Diet 101: Dubrow Diet

Here's how to follow the diet made popular by two reality TV stars.

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September 03, 2019

This best-selling book on the Dubrow Diet for weight loss was released last year and is still as popular as ever. This intermittent fasting-style plan promises to target your metabolism in order to train the body to burn fat and internal cellular rejuvenation that has powerful antiaging effects. But is this diet too good to be true? Let’s take a deeper dive.

What Is the Dubrow Diet?

The creators of this diet are Dr. Terry Dubrow, a plastic surgeon best known for his role on the show Botched and wife Heather Debrow, a former Real Housewife of Orange County. Their book The Dubrow Diet: Interval Eating to Lose Weight and Feel Ageless is an eating and exercise plan based on the concept of “interval eating.” This type of diet focuses on when you eat and promises many health benefits including more normalized insulin and lower blood sugar, fighting off chronic inflammation, activating autophagy (your cells self-cleaning process), reprogramming your cells to use stored fat as fuel, increasing your energy, reaching your goal weight, and rejuvenating your skin and overall appearance.

The basic concept of the book is to focus on “when,” “what,” and “how much.” “When” refers to fasting 12 to 16 hours a day, while “what” and “how much” refer to what to eat outside the fasting window and how much to eat.

One main difference between this intermittent fasting plan and others is the concept of autophagy. The authors tout that when you follow this plan long-term, you will reap the benefits of autophagy, which are similar to the results of plastic surgery. They claim that this is the reason why they both have been able to maintain their appearances. Here's how it works.

The Plan

This plan advocates a low carb diet and includes whole, minimally processed foods including lots of vegetables, healthy fats and lean protein. Fruit, dairy and carbs are allowed, but in very small amounts. Exact recommended foods are listed in the book, along with sample meal plans, recipes and recommended supplements.

The diet is divided into three phases based on fasting window length and allowed foods.

Phase 1

This introductory phase is meant to “reset your internal hunger meter.” It is followed for 2 to 5 days and is a 16-hour fast with an 8-hour window to refuel. Foods that are recommended in this phase include 6 to 12 ounces of lean protein, 1 to 2 servings of healthy fat, 1/2 ounce of nuts or seeds, 1 dairy (or non-dairy) serving, 1 1/2 to 3 cups of non-starchy veggies, 1 small fruit serving, and 1/2 cup of complex carbs. Allowable beverages include water, coffee, tea and “zero calorie” drinks. A savory treat like air-popped popcorn, beef or turkey jerky, or seaweed salad is also allowed.

Phase 2

This weight loss phase is followed until your goal weight is reached. Fasting is 12, 14 or 16 hours a day, depending on how quickly you want to lose weight. Each of the three types of fasting comes with a cheat moment, meal or day. In addition to the foods mentioned in Phase 1, dieters are allowed a bit more complex carbs and healthy fats. Alcohol is also allowed on this phase in moderation (2 drinks per day for men, and 1 drink per day for women).

Phase 3

This is the maintenance phase to be followed long term in order to maintain weight loss and continue to reap the antiaging and disease prevention benefits of autophagy. In this phase, there are 5 days of 12-hours fasts and two 16-hour fasts. You can choose which days to fast for 12 or 16 hours. In addition to the food in Phases 1 and 2, you can opt for one cheat meal a week.

During fasting periods you’re allowed beverages and supplements with no sugar and no more than 100 total calories such as coffee, unsweetened tea, water or greens-based supplement drinks. During “refueling” (which is done after fasting) a variety of food is encouraged (which are outlined above), but specific amounts of foods and frequency of consumption are listed in the book. In addition, high intensity interval training is the recommended type of exercise.

Should You Try It?

The Dubrow Diet itself doesn’t have scientific merit behind it. However, intermittent fasting does have some substantiating research primarily in animal studies. To date, there is much debate around the concept of intermittent fasting and weight loss and there is uncertainty as to whether it’s the fasting or the calorie restriction that leads to weight loss. The diet encourages a variety of foods including lots of vegetables, but not all foods are encouraged in the amounts needed daily by the body leaving room for potential nutrient deficiencies.

Bottom Line: When it comes to diets, there is no “one size fits all,” but you certainly do need to take in all the nutrients that your body needs. If you do choose to follow The Dubrow Diet, make sure to take in more fruits, dairy and complex carbs than outlined in the book.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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