The vertical diet is a nutrition plan designed by a personal trainer to balance hormones while correcting nutritional deficiencies. While the intended target is athletes, others can benefit from this diet as well. Like many eating plans, it is critical to understand how and why the vertical diet is intended to work. This gives you the ability to weigh the benefits and drawbacks and decide whether this carb and protein-focused diet are right for you.
How the Vertical Diet Works
The overall aim of the vertical diet is twofold. First, it strives to help people lose weight. Once this goal is achieved, the diet helps convert fat into lean muscle. The vertical diet is focused on a narrow range of food groups, while traditional “horizontal” diets incorporate multiple food groups. By restricting the foods from which the body gets its nutrients, the diet may be able to improve gut health, boost metabolism, encourage recovery, and build lean muscle.
The Primary Foods of the Vertical Diet
Every food in the vertical diet is designed to maximize muscle gain and limit adipose tissue, so it focuses on carbs and protein, which much of the calories come from white rice and red meat. The former is high in carbohydrates and can be digested quickly and in large quantities. This is important for athletes who need to burn calories at the gym. Red meat is encouraged over poultry or fish because it has more protein per gram of meat. Red meat also has iron, vitamin B, and zinc, which are essential in building lean muscle.
The Restrictions of the Vertical Diet
The vertical diet also encourages avoiding foods that are hard for the body to digest. As a rule of thumb, if the food causes bloating and gas, avoid it. This means no onion, garlic, broccoli, or cauliflower. In addition, brown rice and legumes are discouraged. They contain lectins that can interfere with the ease with which the body absorbs other nutrients. Some people choose oats instead of rice, but they must be cooked thoroughly to ensure they are easy for the body to digest and absorb.
How to Start the Vertical Diet
The first step when considering the vertical diet is to figure out the number of calories you require each day. People who want to build lean muscle must exceed this number — the excess calories are important for completing workouts and building muscle. When the body begins feeling hungry between meals — due to increasing lean muscle — the individual needs to “step up” the number of calories with more red meat and white rice. Therefore, the body’s tissues need more nutrition. These “steps” are repeated until the person reaches his or her goal weight.
Who Should Use the Vertical Diet?
This diet is an option for people looking to put on more muscle, including athletes, bodybuilders, and powerlifters. In addition, the vertical diet can appeal to people hoping to lose weight or those with digestive difficulties. People who feel bloated or struggle with gas after eating meals may find symptomatic relief by minimizing the range of foods they eat and focusing on those that are easy to digest.
Benefit: Help with Muscle Gain
One of the main goals of the vertical diet is to provide a calorie surplus that can be used to build muscle. With foods that are easy to digest, individuals can eat meals more frequently. Furthermore, these meals have lots of carbs and nutrients, which help the body burn fat while and support the growth of lean muscle tissue.
Benefit: Reduce Digestive Symptoms
Many people experience regular bloating, gas, and irritable bowel syndrome. Often, these symptoms are caused or exacerbated by foods such as cauliflower, broccoli, legumes, and dairy. By avoiding these foods, individuals facing recurring cramps, diarrhea, and constipation may find relief. A diet like the vertical diet can be especially appealing to those who have tried without success other methods to alleviate their symptoms.
Drawback: Low in Fiber
One of the major drawbacks of the vertical diet is that it is low in fiber, an essential nutrient for a healthy heart and digestion, and the prevention of conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Fiber is typically found in the skin of fruits and vegetables, which are largely avoided on the vertical diet. Anyone who has diabetes or a history of heart problems may want to avoid this diet.
Drawback: Limited Variety
Some people find the vertical diet difficult to commit to because the choice of foods is so limiting. It is easy to get tired of eating the same foods every day. This limited diet can also lead to nutrient deficiencies, so it is vital for anyone considering the diet to plan out meals carefully and talk to a dietician about which nutrients might be missing and how best to consume them.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, the vertical diet could be a suitable option for someone looking to build lean muscle, as it is high in carbs and protein. At the same time, failure to carefully plan one’s eating habits can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Therefore, it is important to research and plan before undertaking a diet like this one, and to speak to a doctor and nutritionist to ensure it is safe for you to do so.