The Wild Diet may be a perfect option for anyone who wants to drop a few pounds, but doesn’t want to give up their beloved cheese or chocolate. The idea behind it is simple: Stop counting calories and instead focus on quality, healthy, organic foods to help re-train your body to burn fat instead of sugar.
Abel James, a celebrity trainer and host of an award-winning podcast, Fat-Burning Man, is the author and creator of The Wild Diet: Go Beyond Paleo to Burn Fat, Beat Cravings, and Drop 20 Pounds in 40 days ($14.61, Amazon). James based it on his own weight-loss success which promises “real food, real results,” and foodies have been going mad for the meal plan.
The Wild Diet focuses primarily on high-quality food sources like fresh, simple, whole foods, and bans processed foods, soy, corn oils, MSG, grains, refined sugar, and other refined carbohydrates. It is a type of ketogenic diet that aims to enable ketosis (burning stored fats for energy) by eliminating processed carbohydrates.
If you think it’s time to change your mindset when it comes to eating or dieting, the Wild Diet might give you that nudge you’ve been needing. “Part of the Wild Diet involves the psychological aspect of eating,” says Luiza Petre, MD, a board-certified cardiologist and weight management specialist.. “It incorporates advice such as mindful eating — in other words ‘Eat when you are hungry’ and ‘Listen to your body.’”
But for most people, the main advantage of the Wild Diet is that you don’t have to give up your favorite treats like ice cream, bacon, eggs, and steak. In fact, the it encourages people to eat these foods, because they are sources of high-quality fat. But some experts point out that this rule may be deceptive. Obviously, you can’t eat these things in unlimited quantities; you have to remain conscious of portion size and eat only when you’re hungry.
But when followed correctly, there’s little doubt the Wild Diet wouldn’t be effective for most people. “The reduction of simple carbohydrates and sugars has been shown to reduce appetite and may be helpful in obtaining long-term weight loss,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Tanya B. Freirich. “The focus on eating when hungry and stopping when full is a healthy approach to food choices. Including more fresh, whole, organic foods is a healthy choice for everyone.”
Freirich also points out that following the Wild Diet food list may require more time, effort, and money than other food plans. “While you will need to dedicate more time to cooking and preparing your own foods, as finding suitable choices on the run may be difficult, buying outside food is not always the more economical choice. However, eating out with friends may become difficult, as not all restaurants offer pasture-raised or wild animal proteins.”
To help you decide whether the Wild Diet meal plan could work for you, it’s important to understand what you’ll be eating. Here’s what a typical day enjoying Wild Diet recipes might look like.
Sample Wild Diet Meal Plan
Breakfast: Perfect Bacon & Sunny-Side Up Eggs
- Pasture-raised pork bacon
- Grass-fed butter
According to the Wild Diet, good quality animal products are those that are free from hormones, antibiotics, and chemical additives, such as pasture-raised pork bacon.
Lunch: Nori Wraps
- Leftover meats or smoked salmon
- Roasted seaweed
- Goat cheese or avocado
- Thinly sliced veggies
Many of the Wild Diet recipes include avocado (despite its being high in fat and thus high in calories) because it is rich in antioxidants and considered to be a “good” monounsaturated fat. According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fats help reduce cholesterol levels and LDL (“bad” cholesterol).
Dinner: Chicken Parmesan
- Almond flour or coconut flour
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Red pepper flakes
- Boneless, skinless pasture-raised chicken thighs
- Grass-fed butter
- Organic tomato sauce (with no sugar added)
- Mozzarella cheese
- Organic mixed greens
- Organic extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
The Wild Diet meal plan recommends buying organic food whenever possible, because they tend to have greater health benefits than non-organic equivalents. A meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that organic dairy and meat was 50 percent higher in omega-3 fatty acids and had a better balance of omega-3s to omega-6s than non-organic dairy and meat.
Snack: Home-roasted nuts
- Almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts
Selenium is crucial in helping improve many bodily functions, from stabilizing mood to fighting inflammation, and Brazil nuts contain the highest source of selenium in the world. In fact, according to a study published in Biological Trace Element Research, just one Brazil nut per day is able to improve anti-inflammatory and antioxidant responses in the body.
- Unsweetened coffee
- Unsweetened tea
The Wild Diet bans fruit juice and sports drinks, but allows you to drink as much unsweetened coffee, tea, and seltzer as you like. It also recommends drinking eight 8 oz. glasses of filtered water a day.
Dessert: The Ultimate Chocolate Cheesecake
- Organic coconut flour
- Blanched almond flour
- Flaxseed meal
- Ground cinnamon
- Sea salt
- Vanilla extract
- Organic coconut oil, melted
- Unsweetened, full-fat organic coconut milk
- Pure maple syrup
- Grass-fed sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- Grass-fed heavy cream
- Organic cream cheese
- Organic coconut palm sugar
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Grass-fed butter
- Dark chocolate chips
The Wild Diet allows natural sugars such as maple syrup and coconut sugar. Natural sugars are packed with fiber, water, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, whereas refined (processed) sugar is usually a combination of glucose and fructose and has no nutritional value.
When you look at the Wild Diet food list for these recipes, you’ll see a common thread: organic, nutrient-rich products with nothing processed.
Sample Wild Diet Shopping List
Before you embark on the Wild Diet, first check with your doctor that it’s a safe and healthy option for you. If you get the green light, you’ll want to be sure to have these common ingredients at home so you can whip up recipes quickly and easily (and without having to head back to the store).
- Coconut (coconut flour, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut butter, shredded coconut)
- Chocolate (cacao powder, cacao nibs, chocolate chips)
- Canned foods (wild salmon, organic pumpkin — pumpkin contains heart-healthy potassium and vitamin C)
- Raw nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds — sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin E and vitamin B6 and contain phytosterols for healthy cholesterol)
- Kale chips, crackers, seaweed, nori
- Nut and seed butters (almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter)
- Vinegar and condiments (apple cider vinegar, mustard, liquid aminos)
- Baking (coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, pure stevia, coconut flour, almond flour, ground flaxseed meal)