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Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of improvements did you make to your new plant-based shake?

We’re thrilled to announce a new, improved plant-based All-in-One Shake, with the same great taste you’ve grown to love but with a better nutrient profile. Among those changes include:

  • Added sugars removed (now only 1 gram of sugar per serving!)
  • Erythritol added
  • Xanthan Gum removed
  • New and improved flavor profiles
  • Environmentally friendly packaging
  • Sources for the following minerals changed:

Zinc (Zinc Citrate)
Copper (Copper Gluconate)
Manganese (Manganese Sulfate)
Chromium (Chromium Picolinate)
Molybdenum (Sodium Molybdenum)

What is the amino acid profile of HydroBeef and how does it compare with other protein powders?

Here is a breakdown that compares the amino acids in HydroBeef with three other popular proteins.

Amino Acid Pea Protein(per 100g) Rice Protein (per 100g) Whey Protein Concentrate (per 100g) HydroBeef (per 100g)
Alanine 2.66 4.78 3.5 9.1
Arginine 6.01 6.78 2.3 7.5
Aspartic Acid 7.79 7.23 8.4 6.1
Cystine 0.62 1.82 1.7 0.1
Glycine 2.68 3.60 1.4 21.2
Glutamic Acid 11.56 14.50 13.3 10.7
Histidine 1.79 1.77 1.6 1.0
Isoleucine (BCAA) 2.97 3.61 4.6 1.8
Leucine (BCAA) 5.51 6.84 8.8 3.8
Lysine 5.53 2.58 7.5 3.9
Methionine 0.62 2.40 1.6 0.9
Phenylalanine 3.46 4.58 2.6 2.5
Proline 3.52 3.92 6.6 11.3
Serine 3.44 4.02 4.6 3.3
Threonine 2.23 2.96 4.5 2.1
Tryptophan 0.50 1.10 1.3 0.2
Tyrosine 2.48 4.53 2.3 1.4
Valine (BCAA) 3.37 4.72 4.4 3.0

Dark chocolate

So thrilled I can eat chocolate on this diet! Do you recommend any specific brands?

You’re going to love me for this: I want you to eat chocolate every day. Even in Cycle 2, as long as it’s 100% dark chocolate with no added sugar. Yes, feel free to do the happy dance! Dark chocolate is another sweet way to satisfy your cravings and support your blood sugar.

To save you the hunt and the trouble of trying lots of brands that don’t measure up, I’m going to give a shout out to two brands I’ve found that are making 100% dark chocolate with no sugar. It’s been tough searching and taste testing for you (cough), but at long last I can suggest these amazing options. If you’re in the United States, check out ChocolaTree Organic Oasis, and if you’re in Canada, you have Aracana Soba chocolate. Both of these have no sugar whatsoever, and eating them is sort of like eating raw cacao, which I do every day. Otherwise, opt for a high-cacao brand with 5 grams or less of added sugar. Portion control here!

Green Balance

How does Green Balance compare with [other green powder brand]?

We use Green Balance because its manufacturer, Designs for Health, provides superior products that are regarded as the gold standard within the healthcare industry. We feel confident Green Balance contains the highest amount of mostly organic, absorbable greens of any product and it tastes great.

Are all of the veggies in Green Balance grown in the U.S.? Is the rice flour from the U.S.?

Yes and yes.

Where does the inulin come from in Green Balance?

The inulin is derived from chicory root.

Is Green Balance gluten free? I see that it contains wheat grass.

All of Designs for Health’s products are tested to be free of gluten. As the link states, Pure wheat grass and barley grass (just the grass, with absolutely no seeds) do not contain gluten. There is no cross-contamination between our raw materials.

The Virgin Diet Shake vs. The Virgin Diet Plant-Based Shake

What’s the difference between The Virgin Diet Shake and The Virgin Diet Plant-Based Shake?

The main difference is its protein source. Each serving of The Virgin Diet Shake contains 20 grams of high-quality defatted-beef protein and comes in chocolate or vanilla flavors. You can get a specific nutrient profile here, but it contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and juice powders in a great-tasting, easy-to-mix formula. The Virgin Diet Plant-Based Shake is our original formula contains 22 grams of a proprietary blend of pea, chia, and chlorella proteins along with nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, enzymes, and a proprietary fruit/ veggie formula. It comes in chocolate, vanilla, or chia and has the same great taste you’ve grown to love.

Why did you opt for the new formula as well as the plant-based shakes?

Some folks asked for another alternative to the plant-based shakes. A few wanted the benefits of animal-derived protein, while others didn’t like the texture of plant-based protein. I finally found a dairy-free animal-based protein powder that tastes amazing and gets The Virgin Diet stamp of approval. Derived from defatted beef from animals raised in Sweden without hormones or antibiotics, The Virgin Diet Shake delivers 20 grams of dairy-free, GMO-free, high-quality protein per serving. Its exclusive proprietary process allows the protein to be hydrolyzed into more peptides, resulting in easier absorption and assimilation. But the taste really won me over. The Virgin Diet Shake has a rich, creamy texture like whey but without dairy’s reactivity. Tasting is believing, and I know you’re going to love The Virgin Diet Shake.

The new shakes have “natural flavors.” What are those?

