It's seems like pretty much every day we are bombarded with the latest celebrity diet craze. A million celebs have done the master cleanse or the cabbage soup diet. Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, swore by the Dukan diet to look good for her royal wedding. Celeb trainer Tracy Anderson has gotten high-profile clients (like Jennifer Aniston) to eat only baby food. Beyoncé even experimented with veganism to get healthy. At this point, we've pretty much heard (and tried) it all.
But if you've ever tried to exist on filtered water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup for 10 days, you know that most of these crazes don't work and just lead to a major crash.
A couple of years back, nutritionist Haylie Pomroy published her book The Fast Metabolism Diet to share how she helps her clients lose weight. Though the title kinda sounds like another one of those flashy programs that doesn't deliver and Pomroy does consider herself a "celebrity nutritionist" (she's counseled Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, Robert Downey Jr. and more) we might not want to chalk her tips up to another flash-in-the-pan celeb diet just yet.
At its core, the fast-metabolism diet uses real whole foods in varying combinations to "keep your metabolism guessing" and get it to work harder and faster. Since the release of her book, Pomroy has introduced several other diet- and cleanse-type products, like the 10-Day Fast Metabolism Cleanse, 14-Day Pain & Inflammation Protocol and her latest book, Metabolism Revolution: Lose 14 Pounds in 14 Days and Keep It Off for Life.
We wanted to know what experts had to say about Pomroy's program, so we did a little digging.
The 28-day fast metabolism diet consists of three phases that are repeated for four consecutive weeks:
Many Pomroy converts say it's not really a diet at all, but a return to a healthier way of eating. The fast-metabolism diet incorporates plenty of fruits, vegetables, proteins, legumes and half your body weight in ounces of water every day. On top of that, Pomroy forbids wheat, corn, dairy, soy, refined sugar, dried fruit and fruit juices. And — are you ready for this? — no caffeine or alcohol. Sayonara Starbucks and happy hour!
The book provides daily guidelines (the number of proteins, veggies, fruits and grains to be eaten at each meal and snack) as well as sample meal plans and several recipes.
This all sounds fine and good, but does the fast-metabolism diet make nutritional sense? We asked three registered dietitians to give us their take on the program. Here's what they had to say.
Sarah Waybright, registered dietitian and owner/founder of WhyFoodWorks, LLC, appreciates the diet's focus on eating real whole foods.
"Americans simply eat way too many refined, nutrient-poor carbohydrates. Sugar consumption alone went from 110 pounds per person annually in 1950 to 150 pounds per person in 2000!" Waybright told us, adding that the diet's ban on wheat, corn, dairy, soy, refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, dried fruit and fruit juices eliminates many unhealthy options.
"Replacing them with nutrient-dense options like fruits, vegetables, lean protein and fiber-rich whole grains offers a diet that's high in micronutrients for fewer calories," she said.
So how does the fast-metabolism diet compare with the many prepackaged "diet food" programs out there? According to Waybright, in general these programs may not be as satisfying or have the same quality of vitamins and minerals as the whole foods that the fast-metabolism diet recommends. Reduced-fat products often add more sugar or sweeteners to compensate for the flavor difference, she adds.
"The FMD diet seems like a new way to think about an old concept: eating a diet of whole foods," said Waybright.
Registered dietitian-nutritionist Jessica Lehmann, who teaches nutrition at Arizona State University, agrees.
"It's best to learn how to plan a balanced, moderate, nutrient-dense diet that's based on a variety of whole, unprocessed foods and that fits your own individual needs and dietary preferences," says Lehmann.
And what do these dietitians have to say about the significant quantity of water the fast-metabolism diet recommends? Drink up buttercup!
"Drinking water before a meal is an easy way to fill up and reduce calorie intake," says Lehmann.
In the fast-metabolism diet, Pomroy says to consume organic produce whenever possible to stop additives, preservatives, pesticides, insecticides and hormones from slowing down the liver's job of burning fat. However, anyone who knows that consuming only organic foods is nearly impossible.
Lehmann recommends choosing organic whenever possible, saying it's important to stay away from chemicals that affect so many pathways in our bodies, including the metabolic reactions involved in burning fat. However, she warns against using the "organic" label to justify bad food choices.
"I'd much rather see someone snacking on a bowl of conventionally produced vegetables than a handful of organic cookies," she said.
A version of this article was originally published in September 2013.
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