Interviews

The Interview — Tanya Zuckerbrot, Creator of F-Factor Diet

Creator of F-Factor Diet

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, is an internationally-known registered Dietitian and the creator of the renowned F-Factor™ Diet, which provides a liberating approach to weight loss and optimal health that is based on scientifically proven fiber-rich nutrition. Tanya has worked in private practice in Manhattan for more than 20 years. F-Factor evolved from Tanya’s early work with patients, as she discovered by prescribing her patients to follow a lifestyle diet rich in dietary fiber, they all not only improved their overall health—but also lost weight without hunger. Tanya is the author of two best-selling weight loss books: The F-Factor Diet: Discover the Secret to Permanent Weight Loss (2006, G.P Putnam & Sons), and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber! (2012, Hyperion). After 10 years, she has released a new, long-awaited edition of The F-Factor Diet (2018, TarcherPerigee) that includes updates to the overall diet, as well as new research and recipes. In addition, Tanya launched her own food line this year that includes F-Factor 20/20 Fiber/Protein Powders and F-Factor Fiber/Protein bars. Tanya currently lives in Manhattan with her husband, their children, and twin cockapoos, Henry and Hudson. For more on Tanya and F-Factor, be sure to follow them on Instagram @tanyazuckerbrot and @f_factor!

January 7, 2019

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R&S

How did you develop the F-Factor Diet:

Tanya

While I’m more recognized for my success in the weight loss space, I never set out to be a diet guru. The F-Factor Diet was a byproduct of treating clinical patients through dietary intervention with fiber.

When I began my private practice, my job was to create meal plans for cardiovascular and diabetic patients that would lower their cholesterol or, in the case of the diabetics, help to manage their sugars. Both received versions of a high fiber diets because of fiber’s ability to lower cholesterol and manage blood sugar levels.

As a result, the patients got healthier. Cholesterol improved, sugars were better managed, and across the board, unexpectedly, all of these patients lost weight. What was great was that the patients also were living their lives normally, enjoying at their favorite restaurants, drinking alcohol, and were getting healthier. What I had not anticipated was that by prescribing so much fiber for the clinical benefits, these patients were simply feeling fuller throughout the day on fewer calories, which led to weight loss without hunger.

Friends and colleagues of these patients noticed too and began to call in, requesting diets for themselves, but for the weight loss benefits, not to manage their sugars or cholesterol. This was the birth of the F-Factor Diet and the practice and diet continued to grow and develop from there.

R&S

What are your top tips for living a healthy lifestyle:

Tanya

1) Get at least 35g of fiber in your diet per day – Fiber is the secret to permanent weight loss without hunger.

- Fiber is the zero-calorie, non-digestible part of a carbohydrate that adds bulk to food. When you follow a diet rich in fiber you feel full after eating – so you’ll generally eat less throughout the day.

- Also, fiber swells in the stomach, absorbs and removes fat and calories, and boosts metabolism.

- The average American eats less than 15 grams of fiber per day. Women need 35 grams of fiber daily in their diets. I recommend aiming for 40 grams for optimal weight loss results.

2) Drink water – Water plays a key role in nearly every bodily function, fills you up so you tend to eat less, and helps to rid the body of toxins and chemicals that may be slowing down your metabolism

- Fiber needs water to work its magic

- Being dehydrated can also mimic hunger. Many times, our hunger is really just thirst in disguise and you can experience symptoms such as feeling weak, cranky and tired. To get rid of these symptoms we then grab a candy bar when all we really needed was a drink of zero-calorie water.

- Your body retains water when we don’t give it enough. Make sure you drink 3 liters of water each day to flush out your system and keep you feeling your best.

3) Focus on gratitude – when you focus on what you’re grateful for, you become happier naturally. A more positive outlook can help you better manage stress, which can help decrease levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that contributes to weight gain.

- I recommend waking up every day and writing down 3 things you’re grateful for to start your day off in a positive way and prepare to deal with stress. When we’re stressed, our body produces cortisol, which encourages the body to store more fat, which leads to weight gain.

- By practicing being grateful, you’ll be happier, and thinner too.

4) Journal – Recording what you eat in a journal is one of the best ways to keep you accountable. Clients that journal are always more successful. 

View Tanya's Essentials

R&S

Walk us through a typical work day:

Tanya

I typically get up at 6:00 a.m., and it's coffee before anything. I sit and have breakfast with my kids before they get on the bus for school, and before I leave for my office. Breakfast is important because it jump starts your metabolism for the day and it’s the perfect opportunity to meet half your daily fiber needs.

Once I get to my office, it’s pretty much back to back clients, breaking for lunch, which is often a salad with protein at my desk while catching up with my assistant. The afternoon is more clients, and meetings with my marketing and operations teams and working with my assistant. From 6:00-7:00 p.m., the workday winds down; we discuss upcoming projects, and what the next few days entail, often with a glass of wine.

I aim to leave the office around 7 p.m., so I can walk in the door and sit for dinner with the kids around 7:30. My husband usually meets me, and we head uptown together. 

R&S

Favorite way to stay fit:

Tanya

I stay fit by following F-Factor and doing strength training activities.

I explain to clients, let F-Factor be your cardio. People do cardio to create a caloric deficit, but cardio can stimulate appetite and impede weight loss efforts. Instead, create a caloric deficit by eating a diet high in fiber, like F-Factor. The reason this works is because eating fiber burns calories. Fiber can’t be digested, so it revs metabolism—the more fiber you’re eating the more calories your body burns at rest. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather eat fiber than spend more time on the treadmill…

I pair that with strength training activities. When doing strength training exercises, you create a lean physique and build lean muscle, which boosts metabolism and keeps it going throughout the day, while not increasing your appetite (like cardio does). Strength training is an excellent complement to F-Factor. 

R&S

Share your biggest guilty pleasure:

Tanya

Hands down, my biggest guilty pleasure is potato chips. 

R&S

You decompress each day by:

Tanya

Pouring a glass of wine—Cloudy Bay. Unlike most diets, alcohol can be enjoyed from day 1 on F-Factor, and I practice what I preach. The reason for this is because cutting out something like alcohol to lose weight creates weight loss in an unrealistic setting. If abstaining from alcohol is a temporary lifestyle change, results will be temporary too - once that person starts drinking again, they can gain the weight back. On F-Factor, the only changes you should be making are ones that are sustainable and allow you to continue living your life uninterrupted. Wine helps me to unwind and lets me continue living my life uninterrupted. 

R&S

Go-to snack:

Tanya

I’ve been loving having F-Factor 20/20 Waffles for snack. Made with the 20/20 Fiber/Protein Powder, and a few other simple ingredients, they’re so easy to make, and despite being light and fluffy, have enough fiber and protein to fill me up and keep me feeling full. I top with cream cheese too, it’s such a great savory snack. 

R&S

Cocktail of choice:

Tanya

Sauvignon blanc or Tequila rocks with fresh lime juice.  

R&S

Your go-to power outfit:

Tanya

A crisp, ironed white button-down with a fitted pant and a 5-inch heel. 

R&S

What’s the most exciting thing in your life right now:

Tanya

The most exciting thing in my life right now is the expansion of F-Factor’s line of products. There is so much we’re working on coming out in 2019, and we can’t wait for you guys to see!

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