The actual ingredients in the natural flavors include tapioca starch, gum Arabic, sunflower oil, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), and tocopherols (vitamin E). The chocolate flavor also contains salt and glycerine.

Macronutrient Ratios

Can you tell me approximately how many carbs, proteins, fat, and calories I should eat?

On The Virgin Diet, we don’t count calories or anything else. Life is too short! Instead, I’ve devised a ratio for The Virgin Diet Plate. All of your meals and shakes should focus on the following:

  • Fill about ¼ of your plate with clean lean protein.
  • Fill another ¼ with healthy fats. Keep in mind most animal protein also contains good fat. Vegetarians and vegans should focus on avocado, coconut, olive oil, and nuts and seeds.
  • Fill about 2/3 of your plate with non-starchy leafy and cruciferous vegetables.
  • High-fiber, low-sugar impact foods should fill the rest of your plate.

For The Virgin Diet Shake, this might be:

  • The Virgin Diet All-in-One-Powder (protein)
  • Unsweetened coconut or almond milk and avocado (fat)
  • Kale or other leafy greens (high-fiber veggies)
  • Frozen raspberries (high-fiber, low-sugar impact foods)

Prop 65

What is Proposition 65? Proposition 65 was introduced in 1986 and requires companies to give clear warning if their product exposes an individual in the state of California to any detectable amount of more than 800 listed chemicals and chemical families known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. Many of these chemicals are naturally occurring at some level in all food products, and thus nutritional supplements derived from food products. If this is the case, your product will say the following: Warning:  The state of California requires that we alert you that this product contains a substance known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Why Do Your Products Have Warning Labels? The reason some of our products contain this warning is due to the presence of lead above .5 mcg per daily dose/serving. Our chai and vanilla All-in-One plant-based shakes have up to 1 mcg lead, whereas our chocolate contains about 2 mcg lead per serving   Should I Be Concerned? The Proposition 65 level of lead for dietary supplements is .5 mcg (vs. the FDA’s current safety level for daily lead intake of 25 mcg for pregnant women), while a serving of boiled shrimp can contain over 23 mcg of lead, and thus be 56 times higher than the allowable limit. In this example a grocer selling boiled shrimp is in violation of California law, if sold without a warning of lead exposure. To put this into perspective, take a look at lead amounts in these foods: lead_in-food[1]   The FDA’s Recommended Safe and Tolerable Daily Lead intake for adults is 75 mcg. This is 150 times the amount that requires a Prop 65 warning, and yet it is considered safe by the U.S. FDA. Lead is everywhere in our environment and it is impossible to avoid it in many natural, plant-based ingredients. That’s because lead is found in the soil where plants are grown, and therefore, it is present in virtually all plant-based foods.                     Does a Prop 65 Warning Mean Products are Unsafe? No. As the State of California’s own Prop 65 website states, “A Proposition 65 warning does not necessarily mean a product is in violation of any product-safety standards or requirements.”

Distance Running

I’m a distance runner and need some tips about what kind of fuel to have before and after my workout that is compliant with The Virgin Diet.

I’ve blogged about endurance running and why it’s not ideal exercise. I did a follow-up about how science supports burst training as the optimal workout. And I wrote a blog that details what you should eat before and after your workout. Lots of helpful info there!


I’m a bit concerned about your recommendations to take a multivitamin after recent studies show taking one could create more harm than good.

You may have heard about the recent study that showed a multi – particularly the vitamin E and beta-carotene in multis – offers no benefit and could even potentially harm you.
Many such studies are either flawed and / or the media egregiously misinterpret them. Here is Dr. Stephen Sinatra’s take on past beta-carotene studies.
Ideally, you would get beta-carotene and other carotenoids from colorful produce. Likewise, vitamin E is rich in leafy greens as well as nuts and seeds. But numerous problems, including that we don’t always eat the healthiest diet, make getting these and other nutrients difficult.
That’s where a multi can help to cover your nutrient bases. Now, I’ll be the first to admit most over-the-counter multis CAN be harmful. You want to choose the highest-quality brand: Ideally, one that offers vitamin A as mixed carotenoids (not just beta carotene) with palmitate. Likewise, looked for a multi with vitamin D as mixed tocopherols, not just alpha tocopherol.
Interestingly, I read reports this morning that a multi could potentially protect you against cancer as well as cataracts in men.
In short: Quality matters. Most of these studies that condemn multis use cheap, one-a-day multis that don’t absorb well, don’t contain an optimal ratio of nutrients, and provide inferior forms of these nutrients.

Buying Products Outside the USA

Can you recommend a good protein powder and supplement line for folks like me who live outside the USA?

We sincerely regret not being able to ship shakes and supplements outside the United States. Regulations prevent us from doing so. For supplements, we recommend looking for a professional brand guaranteed free of soy, gluten, and the other forbidden foods. This may require you speak with a healthcare professional and purchase a professionals-only line. As for shakes, look for a non-soy plant-based shake with a combination of pea, rice, chlorella, potato, and other types of protein. Most likely, pea or pea/ rice will be your most available option. It should adhere to The Virgin Diet rules: no more than 5 grams of added sugar per serving and none of the 7 highly reactive foods. A good rule of thumb: The fewer ingredients, the better it will be. From The Virgin Diet, things to look for in a shake include:

  • ƒ No artificial sweeteners
  • ƒ 5 grams or less of sugar
  • ƒ No whey, dairy, milk solids, egg or soy (Soy lecithin is okay.)
  • ƒ No maltodextrin
  • ƒ 5 grams or more of fiber
  • ƒ pea, rice and/or hemp protein (See the Resources section on my website.)
  • ƒ Sugar alcohols (Stevia is acceptable.)

