I have been a faithful follower of the F-Factor diet for the past few years. When I heard about the diet and its claims of weight loss without starvation or deprivation, I had to check it out. One look at Tanya Zuckerbrot, the founder of F-Factor and you’ll immediately want to learn her formula for looking so amazing and vibrant. Read on to hear from Tanya about the F-Factor diet, and why its so effective!
FO40: What is the F-Factor Diet?
Tanya Zuckerbrot: The F-Factor Diet is a liberating, scientifically proven approach to weight loss. The F-Factor program focuses on combining lean proteins with high-fiber carbohydrates, which are low in calories and help keep you feeling full throughout the day. Because of this, F-Factor Dieters are able to follow the program and lose weight without experiencing feelings of hunger and deprivation typically associated with dieting and weight loss.
FO40: This diet really works! How did you come up with the idea for it?
TZ: When I first opened my private practice, my focus was applying nutrition intervention to patients to make them healthier, not skinnier. I initially treated cardiovascular and diabetic patients. My job was to create meal plans that would lower their cholesterol or, in the case of the diabetics, help to manage their sugars. Both patient populations received versions of high fiber diets because of fiber’s ability to lower cholesterol and manage blood sugar levels. Patients were getting healthier: cholesterol improved, sugars were better managed, and somewhat unexpectedly, all of these patients were losing weight. The clients also were living their lives normally, enjoying at their favorite restaurants, drinking alcohol, and were getting healthier. What I had not anticipated was that by prescribing so much fiber for the clinical benefits, these patients were simply feeling fuller throughout the day on fewer calories, which led to weight loss without hunger. This was the birth of the F-Factor Diet.
FO40: What are some of the key tips/ tricks to this diet?
TZ: Fiber and protein at every meal (makes losing weight no big deal) – Clinical evidence shows that fiber and protein have a high satiety benefit in calorie-controlled diets and in weight reduction.
- Fiber, specifically, is essential to success on the F-Factor Diet, as it allows you to eat the carbohydrates necessary for energy without gaining weight. Fiber is the zero-calorie, non-digestible part of a carbohydrate that adds bulk to food. Fiber absorbs and removes fat and calories, and boosts metabolism.
- The combination of fiber and protein keeps you feeling full, for the longest period of time, on the fewest calories. 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.
Keep a water bottle by your side – Drinking water is especially important on the F-Factor Diet because of the high amount of fiber F-Factor Dieters consume.
- When fiber combines with water, it forms a soft gel, which leads to firm stools and allows for easy defecation. On the other hand, if you eat a lot of fiber and don’t compensate by drinking more water, it can lead to the opposite effect—constipation.
- Water plays a key role in nearly every bodily function and it fills you up so you tend to eat less.
- Being dehydrated can also mimic hunger. Many times, our hunger is really just thirst in disguise and you can experience symptoms such as feeling weak, cranky and tired. To get rid of these symptoms we then grab a candy bar when all we really needed was a drink of zero-calorie water.
Drop the treadmill, pick up the weights (if you want to go to the gym at all) – Diet trumps exercise when it comes to weight loss. However, strength training is an excellent choice to complement a healthful diet like F-Factor.
- There are benefits to strength training over cardiovascular activity for weight loss.
- It takes a long time to burn foods with cardiovascular activities. Eating one slice of pizza (~350 calories) would take 59 minutes of walking (at an average of 3.5 calories per minute) to burn off. Cardio (in running, elliptical, walking) also stimulates appetite and leaves people feeling hungry, so they end up eating more than if they hadn’t worked out.
- Often in weight loss, people lose muscle mass as well as fat mass. Maintenance of lean muscle mass is very important in weight loss, mainly because muscle burns more than fat. In fact, Women lose half a pound of muscle every year starting from age 30 regardless of if they are losing weight. An important goal for women in exercise should be to preserve muscle mass. Strength/ resistance training is more effective than cardiovascular activity in preservation of precious muscle mass. A study done by the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that resistance training significantly increased lean body mass in participants, while cardiovascular exercise significantly decreased it.
FO40: What is your personal experience with the diet and diets in general?
TZ: Most diets are based on deprivation. They tell you to cut out certain foods, like carbohydrates or fats, leaving dieters feeling hungry and dissatisfied. F-Factor is about what foods to add into your diet in order to lose weight, making it a liberating, sustainable approach to weight loss and management.
Don’t get me wrong, there are other diets out there that work; there are plenty of fad or “extreme” diets that can produce weight loss results. However, since most of these diets are not sustainable, the weight loss associated with them is not sustainable either (not to mention often unhealthy too). Immediately after “finishing” a fad diet, people inevitably gain their weight back. Temporary solutions equal temporary results. Only permanent changes can lead to permanent weight loss.
This is where F-Factor shines. F-Factor is designed for permanent changes—it’s sustainable for life. F-Factor teaches clients how to eat for life, and how to maintain their weight loss. F-Factor is designed to fit seamlessly into clients’ lives so that they can stick to the plan and the plan becomes their new normal. The F-Factor plan was created to fit into the lifestyle of its clients, not for the clients to change their whole lifestyle for the diet. On F-Factor, you can dine out and drink alcohol from day one, spend less time at the gym and eat regular meals (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and dessert) – and still lose weight. Moreover, feelings of deprivation often associated with dieting are nullified on F-Factor. Not only does F-Factor add years to your life, but life to your years too!
