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Frequently Asked Questions
On your interview with Dr. Sara Gottfried, she mentioned phosphatidylserine (PS). But many brands, including Thorne Research, are made with soy and I’m soy sensitive.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) typically comes from soy, although non-soy versions exist that come from sunflower and other sources. Because PS is a phospholipid and therefore a fat, it does not present the problem soy typically does, and people who are soy-sensitive typically do fine with PS. If this is absolutely an issue for you – and for the vast majority of people, it isn’t – look for a non-soy derived PS.
Soy is one of your highly reactive foods, yet I noticed the Thorne shakes say “contains ingredients derived from soy (phytosomes). Should I restrict these in cycle 1?
Phytosome is a complex of a natural active ingredient (in this case, from soy) and a phospholipid. Thorne Research uses soy phytosomes to greatly increase absorption of nutrients like turmeric, green tea extract, milk thistle, and Ginkgo biloba. This unique process is exclusive to Thorne Research and guarantees maximum potency of these and other sometimes hard-to-absorb ingredients. Phytosomes are well tolerated and suitable for all cycles of The Virgin Diet. Why? Because phytosomes are fats, they do not create food intolerances like soy protein can, and most people tolerate phytosomes well even if they don’t tolerate soy. (Very much like butter can create a response but ghee does not.) Phytosome is a registered trademark of Indena S.p.A., Milan Italy.
I’ve read that soy lecithin is suitable even for people who can’t tolerate soy. Why is that?
Soy lecithin is an emulsifier, meaning it helps mix oil and water mix together, something they otherwise could never do since oil is a fat and does not behave well in water. Among its other roles, soy lecithin also stabilizes foods and helps powders blend better in water.
Lecithin emulsifies “oil in water by forming little protective envelopes around tiny droplets of oil,” says food scientist Amanda Greene. “The water-loving phosphate groups act as a sort of camouflage, allowing oil droplets that would normally never remain in water to stay for a long time.”
Soy lecithin, then, is a transport system that helps fat get around in watery environments. Thorne Research only uses non-genetically modified (GMO) soy lecithin to help better deliver fat-soluble nutrients for optimal absorption. I encourage you to read other labels to ensure any food containing soy lecithin is non-GMO.
Typically the protein component of soy creates problems. Because soy lecithin is a fat, it does not typically create those problems, and non-GMO soy lecithin is suitable for all cycles of The Virgin Diet.
I also discuss this in The Virgin Diet:
The one form of soy that is just fine to eat is soy lecithin, a common ingredient in many gluten-free and vegan breakfast shakes, protein bars and other such foods. This ingredient is all right because it is protein-free—and it is the protein that sparks the allergies.
I noticed a food I enjoy contains xanthan gum. Is this “legal” on The Virgin Diet?
Xanthan gum is often used as an emulsifier or thickener. While it is popular in gluten-free circles, most of it is corn-derived, making it off limits on The Virgin Diet. Because we have verified its source as “safe,” any Thorne Research product including The Virgin Diet All-in-One shakes) containing xanthan gum is permissible.
The Virgin Diet vs. Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy
I bought both of your books and I’m confused. Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy seems to have some conflicting information from The Virgin Diet.
I have a 5-mile run this Saturday and I’m wondering what the best options for carb loading would be on The Virgin Diet.
We are not fans of endurance training because studies show it can make you age faster, increase stress hormones, and break down muscle. To learn more and understand what exercise we do recommend, please see this article.
I’ve read both good and bad things about nutritional yeast. How does it fit into The Virgin Diet?
Some people really like to sprinkle nutritional yeast on vegetables or whatever food for added flavor. For others, nutritional yeast can be a gastrointestinal (GI) nightmare.
Below I’ve weighed in about the pros and cons of nutritional yeast for you to decide whether it can work for you.
If nutritional yeast doesn’t trigger GI problems, you should eliminate it in cycle 1 of The Virgin Diet and then use it as your gluten challenge for cycle 2 if you choose to.
- Source of 18 amino acids
- Offers 15 minerals including chromium and selenium
- Folate and B12
- Fiber as beta-glucans – studies show beta-glucans can benefit immunity, appetite, and diabetes
- Gluten-free (but see below) and non-yeast forming in the body
- Provides a pleasant nutty, cheese-like taste that can add flavor to foods
- For people without mold allergies, yeast can help gut ecology and liver health
- According to Dr. David Clark, yeast resembles gluten, which can trick your body into launching an immune reaction.
- Yeast is a fungus that resembles mold, therefore someone with a mold allergy could have a reaction. Cramping and other GI problems can result for these people.
- Yeast is used to thicken and stabilize foods, hence it is hidden in many foods people are unaware about.
- High in glutamate (MSG), which can create mild addiction
- Itching, gas, and other symptoms result for some people who eat yeast
- People like to add yeast to trigger foods like popcorn, which encourages overeating
You say to drink half your body weight in water ounces. However, I weigh almost 400 pounds. Does that mean I should drink 200 ounces of water? Seems like a lot!
I advise people to limit fluid consumption with meals to 8 ounces to avoid diluting your stomach acid and impacting protein digestion. Ideally start the day with 8-16 ounces of water, drink 8 ounces 30-60 min before a meal to help reduce appetite, drink 16 ounces or more in between meals and another 8 ounces before bed to shut down midnight hunger pangs.
The standard rule of thumb is to drink half of your weight in ounces. So if you weight 150 then that would be 75 ounces a day.
However, this equation doesn’t work once you get outside of the normal weight range.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report did not specify requirements for water, but made general fluid intake recommendations based on survey data of 91 ounces (that’s 11-plus cups a day) for women and 125 ounces (15-plus cups a day) for men.
Remember, these guidelines are for total fluid intake, including fluid from all food and beverages.
Approximately 80% of our water intake comes from drinking water and other beverages, and the other 20% comes from food. Assuming these percentages are accurate for most of us, the recommended amount of beverages, including water, would be approximately 9 cups for women and 12.5 cups for men.
Exercise, pregnancy/breast feeding, high altitude can all increase these needs by 1-3 cups.
See my water blog to learn why water is so important and how to fit more easily into your busy schedule.
Ever since I started The Virgin Diet, I’m not sleeping well. Why’s that?
If you were eating a higher carb diet and especially if you were eating sweets before bed this could be raising serotonin acutely which would cause you to be sleepy. if you were drinking alcohol right before bed it causes GABA to raise, again making you sleepy.
I hear from the vast majority of Virgin Diet followers that they feel much more energetic within 3-4 days of following the diet. This should translate into better sustained energy throughout the day but not into insomnia at night.
If you are finding it difficult to sleep please refer to cycle 3 in the book where I discuss sleep and good sleep hygiene. I also have a great sleep interview in the VIrgin DIet Challenge Master Package.
I also recommend the following Sleep Support Supplements, all available in my store:
- Sedaplus® - 2 before bed
- Magnesium CitraMate - 2 before bed
- Calcium/ Magnesium CitraMate - 2 before bed
- PharmaGABA - 1-3 before bed
- Melatone-3 - 1 before bed
You recommend eating at Chipotle, but they cook in soybean oil.
The protein component of soy typically creates intolerances and allergies. Soybean oil is a fat and does not normally create reactions. We spoke to Chipotle and they provided the following explanation:
We do not use soybeans in any of our foods, but we do use soybean oil in our restaurants. We are working on eliminating soybean oil entirely and replacing it with rice bran or sunflower oil, but we are slowly transitioning this and this change has not been everywhere yet. Regarding our soybean oil, often when people are allergic to soy, it seems that they are typically allergic to the soy proteins. During the refining process involved with our oil, these proteins are typically removed. Studies have shown that this refined oil does not demonstrate a hazard to allergic individuals. Therefore, we have found that most people who are allergic or sensitive to soy are not generally sensitive to our soybean oil. On the other hand, raw, unfiltered, or cold-pressed soybean oil contains traces of soybean protein and is subject to allergen labeling. We have listed it mostly as a precaution, but we did want to point it out.