Doing The Virgin Diet without Shakes

I’m just not a shake person. I would rather stick with whole foods. So what should I do about breakfast?

I am a big proponent of using high-quality meal-replacement shakes to replace 1 or 2 meals per day. The research is clear that people who do this lose more weight and keep it off. I like shakes because they make it easy to get in a great balanced breakfast, and I find that this is the meal that most people struggle with, either because they just aren’t hungry, they don’t have “time” (make time, please!), or they are used to eating dessert for breakfast. A shake solves all of these problems and removes the opportunities for bad decisions that can also take you down. For all of these reasons, the Virgin Diet Shake is a critical part of the program. But if you just can’t do a shake, then you can have lunch or dinner for breakfast. Yep, that’s right. It may seem strange the first day or two, and then it will be your new normal.

Bulletproof Coffee

How does Bulletproof Coffee work with The Virgin Diet?

If you’ve seen my video with Dave Asprey, you know my love of Bulletproof Coffee. (If not, click on the link to see what all the hype is about!) Bulletproof Coffee is a blend of their signature coffee with MCT oil and grass-fed butter. If you’re doing cycles 1 or 2 of The Virgin Diet, you’ll want to substitute ghee for butter. Once you’re in cycle 3, most folks do fine with Kerrygold or other grass-fed (not conventional) butter. A little bit of casein (which causes most dairy intolerances) exists in butter, so if you’re dairy intolerant or otherwise want to avoid dairy, stick with ghee in cycle 3.

 Can Bulletproof Coffee replace one of my morning protein shakes?

No. If you are doing The Virgin Diet, you will want to eat a protein-rich breakfast within an hour of waking up, and an All-in-One shake makes an ideal way to get that protein-rich breakfast.

The Virgin Diet Cookbook

What about dates and figs? You didn’t include those in the fruits section of the cookbook.

Dates, figs, and raisins would fall into the high-sugar fruits category: They are basically concentrated sugar (“nature’s candy”) and would be off-limits on cycle 1. What’s the deal with nitrates and why do so many foods in the cookbook have them? Like saturated fat or cholesterol, nitrites and nitrates get unfairly lumped into the “bad” category. Here’s the deal: All plant foods have nitrates and nitrites in them. In fact, plant-based foods have much higher quantities than processed meats. Kale, spinach, you name it… If it comes from the ground, the soil required nitrogen to grow it, and that food is going to contain nitrates and nitrites. According to Chris Kresser: It may surprise you to learn that the vast majority of nitrate/nitrite exposure comes not from food, but from endogenous sources within the body. In fact, nitrites are produced by your own body in greater amounts than can be obtained from food, and salivary nitrite accounts for 70-90% of our total nitrite exposure. In other words, your spit contains far more nitrites than anything you could ever eat. When it comes to food, vegetables are the primary source of nitrites. On average, about 93% of nitrites we get from food come from vegetables. According to one source, arugula has 4,677 ppm of nitrates, whereas a processed meat has an average of 10 ppm of nitrates. Put that into perspective. What’s all the hype surrounding nitrates? Well, in the 1970s a study found that 13 rats had developed lympathic cancer due to high nitrate consumption. The preliminary research for this study was never peer-reviewed, and researchers later determined “fatal flaws” in the study, but the FDA and the USDA freaked out and decided to issue a warning about nitrates. More recent research actually found nitrites and nitrates were actually beneficial for your immune system, to potentially treat hypertension, and to reduce your risk of heart attacks. When I encourage you to buy nitrate-free bacon, I’m doing so because it generally tends to be higher quality than the cheap-o nitrate-filled stuff. There is absolutely no need to worry about nitrates and nitrites in vegetables and other plant-based foods.

I’ve read eating too many raw vegetables can create a problem due to their high oxalates content, so why do you recommend so many?

According to Dr. Jonny Bowden in his book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: Swiss chard- like spinach, beets, rhubarb, and some other foods – does contain oxalates, which are not a concern for most people, but may be for those who have one type of kidney stones [calcium oxalate kidney stones]. Let me repeat that this is not a problem for 99 percent of people.

Your Not So Cheese Sauce recipe contains nutritional yeast.  Nutritional yeast is a neurotoxin that produces the same effects on the human body as MSG.

Some of you have expressed concerned about nutritional yeast becoming a potential neurotoxin. Nutritional yeast doesn’t have any added monosodium glutamate (MSG). However, yeast does contain a certain amount of free glutamic acid, a naturally occurring amino acid in yeast cells as well as protein powder, veggies, and meats. Naturally occurring glutamic acid dramatically differs from added MSG. Simply put: The amount of nutritional yeast in my cheese recipe will not be a problem for most people.

