I wanted to write this review without reciting the book to help anyone who is considering this diet. The diet definitely appears extreme on the surface but I wanted to share my account of it and how it really has surprised me and changed, well, my life! If you are curious to see my results check them out here. This review is purely about the expereience.
The Fast Metabolism Diet – What it’s all about
The purpose of the Fast Metabolism Diet (FMD) is to heal your metabolism in 28 days and subsequently you are going to lose a little weight. Unfortunately it appears very gimmicky as they advertise it as “lose 10 pounds in 28 days by eating more!” Let’s face it, if someone told you that you could lose 10 pounds in 28 days you would be asking where to sign. But just put aside the advertising hype for a second and understand what it is that you are signing up for. What this diet entails is eating in a strict and particular way which will satisfy the nutrient and energy requirements of your body and calm the hormones encouraging the body to stop storing fat and start burning it instead, hence the weight loss part of it. But weight loss is not the only side effect of this diet although that is how it is sold to you. There are also countless benefits to your health as well. There is no starving, no hunger pangs and no calorie counting if you are doing it correctly which can be kind of scary if you have come from serial calorie counting or low carb diet background. There are carbs galore on this diet! Although it is a 28 day diet depending on how badly damaged your metabolism is or how much weight you want to lose it may take a couple of cycles to reach your goal so don’t be disheartened if you complete the 28 days and haven’t lost all the weight you intended, you should hopefully recognize the benefits not only in the way you feel but your appearance too. Remember the scale isn’t the be all end all of fat loss measurement.
The diet is set out in 3 phases which complete a “round” if you like, in 7 days. Therefore there are 4 “rounds” in 28 days. Each phase has a specific function which is explained in the book and there is a set grocery list and set portion sizes for each phase which vary depending on the amount of weight you want to lose. These are important so follow them. I printed all 3 grocery lists, the portion control table and the phase specific meal plan (fruit, grain, protein, and vegetable on what day for what meal) and stuck them to my fridge so there were no excuses.
The diet a nutshell
Phase 1 focuses on fruits and grains and is personally my favourite phase. You can eat most fruits and the grains really keep you full. This phase is on Monday and Tuesday and you are encouraged to do a cardio workout on 1 at least, or both of these days. Phase 2 is protein and vegetable only phase, however there are certain vegetables that comply so things like carrots and tomatoes are out because of their high GI values. It is extremely limited and this is the hardest phase for most people. You have 3 main meals of protein and vegetables and 2 snacks of just protein, although vegetables are unlimited if you get hungry. In this phase you are supposed to do resistance training i.e. lifting weights for at least one or both of the days. Phase 3 is a popular favourite amongst most people as it allows healthy fats such as nuts, oils and hummus, with moderate grain and protein and very restricted fruits (just certain berries and peaches which aren’t in season for me at the moment :().
There are also rules; no dairy, no caffeine, no corn, no wheat, no preservatives, no sugar, no soy, no alcohol, no dried fruit, no juices, no artificial sweeteners, no non grocery list foods to be added, drink half your body weight in pounds in ounces of water, minimum exercise 3 times a week as per phases. No skipping meals, follow the phases in order and eat every 3 hours. So this sounds like no fun right? Pretty much every food you enjoy is off the menu. I know that definitely in New Zealand dairy is a staple of our diets and sugar is in almost everything that has a wrapper, as I found out.
It sounds extreme. So how are you supposed to cope with this?
Yes when I first read the rules I was like there is no way that I can give up sugar let alone all that other stuff. I am pretty lucky as I am a very fussy eater. I don’t drink coffee, tea, fizzy drink or alcohol or have any kind of craving for beverages like fruit juice. I have always drunken large amounts of water so this was very easy for me. The only aspect of the dairy replacement that I had to adjust to was not having cow’s milk on porridge, but I actually love the alternative (fruity oats soaked overnight in the fridge) so that is another plus. It was the wheat corn and sugar that were the most challenging for me. Previously I had been a huge sugar consumer. We are talking blocks of chocolate in one sitting, bags of lollies and whole packets of cookies nom nom nom. I didn’t have that sick feeling that people get when they eat too much sugar, I could just keep going and I definitely craved it. So I was very nervous about how I would go. Boy was I amazed that pretty much everything in a package in the supermarket has 1 of those 3 ingredients in it. Sugar in ready roasted chicken, sugar in tomato pasta sauces, dextrose (corn derived) in meat such as corned beef and chicken bacon, wheat is in everything as well. So it’s safe to say that the easiest way to comply with this diet is to make everything from whole natural foods. Don’t buy sauces or processed/flavoured meat. As for how I went on the no sugar side of things. I actually was full enough and my hormones were probably balanced so I didn’t actually crave or even feel tempted to have a piece of cake or chocolate. In fact I planned to eat out at a buffet at the end of the 28 days and was dreading it because I didn’t want to ruin my streak. I also found that my pallet changed after the 1st two weeks as well. Fruit suddenly tasted so much sweeter, and everything else was way tastier for some reason. I guess sugar dulls your taste buds?
