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Five Ingredient Diet

By Robin Wasserman ; Updated July 18, 2017

Developed by a celebrity trainer and having a catchy name, you may think that the 5-Factor Diet is just another fad diet. However, you would be wrong. The 5-Factor Diet is just a very simple plan to help you develop healthy eating and exercise habits. Harley Pasternak, a diet expert, developed the 5-Factor Diet to teach people how to lose weight with five meals a day containing five or fewer ingredients, prepared in less than five minutes per meal.

Basic Plan

Each of the five meals of the 5-Factor Diet plan must have a lean, low-fat protein, a complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index, fiber, healthy fat and water or other sugar-free drink. In addition, each meal should only take about five minutes to prepare. The Five Factor Diet plan also includes one "cheat" day, where the rules do not have to be followed.

An example of an acceptable meal on the 5-Factor Diet would be an omelet made of egg whites and nonfat cheese which provides the lean protein, broccoli which provides fiber, cooking oil spray providing the healthy fat, salt, pepper and other dried seasonings, and served with toasted whole-grain bread providing the fiber and low glycemic index complex carbohydrate. Water, the sugar-free beverage, would round out this meal. Simple to prepare, this type of omelet is low in calories, high in protein, high in complex carbohydrates and fiber and very low in fat.

Low Glycemic Requirements

Low glycemic foods are foods that do not cause a large rise in blood sugar levels after you eat them. Examples of foods with a low glycemic index include peanuts, artichokes, celery, cucumbers, low-fat and nonfat yogurts, barley, peas, lentils, nonfat milk, whole wheat spaghetti, whole grain bread, canned kidney beans and sweet potatoes. Carbohydrates that cause blood sugar levels to spike are not part of the 5-Factor Diet. These include white breads and rolls, waffles and potatoes.


One of the "5's" in the 5-Factor Diet Plan includes five days of exercise. This is an essential component of the diet, and also of an overall healthy lifestyle. It is one of the reasons this diet is not a fad. Sensible eating choices and almost daily exercise are essential for good health. Not requiring exercise every single day helps keep those following the diet plan from feeling overwhelmed. Many people will quit a weight-loss program if they feel too constrained within its parameters. Factoring in the possibility of not being able to exercise every single day of the week helps people stick to the plan.

Cheat Days

The 5-Factor Diet expressly allows for one "cheat day" per week. On this day, people following the plan are allowed to eat anything they want. Similar to not requiring exercise all seven days per week, allowing one cheat day per week helps people stick to the plan. If you know you can always eat that chocolate bar you're craving on your cheat day, and still consider yourself dieting, then you are more likely to stick to the plan overall.


The 5-Factor Diet plan proposes sticking to the diet for at least five weeks in order to see results. This lowers expectations of a quick weight loss, focusing more on changing unhealthy habits. The diet plan helps you choose healthy foods in small portions that are quick and easy to prepare. The entire diet plan does not require drastic changes in most people's eating habits and lifestyles. People can still go out to eat--particularly on their cheat day--and they do not have to give up their favorite foods. The overall benefits include a lifelong habit of healthy eating and regular exercise.


One major disadvantage of the 5-Factor Diet Plan is that it does require some learning, planning and preparation. Most days you will need to choose the recommended low-glycemic foods over their high-glycemic counterparts you have enjoyed in the past. This may require you to learn which foods belong in which group. Also, because five small meals are required, if you are always out of the house, at work, in meetings or running kids around on errands, it may be difficult to actually eat five small meals every three to four hours.

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