The Virgin Diet Toolkit

How is The Virgin Diet Toolkit different from The Virgin Diet Challenge?

 Last year I surveyed The Virgin Diet Challenge owners and asked them what they loved about the Challenge and if there were any other support materials and “tools” they would love to have to continue to support their success.
The Virgin Diet Toolkit is the result of this survey. As a result, nearly everything in the Toolkit is either new or upgraded, including an audio tour, multiple guide books, a fitness manual, and my fitness DVDs. I’m going to show you everything you need to know, step-by-step, beginning with a simple cheat sheet. You can learn lots more about the Toolkit in this new video.

Tree Nut Allergies

Several of your recipes call for nuts, but I have a tree nut allergies. Any recommendations for substitutions?

Seeds make a smart alternative to nuts if you have a tree nut allergy. You’ll find this blog about tree nut allergy alternatives very helpful. I have a tree nut allergy and can’t use coconut or almond milk. Any other recommendations? Most specialists agree coconut – which is actually a fruit, though it gets classified as a tree nut – is usually okay for people with tree nut allergies. I found this information very helpful to understand more about coconut milk and tree nut allergies. Remember that everyone reacts differently, so always confer with your allergist if you have any concerns.

Hair Loss

Help! Ever since I started The Virgin Diet I’ve found more hair in the bathtub drain. Any tips here?

There are many reasons for hair loss in women and determining the root cause is important.

 Dr. Sara Gottfried, the author of The Hormone Cure states there are several main reasons this can happen:
1. Low iron/ferritin in the body
2. Low or borderline thyroid function
3. Dramatic changes in hormone levels, i.e. post-partum, menopause
4. Insulin Resistance
5. Genetics
6. Autoimmune issues
Also, if you are someone who consumed lots of soy and then eliminated it to do The Virgin Diet: this could lower your estrogen levels.
A supplement called Femenessence, a special form of Maca, could be used in this case.

Check with your MD regarding your iron/ferritin levels, ask for a complete thyroid panel, and aim to have your fasting blood sugar at 87 or below.

The Virgin Diet for kids

I have an 11-year-old who needs to lose weight. I’m doing The Virgin Diet. Would it also work for her?

With some minor modifications, your child can do The Virgin Diet. Elimination diets have long been used with children for weight control and other issues, and are completely safe. Always talk with your pediatrician before beginning any program.

Coconut milk

I drank coconut milk recently and had awful stomach cramps. Is that normal?

Too much coconut milk at once can potentially cause stomach upset, especially if you are using canned (full or reduced fat) coconut milk. Make sure you are properly watering it down. It may take time to build a tolerance, and for a very small number of people, coconut milk might not settle well. For those people, I would recommend unsweetened almond or cashew milks.

The Virgin Diet Bars

I’m incredibly sensitive to caffeine. How much caffeine do these bars have? Based on the ingredients that are in the bar, we would estimate that the caffeine levels are as follow:

  • Cinnamon Cashew Crunch bar has approximately 0.67712 mg/bar (Coming from the cacao nibs)
  • Dark Chocolate Cherry bar has approximately 4.14736 mg/bar (Coming from the chocolate chips)

To give you a frame of reference, there are around 95 mg of caffeine in an 8oz cup of coffee. Are these bars non-GMO? Yes. Our manufacturer verified both bars only contain non-GMO ingredients. Which ingredients in the bars are organic? We spoke to our manufacturer, and they verified the following ingredients are organic:

  •    Organic Cashew Butter
  •    Organic Vegetable Glycerin
  •    Organic Rice Protein
  •    Organic Chia Seeds
  •    Organic Cacao Nibs
  •    Organic Chocolate Chips
  • ·  We have upgraded our Vanilla Extract so that it is now Organic.