I am so confused about sugar in all these foods! Why, for instance, do you allow 15 grams of sugar in a cup of blueberries but only 5 grams in your All-in-One Shake? And I thought that sugar was bad, period.
I realized that even professionals sometimes get confused about the amount of sugar in a healthy diet. The array of “healthy” sugars out on the market only makes things more confusing. I’ve written 3 articles about sugar that I think will help you understand them better. Click on each 1 to read:
- Making Sense of the Vast Array of Sugars
- The Best Sugar Alternatives
- Why The Virgin Diet is Not a No-Sugar Diet
Hot Flashes/ Menopause
Since I started this program, I have had a tremendous increase in hot flashes, which is why I stopped soy a few years ago. What could be the issue?
Most women 35-50 have estrogen dominance and your program lowers estrogen (by removing refined carbs and soy, and amplifying fiber). That’s great to lower estrogen for women 35-50 but if she’s in that second phase of perimenopause with low estrogen, The Virgin Diet may increase hot flashes.
- Thorne Meta-Fem and/or Meta-Balance
- Relora Plus
- Progesterone cream (pg increases e2 receptors)
- Consult with your integrative doc on bio-indentical hormone replacement therapist
- Add freshly ground flaxseed meal to your virgin diet shake
- Try maca – you can add maca powder to The Virgin Diet Shake
- Evaluate for stress – see my discussion about stress in cycle 3 of The Virgin Diet
- Dr. Sara Gottfried made many of these helpful suggestions. We strongly encourage you to buy her upcoming book The Hormone Cure
Protein/ Snack Bars
What do you think of [brand name] protein bars?
The vast majority of commercially sold protein and snack bars are loaded with either a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners plus soy, gluten, additives, and other “non-legal” Virgin Diet ingredients. We cannot recommend any bars because even if 1 flavor was acceptable for The Virgin Diet, we can’t evaluate every single flavor from every brand.
If you do decide to eat protein bars, you must scrupulously read labels for 5 grams of sugar or less per serving and none of the 7 highly reactive foods. Keep in mind that many protein bars contain more than 1 serving.
You are much better off with whole, unprocessed foods such as whole nuts or seeds. Whereas gluten, soy, and other highly reactive foods can easily slip into protein bars, you can rest assured a can of raw almonds isn’t going to contain those ingredients (although you should still read your ingredient list).
How do you customize YouBar?
I double the protein, add walnuts, fiber blend, cacao nibs, crispy rice, cinnamon, green food complex and cashew butter.
I’m on day 5 and having trouble eliminating. What am I doing wrong?
Your first step would be to bump up your fiber intake. Gradually titrate up to 1 scoop of Extra Fiber in your Virgin Diet Shake. You may want to do 1 scoop of Extra Fiber 2 times a day to eliminate constipation. Flax and chia seeds in your shake are also good options.
Incorporate high-fiber foods into your shake. Smart options include legumes, nuts & seeds, leafy greens, berries & avocado.
Your ultimate goal is to work up to 50 grams of fiber a day.
Magnesium can also help alleviate constipation. Take 2 capsules before bed and see if things aren’t “moving” the next morning.
Make sure you are staying well hydrated. And get moving: even a brisk walk around the block can decrease constipation.
Grab more tips to prevent constipation in The Virgin Diet.
Food Processed with Hi-Fi Foods
I bought almond butter but it had a warning that it had been processed in a facility with soy and peanuts. Can I have it?
Manufacturers often add these disclaimers to protect themselves, although cross-contamination frequently happens. Look for an almond butter (or whatever the food might be) without this disclaimer to absolutely guarantee the food will not suffer from cross-contamination of any of the 7 highly reactive foods.
As a vegan, I love Boca Burgers. But urgh! They all have gluten. Is there an alternative you suggest?
Make your own! You can find some really delicious ideas for veggies burgers and lots of other delicious vegetarian/ vegan food in our free Vegan & Vegetarian Guide.
Food Quotas on The Virgin Diet
How can I fit vegetable juice into the Virgin Diet?
Green drinks are great as long as they are low glycemic. Please see the lists of non-starchy veggies and high fiber veggies starting on page 161 in The Virgin Diet, and use according to JJ’s recommendations as far as servings go. Beets are higher glycemic so use in small amounts.
You recommend one to two Virgin shakes per day and also 10 servings of vegetables per day. Obviously, this is impossible unless I eat 10 servings of vegetables at dinner. Or, are you counting the berries as 2-4 servings? Still makes us short 6 servings that need to be consumed at one time.
Yes, the fruit and greens in your shakes count toward 10 servings. If you are doing two shakes a day for the entire three weeks, then it might be hard to do. If you are doing the shakes for one week, after that, it will be easier. Salads with raw veggies, soups with veggies, 2+ veggies at lunch and dinner. That’s your goal. They are that healthy!
Staying on Cycle 1
I have pulled the 7 foods and wow! I feel great. Do I need to move into cycle 2 after 3 weeks?
You may extend Cycle one beyond the first 3 weeks. In fact, you can stay on it forever, I basically do, but at some point you need to challenge back the top four hi-FI foods so that you know if and how much you react to them so that you know whether you need to be hyper-vigilant and make sure a food never touches your lips or that you can incorporate it into your healthy diet. I do not believe that GMO foods, artificial sweeteners/ingredients, damaged/oxidized or transfats, corn or gluten have a place in a healthy diet.
- Soy. If you can tolerate soy, then wheat free tamari, and non GMO VERY fermented soy can be incorporated into the diet however, I do not feel this is a good idea for children, or men or something that should become a dietary mainstay. If you can tolerate dairy,
- Dairy. I recommend sticking with goat or sheep products rather than cow. Look for raw cows milk products and all dairy products should be fermented. I find that the majority of people do better without dairy.
- Sugar. I recommend not adding sugar and buying products with 5 g or less of sugar per serving.
- Nuts/ peanuts. I would recommend sticking with tree nuts and avoiding peanuts.
- Eggs. Eggs can be a very healthy food when poached or softboiled – just be sure to choose eggs from free range, humanely treated chickens. I find that many people can tolerate eggs after they heal their gut but this is not a food that should be eaten on a daily basis.
Challenging the 4 foods in Cycle 2
Does it matter in what order I challenge soy, dairy, gluten, and eggs in cycle 2?
No. As long as you follow the guidelines for challenging that food for a particular week, you can do them in any order you want.
I have lost 11 pounds so far in cycle 1! I feel better, look better, and have increased energy. My question is, why would I even want to challenge dairy, gluten, soy, and eggs in cycle 2 when I feel so good?
- This is the time to learn whether the top four high FI foods will work for you or not.
- You want to continue feeling great and keep the weight off. If you are not aware of which foods you react to, they tend to slip in and they will cause problems. This is in the book and videos.
- You’ve done the work of eliminating them, now you determine if you need to keep avoiding them because they make you feel awful or if you can tolerate them in your diet.
- Remember, if you have a bad reaction within those first days of re-introducing the 4 high FI foods, it’s out 100% of the time.
Pregnancy & Lactation
Can I do The Virgin Diet while I’m pregnant or lactating?
You will want to focus on getting enough calories, especially from good fats and protein, which may require that you snack on, say, raw almonds. We strongly recommend that you take Basic Prenatal and Omega Plus to get optimal nutrients and essential fatty acids. Always discuss any dietary changes with your doctor.
