The Five Factor Diet

With wedding season around the corner, it’s time to start trying different diets. There seems to be a new one around every few months, and the flavour of the moment is the Five Factor Diet.

It caught on after Harley Pasternak, a Hollywood celebrity trainer, wrote a book; it's been all the rage ever since. Celebrities like Eva Mendes, Halle Berry, John Mayer and Kanye West have tried this one, and they all swear by it. Jessica Simpson claims to have lost close to 10 kg in two months by following the FFD.

What woman wouldn’t want Eva Mendes’s curvy figure? Which man doesn’t want rock-hard abs like, well, The Rock? The proof is in the pudding.

The diet is structured, as the name aptly suggests, around things in fives. Spread across five weeks, it consists of consuming five meals per day, each of which should be made from only five ingredients: protein, fibre, carbohydrates, fat and a beverage. And here’s the last of the fives: the food shouldn’t take more than five minutes to prepare.

Apart from the food, the diet also includes a workout – you guessed it – revolving around the number five. Work out five days a week, each day consisting of five exercises and each exercise lasting five minutes. But there’s good news if you don’t think you have the willpower to follow the FFD – you get one cheat day a week. You can go crazy on this day, and binge on anything you like.

Protein power: Pasternak recommends protein sources with lower calorie counts, like egg whites and fresh fish. Also, try to stick to white meat over dark. We recommend: egg whites, cottage cheese, fish and lean chicken.

Cutting carbs: Most carbohydrates contain gluten. Try to limit carb consumption to the gluten-free or whole grain varieties. Eat foods with low glycemic index (GI) ratings. We recommend: sweet potatoes, quinoa, beans and gluten-free pasta.

Friendly fat: Prepare your meal in or with healthy fats, those that lower bad (LDL) cholesterol. We recommend: extra-virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil and sesame oil.
Fit with fibre: Pasternak advocates fruits with edible skins or edible seeds, or citrus. Since we know the most fibrous part of a fruit is its skin, this makes complete sense. One of the fruits he suggests avoiding, however, is grapes. Though they have edible skin, they also contain a high amount of dextrose, which he suggests avoiding. We recommend: watermelons, mangoes, oranges, brown rice and beans.

Lastly, liquids: As we all know, cutting your sugar intake will help you shed pounds, so stick to beverages that contain little or no sugar. We recommend: green tea, coffee without sugar, and water with lemon.

The FFD does not place restrictions on snacking, but that’s only as long as the snacks in question also fit the diet. Whether you’re eating out or grabbing a pick-me-up, ensure that whatever you choose has only the five elements.

The exercise regimen of the FFD is great because it only takes 25 minutes, and you get two days off a week. It’s definitely one of the less strenuous workouts around, and the exercises vary each day.

The daily regimen starts and ends with a five-minute run. Every other exercise focuses on every part of the body. Though each day consists of different exercises, they all follow a common pattern: cardio, upper body, core, lower body, cardio.

After the warm-up, the first exercise works the upper body. The second variation is for your core, and exercises for your lower body round it off. Remember to finish with a five-minute jog.

Some of the different recommended exercises include: bench press, military press, flys (upper body); crunches, planks, bends, twists (core); reverse crunches, lunges, squats, and step-ups (lower body). The exercises in the FFD workout are similar to those in circuits. They may, however, be a little more intense, since they’re all crammed into 25 minutes.

The great thing about this diet is that the rules are not as rigid as most other diets. There’s lots of flexibility when it comes what you can eat and drink. Another advantage is that the recommended workout is less than 30 minutes long, so you don’t need a lot of time. The fitness regimen is a tad intense, so don’t expect the first week to just fly by. Do, however, push through the pain; it’ll all be worth it in the end!     

– Saloni