Why so much iron in the bars? The Virgin Diet bars have 7.2 – 8.1 mg of iron in each bar. That might initially sound like a lot (40 – 45% of your RDI), but put it into perspective. One cup of lentils, for instance, contain 6.6 mg of iron. Further, the iron in The Virgin Diet Bars is non-heme iron, which is not as well absorbed as heme iron. Simply put: iron in The Virgin Diet Bars should not be a problem for most people. I noticed my bars expire in just 6 months. Why the short shelf life? The Virgin Diet Bar is made with fresh ingredients and no fractionated oils or other preservatives. You’ll notice our ingredients list is very “clean,” unlike most bars with artificial sweeteners and preservatives that have a shelf life of years. You say no snacking and yet these are snack bars. How can I eat these bars “responsibly”? I never say no snacking, but rather to do your meals right and then snack only when you need to. The Virgin Diet Bars are designed for a healthy occasional snack, an emergency food, or when you want something satisfying for dessert without all the added sugar. Both the Dark Chocolate Cherry and Cinnamon Cashew Crunch bars are good for any cycle of The Virgin Diet. These bars are dose dependent, and too much healthy food becomes unhealthy. Enjoy responsibly! If you are using the bars for snacking, you may only need half a bar. For a mini-meal or emergency food (say, when you’re stranded at the airport), you can have a whole bar if you need it. What’s up with all the fat in these bars? Most of The Virgin Diet Bar’s fat comes from organic cashew butter, which is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Walnuts and organic chia seeds also provide anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. These fats are satiating, healthy, and give the bars a rich, satisfying taste. I just had my first Virgin Diet bar and got crumbs all over the place. Why so crumbly? Coating a bar holds it together and prevents crumbling. We opted not to coat our bars since most coatings are made from dairy, soy, and/or fractionated oils. Try storing the bars in your fridge to reduce crumbliness. I noticed the bars contain honey, and sugar is listed in the ingredients. I thought The Virgin Diet was a no-sugar diet? I wrote a blog explaining why The Virgin Diet is low-glycemic, not a no-sugar diet. You are allowed up to 5 grams of sugar per serving. I have kept The Virgin Diet Bars very low sugar to meet my 5-grams-or-less criteria. The fiber in these bars also helps buffer out the trivial amounts of added sugar. Are your bars non-GMO? Yes. The rice, soy lecithin, and other ingredients are not genetically modified (GMO). Why does your Dark Chocolate Cherry bar have soy in it?  Soy lecithin works as an emulsifier for the Dark Chocolate Cherry bar, 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. Soy lecithin also helps stabilize these bars and make them consistent. Typically the protein component of soy creates problems. Because soy lecithin is a fat, it does not typically create those problems, and the non-GMO soy lecithin in these bars do not typically create reactions. Why does it say your bars may have traces of soy, dairy, gluten, and other reactive ingredients? The Virgin Diet Bars are completely free of gluten, soy (other than soy lecithin), dairy, egg, peanuts, and artificial sweeteners. The plant that manufacturers these bars also processes foods that contain soy, dairy, and gluten, so they must add this disclaimer to the wrapper. The manufacturer thoroughly cleans their machines between each run to prevent cross-contamination. Rest assured these are the highest-quality bars you can purchase from an ethically minded manufacturer.


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 Lecithin

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. Any product we sell 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. 

Xanthan Gum

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. Manufacturers create xanthan gum from a bacterial fermentation process. Corn might be a substrate for this fermentation process, but xanthan gum itself comes from the Xanthomonas campestris bacteria and is therefore totally fine for The Virgin Diet.

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.

We have been getting questions on the difference between Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy,  the 5 Step Plan for Sleek, Strong and Sculpted Arms and The Virgin Diet:  Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days.
The Virgin Diet is about uncovering your hidden food intolerances so that you can finally lose the weight and feel better fast.  The first cycle of The Virgin Diet has you pull the 7 foods most likely to be causing food intolerance and swap them for better, less reactive options. In Cycle 2 you then rechallenge these foods to see which work for you and which don’t so that you can customize a diet to your personal chemistry lab that will help you manage your weight and have great health for the long haul. In Cycle 3, I address the factors that really support long term health and weight management including stress management, high quality sleep and the right exercise.
This is where SWSS comes in.  You have already figured out the right foods for you so make those adjustments accordingly to the foods and meal plan recommendations in Chapters 2 & 3.  Chapters 4 & 5 will help you dial in the exercise with of course special emphasis on your arms.  If you are looking to get rid of your arm angst and create gun show worthy arms, SWSS is the book that picks up where TVD leaves off to help you bare your arms with pride.

Endurance Athletes

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.
That said, if you insist on doing long-distance running or other endurance training, we suggest utilizing slow-release carbs like berries and other low-glycemic fruit, legumes, sweet potatoes, and replenish electrolytes with coconut water. We also suggest increasing your good fats, especially coconut oil and coconut milk, but also avocado, nuts and seeds, and omega 3s including wild-caught fish.
Finally, we encourage that you read Dr. Loren Cordain’s The Paleo Diet for Athletes.

Nutritional Yeast

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. Pros:

  • Source of 18 amino acids
  • Offers 15 minerals including chromium and selenium
  • Folate and B12
  • Protein
  • Fiber as beta-glucans – studies show beta-glucans can benefit immunity, appetite, and diabetes
  • Glutathione
  • 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 sleep support nutrients including melatonin and herbal-blend formulas.


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.


What about coconut sugar?

While coconut sugar does contain some nutrients and fiber, my main concern is its high fructose content. As I explained in The Virgin Diet, only your liver cells metabolize fructose. So while fructose doesn’t raise blood sugar like glucose, what it actually does is far worse: besides increasing liver inflammation, fructose ultimately gets repackaged as fat, which stores nicely along your midsection. Coconut sugar also has about the same amount of calories as table sugar. Bottom line: skip the coconut sugar.

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:

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. Some suggestions:

  • Remifemin
  • 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.

Veggie Burgers

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.

Challenging foods in Cycle 2

Does it matter what food I challenge in cycle 2 of The Virgin Diet?

No. I ask you to challenge dairy, gluten, eggs, and soy in cycle 2, and it does not matter which order you challenge them as long as you’re only doing one food each week for the four weeks and following the rules for challenging.

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.
In general, if you were to stick with the Virgin Diet for the rest of your life I believe your health would be better. There is nothing nutrient wise that you will miss by cutting these foods out and the diet was created to make maintaining a healthy body composition easy so that dieting no longer is your hobby.

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?

