Is F Factor Diet good for health?

This diet created by Tanya Zuckerbrot combines high-fibre foods with lean protein at every meal



Finding the perfect diet is not easy. Though there are many to choose from, some may not be sustainable while others may not suit our bodies. But none of this has stopped us from trying the different options available. A much-discussed diet these days is the F Factor Diet after influencer Emily Gellis Lande alleged that the diet is dangerous.

So what exactly is the F Factor diet? This was created by Tanya Zuckerbrot, a US registered dietician, in 2006. According to their website, (there’s an app and book as well), the key to this diet is to combine high-fibre foods with lean protein at every meal (Tanya also markets bars and protein powders). F Factor allows people to eat carbohydrates, dine out, drink alcohol, and work out less. Some of the sources of proteins include beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. For proteins, it advocates chicken and fish.

There are three phases to the F Factor Diet. The initial phase is designed to jumpstart the weight loss process and one can have up to 35 grams of net carbs in a day. According to Mayo Clinic, net carbs mean the amount of carbohydrates in a product excluding fibre, or excluding both fibre and sugar alcohols. As one moves on to the second and third phases, the serving can be increased to 75 grams and 125 gms respectively. “Though this is easy to follow, different people have different nutritional requirements. It is best to do it under the supervision of a nutritionist,” says Vinitha Krishnan, consultant nutritionist, SIMS Hospital, Chennai.

Dr Sandeep MS, senior consultant gastroenterologist, Apollo Hospitals, Bengaluru, explains, “Fibre is a component in plants that our body can’t digest. It plays a key role in digestion as it helps to bind the food, absorbs toxins, and helps to prevent constipation.”

There are two types of fibres: soluble and insoluble. The former is absorbed by the body. “It is found in oats and fruits. It decreases the spike in blood sugar and reduces cholesterol,” says Vinita. The latter cannot be digested and moves on to the large intestine. It is found in whole-wheat flour, nuts, beans and vegetables. “In the colon, it absorbs water and prevents constipation. Therefore, it is important to keep yourself hydrated while following a high fibre diet,” she adds.

As fibres cannot be digested, it remains in the intestine for a long time. It creates a feeling of fullness and thereby reduces hunger pangs. “This results in us consuming less than we otherwise would have, leading to weight loss. These fibres help in the synthesis of fatty acids and help in the growth of (good) prebiotic bacteria in the colon,” says Vinitha. Traditional Indian diets are rich in fibre, says Dr Sandeep. “Usually it adds up to 30 grams of fibre which is sufficient for a day,” he adds.

But the diet is not perfect and can create difficulty in some. Says Dr Sandeep, “It can lead to bloating, abdominal irritation, and people can also feel gassy. In such cases, just reduce the amount of the fibre.” Vinitha says that the F Factor diet also overlooks the importance of exercise. “It is important for the overall health of a person. I will not recommend the diet to those having ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, or Crohn’s disease as it can aggravate the condition,” says Vinitha.

In this column, we decode health trends and decide if it’s all just ‘hype’ or actually ‘happening’.

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