Body changes and weight gain are common in menopause. Fitness and nutrition expert, JJ Virgin, thinks her diet can help.
She has a unique diet approach to weight loss that is simple to understand. In summary it goes like this: drop 7 foods and lose 7 pounds in just 7 days. Here’s how JJ explained her weight loss concepts to me.
What is the basis for your approach to weight loss?
The key to weight loss is understanding food intolerance; how to avoid it and how to overcome it. It isn’t calories. It isn’t fat. It isn’t protein. It isn’t even carbs. These are all important, but you can’t lose weight if you’re eating foods your body can’t handle.
What do you mean by “your body can’t handle?”
Some people’s bodies can’t tolerate certain foods, such as gluten, lactose or MSG (monosodium glutamate – a form of salt used to flavor many processed and prepared foods). Many of these types of food intolerances are caused by the person lacking a specific enzyme they need to digest the food. Food insensitivity is a type of low-level allergy. Certain foods make your body fire off IgG antibodies that cause inflammation; and that leads to digestive trouble, sleep issues, congestion, muscle aches and joint pain, dark circles under your eyes and more. It really ages people.
What are the 7 foods you recommend people stop eating?
Gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts, sugar and artificial sweeteners. Stop eating them completely for 21 days. After that, you can reintroduce some high food intolerance foods such as eggs, dairy, soy and gluten back into your diet one at a time and see if you can tolerate them. I encourage you to keep the sugar, artificial sweeteners, corn and peanuts out of your diet at least 95% of the time. You can do just about anything for 21 days.
What if a person doesn’t think they have any food intolerances; should they stop eating these seven foods?
You might be surprised. Symptoms you thought were normal – such as a headache or post-meal bloating could actually be triggered by these seven foods. Many people settle for feeling “good enough,” but once they pull these foods, they discover increased energy and vitality. It’s only for three weeks. Isn’t it worth trying to feel amazing and burn fat?
Your book recommends not snacking between meals. Why is that?
Every time you eat, you raise your insulin levels. Among its other duties, insulin stores fat. Ditching the snacks means you raise your insulin levels less, so your body burns rather than stores fat.
Besides, avoiding snacks gives your overworked digestive system time to do its job, so you’re less likely to develop gut-related problems. Do your three meals right and you won’t have snack urges.
How did you come up with these seven foods?
Based on testing and common symptom reactions from my clients, these are the most problematic foods that contribute to fat gain, fatigue, and many other symptoms. For instance, 70% of my clients test positive for egg and dairy allergy.
Can a person have even a little bit of gluten or dairy; for instance, a little piece of cake or coffee with milk?
Not for 21 days. You need to completely remove these foods for optimal results. Just a little taste can trigger an antibody response, and remember you are trying to lower those antibodies and immune complexes and that takes at least 3 weeks to do. I guarantee you’ll feel the difference and see weight loss. But to get those benefits, you need to completely eliminate the problematic foods.
I love burst training because it triggers fat burning, builds muscle, and boosts anti-aging growth hormone, all in just minutes a day.
What would happens if a person accidentally ate a little of these foods?
The best is not to let it happen because it’s an allergy. First, always ask your server or whoever prepared your foods about how it’s prepared. That said, let’s say your server was mistaken and the dish he thought had no dairy actually did. Don’t let that derail your plan – just start the three weeks over before you get ready to re-challenge the foods.
You also have a fat-burning workout that you say is as good as an hour on the elliptical machine or an aerobics class.
Can you tell me about that? Low-intensity exercise like treadmills and aerobics classes raises stress hormones and burns fewer calories. Plus you’re not building fat-burning muscle. I love burst training because it triggers fat burning, builds muscle, and boosts anti-aging growth hormone, all in just minutes a day. I combine burst training with weight resistance so you get the two most effective forms of exercise in my 4 x 4 Workout, which takes you just 15 minutes three times a week. Get a free one at www.jjsfitclub.com.
How does sleep play a part in losing fat quickly?
Poor sleep, or too little sleep, can knock your fat-burning hormones out of whack. You’re more apt to store fat and remain hungry throughout the day. Couple that with lack of judgment and being tired, and you’re more likely to make faulty decisions (like a low-fat muffin and a latte), further stalling your fast fat loss.
I know you recommend writing down everything you eat. How important is that?
Very. One study showed that people who wrote down everything they ate lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. It holds you accountable for what you eat. Plus, let’s face it: most people eat more than they realize, and may be shocked when they start keeping a food journal.
We’re often taught eggs are the perfect food, so why are they “banned”?
Eggs can be a great food if you don’t have sensitivity to them. They are one of the more common foods I see clients react to. I had one client who cut out eggs and lost 10 pounds in three weeks. Cut the eggs for three weeks. After that, you can re-introduce organic eggs and see if any of the symptoms recur. If not, and you decide to resume eating eggs, don’t eat them every day.
I want you to drink half your weight in ounces of water. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll drink 75 ounces a day.
What is an example of a fat loss meal that prevents being hungry two hours later?
You can easily follow my plate combo to burn fat, build muscle, and balance blood sugar for sustained energy at every meal. Start with lean protein like wild-caught fish, free-range chicken, or grass-fed beef. Combine with plenty of non-starchy green vegetables. I also like high-fiber starchy carbs like sweet potatoes, lentils, and quinoa. And add a little bit of good fat like avocado or olive oil. This easy, fast formula helps trigger your fat-burning hormones at every meal.
Where does water fit in the Virgin Diet?
Even being slightly dehydrated slows down your metabolism. Especially before meals, a glass of water can help satiate you so you eat less. And a study at the University of Washington found just one glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of dieters. I want you to drink half your weight in ounces of water. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll drink 75 ounces a day. The only time I don’t want you drinking water is during meals, since doing so can dilute your stomach enzymes and impair protein breakdown. Remember, coffee and tea don’t count in your water quota.
In addition to keeping you regular, how does fiber help with fat loss?
Fiber delays stomach emptying, balances blood sugar levels, and reduces your hunger hormone ghrelin. One study in the journal Nutrition Review found that adding just 14 grams of fiber helped people lose four pounds in four months, with no other dietary restrictions. I want you to get at least 35 grams of fiber a day. Avocado, berries, lentils, and nuts and seeds make great fiber-rich foods. I also love throwing flax or chia seeds into a morning smoothie for added fiber. If you’re not meeting your quota, use a scoop of Medibulk from Thorne Research in your smoothie or mixed with water.
Can’t just eating healthy foods provide all the needed nutrients?
Many studies that conclude supplements don’t help use poor-quality supplements with cheap binders/ fillers and ineffective nutrient forms. Always buy professional-quality supplements that are science based and have rigorous testing behind them. They are a part of my Virgin Diet approach to burning off unwanted fat.
Any specific advice you can offer women in and around menopause?
It’s particularly important for peri and postmenopausal women to uncover hidden food intolerance to overcome weight loss resistance because their weight loss resistance is partly due to increases in cortisol, poor sleep or imbalances in estrogen, testosterone, DHEA and progesterone. Working with a doctor who can integrate these concepts to help balance hormones is a perfect complement to the Virgin Diet.