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You've probably seen VShred advertised all over social media, with its ubiquitous representative, Vince Sant, promoting the company in extended-length videos, and in featured testimonials from clients getting ripped in 90 days.
Watch or read any of VShred’s marketing material and you'll notice claims around hormones and metabolism—and particularly that VShred says it leverages a Harvard-discovered secret loophole to help people lose weight. To deepen the mystery even further, VShred argues that the rest of the world doesn’t know about this loophole.
What's more, this loophole allegedly allows people to lose weight with little effort, though the company tells potential clients that their program is only for people who are "dedicated and serious about achieving rapid results." VShred advertises that more than 100,000 people have given the program a positive review.
Although VShred doesn’t seem to have a large celebrity following, Dr. Drew Pinsky has popped up in numerous marketing materials speaking on the benefits of the service.
I spent several weeks analyzing the details of the VShred nutrition program and I consulted a top researcher in the nutritional sciences field to help me decode what VShred is selling, the supposed research behind its plan, and if it all works.
What Is the VShred Diet?
The VShred diet is an eating plan that accompanies VShred workouts and supplements.
The diet is primarily constructed around one fundamental concept: That your body type should determine what you should eat. More specifically, VShred builds its meal plans around three body types:
Endomorphs: People who naturally have higher amounts of fat and muscle. They tend to gain weight more easily than other types.
Ectomorphs: People who are naturally leaner. They tend to have gain weight less easily than other types.
Mesomorphs: People who have a natural ability to gain muscle and lose fat.
From there, VShred offers two options for its diet plans: one based on carb cycling, a nutritional practice with a goal of muscle gain and weight loss, and the other on counting macronutrients (or "macros"): protein, carbohydrates, fat.
VShred offers you basic meal plans for these diets and then option to pay for a customized meal plan.
The basic meal plans are low in calories, with some dipping below 1,200 calories a day. Otherwise, the foods on the meal plans include normal, everyday choices that most people can find in a supermarket. Sweet potatoes. Blueberries. Chicken breast.
What Does the VShred Diet Cost?
Each program is advertised for between $47 and $99, but there are plenty of upsells, including meal plans and supplements.
Does the VShred Diet Work?
It may, at least for the short-term. But that's not because of any little-known scientific loophole or diet plan engineered for your body type.
Let's take VShred's first claim: that Harvard-backed weight-loss loophole.
The "loophole" is actually the hormone irisin, which, yes, Harvard studied way back in 2012, but there's been very little published about it from a solid scientific research standpoint since. To me as a dietitian, that's a red flag.
VShred diets also cite TRPV1, a receptor that helps produce brown fat, which is a type of fat that may help burn calories. TRPV1 has also been studied... in mice and lab dishes; not humans. (Another flag.)
Then let's look at body-type-specific dieting.
“The reality is there is zero evidence to support these body types and zero evidence to suggest you need to eat differently according to someone's categorization of your body to these 'body types,'" says Layne Norton, Ph.D., a nutritional sciences researcher. To put a finer point on it: "VShred's marketing is long on claims but utterly devoid of evidence," Norton says.
To summarize, although VShred does link to studies in marketing material and point to its glowing testimonials as evidence that their diet works, the bulk of that research is preliminary and inconclusive. And, as of yet, no clinical research has been done on the VShred diet specifically. (I've looked.)
To step back a bit more, yes, you may still lose weight after going on a VShred diet. But that’s not because of any fancy loopholes or body-type-adjusted plans. It's because the VShred diet is low in calories. Anytime you can maintain a calorie deficit for any length of time, you’ll lose weight.
But just because a diet helps you lose weight doesn't mean it's great for you.
Is the VShred Diet Healthy?
Not really, especially when you consider a greater definition of "health"—a definition that doesn't just factor in what you look like.
The diet does not include any content around a person's relationship with food, body positivity, or emotional health.
Both carb cycling and macro tracking require a lot of weighing and tracking at each meal. I don't believe that either are a low-effort, intuitive way to eat.
And while VShred meal plans involve very little decision-making, which some people may find easy, many people won’t thrive on a diet that is so restrictive and regimented. Restrictive diets typically don't allow for any freedom in food choice, regardless of your situation. This can make the diet extremely difficult with travel, socializing, and *life.*
VShred diet meal plans are also very Eurocentric. There doesn’t seem to be any room for food from other cultures, which can make them even more challenging for certain populations to follow.
Aside from potentially feeling hungry all of the time, restrictive, low-calorie diets may result in nutrient deficiencies over time.
Ultimately, the VShred diet is slickly marketed and light on scientific support. It’s low in calories, and using meal plans doesn’t teach you how to self-manage food choices.
Interestingly, in a section called "testimonial support"at the very bottom of the VShred website, there are results of a survey done by the company about its diet and fitness programs. I didn't find them especially convincing.
According to Norton, your eating pattern should be about what you can sustain, not about empty promises about which diet is "better."
"You as an individual should choose the dietary preference that makes it easiest for YOU as an individual to adhere to. Unfortunately, that is not as hot for marketing as claiming you've found some magic loophole that allows you to have no accountability.”
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