Don’t skip cycle 2!  Cycle 2 (re-introducing foods) is just as important as cycle 1. Here’s why:
  • 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 (joyce@jjvirgin.com). If possible, include a before and after picture with your story.

The Virgin Diet All-in-One Shakes

Is the pea protein in your shakes hydrolyzed?

We spoke to our manufacturer about this, and here is their answer: The pea protein is not hydrolyzed. Much of this glutamate hysteria comes from the idea that foods such as whey protein contain free glutamate, an amino acid that has been labeled as an excitotoxin and is believed by some to be connected to a number of neurologically-related symptoms and conditions.  However, contrary to these assertions, there is a disturbing lack of credible evidence to show that dietary glutamine or glutamate causes these problems. Glutamate is an essential neurotransmitter; without it we would not be able to function. What is found in protein powders like the All-In-One shake and others is glutamine in the form of glutamic acid (glutamate) or bound to other amino acids or peptides. As the protein is broken down through the process of digestion some free glutamate may react with other elements in the intestines, including sodium. However, this is a reaction that can occur with ALL proteins – not just protein powders. There is no danger whatsoever in ingesting this or any other source of protein.

I’m having a lot of gas and bloating with my All-in-One Shake. How can I reduce those problems?

Nearly everyone struggling with gas, bloating, and other post-shake issues can benefit from taking Hydrolyzyme™ from Designs for Health. That’s because Hydrolyzyme™ is a proprietary blend of protease enzymes that helps support efficient digestion and absorption of protein supplements consumed as a shake or liquid meal, since liquid protein supplements pass through the stomach more quickly than solid meals. You can buy it here. If you do the math, you might also be getting a lot of fiber in your Virgin Diet All-in-One Shake. For example, let’s say you do the following shake:

  •  2 scoops All-in-One Powder – 6 grams fiber
  • 1 cup raspberries – 8 grams fiber
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground flax seeds – 4 grams fiber
  • ½ avocado – 5 grams fiber
  • 1 cup coconut milk – 1 gram fiber

That’s a whopping 24 grams of fiber in one shake! I want you to get about 50 grams of fiber in your diet daily, but you need to gradually work up to that amount. You don’t want to start at 50 grams or you may experience gas, bloating, cramping, and other very unpleasant issues. If you’re doing The Virgin Diet Shake and struggling with any post-shake misery, reduce your fiber. So you might do this shake:

  • 2 scoops All-in-One Powder – 6 grams fiber
  • ½ cup raspberries – 4 grams fiber
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground flax seeds – 2 grams fiber
  • 1 cup coconut milk – 1 gram fiber

With that, you’ve knocked it down to 13 grams of fiber. If you’re a fiber novice, even that much might cause issues. If that’s the case, you’ll want to reduce fiber intake even more. Once you’ve found your “comfort zone” – no post-shake gas, bloating, or other unpleasantness – gradually increase the fiber a few grams at a time. If you start to experience those symptoms again, reduce and then gradually re-introduce fiber into your shake. Ultimately, you want to figure out what works for you to make a delicious, fat-burning shake that keeps you full and focused for hours.

I live outside America, and cannot get your shakes. What do you think about [particular shake brand]?

We can’t recommend particular brands, but we can suggest to apply The Virgin Diet rules to whatever shake brand you are considering. Some things to look for in your shake include:

  • 20 – 25 grams of plant-based (but not soy) proteinƒ
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • ƒ 5 grams or less of sugar
  • ƒ No whey, dairy, milk solids, egg or soy (Soy lecithin is okay.)
  • ƒ No maltodextrin
  • ƒ 5 grams or more of fiber
  • ƒ pea, rice and/or hemp protein (See the Resources section on my website.)
  • ƒ Sugar alcohols (Stevia is acceptable.)

What’s up with the improved shakes? I noticed they now have chia instead of potato protein, and it has a very different taste.

We continue to try and provide the best product available. The change in taste that you may be noticing is likely because of the 1 gram reduction in sugar. We continue to build the best Virgin Diet All-In-One shake product possible for you. Regretfully, it’s hard to please everyone. We continue to improve and we believe this is the best product overall for everyone. We apologize that this has been upsetting to some.

Are The Virgin Diet All-in-One Shakes acceptable for all cycles of The Virgin Diet?

Yes. You can use the shakes in cycles 1, 2, and 3.

Why do you use pea protein in the shakes? I thought they contain lectins and phytates, which you discourage in The Virgin Diet.

The plant-based shake does contain pea protein.  We combine a plant-based protein blend with a mix of whole fruits and vegetables as well as multiple vegetable fiber sources. All these components can definitely work together to influence the palatability issues associated with an all-pea protein shake.  The All-In-One shake contains a small amount of digestive enzymes and probiotics that may supply just enough support to minimize that bloating feeling you get from other pea protein powders. As far as the lectins and phytates, pea protein isolates (which is what we use) tend to have lower phytate and oligosaccharide content. If you still struggle with digestive issues, we highly recommend Hydrolyzme, our new digestive enzyme that helps reduce or eliminate digestive issues associated with protein shakes.

I can’t do nightshade vegetables. Will the All-in-One Shakes be a problem?

Even though our shakes go through a rigorous purification process, we cannot guarantee them to be 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.