I’m enjoying the inspiring testimonials in The Virgin Diet. Is there a link for more?
Yes. Please visit our testimonials page.
I’ve lost 11 pounds so far on The Virgin Diet and I’d like to show others how effective it is. Where can I submit my story?
We love testimonials! Please email yours to Joyce (email@example.com). If possible, include a before and after picture with your story.
I would love to work on JJ’s team. Is she hiring?
We are not currently looking to fill any positions. However, you are welcome to send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact you if any position opens for which you are qualified. Please use the subject line “resume submission.” We prefer PDF or online resumes (no Word documents, please).
The Virgin Diet Coach
What’s the difference between The Virgin Diet Coach and The Virgin Diet Challenge?
The Virgin Diet Coach allows you to engage in community forums, research and manage recipes, plan meals, determine your conditions (such as leaky gut), and journal your success.
Additionally, The Virgin Diet Coach divides your goals by cycle so you can track your weight, sleep, water intake, supplements, and daily activities to give you a better understanding about your health and habits.
The forum on The Virgin Diet Coach provides a caring, friendly community to engage with that helps create extra accountability and meet your goals. JJ’s coaches also regularly answer your questions on the forum.
On the other hand, The Virgin Diet Challenge expands on the principles in The Virgin Diet. This is the material that wouldn’t fit into the book.
In The Virgin Diet Challenge, you receive helpful, informative audio downloads, transcripts, videos, meal plans, worksheets, assessments, and journal pages. Videos include a kitchen makeover with JJ to help you learn about the “hidden” detrimental ingredients you frequently use.
As a companion to the book, The Virgin Diet Challenge gives you the tools to make The Virgin Diet (and fast fat loss) permanent and lasting.
The Virgin Diet All-in-One Shakes
Why do you allow 5 grams of organic cane juice sugar in your shakes? I thought sugar is bad, and especially with all the natural alternative sweeteners you talk about.
I worked very closely with Thorne Research to create these All-in-One shakes not only with optimal nutrients but also to taste amazing. After all, if it doesn’t taste great, you’re not going to drink it, right? We tried numerous formulas, including the one we stuck with that has a small amount of sugar. A teaspoon (5 grams) of sugar will not be a problem for most people. The All-in-One shakes also contain several nutrients including magnesium and chromium that enhance blood sugar levels. Put it into perspective: 2 cups of broccoli have about 5 grams of sugar.
Why do you call them “All in One” Shakes when you recommend adding kale, berries, fiber, and other things?
I designed The Virgin Diet All-in-One Shakes to have all the essentials you need for a fast, healthy, nutrient-rich breakfast or any other time of the day you enjoy them. Each shake packs 22 grams of high-quality protein, healthy fats, 5 – 6 grams of fiber, vitamins and minerals, a proprietary fruit and veggie blend, digestive enzymes, and probiotics. Theoretically, you could combine the powder with water and have a complete balanced “meal.”
That said, a little variety can spark up the shakes, give them flavor (they already taste great!), and also add more nutrients. Berries, for instance, provide antioxidants and added fiber. Flax and chia sees give you extra fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. Unsweetened coconut milk gives you fat-burning medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). And kale is a super-nutrient packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
All the essentials are already in the All in One Shakes, and customizing them with “add ons” can provide an additional nutrient punch, more calories to sustain you longer, and added flavor.
I have a recipe that calls for protein powder. Is this interchangeable with The Virgin Diet All-in-One Shakes?
Why do you use sunflower oil in the shakes? It’s high in omega 6s.
We spoke to the manufacturer about this, and here’s what they said:
The sunflower oil is a high oleic, non-GMO form. I suspect the reason it was chosen was because sunflower oil is a clean vegetable source with a decent flavor profile, fairly hypo allergenic (compared to other vegetable oils) AND because of the vegan nature of the formula. Some of it may be converted to GLA [a beneficial, anti-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acid].
I am on Coumadin. Will the vitamin K in your All-in-One Shake be a problem for me?
We spoke with Thorne Research about this. Here is their answer:
It should not. There is not anything in here that should significantly affect the efficacy of the Coumadin medication. Whatever amount of vitamin K is present from the whole food blend should not adversely interfere with her medication.
I have two questions about your shakes. First, why did you decide to go with Vitamin D2 instead of Vitamin D3? And second, at what temperature are
your proprietary food-based ingredients processed?
Also, for Thorne’s other shakes, is the Silicone Dioxide made by a process known as vapor phase hydrolysis? And are the ingredients extracted through low temperature processes as well?
The Virgin Diet All-in-One shakes are formulated to be completely vegan, hence the vegan-friendly vitamin D2 rather than D3.
If you are not vegan or are willing to use vitamin D3, we strongly encourage you to get D3 in a multivitamin and from food.
We received the other information from Thorne Research:
The food-based ingredients are actually freeze-dried whole foods, so pretty low temp. I do not know exactly what temp. But is the concern is about denaturing of peptides or other compounds due to exposure to high temperatures, this would not be an issue.
Concerning the silicon dioxide, the material used in Thorne products is produced by low temperature colloidal precipitation.
Does the chai flavor have caffeine?
We spoke to the manufacturer and received the following reply:
There is no caffeine added to any of the shakes. Any caffeine found is part of what is naturally occurring in the material. The content of caffeine is as follows:
Vanilla = 0 mg
Chai = 0.6 mg (naturally occurring from the cocoa)
Chocolate = 3.6 mg (naturally occurring from the cocoa)
For comparison, these amounts are significantly less than what is found in an average cup of drip decaffeinated coffee (8.6-13.9 mg).
I noticed the All-in-One Shakes have flaxseed, but doesn’t provide the amount. Can you tell me how much I’m getting in each shake?
The amount of flax in the fiber blend is proprietary, meaning Thorne Research does not provide exact amounts. They can confirm it is a portion of the 4.6 g/serving fiber blend in each shake.
I heard that chia seeds can exacerbate leaky gut. So why are you recommended them in your shakes?
I love chia seeds because they are a great source of fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and nutrients. 1 study showed 50 grams of chia seeds a day for 12 weeks could increase gut inflammation. Keep in mind 50 grams is far more than the 1/2 tablespoon – 1 tablespoon we recommend in the shakes. In that amount, they shouldn’t be a problem.
We strongly recommend rotating your sources of fiber in The Virgin Diet Shake. I choose among flax seeds, chia seeds, and Extra Fiber.
I’m not a fan of flax or chia seeds in my shake. How else can I get fiber?
My favorite fiber supplement that I helped custom design is Extra Fiber. Each scoop has 9 grams of a plant-based fiber/ prebiotic blend, including Sunfiber (a partially hydrolyzed guar gum fiber), rice bran, larch arabinogalactan, apple pectin, prune powder, and green tea phytosome. Best of all, Extra Fiber has no grittiness, mixes well, and is odorless and tasteless. Start with 1/4 of a scoop of Extra Fiber and titrate up to 1 full scoop. Always drink adequate water when you increase fiber.
Don’t forget too that berries and leafy greens contribute to your fiber intake. 1 cup of raspberries, for instance, contains 8 grams of fiber.
You recommend a blender to mix the All-in-One Shakes. But how can I get a blender into my office?
I don’t travel anywhere without my Magic Bullet. It’s got all of a blender’s effectiveness but with the compactness of a shaker cup. Make sure you get the largest cup attachment that Magic Bullet sells. Put the ingredients in little baggies, carry the So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk individual packs, and you’re good to go to make a shake anywhere.
