sh*tty during the fall and winter months. According to Dr. Taitz, “Shorter days and reduced daylight can impact the brain and lead to feeling more lethargic, sad, and hopeless.” One of the best ways to target the problem is to seek out natural sunlight whenever possible, even with a short walk around the block. Another effective method is to purchase a light box designed specifically to treat people with SAD. The light emitted from the boxes mimics natural sunlight and produces effects in the brain that aid emotional regulation. Dr. Taitz notes that in many cases your doctor may be able to prescribe a light box that’s covered by insurance, but adds that there is a specific protocol to follow when using a light box, so it’s best to consult with your physician rather than treating yourself.

2. Watch Your Diet

If you’re anything like me, you may find yourself craving sweets and carbs every day more so than usual during this time of the year. This is because people with SAD tend to eat more foods that are rich in carbohydrates. As much as it pains me to type this, it’s a good idea to cut down on the carbs and stick to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables in order to combat depression. Studies have also found a link between SAD and low levels of vitamin D, so another useful strategy is taking vitamin D supplements or eating foods that are rich in vitamin D like eggs, salmon, and wild mushrooms.

3. Resist The Urge To Retreat

Because you aren’t feeling your best, you may feel tempted to stay at home and watch Schitt’s Creek until the next iteration of Daylight Saving Time retreat into yourself. To the extent you’re able, fight this urge and stick to a regular routine of seeing friends and family or doing something else you normally love to do. Dr. Taitz works with patients to create an “antidepressant schedule” consisting of things like plans with friends or a workout class that keeps them active and engaged. We are social creatures and being around other people helps to counteract the isolation and loneliness that SAD breeds.

4. Keep It Moving

Because our energy is lower during this time of year, it can be hard to summon the strength to get out of bed, let alone make it to a barre class. However, exercising not only boosts mood and focuses the mind, it also helps to maintain your circadian rhythm, which, when disrupted, is thought to bring about SAD symptoms. Ideally, if you can work out outside, you’ll not only get the benefits of exercise, you’ll also be exposed to natural light. If that’s not possible, then just stick to any routine that gets you moving.

5. Seek Professional Help

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, doing any of the above may feel downright impossible. If that’s the case, it’s time to seek help from a professional who can diagnose you and help you come up with a treatment plan. Dr. Taitz suggests cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches you to notice your thought patterns: “I always encourage people to see emotional setbacks as opportunities rather than stuck points—rally your courage and problem solve,” she says. Many people suffering from SAD find that certain antidepressants can work wonders on symptoms. A doctor can tell you which medicine may be right for you and how long to take it, as antidepressants may take time to kick in and should generally not be stopped cold turkey.

If you’re feeling less than stellar this time of year, know you’re far from alone. SAD is treatable and you don’t have to spend the next few months in a dark hole. What other coping strategies do you use to combat SAD during the winter months? Let me know in the comments.

Images: Joshua Rawson-Harris / Unsplash; Giphy (5)

4 Ways To Get Over A Weight Loss Plateau

A weight loss plateau is beyond frustrating, and the worst part is it’s not even really about what you’re doing right or wrong. A plateau is the result of our bodies’ evolution and a survival mechanism that has helped our species thrive. (Caroline Dooner talks a lot about how our bodies’ survival mechanisms are meant to thwart weight loss efforts in her F*ck Your Diet series.) A weight loss plateau is the outcome of our bodies needing less energy to function, and our metabolism slowing, when we lose weight. Our biology isn’t that happy with our weight loss. It triggers a signal that we’re about to go through some trying times. It thinks we’re about to run out of food. So when we lose weight, our bodies start to tell us to hang onto the nutrients in the things we eat, and slows down our metabolism.

Here’s the science behind a weight loss plateau (get ready for some math):

Metabolism (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) = Basal Metabolic Rate (the bare minimum number of calories you need to survive at complete rest) + Exercise (calories burned during exercise)  + Non-Exercise Expenditure (calories burned through other activities other than exercise) + Thermal Effect Of Food (energy used to digest the food we eat)

So, generally speaking, if your intake is greater than your metabolism, it will lead to weight gain, and if your intake is less than your metabolism, it will lead to weight loss.