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?

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 your 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?

The Virgin Diet Plant-Based 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. 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. Our manufacturer confirms 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 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?

Pea protein is naturally high in sodium, an essential nutrient that among other roles regulates your blood volume, blood pressure, and pH levels. Your body requires at least 500 mg of sodium a day to survive and the RDI is 2400 mg. The Virgin Diet All in One Shake has 220 mg of sodium, which is less than 10% of the RDI.
Sodium only really becomes a problem when you consume it as sodium chloride, also known as table salt. About 90% of the excess sodium consumption that leads to hypertension comes from the salt shaker and processed foods. Consuming pea protein and other sources of naturally occurring sodium very rarely causes a problem and should not be a cause for concern.


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.

Bad Breath

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?

I no longer see private clients, but I have the next best thing. My two highly qualified wellness coaches, Jason Boehm and Patsy Wallace, both have advanced degrees in nutrition, extensive clinical experience, and have worked closely with me and share my philosophy. You can learn more about them and set up an appointment with either of them here.


Most of the supplements I find in stores contain soy. What line do you recommend?

We proudly carry the Designs for Health brand of supplements, which you can purchase at our online store. Designs for Health 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 non-GMO soy lecithin is 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 Essentials Packets to cover the basics. Every packet has a high-potency multivitamin/ multi mineral and essential fatty acids. Just toss a packet in your purse or bag and you’re good to go. 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

What’s up with the canola oil in these meals? I thought you said in The Virgin Diet you shouldn’t heat canola oil.

I am not a fan of canola oil and of course you don’t have to agree. Most of my friends are health experts and we have loads we don’t agree on!  I don’t see it as an absolute no however – especially if you are doing organic, cold pressed (rather than GMO, refined, rancid etc..) So all of the info on canola oil says that it can be heated – the temps vary from 375-475 as allowable.  I still prefer that it isn’t due to the Omega 3’s but the science says otherwise.  Not all of the meals have canola oil in them, only some do but this was the best I could find for frozen alternatives for those on the program and this took a lot of effort to create with Artisan Bistro, I have tried with a few other companies and it has been a major no go! So while I would prefer not using canola at all, I have revised my recommendation on heating it but once a book is published you can’t change it. Update. We received the following from Artisan Bistro:

I understand that you have a concern with heating canola oil. According to industry studies we are currently heating the our non GMO canola oil within the acceptable heating or boiling ranges. Even though we use Non GMO ingredients we have listened to our consumers and will be phasing out canola oil in our Artisan Bistro Pro recipes by this late fall/ early winter 2013.
I hope this helps reassure your customers that we are always working to make our Artisan Bistro Pro products better every day.

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:

  1. Eat every 4 hours. This might mean you have 4 (as opposed to 3) meals every day.
  2. 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.
  3. Also step up your lean protein, good fats (such as avocado and coconut), and starchy carbs at your meals.
  4. 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?  

Your mileage will certainly vary here. I have had clients lose 12 pounds their first week, while many people lose 2 – 3 pounds their first week. Note that I said up to 7 pounds. Don’t let the number on your scale rule your life. Do you feel better? Have more energy? Do your clothes fit better? Perhaps you are adding muscle and losing fat, which will affect your weight. Stick with it, give it 100%, and you will meet your goal.

Help, I can’t lose weight.  

My area of specialty is weight loss resistance. I stumbled upon this phenomenon early in my career when I discovered that frequently my clients weren’t losing weight by eating a “healthy” low calorie diet and exercising more.  I knew they weren’t cheating. In fact, these clients were usually more dedicated and disciplined than the rest, so I set out to uncover what could be causing this.
Over the years I discovered several key factors that can be causing this weight loss resistance as well as weight gain. I wrote and taught a course, “Overcoming Weight Loss Resistance” to thousands of doctors and health care practitioners.  I am dedicated to getting this message out and restoring both hope and health in my weight loss resistant clients.
What is key to understand here is that if you have one or more of these factors, you must heal it in order for your body to be able to release weight effectively.
These factors include:
  • 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
  • Candida
  • Genetics (please note this doesn’t mean you are doomed)
  • Toxicity
We have created an assessment to help you pinpoint if some of these are your issues. I have found the best starting point is the Virgin Diet all the way through Cycle 3 so you are incorporating stress, sleep and the right exercise.  If you aren’t reaching your ideal body composition following this then my recommendation is to get evaluated and work with an integrative health care professional.  My Virgin Diet Coaches are trained in weight loss resistance, you can learn more here. Stay tuned for a listing of integrative health care professionals. There is also a great book on the subject by my friend Dr. Pamela Whartian Smith entitled Why Can’t I Lose Weight?.
P.S. It goes without saying that you are following The Virgin Diet cycle 1 100%, including the recommended serving sizes and water intake.

I need to get into gear quickly for beach season. Any tips to step things up safely for fast fat loss?

