Last month I did The Fast Metabolism Diet, a 28-day meal plan that promises up to 20 lbs. of weight loss. The premise is that by eating certain foods in phases, one can reset their metabolism, undoing years of damage caused by processed foods, caffeine and alcohol. And yes that is a hint: you can't have processed food, caffeine or alcohol during the diet. Cheese, soy, corn anything, refined sugar and wheat are also off the list.
So why would I do this to myself? One word: Coachella.
We leave on Thursday and I'm happy to say that even though I've been off the diet for a week and a half now, I've kept off the 13 lbs. that I lost.
Which is good since I promptly bought a ton of Coachella-worthy outfits in my new size during a champagne-induced haze once my 28 days were up.
Would I recommend this to just anyone?
No... there's some aspects of this meal plan that really aren't for everyone. And at times, it was tough. But the results went beyond my weight loss... this diet made me a better cook, more conscious of how and what I eat, and, I dare say, permanently changed my relationship with food. Which is why I decided to put together this post to help you make your decision before you try The Fast Metabolism Diet.
What You Need to Get Started
First things first... without the following list, staying true to this diet will prove to be VERY difficult. In order not to sabotage yourself, you'll need to make sure you have this stuff beforehand.
- The Fast Metabolism Diet book
- A nearby grocery store with organic options (you'll be heading there.. a LOT)
- Lots of freezer-safe tupperware (these are perfect portion-sized for the soups) and on that note...
- A microwave
- A blender (I bought this single-serving one)
- A crockpot (My 6 quart programmable one kicked this diet's ass)
- A large skillet
- Citrus squeezers (I have one for lemons and one for limes ...cause I'm bougie like that)
- Cutting mats.. trust me you'll get tired of cleaning your giant cutting board
- A small food processor (this little guy became my best friend... I call him Mellow Yellow)
- Lots of ziploc baggies in various sizes
- A water bottle (the Hydroflask keeps your water ice cold all day)
- Foodhuggers... these things are genius and were indispensible
- Plenty of the following herbs, spices and condiments (organic, if possible):
- Basil (get a window plant to have fresh basil on hand)
- Black pepper
- Cilantro (some recipes call for fresh)
- Coconut oil cooking spray
- Dry Mustard
- Garlic, crushed (I substituted this whenever a recipe called for minced) and powder
- Ground ginger
- Onion salt
- Parsley (get a window plant to have fresh parsley on hand)
- Peppermint leaves or mint
- Prepared mustard
- Red pepper flakes
- Sea salt
- Stevia or Xylitol
- Tomato paste
And last but not least:
- A dishwasher or a patient significant other who likes to do dishes (my words, not his)
- The weight loss! It happens for everyone at different times, some all in rush (like me losing 7 lbs the first week) and sometimes just barely (1 lb in Week 3). But when it does, and especially seeing how much you've lost at the end after still eating so much, it's glorious.
- Breaking an addiction to caffeine.. there's nothing like fighting caffeine withdrawal and coming out on the other side.
- Perfecting yummy new recipes like the Chicken and Quinoa Risotto and the Chicken Barley Soup.
- All the fresh, real food.
- Learning how to properly eat -- I went from Cheez-It's and Red Bulls for breakfast to cooking myself an egg on sprouted grain toast or making a smoothie before leaving the house.
- Dishes. So. Many. Dishes.
- The Grocery Store. It became my second home.
- Constantly thinking about food. What I need to buy, when I need to buy it, what I should make, how I should make, what I have frozen, what's going bad, what I need to pack for work, what time I need to eat....
- Phase 2 of every week. The Meat and Veggie Phase. I never want to see jerky again.
- Feeling like a shut-in and an outsider because I can't just casually do whatever my friends are doing since I have to rush home to prep or heat up a meal.
- Being the only sober one at a party.
- Not being able to run when I actually want to because it's not a Phase 1 day.
- Caffeine withdrawal - it was almost unbearable.
Who It Will Work For
- People who don't like to exercise. I said it! Haylie recommends you do 3 specific workouts a week to maximize the benefits of the diet, but I could barely fit any in. I went hiking twice and did bikram once throughout the 28 days. And I still lost 13 lbs!
- People who LOVE to cook. Because guess what? You'll be doing a lot of it.
- Virtually anyone else. Except for...
Who It Won't Work For
- Vegans and vegetarians... Haylie says it can, but I just don't see how. At the very least its not ideal (also, I've never met a vegetarian who looked like they needed to go on a diet... have you?)
- People without regular access to a full kitchen. Hey, I shared what could almost pass for a kitchen with 13 other grad students when I lived in NYC. It happens.
- People with crazy work schedules or odd hours. This diet was exhausting to do with a regular 8am-5pm job. You have to really want to do this to prep all your meals beforehand and be able to heat them up or keep them cold in time to eat them with a weird schedule or outside of an office environment.
- Party animals. Look, I barely made it through the dozen or so social functions I went to on this diet. If your social life is really important to you, this is not the diet for you. This is for people who can deal with being a virtual hermit for a month.
- Anyone training for a fitness thing. For those people out there who may want to start this while training for half or a marathon or some other kind of event, don't. Wait until after. Your body needs more carbs than this provides and workouts are restricted.
- People who don't want to do it. Sounds obvious? For more on what I mean by that, read this.
What I Learned
- The vicious cycle of caffeine and alcohol are responsible for 60% of the weight I've gained as an adult. Sound weird? Aside from the fact that alcohol is just a bunch of sugar, I spent most of my days eating foods that would comfort my hangover: California burritos, pizza, penne bolognese, cheese, chips, french fries... you name it. Less so because it was convenient and more because it made me feel better after a night out with friends. The caffeine helped me through the lack of sleep and therefore left my body with no time to recharge. Also: I haven't had one drop of caffeine since and no cravings for it either.
- Processed food is responsible for the other 40%. It was literally all I ate. Sometimes I went weeks without cooking a healthy meal for myself and to substitute for that I would just down a box of Cheez-Its or heat up some pasta with jarred tomato sauce. My eating habits were literally terrible.
- Breakfast is really important. I never got shaky or weak once on this diet, which is something that has happened to me every day since I was a kid. You know what I haven't done since I was a kid? Eat breakfast.
- I never got hangry either. In fact, while constantly thinking about food was annoying at times (most of the time), overall my mood was more even keel. I also don't get headaches anymore, something that I used to get a lot. Plus, I have a fairly consistent energy level throughout the day.
- I was wasting a lot of money on junk. When I add up all the snacks and Red Bulls I bought at convenience stores and all the times we went out to eat, it had to be way over the $300 or so I spent at the grocery store that month getting all healthy, fresh foods. As I continue to loosely follow this diet forever, I'm sure I'll get even better at shopping for the month.
Since I've been off, I've worked alcohol, cheese and chocolate back into my diet, but that's about it, and even those things have been in moderation. I've tried to stick to a mix of Phase 1 and 3 meals and snacks and so far, it's been great. I even lost another pound! Which is why it's safe to say that for me, FMD is here to stay.
Are you interested in doing The Fast Metabolism Diet?
I'm happy to answer any questions about my experience in the comments!