Every day it seems like a new diet comes out of the woodworks and quickly infiltrates the Instagram feeds and shopping carts of health-minded people everywhere. This year alone, keto and Whole30 all but took over the dieting world, but just as home décor and fashion trends come and go, so do health and wellness fads.
That's one of the reasons why New York City–based registered dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, created the F-Factor Diet. "I never set out to be a diet guru," the nutrition expert tells MyDomaine. Rather, her now popular healthy eating program was simply the byproduct of treating clinical patients with a high-fiber diet.
In her private practice, she discovered that in addition to lowering cholesterol and managing blood sugar levels in patients with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, a high fiber diet also led to weight loss.
"These patients were simply feeling fuller longer throughout the day on fewer calories, which led to weight loss without hunger," Zuckerbrot explains. This concept is at the root of her F-Factor diet which, according to her, is the most sustainable approach to permanent weight loss. Read on to learn what exactly it entails, how it works, and what to eat to see results.
The Four Principles
The F-Factor diet is based on four principles that even Zuckerbrot admits are quite counterintuitive to what most believe about weight loss. You can eat carbs, go out to eat, drink alcohol, and work out less. Here's how it works:
1. Eat carbs: In order to consume fiber, you have to eat carbs. High-fiber carbohydrates increase metabolism and keep you feeling fuller, longer, which leads to weight loss without feeling hungry all of the time.
2. Dine out: "If your diet requires you to miss your social obligations, it's not going to last very long," Zuckerbrot points out. That's why she encourages people to go out to eat even when they're working toward health goals. The important thing is choosing meals that combine fiber and protein, even when you're not doing the cooking.
3. Drink alcohol: Rather than abstaining from alcohol in order to lose weight, Zuckerbrot recommends choosing your beverages wisely. "Feeling deprived can set you back further than a glass of wine ever could," she says.
4. Work out less: The health expert explains that many people do cardio exercises in order to create a calorie deficit and lose weight, but eating a high-fiber diet can achieve the same result with less time at the gym. "The more fiber you're eating, the more calories your body burns at rest," she says. Obviously working out has its benefits (both physical and mental), but as Zuckerbrot notes, "You can't outrun an unhealthy diet."
Zuckerbrot points out that while most diets are based on deprivation, hers is about adding foods to your diet in order to lose weight. "This makes F-Factor both sustainable and liberating," she says. The approach includes eating four meals every day (breakfast, lunch, a snack, and dinner) at four- to five-hour intervals. This is because when you go too long without eating, your body starts conserving fuel and burning fewer calories to protect itself from starving, Zuckerbrot explains. Additionally, depriving your body of food for too long can cause a drop in blood sugar levels, which often leads to hunger pangs, cravings, and bingeing.
Each meal should contain both fiber and protein to keep you feeling satiated. Fiber is the zero-calories, non-digestible part of carbohydrates that adds bulk to foods, according to Zuckerbrot. It absorbs and removes fat and calories while boosting metabolism. Essentially, it allows you to eat the carbs you need for energy without gaining weight. "The fuller you feel after a meal, the less likely you'll be to overeat at the next meal; and, therefore, the more likely you'll be to lose weight," Zuckerbrot clarifies.
When it comes to eating a high-fiber diet with plenty of protein to keep you satisfied and on the right track, there are certain foods you should seek out and others you should avoid. Take a look at how Zuckerbrot would plan a day's worth of healthy meals that fit into the F-Factor diet and keep scrolling for a recipe from the dietitian's book.
Breakfast: Nonfat Greek yogurt with berries and high fiber cereal
Lunch: Salad with low-starch vegetables (think kale, spinach, cucumber, and broccoli), or a lentil or split pea soup
Snack: Chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie
Dinner: Lean protein like chicken, fish, or steak and a small salad with a side of grilled asparagus and broccoli
Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
F-Factor by Tanya Zuckerbrot
2 scoops Chocolate 20/20 Fiber/Protein Powder
1/2 frozen ripened banana
1 tbsp. PB2
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cacao nibs
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
12 cups ice
Mix all ingredients in a blender and pulse to desired consistency. Pour and enjoy!
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