Another option is Blender Bottle, which has a cool metal ball that ensures smooth, consistent mixing. It won’t blend like the Magic Bullet does, but it makes a great option when you’re traveling and not near an electrical outlet.
Looks like they forgot to put my scoop in the container!
It’s there. It probably just sunk to the bottom during shipment. One thing we do is hold on to that first scoop so when we open a second container of powder, we don’t have to dig around for the scoop.
When am I going to get my shakes I ordered?
Supplements/shakes are shipped UPS ground and take from 7-9 business days to receive.
I’m confused. Is 1 serving of your Virgin Diet All-in-One Shake 1 or 2 scoops?
2 scoops is 1 serving.
Any way to make the taste of the All-in-One Shakes more appealing? I don’t love the texture and my husband says they are too sweet.
Taste is unique and subjective. If you eat a low-sugar diet, the shakes might taste a little sweet at first. Likewise, if you’re going off sugar, they may not taste sweet enough.
Most people have raved about the shakes. We have had a few people, though, ask us how we can adjust them for taste. Suggestions include:
- Adding a tablespoon of almond butter
- Trying different berries
- Varying the milks – see if you like coconut or almond milk better
- Adjusting the fiber so it’s thinner or thicker for your taste
- Adding unsweetened cocoa powder
- Making the shakes warm – simply warm the almond or coconut milk and stir in the All-in-One powder
Be creative, follow The Virgin Diet rules, and before long you’ll create your own shake that you enjoy every morning. Oh, and if you stumble upon a great recipe, please share it with us!
I have rheumatoid arthritis and cannot tolerate nightshades. Will the potato protein in your All-in-One Shakes be a problem for me?
We spoke directly to Thorne Research about this, and this is their answer:
I received word from the supplier and they said that although the material goes through a rigorous purification process they cannot say it is completely free of glycoalkaloids. That said, we are talking about a magnitude of mcg/g of protein. In the All-in-One shake, that roughly translates to less than 1 mg per serving. In communicating with Dr. Bob Rountree about this, he did not think this was enough exposure to cause a problem.
I followed your recipe for the shake and got the worst bloating and cramping afterwards. What in the shake could be creating those problems?
Modifying your fiber should reverse this issue. If you’re using Extra Fiber (my absolute favorite fiber supplement!), start with 1/2 scoop and work up to a 1 full scoop. Same thing if you’re using flax or chia seeds. Start with 1/2 a tablespoon and work up to 1 full tablespoon.
Yuck! My shake turned out all gummy and thick.
Cut back to 1/2 a scoop of fiber and see if that does the trick. Alternately, you could use the fiber separately: have the shake and then mix the fiber in a separate container with 8 – 10 ounces of water.
Don’t let the shake sit too long. Fiber absorbs water and becomes very thick and gummy quickly. Drinking your shake immediately upon making it will usually solve that problem.
Why do you tell people not to eat the same foods repeatedly, and yet you recommend doing The Virgin Diet Shake every day?
In The Virgin Diet, I especially warn against eating highly reactive foods every day. Even if you challenge eggs or dairy and do okay in cycle 2, these should never be every day foods or you risk developing intolerances to them.
In fact, I want you to rotate every food you eat. So even with The Virgin Diet Shake, I want you to add raspberries and flax seed one morning, blueberries and chia seeds the next, etc. You would to likewise have a different protein at lunch and dinner. For instance, maybe you’ll do chicken for lunch and grass-fed beef for dinner. Mix it up and don’t get stuck eating the same thing repeatedly!
The Virgin Diet Shake protein powder has low allergenic potential and almost never creates any sort of intolerance. In fact, for most clients, it helps reduce food intolerances and heal leaky gut. The types of protein in this powder, including pea and cholera, are incredibly low-reactive types of protein that are safe to use every morning without risk of developing intolerances.
So rotate the ingredients you use in The Virgin Diet Shake as well as your lunch and dinner foods, but use The Virgin Diet protein powder every morning.
Why so much sodium in your shakes?
Can I have So Delicious Plain Greek Yogurt?
We love So Delicious and believe they make the finest coconut and almond products available. You have to read your labels though: some of them contain more sugar per serving than The Virgin Diet allows.
In this case, the Plain Greek Coconut Yogurt has 7 grams of sugar per serving, whereas the Plain Greek Almond Yogurt has 6 grams of sugar per serving, making both too high for The Virgin Diet. You can enjoy them occasionally in cycle 3.
You can, however, enjoy the So Delicious Original Coconut Beverage in all cycles, since it contains only 3 grams of sugar per serving. Bottom line: always check your label.
I know most gums have artificial sweeteners in them and that you’re not a gum fan, JJ. But my boyfriend has been complaining about my breath. What can I use to freshen up?
First, make sure you’re practicing good dental hygiene: floss, brush twice a day, and use mouthwash.
Chewing on parsley or mint post-meal can also give you fresher breath. And have water with lemon: you’ll be meeting your water quota and fighting bad breath!
I think The Virgin Diet is amazing! I want to hire you for one-on-one coaching. How can I set up an appointment?
Most of the supplements I find in stores contain soy. What line do you recommend?
We proudly carry the Thorne Research brand of supplements, which you can purchase at our online store. Thorne exhaustively tests their supplements for purity and efficacy far beyond what many manufacturers do. We are happy to help you find specific supplements through our FAQ submission link. For help designing a personalized dietary and nutrient protocol, please consider one of my one-on-one coaches. Note per above that soy phytosomes and non-GMO soy lecithin in Thorne Research products are allowed in all phases of The Virgin Diet.
I’m overwhelmed with the vast array of supplements in your store. Can you provide some basic recommendations?
Fo nearly all my clients, I recommend Daily Basic Nutrients Packets from Thorne Research to cover the basics. Every packet has a high-potency multivitamin/ multimineral, essential fatty acids, and a resveratrol-based antioxidant. Just toss a packet in your purse or bag and you’re good to go.
Beyond that, I recommend you check out my Specialty Packages & Kits to address particular conditions.
I also encourage you to schedule a consultation with one of my highly trained one-on-one coaches, who can help you personally design a supplement regimen based on your needs and budget. I’ve had clients save hundreds and even thousands of dollars in the long run by talking with a coach rather than guessing what nutrients they need.
Artisan Bistro Meals
I noticed the Artisan Bistro Meals contain corn starch and other “non-legal” ingredients. So why are you recommending them?
We spoke directly to Artisan Bistro about this, and this is their reply:
We take pride in making sure all our products comply with Whole Foods Guidelines as well as all government food safety regulatory agencies which include the National Organic Program, FDA, USDA, FSIS, and State and County Health Department. Our company, also undergoes a third party food safety audit inspections by Silliker Laboratories on a yearly basis. Regarding our Organic Certification, since 2006, our plant has been organic certified. In order to maintain our status as an Organic Certified Plant we must undergo strict annual renewal inspections to make sure that we are complying with all of the rules and regulations set forth by National Organic Program.
You asked why we use potato starch, corn starch and gums. All our starches and gums are all natural and do not undergo any chemically aided processing, so they do not contain any artificial ingredients or preservatives.
As we create gluten free foods for the Artisan Bistro Direct line, we cannot use wheat flour, so instead we use rice starches and gums to thicken and prevent separation of our sauces. Guar gum, Xanthan Gum and Carrageenan are also found in our coconut cream in small amounts to prevent the coconut milk from separating and ensuring emulsification. This also makes sure our sauce recipes are consistent each time you enjoy our meals.
You asked why potato starch is contained in our chicken. We use small amounts (“less than 2%”) of potato starch during the cooking process of our chicken to prevent the poultry from breaking apart into small crumbles, this starch is then drained along with the water, prior to going into the meal.
