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What Is the 5 Factor Weight Diet?

Hollywood weight loss fads change faster than the latest hip hairstyle or fashionable cut of evening dress. The latest hot weight loss plan is Harley Pasternak’s 5 Factor Diet, a plan Pasternak used, according to his main website, with celebrities like Jessica Simpson and Eva Mendes. Based on a food and exercise regimen that uses components of five–five meals a day, five minutes of weight training–to simplify getting in shape, Pasternak assures that the 5 Factor Diet is an easy-to-use way to transition to a healthy lifestyle.


Canadian fitness trainer Harley Pasternak earned degrees in both Nutritional Sciences and Exercise Physiology from the University of Toronto. According to his main website, Pasternak then became a personal trainer for a variety of actors and actresses in Hollywood. The challenge was for him to help celebrities lose weight and shape their bodies in the brief amounts of time during movie and television shooting breaks. The meals needed to be simple enough for all the ingredients to be stored within a small, set-sized refrigerator, and the workouts needed to yield results in a relatively short amount of time. He developed the 5 Factor Diet to meet this need.

Pasternak has published two books detailing the aspects of his 5 Factor plan: 5 Factor Fitness and The 5 Factor Diet. He has recently been featured on a number of television shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, VH1 and Rachael Ray.


The 5 Factor Diet has two aspects: a meal plan and an exercise plan. The diet recommends eating five meals a day, each of which contain no more than five ingredients and take no longer than five minutes of preparation time. One day every week is a “cheat” day: you can eat anything you like, a practice that Pasternak believes prevents you from feeling deprived from eating your favorite foods.

The exercise portion of the plan is based on Pasternak’s theory that working out often, but only for short bursts each time, is actually more effective than exercising for long periods of time less often. For each week, the plan requires five workouts of 25 minutes each, broken up into five distinct areas of exercise.


According to Everydayhealth.com, each meal on the 5 Factor diet should consist of five basic components: a lean, high-quality protein; five to 10 grams of fiber; a healthy mono or polyunsaturated fat, such as olive oil; a sugar-free beverage; and a carbohydrate with a glycemic index of less than 80. The glycemic index is based on how sharply a particular carbohydrate makes blood sugar levels spike; foods with a low glycemic index are thought to prevent food cravings by keeping blood sugar at a stable level.

Everydaydiet.org gives the following as a sample daily menu while on the plan: an apple-cinnamon oatmeal frittata for breakfast, nonfat cottage cheese and an apple for a morning snack, curried chicken salad and a slice of no-flour bread for lunch, veggie salami and non-fat cheese on a brown rice cake as an afternoon snack and salmon with quinoa and a small side salad for dinner.


On the 5 Factor plan, each 25-minute exercise workout consists of five distinct parts, each of which should take five minutes to complete. These parts are a cardiovascular warm-up, strength-training exercises focused on the upper body, strength-training exercises focused on the lower body, core muscle strengthening, then a cardiovascular workout. Pasternak says that these workouts must be completed five times a week in order to receive the full benefit of the 5 Factor plan.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Everydayhealth.com reports that although many dietitians and nutritionists feel that the 5 Factor Diet is a “sound” way to lose weight since it encourages healthy eating with controlled portions, others believe the plan is based on shaky scientific evidence. Dietitian and assistant clinical nursing professor Katie Clark questions Pasternak’s heavy reliance on the glycemic index in the diet plan. Other critics of the program, according to Projectweightloss.com, dislike the expensive ingredients used in the meal plans of the 5 Factor Diet book, saying only the most financially stable individuals will be able to follow the plan as written on a normal basis.

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