Now, I know you’ve heard of Keto. The diet, which restricts your carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams a day, is the go-to for celebs and fast weight loss seekers and hasn’t stopped rising in popularity over the last few years. But what if I told you that you could potentially achieve the same results, keep the weight off and not have to banish bread from your life. Interested?
Real Housewives of Orange County reality TV star Heather Dubrow and her surgeon extraordinaire husband Terry (known to many as the star of Botched) have created a weight-loss programme they’ve coined the Dubrow Diet.
What is the Dubrow Diet?
The basic concept behind the Dubrow Diet will sound familiar to anyone who has tried intermittent fasting. A three-phase plan that makes when you eat just as important as what you eat, you are given a window of time each day during which you can consume certain foods and the time frame between when you have to stop eating and can start again ranges from 12 hours up to 16 hours depending on what part of the plan you are following at the time.
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The three phases of the diet are as follows:
Phase one – Kick-start you weight loss by fasting for 16 hours a day for five days. For example, if you have your evening meal at 7pm and have finished eating by 7.30pm, you wouldn’t then be able to eat the next day until 11.30am. For most of this time you would be sleeping, but it would mean a late breakfast/brunch the next day.
Phase two – You only enter this phase of the Dubrow Diet when you have reached your goal weight. Once you are at a place you are happy with, you switch to 12 hour fasts five days a week and only do a 16 hour fast two days a week.
Phase three – The final phase looks a lot like Phase Two, except in this phase you’re allowed a cheat meal every week. Yay!
On Heather’s website, she claims that fasting for 16 or 12 hours a day can not only help you lose weight but can also lower your insulin, fight chronic inflammation, change your skin, and even activate an anti-aging cellular “self-cleaning” process. If your reaction to this is ‘OK Hun’ (we don’t blame you), then look to Dr Dubrow who trailed the diet on 100 people before launch and found the diet to be a success, with the average person apparently losing 44 pounds.
The three phases in practice
Before I tried the diet, 16 hours between meals seemed alright in theory. Scarlett Johansson did it as part of her intermittent fasting before filming Avengers, but this should have acted as a minor warning from the start. Celebrity diets tend to be the hardest and most intense of a bad bunch.
For example, due to circumstances entirely out of my control, one evening I didn’t finish dinner until 9pm. The next day, unable to eat until 1pm because of the 16 hour fast window, I was clock watching at my desk all morning. By 10am I genuinely thought I would perish from hunger and considered caving and eating a banana, but chugging a litre of water allowed me to hold tight and power through until lunch time.
An important learning I took from this day is that it’s much easier to begin the 16 hour fast in the evening and time it so you can have breakfast to start your day. I certainly don’t need snacks whilst watching Netflix at night, but if I can avoid going without anything until midday again, I will. So I found myself not eating after 5pm or 6pm, allowing me to eat again in the morning by 9am or 10am.
The subsequent impact on my social life – in terms of bringing meals after work with friends right forward in the diary so that everyone was eating by 6 or 7pm, or politely declining to go halves on a pizza with people at 9pm after an evening of drinking – wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be and it certainly wasn’t as significant as when I tried Keto and was snacking on salmon and avocado out of Tupperware at a Thai restaurant (bad times).
What can you eat on the Dubrow Diet
Unlike the Keto diet – which has long lists of foods you can and can’t eat and a magic formula for food intake each day made up of 70 per cent total fat, 20 per cent protein and less than 10 per cent carb – the Durbow Diet just puts importance on eating good quality food that isn’t processed. Aside from that, protein, veggies and fruits are okay.
In the first phase of the diet, they recommend you stick to 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. I found that with an eight hour window in which to consume my food for the day, I literally didn’t have time to clock up more calories than that anyway.
Another difference from Keto is that once you reach the second and third phases of the diet, the Dubrows encourage you to work carbs, sugar, and alcohol back into your diet again (in moderation) to make the diet sustainable. Hello vino on a Friday night!
How easy is the Dubrow Diet to stick to?
Unlike the Keto diet which sees you meticulously monitoring your macros on apps and weighing food like a market stall keeper, the Dubrow Diet is designed to fit more naturally into your everyday life.
I found the flexibility in food choices allowed on the diet made planning meals and, potentially more importantly, grabbing food on the go, fairly easy. Moreover, as a Pescatarian, the lack of focus on eating meat was a welcome change from other weight loss plans.
The fact that the diet becomes a little less strict in the later phases also made it much easier to stick to. In the first weeks of Phase One when I was struggling, I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel (and a glass of wine at the end of the week).
The Dubrow Diet drawbacks
Unlike Keto which seems to have an ever growing list of suspicious (and downright nasty) sounding side effects (keto crotch anyone?) the Dubrow Diet’s main drawbacks are in the adjustment period when you start to get used to fasting for 16 hours. If you normally eat late at night and then have food almost straight away after getting up in the morning there’s no point denying it, you will struggle and feel particularly hungry when you first start this diet.
So, can you actually lose weight on The Dubrow Diet
The Dubrow Diet doesn’t have the legions of celebrity fans that the Keto diet seems to have, but as it is essentially a rebranded take on interval fasting – which has been proven time and again to be effective at helping people lose weight, even just for a short time – it certainly can help you get into an eating routine conducive to weight loss.
After I tried the Dubrow Diet, my stomach felt much flatter in the mornings just because my body had more time to digest my last meal of the day overnight and then it also had time to warm up in the morning before I ate something new. I also didn’t feel as lacking in energy as I thought I would and definitely felt better in myself for factoring in a 12 or 16 hour fast each day.
Did I lose weight? To be honest, not heaps and not anything to write home about, but I’ll probably continue to incorporate at least a 12 hour fast into my daily routine from now on.
What the experts say:
At the end of the day, if you want to lose weight the healthy way, your best bet is to take advice from a professional dietitian or nutritionist over a reality TV star.
Accredited Practising Dietician Melissa Meier can see the short term benefits of the Dubrow Diet, but questions the ease with which someone could stick to the programme in the long term:
“Overall, the Dubrow Diet is similar to intermittent fasting – however instead of only dictating when you can and can’t eat, it also has limitations on what to eat,” Melissa observes.
“Just like intermittent fasting, it will probably help with weight loss, although its restrictions make me think it isn’t going to be sustainable in the long term for most people. I also tread very carefully with any diet that limits certain foods or food groups, as chances are, you’re going to miss out on important nutrients.”