It’s not often that I am surprised by new diets or exercise routines, I mean, we’ve had everything from blood type diets to caveman diets, no carbs/low carbs/good carbs, raw food (which actually gave me terrible indigestion and bloating) and everything in between!
So when I heard about the new Venus diet and exercise plan, I was a little skeptical, probably as you are. A diet and exercise plan just for women? But, as I thought more about it, I was more intrigued. We’re not the same as men, we store fat in different places, men seem to be able to just stop eating when they diet (do you have many female friends that can do the same? I certainly don’t) and even when we run for hours each week, we still struggle to shift the stubborn pounds. Why is that?
I was asked to review the Venus Factor Diet and after my initial scoffing, I actually saw the potential behind the program. A diet and exercise program that takes hormones into consideration, and looks at why women store fat differently and what exercises we can do to shift it? The idea has merit!
Venus Factor Diet: What is it?
The Venus Factor Diet has been invented by diet and fitness expert John Barban, specifically for women that are looking to shift excess weight and typically have been on the diet treadmill for years with no long-term success.
He says that his system, which has been finely tuned and tested on real women, “has nothing to do with silly exercise machines, cardio, restrictive or pre-packaged diets, or whatever weird berry pill the diet industry is talking about these days.”
In fact, it’s based on calorie deficits and maintenance, i.e. eating fewer calories than you expend on 5 or 6 days per week, and more on your maintenance days, to kick start your metabolism. But unlike many diets, this is carefully crafted to get your body used to a maintenance amount of calories (i.e. to maintain your weight) so you don’t end up piling it all back on.
Why do women need a separate diet?
Barban believes that women should be treated very differently to men when dieting, for the following reason; the hormone responsible for fat burning leptin, which speeds up the metabolism and signals your body to burn fat. Women naturally produce more leptin than men, which should be a good thing, right? However:
1) Women can be three times less responsive to leptin signals than men, so we don’t use it to its maximum. This is called leptin resistance, and
2) When women diet, our leptin levels drop twice as much and twice as fast as they do when men diet. This means that our weight loss plateaus much faster than men’s weight loss.
Women are disadvantaged when it comes to dieting?
Yes! All this time you, if you’re like me, probably thought it was something you were doing wrong, or you attributed your weight loss failure to bad genes or ‘just the way I’m built’. But the truth is that dieting is much harder for women than it is for men, particularly after pregnancy when the leptin levels plummet even further.
So how does the Venus Factor Diet help?
Barban has discovered a system that ‘resets’ the body and the leptin levels, effectively re-wiring it to its most effective fat burning state. He calls this the ‘metabolic override’, and views it as a way to work WITH your body for weight loss, rather than AGAINST it, “so your fat loss process becomes simple, and even ENJOYABLE”!
He has designed it to work with our hormones, which as we know are very different from men’s. His system, he tells us, promises:
- High energy levels
- No cravings for ‘forbidden’ foods
- No weight loss plateaus
- A boosted metabolism
- Permanent fat loss from female problem areas like stomach, hips, butt and thighs
He also explains which foods we regularly eat that we think are healthy, that actually jeopardize our weight loss efforts, such as sugar, sweeteners and soy products (see the section below on foods).
What type of exercises does it endorse?
Barban believes that women’s workouts need to be a lot shorter than those of our male counterparts, and advocates more strength work. Remember how shocked we all were when we found out that brisk walking does more for fat loss than fast running? It didn’t appear to make sense, but scientific studies have shown that we burn fat at lower intensities, whereas we improve cardiovascular or aerobic fitness at higher intensities.
John’s ethos echoes this; he has developed a 12 week nutrition program along with over 140 exercise designed for women to burn fat. His exercises programs, which you are encouraged to do just 3 times per week, include weights supersets (two complementary exercises run without breaks) and pyramid style reps, help us to target cellulite and increase our leptin sensitivity.
You’ll discover techniques such as Fibonnaci pyramids, with higher reps and lower intensity at the ‘bottom’ of the pyramid, moving up with intensity and down with reps at the ‘top’ of the pyramid. These are bona fide techniques used by athletes to train, to ramp up their metabolism.
You’ll also interject these pyramids by adding in extra exercises on the way ‘up’, and reducing them on the way ‘down’. It’s exactly this kind of body shock that our system needs to reboot and start really burning fat.
But actually it’s not! Whereas I was exhausted after each workout when doing Phase 2 of Insanity, this workout had me buzzed up at the end! I had more energy from about day 3, and it got better and better.
