This week, the legitimacy of the popular F-Factor diet, which is known for its tasteful protein powders and bars, has been put into question by an Instagram influencer.
Emily Gellis started sharing anonymous testimonials with her near-170,000 follower fanbase on Instagram earlier this week after reading about a woman who believed consuming the products is what caused her to lose her period. Gellis has continued to post women’s accounts on her Instagram stories, with a majority saying they’ve experienced unbearable bloating, urinary tract infections, rashes, and even more severe side effects, including heavy metal poisoning and miscarriage, while following the diet.
“I miscarried at 9 weeks and they said there were high traces of lead in my blood that could have been the reason I miscarried,” one anonymous user said to Gellis, as reported by Refinery29. “I never even thought of the powders/bars, etc… I cried all week reading these as I put two and two together.”
All of these symptoms have led affected consumers to believe that the high-in-fiber protein powders and bars have high concentrations of lead. The claim may not be far-fetched either, considering the products have a Prop 65 warning label on them, indicating they do contain traces of metal. Passed in California in 1986, the Proposition 65 law, “requires businesses to provide warnings to Californians about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm,” as stated by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.
The F-Factor website promises that people can, “Eat Carbs. Dine Out. Drink Alcohol. Work Out Less,” when following the diet, which is heavily comprised of fiber-rich protein bars and powders that you make shakes with. The diet’s approach is centered around increasing fiber consumption, which sounds harmless—especially in the way the website explains it:
“Fiber is the zero-calorie, non-digestible part of a carbohydrate that adds bulk to food. When you follow a diet rich in fiber you feel full after eating–so you’ll generally eat less throughout the day. Also, fiber swells in the stomach, absorbs and removes fat and calories, and boosts metabolism.”
However, as one person negatively affected by the diet pointed out to Refinery29, the website isn’t transparent about one thing: Proof of a Certificate of Analysis (CoA). The International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations says that this document details “specifications on characteristics such as purity, strength, composition and appropriate limits for ingredients in which there is a known or reasonable expectation that a contaminant or adulterant may be present.”
Creator of the F-Factor Diet, Tanya Zuckerbrot, who is also a registered dietitian, told Page Six, “What I can categorically confirm is that the rumors of dangerous levels of lead in the product is false.” She also added that in the two-plus years she has been selling her products, she has received less than 50 complaints and requests for refunds.
“This rumor that somehow I created a product that’s harming people’s health is so malicious and frankly unfounded,” she said.
To be transparent, F-Factor’s Vanilla Shake Powder was the winner of our protein powder taste test last year. There’s no denying that both the flavor and texture of the powder are near-perfect when blended with other smoothie ingredients. However, this test was performed purely on taste.
While nothing has been confirmed just yet, the claims made by women who have tried the diet and experienced adverse symptoms are concerning. Until a concrete correlation can be made, the diet and its products seems to continue to be under public scrutiny.
For more, check out 5 Dangerous Mistakes You’re Making on a Low-Carb Diet.