I am beyond excited to host my friend Tanya Zuckerbrot and share this interview with all of you. I first came across her through the website Skinny in the City. This blog featured fashion, lifestyle, and diet in NYC. Tanya was the dietitian who shared her expert advice. Few years later, I happened to run into Tanya at a dinner in New York City and we instantly bonded! This encounter lead to an internship at F-Factor. It was the best internship I ever had and I enjoyed learning everything about fiber from Tanya. I got my masters in Food Studies at NYU and partnered with Tanya on my final project and thesis. We collaborated on an ebook filled with Step 1 F-Factor approved recipes that I developed. Now grab yourself a glass of wine or a warm cup of tea, sit back and enjoy this educational interview.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
Tanya Zuckerbrot, CEO and founder of F-Factor.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR COMPANY AND HOW F-FACTOR GOT STARTED:
F-Factor is the most liberating and sustainable approach to weight loss and optimal health. What started out as a nutrition counseling private practice, F-Factor is now the fastest growing wellness brand. F-Factor is headquartered in Midtown Manhattan, where our team staff of Registered Dietitians and corporate executives work closely together.
The F-Factor Diet is a by-product of my early career as a registered clinician when I worked as an extension of the medical team of clinical patients with conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. My job was to create meal plans that would lower the cholesterol of cardiovascular patients or, in the case of the diabetics, help to manage their blood sugar levels. Both patient populations received versions of high fiber diets because of fiber’s ability to lower cholesterol and manage blood sugar levels. The patients got healthier: cholesterol improved, sugars were better managed, and unexpectedly, across the board, all of these patients lost weight. The clients were living their lives normally, enjoying meals at their favorite restaurants, drinking alcohol, and getting healthier in the process. 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 theirs noticed too and began to call in, requesting diets for themselves, but purely for the weight loss benefits, not to manage their sugars or cholesterol. This was the birth of the F-Factor Diet and the practice continued to grow from there.
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO DO WHAT YOU ARE DOING NOW?
Food has always been an important part of my life. My earliest childhood memories involve food – especially cooking in the kitchen with my grandmothers. Between making Matzo ball soup with my Jewish grandmother, and empanadas with my Colombian grandmother, I recognized from an early age that food was an important way to make people happy.
Growing up in a family full of cooks, I felt I was destined to be in the food industry one way or another. After gaining the “freshman 15” in college, I decided I wanted to learn more about the connection between food and health. I applied to the nutrition program at NYU, believing it to be food-focused. You can imagine my surprise on the first day when I discovered that the program was actually science-based, with prerequisites such as anatomy, physiology, inorganic-chem, and Biochem. Once classes began, I quickly learned that I loved the science, and not only did I stick with the program, but I went on to pursue my Master’s Degree in food and nutrition studies too.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY?
FIBER AND PROTEIN AT EVERY MEAL MAKES LOSING WEIGHT NO BIG DEAL – This mantra is central to the F-Factor Diet. Fiber fills you up, revs metabolism and binds with fat and calories and ushers them out of the body. Protein is essential for maintaining and building lean muscle. The two are a “power couple” for weight loss. Clinical evidence shows that fiber and protein have a high satiety benefit in calorie-controlled diets and in weight reduction. The combination of the two nutrients keeps you feeling full, for the longest period of time, on the fewest calories. The fuller you feel, the less likely you’ll be to snack unnecessarily or overeat at meals, leading to weight loss without hunger.
YOUR FAMOUS F-FACTOR 20/20 POWDERS ARE EXPLODING! TELL US A BIT ABOUT THEM AND WILL THEY BE AVAILABLE IN EUROPE?
Thank you! I am so proud of this product. Originally created to enhance my client’s F-Factor journey, it has quickly become a valuable solution for the general population to meet their daily fiber needs. It is completely unlike anything else available today.
For those unfamiliar with F-Factor’s 20/20 Fiber/Protein powder, it is a protein powder with 3 times more fiber than any other protein powder available to date. The “20/20” refers to the 20 grams of fat-fighting fiber to boost metabolism and 20 grams of organic muscle-building protein in one serving.