There are a number of things you can do to accelerate fat loss safely and effectively. They include:

  • Stay in cycle 1 until you’re within 5 pounds of your goal weight. I still want you to challenge the 4 foods in cycle 2, however.
  • Substitute The Virgin Diet All-in-One Shake for 2 meals a day.
  • Limit fruit to 1 cup of berries/ cherries a day.
  • Eliminate fruit altogether until you’re near your goal weight.
  • Limit starchy carbs to 1 serving per meal.
  • Drink half your weight in water ounces.
  • Increase your fiber gradually until you reach 50 grams a day from high-fiber foods and Extra Fiber.
  • About 30 – 60 minutes before meals, add a scoop of Extra Fiber to a tall glass of water. You’ll likely find you eat less at meals.
  • Get 7 – 9 hours of high-quality sleep.
  • Do my free 4 x 4 Workout 3 times a week.
  • Control stress levels. Remember that stress elevates your hormone cortisol, which breaks down muscle and stores fat.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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.org for more info.

I’ve heard that red palm fruit oil is not environmentally sustainable. So why are you recommending it?

The evidence shows otherwise. I encourage you to check out this site.

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.

Starchy Carbs

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.

If you’re doing sushi, look for brown rice sushi. Whole Foods has one with salmon and Avo.
Better yet, if you’re doing sushi, try skinny handrolls.

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 powders I sell on my website.


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 (or better yet, my new Virgin Sprinkles) 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.

Coconut Milk

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?

We spoke to So Delicious and this is their latest status about carrageneens as of 4/2/14:

Thanks so much for checking in with us! Our first two flavors of carrageenan free coconut milk beverages – Vanilla and Unsweetened Vanilla – are in distribution and are available on many refrigerated store shelves!  We started with our coconut milk beverages, because they are our most popular items, and in the next 7-10 weeks, more flavors will be available in the refrigerated half gallons.  You may want to know more about the undegraded carrageenan (extracted from red seaweed) we use.  There are two types of carrageenan: undegraded (food-grade) and degraded (hydrolyzed with acid). Undegraded carrageenan has been used on a huge scale in food production worldwide since the 1930s, and its safety has been assured by the FDA Gras status. The Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) gave carrageenan the highest ADI (Accepted Daily Intake) status.  We source our undegraded carrageenan with care from trusted vendors. Although the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) conducted a review of undegraded carrageenan in May 2012 and approved its continued use in organic foods, our fans still voiced concerns over the ingredient, so our team decided to proactively look for alternate solutions. It hasn’t been an easy recipe change, but we are really proud of the end result and our fans say they love the carrageenan free coconut milk beverages.  Our team will work through our entire product portfolio to ensure that we become a carrageenan-free company.  We plan to introduce our new recipe for carrageenan-free coffee creamers and our regular cultured products later in 2014 (Our Greek varieties have always been carrageenan-free!).  We appreciate that our fans are eager to see these changes, and we assure you that we share your enthusiasm! As a reminder, all of our products are Non-GMO Project Verified, often made with organic ingredients and never have artificial flavors or sweeteners. We work hard to make foods that you can be proud to serve. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@sodeliciousdairyfree.com We hope this information is helpful for you and that you stay faithful to SO Delicious Dairy Free as we make this transition. To learn more about our carrageenan-free products, click here.

Vegetarianism/ Veganism

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.

  1. Barley malt
  2. Beet sugar
  3. Brown sugar
  4. Buttered syrup
  5. Cane juice crystals
  6. Cane sugar
  7. Caramel
  8. Corn syrup
  9. Corn syrup solids
  10. Confectioner’s sugar
  11. Carob syrup
  12. Castor sugar
  13. Date sugar
  14. Demerara sugar
  15. Dextran
  16. Dextrose
  17. Diastatic malt
  18. Diatase
  19. Ethyl maltol
  20. Fructose
  21. Fruit juice
  22. Fruit juice concentrate
  23. Galactose
  24. Glucose
  25. Glucose solids
  26. Golden sugar
  27. Golden syrup
  28. Grape sugar
  29. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  30. Honey
  31. Icing sugar
  32. Invert sugar
  33. Lactose
  34. Maltodextrin
  35. Maltose
  36. Malt syrup
  37. Maple syrup
  38. Molasses
  39. Muscovado sugar
  40. Panocha
  41. Raw sugar
  42. Refiner’s syrup
  43. Rice syrup
  44. Sorbitol
  45. Sorghum syrup
  46. Sucrose
  47. Sugar
  48. Treacle
  49. Turbinado sugar
  50. 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?

Making sense of sweeteners can become confusing, as I explained in one blog. Many store brands contain lactose, dextrose, and other additives not allowed on The Virgin Diet. I wanted to make this easy for you, so I created my own Virgin Diet-approved sweetener called (what else) Virgin Sprinkles. This delicious blend of all natural, beneficial sweeteners tastes like sugar and mixes easily into your favorite foods or beverages. Virgin Sprinkles contain a proprietary blend of glycine, erythritol, and stevia that don’t cause the stomach upset or bloating often associated with sugar alcohols. No weird aftertaste or other problems you find with some natural sweetener alternatives, and safe for people with diabetes and blood sugar imbalances.

You recommend Trader Joe’s stevia, but it has milk in it!

You see, this is why I created Virgin Sprinkles. Buying store-brand sweeteners can become confusing! There are 2 different kinds of Trader Joe’s stevia. The larger container has milk & you should avoid it. Look for the smaller container, 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.

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.)

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.