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The 5-Factor Diet

The Promise

You won't go hungry on The 5-Factor Diet. With five meals a day, you’re always eating, and you also get one “cheat day” a week to satisfy your cravings.

Creator and celebrity fitness trainer Harley Pasternak says it's a lifestyle plan, not a diet. Each part of the plan revolves around the number five. You’ll prepare and eat five, 5-ingredient meals a day (each takes 5 minutes to prepare) and do 25-minute workouts (consisting of five, 5-minute segments) five times a week.

Pasternak promises that eating a balanced meal five times a day will keep your blood sugar low and stable. This helps your mood and gives you energy all day long.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

Each 5-Factor five-ingredient meal must include all five must-have food groups:

  1. Protein (egg whites, fish, lean meats/poultry, fat-free dairy)
  2. Complex carbohydrates (vegetables, sweet potato, wild rice, beans, lentils, oatmeal, quinoa)
  3. Fiber (whole-grain cereal, beans, wild rice, flourless wheat bread, fruits and vegetables with edible skins and seeds)
  4. Healthy fat (from fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, rainbow trout, or peanut oil, olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, flaxseed)
  5. Sugar-free drinks (water, sugar-free soda, coffee, tea, or an unsweetened energy drink)

The 5-Factor Diet doesn’t mention alcohol specifically, but on the diet’s “cheat day” you may eat or drink anything you like.

Pasternak’s other books include: 5-Factor Fitness; The 5-Factor World Diet; and The Body Reset Diet: Power Your Metabolism, Blast Fat, and Shed Pounds in Just 15 Days.

Level of Effort: Medium

Limitations: You can eat anything you want on your weekly “cheat day." Otherwise, all your meals should be limited to dishes made with foods from the five must-have groups mentioned above.

Cooking and shopping: You’ll spend minimal time and effort on cooking if you stock your refrigerator and pantry with Pasternak’s top picks for 5-Factor foods.

Packaged foods or meals: No.

In-person meetings: No.

Exercise: Required. The plan depends on exercise as much as diet. You must do the 25-minute 5-Factor workout five days a week.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

Vegetarians and vegans: You can easily modify the 5-Factor Diet for vegetarian and vegan diets, though the protein sources for vegans are somewhat limited. 

Gluten-free: The breads Pasternak allows are flour-free. You may substitute gluten-free alternatives as long as they are low-sugar.

Low-salt, low-fat: The plan is already geared toward low-fat and low-salt foods and may be adjusted further if needed.

What Else You Should Know

Cost: Just your groceries. You’ll spend roughly the same amount on groceries if you keep the bulk of your protein purchases to eggs, lean meats and poultry, and fat-free dairy, as opposed to seafood.

Support: You do this diet on your own.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on December 16, 2013

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