“This is the last diet I'll ever have to be on because it has been a lifestyle change, not a diet! I went from a size 10, to a size 4 [in six months] and feel and look younger than I have in years,” Suzanne Diamond posted on The Dubrow Diet Facebook page.
New diets seem to break the internet and join the bookstore rack masses weekly, so what makes this one so popular? We spoke with the authors themselves to find out-then compared notes with dietitians to see if they co-sign on the book’s guiding premise of interval eating.
Who are the Dubrows?
You might recognise the face-and voice-of Heather Dubrow, a former star of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Orange County. Yes, the one with an entire wall of Veuve in her kitchen. She teamed up with her husband plastic surgeon Dr Terry Dubrowto pen The Dubrow Diet: Interval Eating to Lose Weight and Feel Ageless after friends kept asking, “How do you stay so ageless and so fit?”
“Terry and I started talking about this three years ago and developed the program to help others lose weight, boost energy, make hair thicker, skin healthier and more,” Heather says.
She gained about 18kgs during her first year at university. She ended up trying Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, the Cabbage Soup Diet and more to try to lose and keep the weight off.
“They all work for a time, but you need a lifestyle that puts you in control of your food. Terry just turned 60 and I’m almost 50. We had kids on the later side and want to be around to irritate them,” Heather jokes, so they brainstormed a twist on intermittent fasting together.
What is the Dubrow Diet?
Terry, who was a yo-yo dieter for most of his life, coincidentally discovered the benefits of intermittent fasting during his surgery residency.
“I was following the diet on accident and have been fascinated by the science of fasting since. All diets you stick to are successful, of course, but we wanted a sustainable lifestyle. A Nobel Prize was awarded to a Japanese scientist for research related to the impact of intermittent fasting on cells and energy. We took the concept of intermittent fasting and made it work in the real world,” Terry explains.
The Dubrow diet is presented in three stages customised to whether you want to lose weight quickly, slowly or somewhere in between. “You think, ‘I’m not eating as often. I should be hungry!’ But your satiety centers change,” Heather says.
What can you eat on the Dubrow Diet?
While fasting conjures up an image of a skinny tired person, according to Heather, “interval eating allows you to have kilojoules during all phases: the quick start, the goal weight and the maintenance plan.”
With their interval eating agenda, you're still taking supplements and consuming kilojoules, even when you're cutting back. The kilojoules are just limited to a 12-hour, 14-hour or 16-hour window depending on the phase of the diet you're following. No matter which track you’re on, those kilojoules are focused on eating quality foods, especially during the early phases and if you’re interested in shedding kilos stat.
“As opposed to the keto diet that aims to get you to a ketogenic state of using fat as fuel, which isn’t healthy or sustainable in my opinion, interval eating helps you go into a fat-burning state that leads to increased energy and cell renewal-a process called autophagy, the toxin-eating phase,” Terry explains. “You actually have no appetite physiologically when you’re not eating a lot.”
And in news that will make cookie and Cabernet fans cheer, cheating is allowed. “With almost every other diet you can’t go off plan or even have an Oreo. This book is flying off shelves because you can use this every day and you can have a glass of wine,” Heather says.
Throughout the Dubrow diet, the “green light” food list changes. It’s most restrictive at the beginning (this phase doesn't allow booze) and focuses on eats with lower-glycemic impact.
“White bread has a high glycemic index and is broken down quickly into sugar, which stimulates insulin response and shuts down fat-burning as fuel,” Terry says. “Using sugar as fuel increases inflammation.”
“We expand the list with each phase, but to be honest, you can’t eat whatever you want in endless quantities. We do tell you how to cheat, though, and have the right combinations [of food] when you do so,” Heather adds. High-fibre carbs, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables are always on the menu.
Does the Dubrow Diet work?
Terry’s medical background inspired the duo to do a clinical study of the complete program with 100 people, ranging in age from their 20s to 60s. The average weight loss on the diet was 20kgs.
“We also gave the participants questionnaires with subjective criteria, and the diet had a 98 percent satisfaction rate. They felt it was straightforward, easy, and felt no appetite during the fasting aspects,” Terry says.
“When you eat frequently, you’re conditioning the satiety centres that tell you when to eat. When you eat limited kilojoules during the time you’re not eating normally (and eating foods that are varied in temperature and pH), your body won’t tell you it’s hungry. You’re basically confusing the satiety receptors to think they’ve been exposed to food. That’s what’s bizarre and wonderful about this diet: you’re not controlled by food.”
Should you try the Dubrow Diet?
According to Terry’s medical perspective, “Interval eating is ideal for anyone without blood sugar sensitivities, such as those who are insulin-dependent. This plan teaches you to eat clean, but you don’t need to radically change your diet. It’s for anyone with 2 to 90kgs to lose.”
But what do the nutrition pros think? “This plan can be good for people who are constantly grazing all day long. It can help them have some time in a fasted state, says dietitian Mitzi Dulan. “But how much you eat-regardless of when-is still the key. You want to still be mindful of portions and eat until you feel satisfied.”
If you’re following the Dubrow diet or a similar interval eating program, Dulan recommends focusing on eating foods with high-nutrient values, but consuming them only during the feeding state stead of all day.
Dulan’s ideal interval eating menu:
- Breakfast: Whole-wheat bread with peanut butter, honey and sliced banana
- Lunch and/or dinner: Salmon with quinoa and a spinach salad
- Snack: Oats with honey, some protein powder and sliced almonds (combined and rolled into protein balls)
Both Dulan and dietitian Jenna Werner agree that any eating plan works best when it’s customised to your lifestyle, fitness routine, history with eating and medical situation.
“This book is promoted as a lifestyle change, which I like. Eating is encouraged and I like that too,” Werner says. “They talk about the importance of being prepared, of having good and healthy foods around you, and eating for energy. All these things I support!”
What Werner isn't so into, though, is the concept that this diet is a “one size fits all."
“The best way to really make a lifestyle change that will last for you is to get custom advice from a registered dietitian. Work together to find ways to meet your needs, ways that make you feel good and that will last a lifetime,” Werner says.