F-Factor 20/20 Fiber/Protein Powder is gluten-free, soy-free, has no sugar added, is all natural, non-GMO, and Kosher. While the powder was originally intended for making smoothies, it has also become a staple ingredient in people’s kitchens. It can be used to enhance the nutrient density of countless dishes —everything from waffles to pancakes, cakes and cookies, ice cream, and now the latest craze, muffins. It’s really a hero ingredient for anyone looking to manage their weight or improve their health.
Currently, F-Factor 20/20 powders come in both a chocolate and vanilla flavor. Due to the popularity of the powders, we’re quickly expanding the product line. In May, we are launching F-Factor 20/20 Plain (an unsweetened flavor), and single-serve packets, which will be great for traveling and bringing with you on-the-go. And later this year, we will launch an F-Factor 20/20 plant-based powder, which will be dairy-free and suitable for vegans.
While the 20/20 Fiber/Protein powders are not currently available in Europe, we are always looking to expand our distribution. Stay tuned!
A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK CARBS ARE THE ENEMY, CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY THEY ARE NOT?
Carbs are NOT the enemy. The reason carbs get a bad rep is that people believe they make you fat. It’s not carbohydrates themselves that make you fat, it’s the quantity of them that we eat that leads to weight gain. This is why, in an attempt to lose weight, people often cut carbs. The problem is, cutting out carbs hinders sustainable weight loss too.
When we eat carbs, our bodies break them down into glucose to use to power both our voluntary and involuntary daily activities; they are our bodies’ primary fuel source. Without carbs, we’re left feeling tired, cranky, shaky and lethargic. These feelings can then trigger excess snacking and feelings of deprivation which can deter weight loss efforts. Cutting out carbs is also an issue because fiber, which is the most important tool for weight loss, is only found in carbs.
While eating carbohydrates is essential to functioning, eating carbohydrates in excess of what your body needs for energy can lead to weight gain. The solution then, is to eat just the right amount of carbs. F-Factor teaches you how to eat the right carbs, in the correct quantities, for healthy weight loss. Utilizing fiber, F-Factor’s Proprietary Algorithm for Weight Management ensures the body gets enough carbs to fuel its activities, without leading to weight gain, or in the case for weight loss, can even set the body up to burn fat for fuel.
I OFTEN HEAR FRIENDS SAYING “I CAN’T HAVE A DRINK, I AM ON A DIET”. CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY IT IS OK TO HAVE A COCKTAIL WHILE TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT?
A healthy, well-balanced diet has room for a cocktail or two. From a nutritional standpoint, a glass of wine is approximately 100 calories and 2g carbs, while spirits (vodka and tequila) on the rocks are around 80 calories and 0g carbs. Therefore, it comes down to overall caloric intake, but a healthy well-balanced diet should have room for a cocktail such as wine or spirits on the rocks.
On F-Factor, alcohol is allowed from Day 1. Unless you plan on never drinking alcohol again, why cut it out? If you cut something out temporarily, the results will be temporary too. Once you start drinking again, the weight comes right back. It’s important for my clients who do drink to incorporate alcohol from the beginning of the weight loss journey so that they know how to drink responsibly while continuing on their path for success. On F-Factor, I only encourage permanent, sustainable changes, so that that the results are permanent too.
CAN YOU RECOMMEND AN ALTERNATIVE TO GG CRACKERS FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN’T TOLERATE GLUTEN?
It’s important to state that F-Factor is NOT a cracker diet. In fact, you do not need to eat a single cracker to be successful on F-Factor. The reason I recommend GG crackers is because F-Factor is a high fiber diet, and GG crackers are a high-fiber, low net carb food. Four GG crackers have just 8g net carb, contain 80 calories, and 16g of fiber. They’re a great substitute for bread, and help people living the F-Factor Way meet their daily fiber needs while staying under their daily net carb allowance.