Thanks for asking about our spices. According to the FDA, a spice is defined as: “Aromatic vegetable substances, in the whole, broken, or ground form, whose significant function in food is seasoning” (FDA Guidelines, CPG Sec. 525.750 Spices – Definitions). You are correct that the dried form of oregano, basil and cumin are spices. You might be interested to know that under FDA guidelines pepper is included.
While we would love to share our entire spice list in the ingredient panel, please understand that our recipes are proprietary. However, if you have any food intolerances, sensitivities or allergies to certain spices, please email us the list of ingredients and spices that you are allergic to so we can determine if any of our products might be a health concern. We are more than happy to help.
As for the use of our natural hickory smoke concentrate in meals like the Chipotle BBQ Chicken, this ingredient is sold also to Whole Foods and meets their standards for all natural status. The process that the flavor is created is really cool. In a nutshell, manufacturers basically heat rich hickory wood, then capture the condensed steam and combine it with mountain water to create the taste. This process has been patented by the manufacturer since 1895.
I hope this helps. Sometimes there is not standard reply, so if you have any further queries, please contact us.
Weight Gain on The Virgin Diet
I actually need to gain weight. As muscle, of course, not fat. Is The Virgin Diet for me?
Absolutely! When you eat clean lean protein, good fats, and high-fiber starches, you’re giving your body the right formula to build muscle, burn fat, and stay lean and healthy. A few things I recommend if you want to gain weight:
- Eat every 4 hours. This might mean you have 4 (as opposed to 3) meals every day.
- Bump up your Virgin Shakes with almond butter to boost calories and nutrients. You will probably also want to add more protein powder (maybe an extra scoop), and even do another protein shake as a late-morning or afternoon snack.
- Also step up your lean protein, good fats (such as avocado and coconut), and starchy carbs at your meals.
- Good snacks if you need them include raw nuts and seeds, nitrate-free jerky, apple slices with almond butter, and coconut yogurt with berries.
Weight Loss on The Virgin Diet
You promised I would lose 7 pounds my first week and I only lost 2. What gives?
Help, I can’t lose weight.
- Hormonal Issues:
- Low Thyroid (your numbers may be in range and this may still be an issue)
- Imbalanced Sex Hormones (for both men and women)
- Insulin & Leptin Resistance (the Virgin Diet usually corrects this but in some cases you may need to get medical treatment to improve insulin sensitivity)
- Cortisol Imbalances
- Gastrointestinal Issues
- Food Intolerances
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
- Genetics (please note this doesn’t mean you are doomed)
P.S. It goes without saying that you are following The Virgin Diet cycle 1 100%, including the recommended serving sizes and water intake.
Other Benefits of The Virgin Diet
I’m interested in The Virgin Diet, but I don’t need to lose weight. Are there other benefits?
Fast fat loss is a huge perk on The Virgin Diet, but many clients use the diet to attain and maintain optimal health. You’ll learn about the numerous benefits in The Virgin Diet, but I want to address a few here.
- Removing the 7 highly reactive foods greatly reduces inflammation. Time magazine called inflammation “the silent killer,” and it contributes to just about every disease imaginable.
- With The Virgin Diet, you’re eating the perfect foods to balance blood sugar and help balance hormone levels. No more cravings, mood swings, or fatigue like in the past.
- The Virgin Diet can improve your sex life. Guys, eating the right foods can boost testosterone levels. The Virgin Diet can also increase libido. You might discover you’re “in the mood” more often than you have been in years!
- Removing the 7 highly reactive foods can improve your skin. I find especially when clients pull dairy, conditions like acne and rosacea disappear. Your skin becomes younger and firmer. I’ve even had clients whose friends asked if they’d “had some work done” when they ate from The Virgin Diet!
- On The Virgin Diet, you’re eating the most nutrient-dense foods possible to support vigor, vitality, and a long healthy life.
You recommend red palm fruit oil, but I can’t find it.
Red palm fruit oil can be found at most whole foods, ethnic grocery including Asian, African etc and Malaysia produces the most sustainable palm oil in the world. Check out theoilpalm.org and palmoilheath.
I’ve heard that red palm fruit oil is not environmentally sustainable. So why are you recommending it?
Other Thorne Research Shakes
What’s the difference between Thorne VegaLite, Thorne MediClear, and The Virgin Diet All-in-One Shakes?
VegaLite is simply pea/ rice protein powder.
MediClear, on the other hand, combines pea/ rice protein with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients.
My All-in-One Shake combines a vegan blend of pea protein isolate, potato protein, and chlorella protein with fiber, prebiotics, probiotics, whole food complexes, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Can you give me a specific comparison of MediClear and your All-in-One Shake?
I’m still confused about the differences in the protein powders!
- The Virgin Diet shake is an all in one shake – meaning it has vitamins, minerals, enzymes, probiotics, whole food complexes (antioxidants) and fiber along with a great vegan protein blend and only 5 g of sugar.
- Vegalite is basically just a vegan protein blend – this would be for you if you are JUST looking for protein, that’s it.
- The Mediclear line are for enhanced detox support. They can be used everyday. I rotate Mediclear SGS into my regimen, especially if I have been traveling and faced with more toxicity. I also add in Detox Support Packets.
The Mediclear SGS is chocolate and amazing tasting.
The Mediclear Plus is plain and pretty hardcore. It is not sweet at all and has no real flavoring so drink this if that is what you prefer or you are daring but consider yourself warned.
I’m concerned about all the media discussion about arsenic in rice. I noticed your protein powder contains rice protein. Should I be worried?
While my All-in-One Shake does not have rice protein, both the MediClear and Vegalite shakes do have a blend of rice and pea protein. Thorne Research extensively tests each product far above what many manufacturers do, so you can trust you’re getting the highest-quality supplements. They have also released their official statement about arsenic in rice.
In The Virgin Diet, the recipe for the Virgin Diet Shake indicates it is 4 servings. Maybe I’m making it incorrectly, but it does not look like 1/4 of the recipe yields a serving.
We goofed here! That recipe in The Virgin Diet actually yields one, not four, servings, and of course will be corrected in future editions. We apologize for any confusion that might have created.
I noticed MediClear and Vegalite have sugar in them. This seems counterintuitive to everything you recommend.
Some of the Thorne shakes contain very small amounts of sugar for optimal flavor and texture. These amounts are far below what it would take to raise your blood sugar. If you want to put it into perspective, Thorne powders have less sugar than one single grape.
Everything you eat should have 5 grams of sugar or less. All Thorne shakes meet that criterion.
Can I have rice during cycle 1 of The Virgin Diet?
In the book you’ll find a diagram of what belongs (and how much) on The Virgin Diet Plate. You’ll see starchy carbohydrates warrant a small portion of the plate. I prefer that you choose high-fiber starches like sweet potatoes, legumes, and quinoa (actually a seed!).
That said, I know occasionally you’ll visit a sushi bar or otherwise have white rice or a white potato.
Any kind of starchy carb you want to be absolutely certain is certified gluten free. Even if a grain is naturally gluten-free (e.g., oats), it could still be processed in a facility containing glutenous foods. So always look for that certification.
Two, watch your portions, especially in cycle 1. Too much starchy carbs can derail your fast fat loss. Remember that 1/2 cup is a serving, and in cycle 1, 1-2 servings a day is max.
Other Protein Powders
I love hemp protein! Is this okay to use in The Virgin Diet Shake?