FO40: Your book is often sold out! Do you feel people can follow the book or is it better to come into the office?
TZ: Since the F-Factor Diet book came out in 2006, tens of thousands of people have read the book and followed the program successfully. I regularly receive emails and comments on social media from people who have lost weight and feel great after purchasing either The F-Factor Diet or The Miracle Carb Diet.
With that being said, there is huge value for dieters in coming into the office and working one-on-one with myself or one of my associate dietitians. A concierge-style private practice, F-Factor Registered Dietitians will customize diet plans for each individual client, taking into account their unique medical history and goals and tailoring it to fit into the client’s specific lifestyles. Becoming an F-Factor client also means you will have access to your Registered Dietitian at all times—if a client is out to dinner and doesn’t know what to order, they can reach out to their dietitian for recommendations.
Lastly, there’s an extra aspect of heart involved when clients come into the office and work with myself or one of my associate dietitians. Most of my clients would say I am much more of a life coach than I am a diet coach. While working on their diets, we often are working on improving other aspects of their lives. The books may have 250+ recipes each, but the F-Factor Office has that extra something special.
FO40: I carry my GG crackers with me all the time. Can you give us a few yummy tricks and recipes to try?
TZ: That’s what we like to hear! For those who don’t know, GG crackers are a low calorie, high-fiber crispbread that F-Factor Dieters use in place of bread and grains. They’re a source of carbohydrates and work to fill you up, without filling you out. We recommend people pair their crackers with protein, to help keep them feeling fuller, longer—and to make eating them a more enjoyable meal. A few favorite “Tanya’s Toppers” include:
- The GG pizza – one of the most popular Tanya’s Toppers – Low-fat cottage cheese or mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and salt-free seasoning. Microwave for two minutes or bake until melty.
- The NY bagel – Low fat cream cheese, smoked salmon, onion, and tomato
- Huevos rancheros – scrambled egg whites, salsa, and low fat shredded Mexican cheese
- PB&J – Almond or peanut butter with smashed fresh raspberries or strawberries
- Deli sandwich – Turkey/Roast beef with Dijon mustard, lettuce and tomato (pickle on the side)
- Avocado toast – Mix avocado with 0% Greek yogurt for a yummy spread
FO40: How do you find your dietitians? Are they all F Factor followers? Or coverts when they begin?
TZ: All F-Factor dietitians are Registered Dietitians accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and certified in F-Factor’s proprietary nutritional method. They have all completed a Bachelor’s degree as well as their dietetic internship, and have worked in clinical settings prior to entering private practice.
My associate dietitians and I have connected through a variety of different paths. Everyone on the F-Factor team is here because they believe in the efficacy of the F-Factor Diet and follow the program.
FO40: They say “summer bodies are made in the winter” – any tips that you can share for getting started, as we approach the holidays?
TZ: Remember, the “holidays” are holiDAYs, individual days. Thanksgiving is not a holiWEEK, and Christmas is not a holiMONTH.
- Spoil your appetite – Never go to a party hungry. Have a small, healthy snack before you go, like a piece of fresh fruit with a handful of almonds or some high fiber crackers with low fat cheese. Aim for a snack with at least 5 grams of fiber and protein, which will keep you from being ravenous at the party. Fiber-rich foods allow you to feel full on few calories. Fiber-rich meals help to curb your hunger in between meals, allowing you to make more sensible choices and keep your calories in check. Fiber also slows the body’s absorption of sugar, helping to control blood- sugar levels and limit food cravings.
- Dress for success. – When scouring your closet for the perfect dinner outfit, look for items that are tailored and even perhaps a bit snug. It’s much easier to overeat when we are wearing loose fitting clothing such as sweats or any bottom with an elastic waist band. So, try sticking to fitted pants or a tight skirt to discourage you from eating too much.
- Carry a clutch. – Forgo any purse with the strap. Instead grab a clutch. When you are holding a clutch in one hand, and a cocktail in your other, there a no hands free to hold a plateful of pigs in the blanket.
- Be a social butterfly. – You get invited to parties and holiday gatherings for your charming personality, not your ability to clear out the buffet or lick all the plates clean.
- Practice the three bite rule. – Everyone needs a little sweetness at holiday time, but when it comes to dessert, avoid the pies and crème-filled pastries. Pastry dough is made with pure fat! Get your sweet fix from a piece of dark chocolate or berries with low-fat cool whip. Never the less, if you look forward to that slice of warm apple pie each year, take a small slice and use the three bite rule. Studies show that people always rate the first and last bites as the best. Three bites give you a first, middle and last, which is all you need to appreciate a dessert completely.
FO40: What is next for you and for F-Factor ?
TZ: We have three exciting developments for the near future:
- I’ve partnered with The Golden Door Spa this year and we just held our first F-Factor retreat in Southern California! I’d like to continue doing partnerships like such and more speaking engagements to spread the high-fiber for weight loss message even further.
- An app! We’ve had an F-Factor App in the works for some time now and I’m thrilled to share that it will be out soon. The app will make life on the F-Factor Program even easier for dieters.
- F-Factor will also be moving into new, larger office space in the New Year and additional centers across the country might not be too far away either – anything’s possible!
For More on F-Factor go to www.ffactor.com. Follow on Instagram @F_factor