GG crackers are just one example of a product that helps people meet their daily fiber needs. There are many other options available, some of which contain gluten, like the GG cracker, and some that are suitable for those who cannot tolerate gluten. For those who are gluten-free, alternative high-fiber products include Flackers, Foods Alive crackers, high-fiber wraps (like Julian Bakery Paleo Thin wraps), Pro Granola cereal, and Mikey’s English Muffins. The GG cracker company is also said to be launching a gluten-free cracker in 2019.
F-Factor 20/20 Fiber/Protein powders are gluten-free and can be used to make different foods that typically would have gluten, like muffins, waffles, pancakes and more.
DOES EATING FOODS HIGH IN TOO MUCH SODIUM CAUSE CELLULITE?
Eating foods high in sodium cannot cause cellulite. Cellulite is simply subcutaneous fat that due to various factors can result in a dimpled, bumpy appearance. Sodium is a mineral and minerals cannot be converted into fat. Therefore, one cannot say sodium causes cellulite.
While sodium does not cause cellulite, a high intake of it is one of many factors that can contribute to the pronouncement of cellulite. This is because a diet high in sodium causes the body to hold onto more fluid in fat cells, which causes them to swell and appear inflamed. A 2003 study published in the European Journal of Inflammation found that women with cellulite who consumed a lower sodium diet lost more weight and improved the appearance of cellulite compared to those who consumed a higher sodium diet. So, while eating foods high in sodium will not cause cellulite to form, there is a correlation with the appearance of it.
Dehydration also has a similar effect on the appearance of cellulite on the body. To minimize that, I recommend drinking at least three liters of water a day.
EVERYONE IS RAVING ABOUT CELERY JUICE. THE FAD SEEMS TO HAVE STARTED WITH ANTHONY WILLIAM AKA THE MEDICAL MEDIUM. DO YOU AGREE THAT JUICING CELERY IS MORE BENEFICIAL OR DOES EATING THE VEGETABLE HAVE THE SAME BENEFITS?
To date, there are no additional scientifically proven benefits to drinking celery juice over eating the raw vegetable. With that being said, the science on celery juice is still very young.
What is known is that raw celery is a nutrient-dense non-starchy vegetable that has a high-water content, contains fiber, and is linked to numerous health benefits, including lowering inflammation. Juicing a vegetable (or a fruit) poses concern because often the vegetable’s inherent fiber is stripped out in the juicing process. The fiber is what lowers cholesterol, reduces inflammation, lowers risk factor for colon and breast cancer, and is what keeps you feeling full. The fiber is also 0 carbs and 0 calories, so there is no need, or a benefit at all, to stripping it out. Therefore, if looking to drink celery juice, I recommend using a blender and blending celery with water to create a juice, overusing traditional juicers or buying packaged celery juice. By blending the celery with water, you can read all of the celery’s benefits including its anti-inflammatory properties and its fiber content.
DAIRY PRODUCTS ARE CONTROVERSIAL THESE DAYS. ARE CERTAIN DAIRY PRODUCTS BETTER THAN OTHERS?
In terms of weight loss, some dairy products are better than others. Dairy products vary in fat content. Fat is more calorically dense than the other macronutrients, carbohydrates, and protein, so the more fat food has, the more calorically dense it will be. F-Factor is not a no-fat diet, but rather a low-fat diet so fat-free and low-fat dairy products will always be preferred over full-fat dairy. The best dairy products for weight loss are low fat or fat-free and also high in protein, like nonfat Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and whey protein, like F-Factor 20/20 Fiber/Protein Powder.
When people choose to cut out dairy, they risk getting adequate calcium to maintain bone density. This can be especially challenging for vegans, as many sources of calcium are animal proteins or derivatives of. My recommendation to anyone cutting out dairy is to replace it with non-dairy calcium-rich foods and calcium-fortified foods. Almonds, seeds like poppy, sesame and chia seeds, some beans and lentils, and dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are all vegan foods that contain calcium. Many kinds of cereal and grain-based foods are also fortified with calcium. Soy and almond milk also are often fortified to contain more calcium.