We’ve been hearing about a lot of hemp protein becoming contaminated with gluten, so if you use hemp protein, you absolutely must find a certified gluten-free one. That said, hemp is higher in fiber and lower in protein compared with other types of protein powder. So you should use The Virgin Diet All in One Shake as your base and then if you want, complement that with hemp protein powder. But hemp protein should never be used as a stand-alone protein powder in your shake or otherwise.
I use [name of brand] powder powder. Is that okay?
Unfortunately, many commercial (and even professional) protein powders contain more than 5 grams of sugar per serving. They can also have soy, gluten, dairy, artificial sweeteners, and other additives that can derail your success on The Virgin Diet. I’ve extensively tested numerous brands of protein powder, and based on quality, ingredients, ability to mix well, and taste, I can only recommend the Thorne Research brand of protein powders.
I can’t imagine mornings without coffee! Can I have it on The Virgin Diet?
The studies with coffee are conflicting. Coffee is loaded with antioxidants, and the caffeine can boost metabolism. Unfortunately, conventional coffee is loaded with pesticides, and coffee can raise your stress hormone cortisol. If you can enjoy a cup in the morning and it doesn’t keep you awake at night, choose organic coffee, grind your own beans, and use either a French press or unbleached coffee filters.
Acceptable additions are organic stevia, monk fruit, or erythritol as sweeteners and unsweetened coconut or almond milk as a creamer.
Why do I only get cravings at night?
Your body craves the foods it’s most addicted to, and even a willpower of steel can melt at night for some people.
You’ll likely find after a few days on The Virgin Diet, your cravings subside. That’s because you’re eating meals rich in blood-sugar stabilizing protein, good fat, and fiber. When you don’t have blood sugar spikes and crashes, you’re far less likely to crave that half-eaten pint of ice cream in the freezer.
That leads me to my next point: keep the enemy out of the house. Even healthy foods (looking at you, almond butter and dark chocolate) can become a problem if you succumb at 10 p.m.
Other strategies to curb night cravings include staying well hydrated and unwinding with a hot bath.
With The Virgin Diet, you’re developing new habits to last a lifetime. You might find those pesky cravings sticking around for a week or two, but I promise you if you put in the effort, they will subside. One day you might even wonder how you ever had those nightly cravings to begin with.
Is there anything I can take to curb cravings?
Glutamine is a really great amino acid that knocks out cravings. Clients find about a teaspoon will zap even the worst cravings. If you’re doing everything right, including eating blood sugar- stabilizing foods at every meals, and you still get those hankerings, give glutamine a try.
Can I have coconut milk on The Virgin Diet?
Yes, unsweetened coconut milk is allowed in cycle 1, 2, and 3.
I don’t love the taste of coconut milk, and of course cow’s milk and soymilk are out. So what should I go for?
Unsweetened almond milk is a smart backup choice if you can’t find (or are not a fan of) coconut milk. I’m a huge fan of So Delicious unsweetened Almond Plus almond milk with an impressive 5 grams of protein per serving.
Help! The vast array of dairy alternatives is confusing. What should I be looking for?
The key word is unsweetened. The So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk comes in a green container. Regardless of which 1 you opt for, make sure it has 5 grams or less of sugar per serving.
I noticed the brand of coconut milk products you recommend contains carrageneens. I have read they can contribute to cancer and inflammation. So why do you recommend products with carrageneens?
There has been some confusion about carrageneen’s safety. There are 2 kinds of carrageneen: degraded and undegraded. Degraded carrageenan is a known carcinogen and is not permitted in food. Undegraded carrageenan, on the other hand, is considered safe by numerous agencies including the FDA. The So Delicious brand and any other product I recommend only uses undegraded carrageenan, which is considered safe.
I heard that the carrageenan in my coconut milk contains MSG. Why are you recommending a milk that has MSG in it!?
Carrageenan is derived from red seaweed, not seaweed kombu (brown seaweed). Both are natural sources of MSG, but red seaweed contains much less MSG than seaweed kombu.
Any MSG present in red seaweed has been washed out during the carrageenan extraction process. An independent testing company, which looked at 2 forms of carrageenan, verified this.
Can I do The Virgin Diet as a vegetarian?
While my programs are not specifically designed for vegetarians, I have included specific strategies for vegetarians in my book as I have found that ALL (yes, I can honestly say all) of the vegetarian clients I have worked with personally over the years have developed some level of food sensitivities from overexposure to the same proteins on a daily basis, have potential health problems from overconsumption of soy protein and/or are deficient in certain amino acids, fatty acids and vitamins.
While I agree eating commercially produced animals is not the path to health, I feel that choosing humanely treated, grass-fed, organic, free-range and wild, clean lean animal sources (in combination with a rainbow of non starchy vegetables) is an important part of a balanced diet and I don’t believe that a vegan/vegetarian diet is the best way to eat for long term, optimal health. Great resources for more information include Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth and Dr. Loren Cordain’s The Paleo Diet.
If you are a vegetarian for spiritual reasons, I will do what I can to support you on your path. I recommend signing up for a health coaching session to review what you can do to per your specific restrictions and needs. I also recommend taking Omega 3 supplements from fish if at all possible (if not, choose algae based) and vitamin D3 (yes, it is from sheep) as vitamin D2 is not the preferred form used by the body.
You can now get my FREE Vegetarian & Vegan Manual to complement The Virgin Diet. It’s filled with helpful strategies, unique nutrient requirements, and amazing recipes.
I only eat eggs that come from barnyard-raised chickens that live under the healthiest conditions. Are these acceptable?
I do agree these are far healthier than conventional eggs, but in cycle 1, you need to remove all sources of egg. That includes baked goods, chicken dishes in restaurants that contain egg, etc. In cycle 2, you will re-introduce eggs (I will guide you through the process in The Virgin Diet), and I strongly encourage that you only purchase barnyard-raised eggs, which are richer in vitamin D and other nutrients.
I only buy organic, omega-3 enriched eggs. Everyone knows many egg problems occur with conventional eggs that come from poorly raised chickens. Are these ok on The Virgin Diet?
I do agree these are far healthier than conventional eggs, but in cycle 1, you need to remove all sources of egg. That includes baked goods, chicken dishes in restaurants that contain egg, etc. In cycle 2, you will re-introduce eggs (I will guide you through the process in The Virgin Diet), and I strongly encourage that you only purchase barnyard-raised eggs, which are richer in vitamin D and other nutrients.
What about egg whites?
An egg is an egg, whether you eat the yolk or not. When you re-introduce eggs in cycle 2, I want you to eat the whole egg, not just the white. The yolk is rich in nutrients and good fat.
What about Egg Beaters?
In cycle 1, all sources of eggs must go. In cycle 2, I want you to eat the highest-quality whole eggs, yolk and all.
I have a recipe that calls for just a little bit of egg. A little isn’t going to wreck my progress, right!?
Yes, it will. In cycle 1, all sources of egg must go.
Oh no! I accidentally ate some egg in cycle 1. What now?
You’re going to need to re-challenge egg for 3 weeks to get the full benefits of removing highly reactive foods, so you’ll need to start over with that food. Continue eliminating the other 6 foods, and begin re-challenging eggs the day after you accidentally ate it for a full 3 weeks.
I just re-introduced egg yesterday and many of my symptoms reoccurred. What now?
If you have a reaction during the first 3 days of cycle 2, ditch the eggs and re-challenge them in 90 days.
I re-challenged eggs this week in cycle 2. Everything was good till day 5, when a mild reaction reoccurred. What should I do?
If you have a mild reaction during days 4 – 7 of re-introducing eggs, you can rotate eggs every 4th day. Pay attention to any reactions that might occur when you have eggs on those days.
I re-challenged eggs for a week and had no reactions. Am I okay with having my eggs every morning now?