The workouts are pretty short too, around half an hour depending on your ability. And they don’t take a massive leap, like…ahem…Insanity, in the second month the reps increase from 10 to 12, in the third month up to 15, for example. They are extremely doable and the video tutorials are excellent. And just three times a week? I do supplement with a little cardio, but generally the weekly program is FAR less strenuous than my previous routine.
How long does the program last?
The diet is 12 weeks but with the variety of exercises, you may find yourself doing them for many weeks afterwards. Many of the Venus Factor converts are committed to the program for life. It’s very easy to fit in 30 minutes a day and the energy buzz afterwards will have you hooked.
What kind of results can I expect to see?
Basically, if you lose 10lbs, it will look like you’ve lost double that, as you’re targeting the problem areas. So if you have a fat mid-section, a huge butt or men’s thighs, when you slim those areas, your weight loss will be so much more noticeable.
This is fantastic as I’m sure you’ve had the same problems as me before: you work hard to lose weight but it goes from the wrong places – from your face, from your small bust or flat butt, or any other areas that you DON’T want to lose it from!
However, this is not a program to have you all skin and bones. Barban does not advocate that in the slightest. In fact, he says “your target healthy [body fat percentage] range is between 20%-30%. Most of our Venus transformation contest winners arrive at their best figure anywhere between 18%-22%” but notes that your goals are highly individual to you.
Barban encourages you to look beyond the scales on this program, and gives you your target waist, hips and shoulder measurements to be in your best shape. Weight is just a number, but when you can actively try and achieve the best shape possible, the numbers won’t mean a thing!
What kind of foods does the Venus Factor Diet recommend?
The diet is healthy and has restrictions for either 5 or 6 days (1000 kcals for me), which in turn lowers leptin levels and slows fat-burning potential, so each week women are given a one or two ‘cheat days’, when you’ll eat the calories you would if you were maintaining your weight (1700 kcals for me) . The cheat days are designed to rev up the metabolism again and fool the body that it is on a weight or fat loss journey, and every month you change the focus of the ‘cheat’ – one month it’s protein, one month it’s fat, one month it’s carbs.
And are you hungry on this diet? Well, if you’re used to eating a lot then you’ll find it hard. However, with John’s innovative “willpower depletion” idea, he advises you to fast overnight for 12, 14 or 16 hours, as long as you can, as you have a lot more willpower in the mornings. Save your coffee until mid-morning, your breakfast until lunch etc, and you’ll find it easy to stick to the low calorie diet.
Not have breakfast?
Yes we’ve all been told the benefits of a hearty breakfast, ramping up your metabolism blah blah blah! But if you kick start your metabolism first thing, you’ll be hungry all day.
Are there any supplements that go well with the Venus Factor Diet?
Barban suggests Garcinia Cambogia but I believe that it is not the only supplement you could go for. Depending on your individual profile, you could try:
- Green coffee bean extract
- White mulberry leaf extract
- Yacon syrup
- Raspberry ketones
- CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)
I’ve written extensive reviews about each one, so you can find out which is best for you. Have a high blood sugar level or cravings for sugar? Consider white mulberry leaf extract or tea. Find diets mess up your digestive system? Supplement with a little yacon syrup to help pass food through the body. Sluggish metabolism? You could try raspberry ketones, which contain a thermo genic property similar to chilies that helps ramp up our fat burning capacity.
Each of us is different and there is no one-size fits all. Have a look at my other reviews to see.
Is there anything else that I can do to boost my weight loss?
Although the exercise program is focused specifically on trimming down our problem areas with strength training, I still think that cardio has its place. I find short bursts of interval training (jog, sprint, jog etc) are excellent at fat burning and weight loss in a short time. So I’d advise a small amount of cardio several times a week to encourage your weight loss even further. You don’t have to hit the streets or waste time travelling to the gym; try it at home with 10 minutes doing jumping jacks or skipping rope, 30 seconds slow, 30 seconds as fast as you can intermittently. Anything works – running on the spot, high knees, you name it. You may have read my Insanity review a while ago, pick any one of Tony’s warm up exercises and do it in intervals for ten minutes for fast, incredible results!
You can also boost your weight loss by switching to herbal teas such as mulberry leaf or green tea, which both have solid health-boosting properties, drinking at least 64oz of water per day and cutting way back on salt, which makes us hold on to water and raises our blood pressure.
But diets don’t work for me…
I’ve heard this a million times; I can’t diet, I don’t have the willpower to diet, I don’t have time to diet, I don’t have the money to diet and other things that we keep saying. Unfortunately, the more we say these, the more our brain believes them and we inadvertently turn these statements into self-fulfilling prophecies. So it’s high time we change this mindset around!