THERE IS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT STEVIA, CAN YOU TELL US – IS STEVIA SAFE TO CONSUME?
Being in the health and wellness space for over 20 years, I have read countless published journal studies on non-nutritive and nutritive sweeteners. The stevia that is available for public consumption has been recognized by the FDA as safe to consume. It’s important to note that this is not the stevia leaf or crude stevia, which the FDA does not recognize as safe to consume. What we most often consider stevia, the stevia that’s available for public consumption is actually compounds that are extracted from the Stevia plant and combined with small amounts of other ingredients to attain a sugar-like consistency. These compounds—rebA and stevioside—have been recognized by the FDA as safe. This holds true for pregnant and nursing women, children, and elderly alike.
Today over 70% of Americans are overweight or obese and research consistently shows a direct correlation between changes in body weight and the increasing or decreasing of sugar intake. Considering the average American consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar each day, which adds up to 57 lbs of added sugar consumed per year, replacing sugars in the diet with stevia is one of the simplest things we can do to reduce our risk for obesity and the related clinical conditions.
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON SOY PRODUCTS?
Soy is a low-fat source of plant protein, made from soybeans. It’s an excellent option for vegetarians and vegans to meet their protein needs.
Research on soy is controversial and inconclusive. On one hand, research has shown that consuming soy at a young age can help reduce the risk of breast cancer and can promote bone density. On the other hand, research also says that women who are at risk for breast cancer should limit their soy intake to two to four servings a week. Research has linked consumption of soy products to breast cancer, but if you look at the parts of the world that have historically consumed the most soy, like Asia, there is no greater incidence of breast cancer compared to anywhere else in the world.
What we do understand is that soy contains natural estrogens, that may induce estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is what is linked to breast cancer. Therefore, my recommendation on incorporating soy into the diet is to do so in moderation and to take personal factors into account when deciding to. If you’re at risk for breast cancer, it’s best to be mindful of soy products that contain isoflavones such as soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, soy flour, and soy fiber.
CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH A DAY OF YOUR MEALS?
I live the F-Factor Way, which means fiber and protein at every meal. Fiber revs metabolism reduces inflammation in the body, keeps me feeling full for hours and has numerous health benefits. Protein is equally as important, it helps me maintain muscle mass, which also boosts metabolism. Following F-Factor keeps me feeling full, satiated and energized all day long.
Breakfast – I never skip breakfast. The day always starts with coffee and fresh berries, followed by waffles or muffins made with F-Factor20/20 Fiber/ Protein Powder, or a smoothie, which I will drink on my way to work. Either way, my breakfast packs at least 20 grams of organic fiber with 20 grams of organic grass-fed whey protein, ensuring that I stay full until lunch, and with only 3 grams net carb, it provides my body the opportunity to burn fat for fuel too.
Lunch – On days I see clients, lunch is at my desk. I’ll pick up a salad from one of the salad places by the office where you can create your own. I use spinach as a base because it’s slightly higher in fiber than romaine, and I bulk it up with non-starchy vegetables (carrots, artichokes, hearts of palm, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, and scallions), which are nutrient dense and give color, flavor, texture and more fiber to the salad for minimal calories. I get two sources of lean protein, grilled chicken and egg whites, and a side of Asian dressing, which I use sparingly.
If I go out for lunch, I typically get a salad with a tuna tartare or grilled protein like chicken or tuna, and a glass of Sancerre.
Snack – Snack on F-Factor is not optional, its mandatory. Not only is the afternoon snack another opportunity to get more fiber, but it also helps to offset hunger at dinner. Snacks should be between 200-300 calories and combine fiber and protein. At the office, I’ll have a 20/20 smoothie, 4 F-Factor Pizzas, or F-Factor muffins with a 20/20 latte.
