Is this popular diet book right for you? With The Virgin Diet book review series, we'll be going over, point by point, what this book gets right and wrong, who it's for, and if it's worth purchasing.
With The Virgin Diet, we're getting into vastly different territory than Harper's books. Some challenges we'll be facing include:
- Little to no citations for claims, making our job of verifying information a lot tougher.
- Venturing into some new, tricky, and controversial topics like food intolerance - where finding appropriate studies will be very difficult.
- Legitimate points entangled with and lost in an underlying premise of exceptional fat loss.
But first, let's meet our author. JJ Virgin is a Certified Nutrition Specialist and a Certified Healing Foods Specialist. She graduated from UCLA in 1985 with a bachelor's in English. For two years (2005-2007) she was the nutrition expert on the "Dr. Phil Show", made appearances on "Extreme Makeover", and is the co-star of TLC's "Freaky Eaters." She's authored two books, Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy (2010), and The Virgin Diet (2012) and as well is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post, Livestrong, and Prevention Magazine.
Note on Education & Certifications
Her name often appears with a "Ph.D" next to it in her online contributions and first book. However it is ominously missing from the front of her latest book. A bit of digging reveals the Ph.D is from a non-accredited online program - which is to say, a much less rigorous program than the Ph.D you would normally think of. As well, it has no obligation or oversight to provide sound, scientifically proven education.
As in, the curriculum can be made up and based on nothing.
Regarding certifications, in the United States, "nutritionist" is an unregulated term. To be fair to JJ, however, a cursory glance at the CNS certification seems rigorous and substantial. There are plenty of legitimate issues to take with the steps needed to get become a Registered Dietitian, in which case a CNS seems like a great alternative. I cannot give a judgement on CHFS. While my instinct is that it sounds bogus, I haven't done near enough research on it to say for certain.
What is the Virgin Diet?
The tagline for this diet is "Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days," however it is a 21-day protocol. This diet is based on a few different concepts:
- Food Intolerance is behind many conditions, such as aging, skin conditions, bloating, and weight gain that's tough to lose.
- There are a core seven groups of food that many people are "intolerant" to - their immune system believes them to be harmful and chronic ingestion of them will lead to chronic inflammation.
- Going on an elimination diet - as in, eliminating certain food groups for a few weeks then adding them back in one at a time - will help you discover if food intolerance is causing your weight-loss woes.
The book then details the mechanisms behind food intolerance and how it causes the above symptoms. It gives more information on the specifics of why each of the seven foods are more troublesome than others. Afterwards, you learn how to re-introduce the eliminated foods back into your diet, then how to sustain your weight loss and symptom relief for life. The end of the book has a bunch of recipes that don't contain the seven eliminated food groups.
This book is THICK and has A TON to go over. So here's how this critique is going to go down:
Part I - Food Intolerance: The Hidden Cause of Weight Gain
"So listen up, because I'm about to share with you the secret to weight loss.
It isn't calories."
In Part I, we will give a brief overview of our current knowledge on "food intolerance." What is it, is it different from an allergy, how can you tell if you have one, what should you do about it?
Part II - Inflammation: Fanning the Flames
Here we'll review what we know about chronic inflammation - a very buzz-worthy topic these days. What IS inflammation, and why is it bad? Is it really the cause of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, eczema and every other modern health problem ever?
Part III - Interpreting Testimonials
Each chapter ends with a very convincing-sounding testimonial. In my Bullshit Detection book, I have an entire section dedicated to going over how testimonials and before & afters work, but this is a good chance to emphasize it!
Part IV - Chapter 2 and Beyond
From here on out we'll go over the book chapter by chapter, section by section, just like we did with The Skinny Rules. It will be MUCH easier to do with the framework of Parts I-III in place.
For now though, you've learned some interested facts about Virgin's education history, controversial online education programs, and what's coming up!