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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

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!

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.

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. 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.

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)

What is Prop 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.”

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 youagainst 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.

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
  • ƒ Sugar alcohols (Stevia is acceptable.)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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’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.

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.

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