If you re-challenged eggs in cycle 2 and had no reactions, you can rotate them every 2 – 3 days in your diet. You should never eat the same foods (eggs or otherwise) every day. Remember that frequently eating eggs (and other problem foods) are what created food intolerances to begin with, so you want to be extra cautious not to let that situation reoccur.
I’m a vegetarian or vegan, and soy is my main source of protein. What are some other good protein sources?
Soy can especially become a problem for vegetarians and vegans because they eat it so often, and over time soy becomes a highly reactive food. In cycle 1 of The Virgin Diet, ALL sources of soy must go. I recommend incorporating pea/ rice protein powder into your meals to meet your protein quota. So breakfast and lunch might be The Virgin Diet Shake, while dinner might be vegetables, quinoa, legumes, and berries.
But wait: legumes and quinoa have protein. Why do I need to add protein powder?
Legumes, quinoa, and other starchy carbs provide some protein, but not enough, nor are they complete sources of protein. Pea/ rice protein powder makes meeting your protein quota much easier.
What about fermented soy like tempeh and miso?
Fermented soy is a good source of probiotics and nutrients. In cycle 1, all sources of soy must go, included fermented soy. In cycle 2, you may re-introduce fermented soy. If you have no reactions, you may occasionally add soy to your diet. Remember that soy, like any food, is not something to eat every day or your intolerance can reoccur.
Oh no! I accidentally ate some soy in cycle 1. What now?
You’re going to need to re-challenge soy for 3 weeks to get the full benefits of removing highly reactive foods, so you’ll need to start over with that food. Continue eliminating the other 6 foods, and begin re-challenging soy the day after you accidentally ate it for a full 3 weeks.
I just re-introduced soy yesterday and many of my symptoms reoccurred. What now?
If you have a reaction during the first 3 days of cycle 2, ditch the soy and re-challenge it in 90 days.
I re-challenged soy this week in cycle 2. Everything was good till day 5, when a mild reaction reoccurred. What should I do?
If you have a mild reaction during days 4 – 7 of re-introducing soy, you can rotate soy every 4th day. Pay attention to any reactions that might occur when you have soy on those days.
I re-challenged soy for a week and had no reactions. Am I okay with having soy every day now?
If you re-challenged soy in cycle 2 and had no reactions, you can rotate it every 2 – 3 days in your diet. You should never eat the same foods (soy or otherwise) every day. Remember that frequently eating soy (and other problem foods) are what created food intolerances to begin with, so you want to be extra cautious not to let that situation reoccur.
Oh no! I accidentally ate some gluten in cycle 1. What now?
You’re going to need to re-challenge gluten for 3 weeks to get the full benefits of removing highly reactive foods, so you’ll need to start over with that food. Continue eliminating the other 6 foods, and begin re-challenging gluten the day after you accidentally ate it for a full 3 weeks.
I just re-introduced gluten yesterday and many of my symptoms reoccurred. What now?
If you have a reaction during the first 3 days of cycle 2, ditch the gluten and re-challenge it in 90 days.
I re-challenged gluten this week in cycle 2. Everything was good till day 5, when a mild reaction reoccurred. What should I do?
If you have a mild reaction during days 4 – 7 of re-introducing gluten, you can rotate gluten every 4th day. Pay attention to any reactions that might occur when you have gluten on those days.
I re-challenged gluten for a week and had no reactions. Am I okay with having gluten every day now?
If you re-challenged gluten in cycle 2 and had no reactions, you can rotate it every 2 – 3 days in your diet. You should never eat the same foods (gluten or otherwise) every day. Remember that frequently eating gluten (and other problem foods) are what created food intolerances to begin with, so you want to be extra cautious not to let that situation reoccur.
If it’s grass-fed, can I use butter in cycle 1?
Butter is dairy, which is prohibited in cycle 1. I do encourage you to use grass-fed butter and other dairy in cycle 2 during the dairy challenge.
Instead of regular butter, you can enjoy ghee (clarified butter) ideally from grass-fed cows. Because it has no milk solids, you can have ghee even in Cycle 1.
Oh no! I accidentally ate some dairy in cycle 1. What now?
You’re going to need to re-challenge dairy for 3 weeks to get the full benefits of removing highly reactive foods, so you’ll need to start over with that food. Continue eliminating the other 6 foods, and begin re-challenging dairy the day after you accidentally ate it for a full 3 weeks.
I just re-introduced dairy yesterday and many of my symptoms reoccurred. What now?
If you have a reaction during the first 3 days of cycle 2, ditch the dairy and re-challenge it in 90 days.
I re-challenged dairy this week in cycle 2. Everything was good till day 5, when a mild reaction reoccurred. What should I do?
If you have a mild reaction during days 4 – 7 of re-introducing dairy, you can rotate dairy every 4th day. Pay attention to any reactions that might occur when you have dairy on those days.
I re-challenged dairy for a week and had no reactions. Am I okay with having dairy every day now?
If you re-challenged dairy in cycle 2 and had no reactions, you can rotate it every 2 – 3 days in your diet. You should never eat the same foods (dairy or otherwise) every day. Remember that frequently eating dairy (and other problem foods) are what created food intolerances to begin with, so you want to be extra cautious not to let that situation reoccur.
Oh no! I accidentally ate some corn in cycle 1. What now?
You’re going to need to re-challenge corn for 3 weeks to get the full benefits of removing highly reactive foods, so you’ll need to start over with that food. Continue eliminating the other 6 foods, and begin re-challenging corn the day after you accidentally ate it for a full 3 weeks.
I know movie popcorn drowning in salt and butter is bad. But what about healthy microwave popcorn?
Popcorn has been repositioned as a healthy food for some reason. The microwave kinds usually aren’t, even if they have claims like low sodium, no trans fats, etc. The bag liner of microwave popcorn releases toxins when you pop it, making it especially bad.
What about popcorn? I don’t seem to have a food intolerance to corn, so can I have small amounts of popcorn?
Popcorn is a trigger food that’s incredibly easy to overeat. It’s highly inflammatory and high glycemic. Think about the last time you ate popcorn: I bet you ate more than a cup. I want you to eliminate corn 95% of the time once you’re in cycle 3. After that, if you can mandate portion control, you can have a small amount of healthy popped popcorn.
What about corn tortillas? I thought those were healthy?
If it has corn in the title, it has corn in it. All corn has got to go in cycle 1, and should be missing about 95% of the time elsewhere. Fortunately, there are numerous lateral shifts for corn. For instance, instead of corn tortillas, have rice tortillas. Instead of popcorn, have raw almonds. Instead of corn on the cob, have quinoa or another high-fiber starchy carbs.
But I thought the natural (oil-on-the-top) peanut butter is healthy?
Peanuts are actually legumes, not nuts. They accrue mold easy and can develop a fungus called aflatoxin. Fortunately, peanuts and peanut butter are an easy lateral shift to make. Simply have raw almonds and almond butter, which are more nutrient- and fiber-rich without the potential allergies/ intolerances of peanut butter.
Sugar/ artificial sweeteners
Why do you allow 5 grams of sugar in a serving of food? I thought sugar was bad.
A small amount of sugar, especially naturally occurring sugar, is not going to affect your blood sugar or store as fat. But any more than that and you’re risking raising your blood sugar and all its accompanying problems. Five grams is about a teaspoon, so picture a recipe having no more than a level teaspoon per serving. To put that into perspective: a 20-ounce soda has 16 teaspoons of sugar.
How can I understand a label to see how much sugar I’m getting?