Simple enough, right? We’ve heard of different variations of this same equation before (we’ve all heard “calories in vs. calories out” at one point or another), but our bodies are so clever that once we lose weight, the calories used at rest will also decrease. Therefore, if every other aspect of your energy expenditure stays the same (exercise, non-exercise expenditure, and thermal effect) then your overall metabolism will be lower. So what gives? Am I telling you that now you have to spend another 30 extra minutes in the gym to compensate? No, not unless you feel like it. Here are four other ways to get over a weight loss plateau.

Sneak In More Non-Exercise Physical Activity

A lot of people have the mindset that you need to be in a gym to get in physical activity, which kind of limits their ability to see the opportunities we have to be active in daily life. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or the elevator when you can, walk or bike instead of driving, and stand instead of sitting. Go for a walk with your dog, or go for a hike with a friend instead of going to get drinks (or hike to get the drinks). You can even just stretch while watching TV. Little things add up. A study was published that claims fidgeting and working to maintain correct posture burns up to 800 more calories than sitting still. So just get moving in some way.

Don’t Work Out Longer, Work Out Smarter

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You can still limit your workouts to an hour and increase the efficiency if you maximize your time. Working smarter in the gym means less rest, more resistance, and more sets/reps. Just make sure you’re not doing the same workout at the same intensity as the day you started months ago, because your body needs you to step your game up. Another way I like to add intensity to my workouts is to add more combined movements, so instead of just doing squats, I’ll add in a shoulder press at the standing part of the movement. More muscles worked means more calories burned in the same amount of time.

Don’t Neglect The Weights

By now, you should know that weights don’t make you bulky. If you have more muscle cells, you’ll be burning more energy at rest than if you had more fat cells in your body. This will help you to maintain that same metabolic rate pre-weight loss.

If you’ve found your weight loss plateaued and your exercise routine consists of mostly cardio, it’s time to incorporate weights in a more significant way. Cardio is fantastic, and those who are starting on their fitness journey can find great results with it. However, because cardio does very little in terms of muscle building, cardio-focused individuals will hit a plateau early on because they lose the weight and then their metabolism slows. My recommendation is to cut the cardio portion of your workout routine in half and use the other half of the time to complete a few resistance training circuits. So if you’re used to doing an hour of cardio, do 30 minutes and use the other 30 to do three to four sets of five to six resistance training moves.

Choose Protein

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So, here’s a wild concept: your body actually burns calories when digesting. The dietary-induced thermal effect—sorry, more science—is the energy needed after we eat a certain food to digest and absorb the nutrients in our body. So if you’re trying to get over a weight loss plateau, it might be time to eat a little smarter. And by that I mean, eat more foods that take more energy to burn. This is called the food’s thermogenic rate. Fat, for example, uses 0 to 100 calories to digest for every 100 calories consumed (or, it has a thermogenic rate of 11-18% for non-obese individuals). Protein, on the other hand, has the greatest thermal effect of about 20-30%. This means your body uses the most energy to digest protein which means more calories burned! According to the same study, protein also helps you stay full the longest. By making protein the spotlight of your meals, you can increase your metabolism rate.

A weight loss plateau is something that is probably going to happen to you at some point. The good news is that we can mitigate the effects of it by controlling other aspects of our energy expenditure. A plateau could also mean that it’s time to take a step back and appreciate your journey so far, because you didn’t get to this plateau without having first put in the work! It is also a sign that you’re ready to step your workouts to the next level if you’ve been stuck in a pattern or routine for a while. So while plateaus can feel discouraging, it’s a sign that you’re physically ready to advance to the next level. Your body is ready to take the stairs instead of elevators, to do faster sprints and that extra set of bicep curls. Instead of being down, pat yourself on the back and go do those sprints!