Tips to get through:
- Read the book: there is so much information in the book. It explains why you are doing each and every little thing. It explains why you can’t have certain foods at certain times. It explains why you probably feel really crappy in the 1st two weeks especially on phase 2. There are so many helpful hints and I would actually recommend re-reading it. My mum has read it 3 times now and every time she tells me something we over looked the 1st time. If you don’t want to pay the money then get it out from the library, that’s what I did. Haylie is releasing a new version soon I believe so when that comes out I’m going to buy it for sure.
- Plan EVERYTHING: I would definitely say that you cannot do this diet successfully if you don’t plan. There is way too much to think about, you are constantly eating and if you are a busty person who works all day and pretty much just comes home to sleep then pre-preparing meals is what you will be doing. It’s extremely hard to find places to eat out or “healthy” fast food chains that comply with this diet. Plus, when you plan it saves you running back and forth from the supermarket every other day because you forgot something or ran out of phase specific veggies or fruit.
- Get ready to cook A LOT: as stated above you will be cooking all your meals from scratch. Fortunately my mum is home all day so she takes care of the cooking 70% of the time and I just buy the food. Alternatively you can…
- Cook once, eat twice: Because there are only 2 days (or 3 for phase 3) I like to cook a double meal and have it for lunch 1 day and dinner the next. Or just have the same dinner two days in a row. When you realize how much cooking is involved then you learn to appreciate leftovers. Another great tip is to cook big meals, split them into portions and then freeze them for those times when you just cannot be bothered cooking. After a while you build up an inventory of meals and trust me they are life diet savers!
- Keep it simple to start with: I went crazy and got hold of the cook book and made all sorts of disgusting healthy smoothies and buckwheat pancakes which were just yuck. For the 1st two weeks just make simple food that you are used to. Roast meat, boiled veggies, rice, porridge, omelettes. These were and still are all staples for me.
- Learn the jargon: when you first step into the world of organic whole foods you will encounter 101 ingredients that could be grown on an alien planet for all you know. You need to do the research. Just Google every ingredient on the food label or in the recipe. Just because something is organic or gluten free it doesn’t mean that it is FMD compliant. Usually there are corn products in gluten free stuff. There are also ingredient substitutes for your favourite recipes. The big ones for me are; Birch Xylitol which I use like sugar, it is FMD compliant and it doesn’t have the blood sugar response that sugar has although it still has calories, Cacao powder which tastes the same as cocoa powder just way more expensive, brown rice pasta which to me tastes no different to the real deal and sprouted grain bread which may be hard to come by but if you are used to eating seedy brown bread the difference is minimal. My mum actually made this beetroot chocolate cake on the weekend and it was delicious. So there are compliant desserts that don’t taste like crap I promise you, you just need to work your way up to them and learn the substitutes.
When you get past the 1st couple of weeks and get in a routine this stuff becomes second nature and is actually really easy. I was the biggest chocoholic before and never in my wildest dreams would I think that I would want to continue this lifestyle by choice. But I honestly feel better for it. I am more aware of my body, the way it feels when I eat certain foods and the general feeling of being healthy is like high of its own. It really is easy once you have taught yourself the basics. It definitely helps having someone else in your household that is doing this too, although it is not impossible to do it on your own especially when you are the one cooking for the family.
I would like to end this post with the some food for thought. Even though I had more rapid weight loss on low calorie high protein diets there was something different about this for me. I definitely feel like it was fat that I was losing as opposed to other times where I was just getting lighter. I have come to realise something with the number on the scale yo-yoing up and down for the last year and a half. Be wary of rapid weight loss. When it comes off fast it tends to go back on even easier. Even though on FMD I lost 3.2kg in 28 days which is only 7 out of the advertised 10 pounds (not a bad effort), it felt different for some reason. It didn’t feel like I was punishing my body. I instead have this elated feeling of happiness and wellbeing. There is a famous quote which I feel applies to my experience on this diet (not sure who said it) “Once you start to see the results it becomes an addiction”. I challenge you to take charge of your health and give this a go even just to experience the high you get from having a clean system. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take and you never know this could very nearly be the last diet you ever go on.