Labels list sugar in grams. A good rule of thumb is that 5 grams is about 1 teaspoon. So if a serving has 18 grams, you can picture getting 4-1/2 teaspoons of sugar. Keep in mind this is per serving, and manufacturers are notorious for keeping portion sizes small to give the illusion of less calories, fat, sugar, etc.
How do I become a sugar sleuth and find hidden sugars in my foods?
Manufacturers craftily disguise sugar in many forms. Some of them sound healthy, and others you’d have no idea they were actually sugar. Don’t believe me? Take a look at these 50 – yes, 50! – alternate names for sugar.
- Barley malt
- Beet sugar
- Brown sugar
- Buttered syrup
- Cane juice crystals
- Cane sugar
- Corn syrup
- Corn syrup solids
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Carob syrup
- Castor sugar
- Date sugar
- Demerara sugar
- Diastatic malt
- Ethyl maltol
- Fruit juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Glucose solids
- Golden sugar
- Golden syrup
- Grape sugar
- High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
- Icing sugar
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
- Muscovado sugar
- Raw sugar
- Refiner’s syrup
- Rice syrup
- Sorghum syrup
- Turbinado sugar
- Yellow sugar
I can’t possibly keep up with that list! Isn’t there an easier way to detect sugar on a label?
Anything ending in –ose is a sure sugar bet. And, of course, if it has “sugar” in the title… well, duh, it’s sugar even if it’s organic or otherwise sounds healthy.
This still confuses me. What’s the best way to avoid added sugars?
Stick with the whole foods diet I recommend in The Virgin Diet Quick Start Guide (www.thevirgindiet.com), with plenty of lean protein, good fats, and leafy green veggies. Most whole foods are low in sugar. There are exceptions like some higher-sugar fruits (which I’ll mention below), but for the most part sticking with a whole foods diet will reduce your sugar intake and eliminate added sugars.
I have a recipe that calls for agave, which my health food store now promotes as the new healthy all-natural sweetener.
Despite the clever marketing, agave is actually worse for you than high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which deservedly has a bad rep. Agave certainly sounds healthy, and the word literally means “noble.” What could be so bad? Well, most agave “nectar” or agave “syrup” is simply fructose syrup. In fact, agave can be up to 97% fructose. Worse, heavy processing destroys most of agave’s nutrient value. True, agave has a low glycemic index, but what it does is far worse than raise insulin levels: it can raise your triglyceride levels, trigger inflammation, and otherwise damage your liver. So don’t fall for the agave hype.
What about honey? My friend told me it has health benefits.
The short answer is that sugar is sugar is sugar. Doesn’t matter if it comes from bees or sugarcane: it still breaks down in your body as sugar. Most honey is heavily processed, stripping it of valuable nutrients. My one exception is locally grown organic raw honey, which offers some homeopathic benefits for allergies. If you have immune responses to bits of mold and dust, organic honey can strengthen your immune system and help you handle those things better. But you only need about a half-teaspoon a day to do the job.
My favorite soft drink just made the switch from high-fructose corn syrup to natural cane sugar. Am I good?
First, soft drinks are out on The Virgin Diet. That said, cane sugar is probably one step up in the sugar echelon than HFCS. But it’s still sugar, period.
I bought a healthy bottle of green tea that’s naturally sweetened. Should I worry about the sugar?
Again, keep in mind that manufacturers are always looking for ways to make sugar “healthier” and get you to buy their product, especially now that HFCS has gotten a bad rep. Read your label. If it has more than 5 grams of sugar per serving, it does not belong in The Virgin Diet. Chances are, it does, and chances are you’ll drink more than one serving.
I’ve read that fruit can have a lot of sugar. I thought fruit was healthy?
I allow 1 – 2 servings of fruit a day on The Virgin Diet. Fruit has a lot going for it: it’s rich in nutrients and fiber, for instance, and can more healthily satisfy your sweet tooth than a candy bar. But fruit can also pack a lot of sugar. Three ounces of grapes, for instance, have almost 3 teaspoons of sugar. (And let’s face it: you’ll probably eat more than that!) Fruit is also high in fructose. Now, your body can efficiently process a small amount (about 15 grams) of fructose a day. More than that and your liver goes into overdrive, which can spark inflammation and stall fast fat loss. Choose low-glycemic fruits like berries. Three ounces of strawberries, for instance, has about 4 grams of sugar. Portion control is key with fruit.
What about dried fruit?
Dried fruit is basically concentrated sugar. There’s a reason, after all, they call raisins and dates “nature’s candy”: they satisfy your sweet tooth. Steer clear of dried fruit on salad and those dried fruit trail mixes: they add a lot of sugar to otherwise-healthy foods!
Why don’t you allow artificial sweeteners? After all, they don’t have any calories.
Surely by now you’ve read about how artificial sweeteners can trigger cravings, make you eat more (and not salmon and broccoli either! We call this calorie dysregulation), and stall fast fat loss. Even though at this point most of the evidence is anecdotal (though more studies are validating it), aspartame and other artificial sweeteners can create numerous symptoms including headaches and fatigue. Hopefully more people are coming around to see these are not “legal” or healthy alternative sweeteners.
So what sweeteners can I use?
I used to like xylitol, but then I learned most xylitol comes not from birch trees (where it once did), but corn (which is a no-no on The Virgin Diet!). I also heard your complaints that too much xylitol created some unpleasant gastric effects. If you can find 100% birch tree-derived xylitol and you don’t have unpleasant side effects using it, go for it. Otherwise, skip the xylitol.
I’m also a fan of erythritol if it’s non-corn derived.
My new favorite sweetener is Natvia, a blend of non-corn based erithrytol and stevia. I love the packets! I just toss a few in my bag and if I’m at Starbucks, I instantly have a healthy sweetener. There is no weird aftertaste or unpleasant side effects like some sweeteners.
If you use stevia, look for a 100% organic pure stevia extract powder (Trader Joe’s makes a good one).
Many brands of stevia and other sweeteners use maltodextrin as a bulking agent, which is derived from corn. Read your labels carefully and avoid maltodextrin.
You can learn lots more about natural alternative sweeteners here.
You recommend Trader Joe’s stevia, but it has milk in it!
There are 2 different kinds of Trader Joe’s stevia. The larger container has milk & you should avoid it. Look for the smaller container (see pictures), which is 100% pure organic stevia. It is vegan & gluten free. FYI: while the larger container might seem like a better buy, the tiny container actually has 622 servings because it is pure stevia with no fillers.
How can I get your companion cookbook for The Virgin Diet?
The cookbook is exclusive to PBS & you can get it w/ the link below in the Feel Better Fast Master Plan. Also, The Virgin Diet book has some recipes. And stay tuned for The Virgin Diet Coach in January for lots of original recipes!
Diabetes and The Virgin Diet
Is The Virgin Diet safe for people with blood sugar issues or diabetes?
It is not only safe, it is essential for managing optimal blood sugar levels, which applies to people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Nixing the sugar and processed foods, along with plenty of protein, good fats, and high-fiber foods, help balance your blood sugar and insulin levels. I’ve even had clients on The Virgin Diet whose doctors pulled them off their diabetes medications! (Note: never go off any medications on your own, and be sure to discuss any dietary changes with your physician.)
I ordered my book from you last week but have yet to receive it so I have no idea what this email is about or your diet.
The book comes out November 27. If you ordered it via the pre-order, you should receive it about a week after that (depending on the mail, over which we have no control). If you ordered it through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, or another online vendor, it should arrive about the same time.
The Virgin Diet Challenge
Do I have to have the book to do the Challenge? Or is it a complete program?
You need to read The Virgin Diet to get the most out of the Challenge, which is based on the book. If you have not ordered the book yet, you can learn how to order and get additional free training here at www.thevirgindiet.com.