How does eating 5 meals a day for just 5 weeks to lose weight sound to you? The 5 Factor Diet is exactly that.
Essentially, it’s a program which combines diet and fitness based on the number five. It has amassed quite a fan base, especially among celebrities like Rihanna, Jennifer Hudson, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, and Katy Perry.
They are said to love the program for its flexibility, simplicity, and effectiveness. However, some people are quite skeptical of it as it eliminates several healthy food groups from the diet and may not be a good fit for everyone.
In this article we look into the 5 factor diet to determine if it’s better for weight loss than a low carb diet.
Related reading: Low Carb Meals for Weight Loss
What is the 5 Factor Diet Plan?
Developed by celebrity trainer and nutritionist Harley Pasternak, the 5-Factor Diet and exercise plan revolves around “five.” Dieters have to eat five meals each day consisting of five food groups and 5 ingredients that they can prepare in five minutes.
In addition, the program recommends that followers exercise for 25 minutes a day for five days per week, targeting five muscle groups in every workout.
Preety Tyagi, lead health coach and nutritionist explained that,
“In a 5-factor diet, people eat five meals a day, each consisting of protein, carbohydrate, fibre, fat, and fluid. The meal planning technique is based on a good nutritional base, combined with regular exercise which will support weight loss.”
Foods recommended for the diet are low on the Glycemic Index but rich in fiber. These foods prevent unwanted cravings and promote healthy blood sugar levels.
Eating five small meals or 3 meals plus 2 snacks a day is also a key factor in the diet. The goal is to avoid feeling hungry, preventing indulgence and unhealthy cravings.
The diet also emphasizes heart-healthy fats, lean proteins, and carbs with low GI. According to Pasternak, the diet can help you look better, increase your energy levels, boost mood, and improve performance and overall health.
Related reading: Is A Low Carb Diet The Same As Low GI?
How to Follow the 5 Factor Diet?
Both the exercise and diet components of the 5 factor diet focus on the number “five.” Dieters should eat five small meals per day – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks to follow this program.
Each meal must have five ingredients and will only take less than five minutes to prepare.
When deciding what to eat, make sure each meal consists of the following five elements:
- Lean protein
- Carbs with low GI
- 5 to 10 grams of fiber
- Healthy fats
- 8 to 12 oz. of sugar-free beverage
The program also encourages followers to exercise at least five times each week. Each workout should last 25 min and consist of 5 min each of the following exercises:
- cardio warm-up
- core training
- upper body strength
- lower body strength
- cardio workout
Followers of the diet are not required to take any supplements, although multivitamins and protein powders are permitted. You will not need to count calories or log your food intake, which is why it’s convenient for many dieters.
Foods to Eat
- Fiber-rich foods – wild rice, fruits and vegetables with skin, lentils, flourless wheat bread
- Lean proteins – egg whites, skinless poultry, seafood, cottage cheese, skim milk
- Low-moderate GI carbs – oats, veggies, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, beans
- Sugar-free beverages – water, black coffee, unsweetened tea, diet soda
- Unsaturated fats – canola oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, flaxseed oil
Foods to avoid
Unlike low carb diets like keto, where you need to avoid carbs, the 5 Factor Diet will not restrict you from eating any foods, especially during your cheat days, where you can eat any food you want.
Related reading: Are Slow Carbs Better Than Low Carbs for Weight Loss?
However, you must eat certain foods in moderation, including those that do not fit into the above mentioned categories.
Here are some foods you should avoid in the 5 Factor Diet:
- High fat proteins – fatty cuts of pork or beef, full-fat dairy, bacon, fried meat, egg yolks
- Processed foods – fast foods, instant soups, breakfast cereals, processed meat products
- Refined carbs – white rice, white pasta, crackers, chips, tortillas or bread made with flour
- Saturated fats – butter, ghee, coconut oil, palm oil, lard
- Sweetened beverages – sweet tea, soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened coffee
- Sweets – chocolates, candies, cakes, cookies, muffins, and pastries
Is the 5 Factor Diet Better for Weight Loss than a Low Carb Diet?
Although there’s not enough scientific research on the 5 Factor Diet, the program relies on some sound nutrition principles of healthy eating and weight loss.
Carbs with low GI won’t raise your blood sugar level as much compared to foods with a higher GI. However, it has not been well-established that these foods can help you lose weight.
Still, some studies suggest that a diet with low GI foods is more likely to trigger weight loss, at least for the short term. In addition, there’s not enough research to confirm the weight loss advantage of eating small meals several times a day, although this may come with health benefits.
You will most likely notice a dip on the scale by simply eliminating junk foods, high-calorie drinks, and simple carbs. But when it comes to the amount of weight you can lose, this will depend on several factors, such as your gender, body size, and activity levels.
Sure, the 5 Factor Diet may help you lose weight, but not as much compared to low carb diets like keto. Compared to low-fat diets, low carb diets still provides better results for weight loss and improving health.
Several studies suggest that low carb diets like keto may be more effective for weight loss. One study shows that low-carb, high-protein diets are more effective at minimizing feelings of hunger and improving mood when compared to low-fat diets, thus increasing your chances of losing weight.
Disadvantages of the 5 Factor Diett
- Time consumingIf you are a busy person it may prove difficult to prepare the meals even though they are supposed to only take 5 minutes. I really can’t see when looking at some of the meal suggestions that they would take 5 minute to prepare.
- Too many carbsFitness trainer Ben Lucas states:
Having carbs in all five meals may be a bit too much, especially if you are often desk bound and don’t move as much as you should.
3. Avoids whole eggs
The diet allows egg white but not the yolks. I have not come across the exact explanation behind this.
Eggs contain cholesterol and used to have a bad image but all that has changed over recent years as more and more research shows that they do not raise cholesterol in the body.
Cholesterol is made in the liver and when cholesterol is absorbed from the diet then the liver makes less of it to balance things out.
Eggs are very nutritious providing good quality protein and a range of vitamins and minerals.
4. Too many meals
Not everyone will lose weight on 5 small meals a day. Some need to have just 3 balanced meals a day to be effective for weight loss.
Many miscalculate the amount of calories they eat and may eat more than they need when eating 5 meals even if they are small.
5. Cheat Days Dangers
While some say that cheat days are good and help to kickstart metabolism that may have slowed on a diet others do not recommend them.
You may end up eating more than you intended and stall the weight loss. Another danger is that you feel full of guilt or shame afterwards and could be tempted to ditch the diet altogether.
For people with disordered eating it could send them into a spate of more disordered eating.
Much better to consider what you crave most and satisfy that particular craving rather than eat a whole meal of unhealthy foods.
The 5 Factor Diet is a program that emphasizes eating small meals five times a day and exercising five times a week. The food choices are varied, consisting of lean proteins, high-fiber foods, low GI carbs, and healthy fats.
It may be more convenient to follow and can offer short-term weight loss benefits, but low-carb diets like keto still produce better overall weight loss results. Several studies have shown that low-carb diets can offer better weight loss results, increased fat loss, and better blood sugar control.