Dinner – One of the best parts about F-Factor is that you can dine out anywhere in the world or enjoy family meals at home. I always begin dinner with a broth-based soup or a salad to help me fill up and offset hunger for the main course. For my entrée, I have 3-4 oz lean protein—beef, pork, chicken, fish, lamb—with veggies. Vegetables are a free food on F-Factor, they’re filled with fiber and antioxidants. Some of my favorite family dinner recipes are included in the new version of the F-Factor Diet Book, like F-Factor Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs and F-Factor’s eggplant parm lasagna. My family also loves when we have F-Factor taco night. This is all paired with a glass of wine. I can honestly say I never feel deprived.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR LAST MEAL ON EARTH?
A giant salad followed by an even bigger bowl of pasta Bolognese loaded with Parmesan cheese, all washed down with a bottle of wine.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO EAT HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING?
I live the F-Factor Way, so no matter where in the world I am, I am able to eat healthfully and enjoy my travels. F-Factor is a plan that can be followed anywhere no matter what country you are in.
Preparation is key. The same way I pack my toiletries for a trip, I pack my F-Factor essentials: F-Factor 20/20 Fiber/Protein powder and GG crackers. I begin every morning with the F-Factor 20/20 powder in my coffee and a bowl of berries. I then pair the crackers with an egg white omelet or smoked salmon platter. No matter what the day brings, I’m starting the day on track and feeling full. I also use the GG crackers for an afternoon snack, which is often back at the hotel.
Lunch and dinner are a combination of protein and vegetables. If I indulge on carbs such as pasta when I’m in Italy, I try to eat them at lunch, giving me the rest of the day to burn them off. What’s great about F-Factor is that it allows me the flexibility to fully experience the cultures I am visiting and taste the local fare.
CAN YOU TALK TO US ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP OF FITNESS AND WEIGHT LOSS?
Diet trumps exercise when it comes to weight loss. Exercise offers a plethora of health benefits (increased energy, heart health, mood), and can support weight loss efforts, but when it comes down to it, you can’t outrun an unhealthy diet.
I tell clients, let F-Factor be your cardio. People do cardio to create a caloric deficit, but cardio only burns calories during activity and can stimulate the appetite. This almost always impedes weight loss efforts. Instead, create a caloric deficit by eating a diet high in fiber, like F-Factor. The reason this works is that 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…
What I do recommend is for people to focus on strength training activities at the gym. When doing strength training exercises, you create a lean physique and build lean muscle, which boosts metabolism and keeps it going throughout the day. This is because, at rest, lean body mass actively burns calories. The more lean muscle one has the faster their metabolism. In contrast to cardio, when you do strength training/ weight resistant activities, you essentially continue burning calories long after you finish working out.
NAME ONE BEAUTY SECRET?
A dab of under eye concealer and clear gloss makes a simple nude lipstick.
WHAT PRODUCTS ARE YOU LOVING RIGHT NOW?
- Cleanser: SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser
- Toner: Lancome Tonique Radiance
- Eye Cream: Dr. Devgan Platinum Eye Repair Complex
- SPF Lotion: Elta MS Skincare UR clear broad spectrum SPF 46
- Dr. Devgan night products: Dr. Devgan Platinum Recovery Cream and Dr. Devgan Platinum Glow Serum
- Charcoal Mask: Beauty Counter 3 Balancing and Charcoal Facial Mask
- Serum: SkinCeuticals C + AHA exfoliating antioxidant treatment with 15% L ascorbic acid and 10% Mixed hydroxy acids
- Makeup: Charlotte Tilbury Retoucher and beauty light wand; amore pacific cushion compact with SPF
- Mask: Hanacure the all in one facial mask
- Valery Joseph mousse for volume
IS THERE A SPA OR HOLISTIC TREATMENT YOU SWEAR BY?
Joel Osteen’s 7 Steps to Living Your Best Life Now– No book has had a greater impact on my life. I reread it to re-center myself in times of stress or worry and reconnect with G_D and what’s important. His spiritual wisdom has helped me to find hope in my dark hours.
“You will produce what you’re continually seeing in your mind”
FAVORITE TV SERIES?
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT?
Capri, Italy – we try to go every summer. It is the perfect mix of Italian culture, food, style, and weather. It’s also where AW and I got married.
WHERE TO FIND YOU