With the rise of social media, it's no surprise that more and more people are turning to quick fixes for weight loss. The diet industry is booming with new fads popping up every day! One such diet, the Thermo Diet, has taken social media by storm.
But before you jump on board this trend train, read these myths debunked about the Thermo Diet to make an informed decision. In a world where everyone wants immediate results that last forever - it can be easy to listen to the siren call of a quick fix. Spoiler alert: to find long-term success strategies I recommend Intuitive Eating.
What is the Thermo Diet?
The Thermo Diet is an eating plan created by a man named Christopher Walker, who has zero nutrition training. His degree is in neuroscience - very cool, but not trained as a dietitian.
As a registered dietitian, who has undergone years of training, an internship, passed a board exam and completes continuing education each and every year, it does irk me a bit to have folks masquerading as nutrition experts. While I know what foods can help to prevent tooth decay, I would never promote myself as a dentist.
According to the official website for the Thermo Diet, the nutritional guidelines for this diet are:
- High carbohydrate (50% of total calories)
- Moderate protein (30% of total calories)
- Moderate fat (20% of total calories)
Plus, the Thermo diet is “designed to give your body specific foods that are easy-to-digest and high in critical micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that your body specifically uses to boost your metabolism, improve thyroid function, and balance your hormones.”
Once you’re on board with these dietary restrictions, then you’re said to be “in Thermo” with a capital T. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Let’s start with nutrient-dense foods: I love those. But boosting your metabolism and “melting fat?” That’s too good to be true, friends. Real science does not support these claims.
As an intuitive eating dietitian, you can probably guess my feeling on this diet right from the get- go: not a mega fan.
Let’s do a quick recap of what Intuitive Eating is, review the recommendations of going “Thermo” and then I’ll give you my thoughts on the whole thing.
Sound good? Let’s dive in, starting with what is Intuitive Eating.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating is a long-term strategy for physical and mental wellness that focuses on the balance of pleasure, health, sustainability, spirituality, food diversity.
It does not require calorie counting or restrictive dieting as its core philosophy revolves around honoring our body’s natural hunger signals to guide us towards an appropriate eating pattern throughout the day. Intuitive Eating makes space for us to nourish our bodies and to nourish our spirits by having a trustful, enjoyable relationship with our body. This is what I teach in The SociEATy intuitive eating membership community.
For a more in-depth explanation of Intuitive Eating, check out this post: How To Explain Intuitive Eating.
Now: onto the juicy stuff. What are the guidelines of the Thermo Diet? They’re a bit wacky - let’s check ‘em out.
Thermo Diet food guidelines
The Thermo Diet has specific food that it recommends and another list of excluded foods. Let’s list a few examples of each and then chat through my thoughts.
Foods that the Thermo Diet encourages
The Thermo Diet guidelines recommend eating only the following foods.
- Grass-fed beef and eggs
- Raw dairy products
- Coconut oil, ghee, avocado oil
- Organic wine
And here is the funniest (and also saddest) bullet point on their list. “Vegetables are not necessary.” I mean - give me a break, right? Vegetables are healthy and vital, from the fiber to the phytochemicals, vegetables taste great and promote our mental and physical wellness.
Other than a toddler not wanting to have their three bites of vegetables at dinner, do you really know anyone who thinks that vegetables are not the foundation of healthy, nourishing and enjoyable eating? Goodness, gracious.
And while vegetables are great, I still don’t recommend a “diet” about them, such as the Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet that you make have heard of. More on that on my blog post: Should You Follow A WFPB Diet?
Back to our regularly scheduled programming: the Thermo Diet. So, what is off the list for the Thermo Diet? Let’s explore those next.
Foods to avoid on the Thermo Diet
Here we go. The (long and ridiculous) list of excluded foods.
- Polyunsaturated fats
- Mint tea
- Grains, including oatmeal
- Artificial sweeteners
I mean – really – who has issues with oatmeal? Beans? Just about all of these foods are nourishing and well-backed by research to support our best health and wellness. And artificial sweeteners? They can be fine depending on why and how you’re using them.
The Thermo Diet recommends a few supplements, let’s cover those next.
What supplements are recommended?
According to the Thermo Diet website, the following supplements are recommended:
- Vitamin E
- Beatine HCL
- “Nutra Truth Supplements”
My quick two cents on supplements in general? While they can have a time and a place, I guide members of The SociEATy towards “food first”. Sometimes it can be beneficial to take specific supplements, like how I explain my blog post on veganism In this country, supplements are not regulated, and so it is really important to purchase supplements that are 3rd party approved for quality.
Other Thermo Diet recommendations
To make this a “lifestyle” and not a “diet”, (ha - just kidding - we know that this is a diet), there are the following recommendations for folks following the Thermo Diet.
- 30 minutes of direct sunlight exposure daily
- 30-60 minutes of daily exercise
- Use of red light therapy on “key areas”
I can get down with aiming to get outside in sunlight daily- as long as it’s feasible. I try to do this daily, just get outside, because it DOES help my mood! The exercise is also an okay recommendation… to an extent. Our bodies also need rest. So I wouldn’t recommend 60 minutes of HITT everyday!
As for the red light therapy? The research I came across was discussing red light therapy for skin health such as rejuvenation and inflammation. He discusses red light therapy to help with conditions such as arthritis but one study I found showed no statistical significance of arthritis pain improvement. So… I’m not convinced it goes deeper than the skin.
What is the Thermo30?
The term “Thermo30” refers to the launch phase to implement the Thermo Diet recommendations. The rules aren’t any different, it is just about getting started, step by step.
Does The Thermo Diet work?
There is no data saying it does. The research on the Thermo Diet is slim. The website makes claims of “helping thousands” without anything published to show the details. This is not quality science, friends.
But we do have lots of data on diets in general – yes, this IS a diet. And those? Those do not work. Typically they lead to weight gain, binge eating, and other negative health effects. You can check out my blog post on 12 reasons not to diet for more on this.
What are the cons of the Thermo Diet?
Where do I begin?
As an Intuitive Eater, I am helping my clients to explore which foods and eating patterns help them to feel good, both emotionally and physically.
Food rules get in the way of genuine exploration. It’s like saying, “go explore the beautiful forest” but only being allowed to walk around the parking lot. We know that there are more adventures to discover when we have full permission to really explore everywhere.
The Thermo Diet is not created by a nutrition expert. While I am all about people taking the time to explore what foods make themselves feel best, it is another thing to make recommendations to others. Especially those that are not verified by any studies and explicitly contradict common sense nutrition that is 1,000% backed up by gobs of science (ahem, “vegetables are not necessary”).
What are my recommendations?
I don’t recommend any restrictive dieting for anyone. This includes the Thermo Diet, but is not just picking on that diet; I’m not a fan of any diet. They simply don’t work.
I recommend Intuitive Eating with gentle nutrition and making goals based on lifestyle habits, not weight. One of the terms in reference to that is HAES, which refers to Health at Every Size. Basically, I recommend eating in a way that honors our body’s wisdom, our own cravings and preferences and makes abundant room for enjoyment and curiosity.
Sounds simple on the surface, but it is a lot easier said than done.
Need more guidance on getting started with Intuitive Eating? Be sure to check out my YouTube channel for more tips to help in your intuitive eating journey and take the no food rules quiz which will tell you what's holding you back from truly finding food freedom and give you customized resources (and a workbook!) to overcome it!
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