The 5 Factor Diet: Can It Work for You?
Celebrities like Jessica Simpson are said to be losing weight on the 5 Factor Diet. But will it work east of Beverly Hills?
5 Factor Diet: How It Works
The basis of the 5 Factor Diet is the five daily meals, each a balanced mix
of lean protein (like chicken, fish, or low-fat dairy); complex carbohydrates
(like fruits and vegetables); fiber
(like whole grains); healthy fats (like monounsaturated olive oil); and water
or another sugar-free beverage.
But Kurtz tells WebMD that what sets this plan apart is that the recommended
food choices have what's known as a "low glycemic index." The
glycemic index is a method of rating foods according to their ability to affect
blood sugar levels in the body after eating. Why is this important to
Kurtz explains it this way: "Foods that have a low glycemic index help
to regulate the amount of insulin that we release or produce after each meal --
and our appetite and hunger is directly related to insulin levels," she
So, for example, when we eat foods with a high glycemic index -- simple
carbohydrates like cake, white bread, cookies or even certain fruits like
grapes -- we release larger amounts of insulin, and our appetite is soon
affected, Kurtz says.
"The higher insulin peaks during a meal, the lower it's going to drop
within three hours after a meal -- and the hungrier you are going to feel and
the more likely you are to overeat, either at your next meal or between
meals," says Kurtz.
But when we eat foods low on the glycemic index (like lean protein or
vegetables), plus fiber, which further helps slow insulin release, and eat them
every three to four hours, insulin levels become more stabilized, Kurtz says --
and hunger is easy to control.
"It's like built-in portion control, and that can help you lose
weight," she says.
But does it?
Aronowitz says that if your problem is emotional overeating, then this is
not going to do much to curb your appetite.
"If people only ate when they were hungry, then we would not have the
obesity epidemic we see today," she says.
She says that for many people, emotions -- not a drop in insulin levels --
trigger eating. "For these people, controlling insulin is not going
to mean much in terms of controlling how much they eat," she says.
Moreover, a new study from Tufts University shows that what matters most in
weight loss is cutting calories -- and that both foods high and low on
the glycemic index have pretty much the same effect.
In the study, conducted in conjunction with the National Institutes of
Health, Tufts researchers compared a diet of high-glycemic foods with one of
low-glycemic foods, looking for differences in weight loss as well as hunger
and feelings of satiation or fullness.
The conclusion: "Participants in our pilot study achieved and maintained
comparable weight loss after one year regardless of whether they were on a low
glycemic-load or a high glycemic-load diet," wrote study researcher Susan
Roberts, PhD, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition
Research Centers Energy Metabolism Laboratory.
In both dieting groups, she said, it was the reduction of
calories that seemed to matter most. The study showed that when both groups
restricted calories by 30%, both lost an average of 8% of their body weight
after one year -- without any reported differences in hunger or fullness.
Perhaps more important, though, the study found a greater tendency to regain
weight among those who ate the low-glycemic diet. This, they say,
suggests that a lifelong reduction in food intake may be harder to sustain on a