As I’ve detailed above, the Venus Factor Diet is unlike any other diet, particularly with its inclusion of ‘cheat’ days designed specifically to boost the metabolism. So it’s time, ladies, to forget about how diets don’t work, and instead take it one day at a time. The cheat days sure make the lower calorie days easier to bear when you can see a candy bar or pizza in sight!
Is it ridiculously expensive?
Of course, that’s the question on everyone’s lips! Sometimes, these diet programs or home food deliveries can have costs that are extremely prohibitive. So, is the Venus Factor Diet any different?
In a word; yes. When I purchased it, I was really surprised when it turned out to be $47 for the whole 12 week program. That’s half of what many of us pay for a single personal training session, and includes a robust nutritional guidance plan as well as your exercise programs worked out for each day.
It also featured a 60-day money back guarantee, stating that if for any reason you weren’t happy with the program, you’d get 100% of your money refunded. It actually stated that you’d get this refund within 48 hours, although I must admit I’ve seen two reviews that say that their money wasn’t returned that quickly. Maybe the company is unused to getting these requests and can’t actually deliver the refund as quickly as had hoped, perhaps these were just unfortunately isolated incidents that I picked up on, who knows.
What’s in the box?
If you buy the time-limited offer, you’ll receive the following (although I’m not sure how long the offer will be available for):
- 12 week fat loss book
- Venus Factor workout videos (worth $297)
- Access to Venus Immersion, an online community of Venus Factor members (worth $97)
I’ve joined online communities before and some have been good, some have been great, and some have been…well…underwhelming. If you go for a serious, athletic program, you may find yourself out of your depth when trying to strike up friendships online, all those acronyms and abbreviations. That’s what I loved about the Venus women – it was like chatting to friends and sharing positive stories is such an effective source of motivation.
What’s good about the Venus Diet Factor?
- Very cost-effective at just $47 (although I would expect this to rise in the near future)
- Targets women’s issues such as hormones, leptin resistance and weight loss plateaus
- Easy to follow, with a ‘cheat’ day or two to boost our metabolism (and keep us happy!)
- Prepares us for post-Venus so we won’t pile back on the weight
- Community of thousands to help when you need advice, motivation or just a bit of fun
- Re-wires the body and ‘overrides’ our low fat burning potential
- Fat loss from targeted problem areas such as butt, thighs, belly or waist
- Targets cellulite far better than many exercise programs do
- 60 day money-back guarantee if you don’t enjoy it or don’t get the results you were after
- Prompt individual service, my question was replied to within 12 hours
Anything not so good?
- Low calories diet for 5 days can be difficult to follow, even with cheat days
- You have to provide the gym equipment – weights or bars, stability ball etc
- It doesn’t come with a calorie tracker (although free MyFitnessPal.com version is excellent)
- It’s incredibly sales-y – I know people that didn’t even make it through Barban’s video because of the selling technique (they’ve since bought it on my recommendation, but may not have done otherwise)
- You’ll start to receive quite a lot of emails after you sign up, some are interesting but if you’re short of time, you may not appreciate them all! I send them to a folder to read later, on a Sunday when the kids are doing their homework!
What are other people saying about the Venus Factor Diet?
There are comments from authorities such as integrated nutritionist & physician, Dr Hollowell, who said “I’ve never reviewed a nutrition plan so perfectly catered for the female metabolism and hormonal environment to encourage quick, sustainable fat loss.”
International best-selling fat loss author and fitness expert, Kyle Leon, said “this truly cutting edge system has enabled hundreds of my female clients…to reach a remarkable new level of long term leanness”.
Real user opinions include:
- “After doing the Venus program I realized that before I was doing almost everything wrong. I’m 50 and I’m in the best shape of my life…I have never been happier.”
- “John, Brad and his team ensure you have ALL the tools you need to reach the BEST SHAPE you have ever been in your entire life.”
- “Eight children in 12 years and I look and feel better than I ever have in my entire life!”
- “At my age I cannot believe the shape that I am finally getting, and I owe it all to the Venus Factor program.”
- “I was pretty surprised when I saw my after pictures. I didn’t think I changed so much. The transformation was amazing.”
- “I lost all my post pregnancy weight which was amazing…I have never been part of an online community like this one – it is truly special.”
- “[From starting Venus Factor] I never looked back and I never strayed. 6 months later, I am 50 lbs lighter.”
- “I’ve never looked or felt better than I do now following the Venus lifestyle.”
My opinion: A summary review of the Venus Factor Diet
I admit I was skeptical but this diet has a serious amount of science behind it. Forget what you know – as they say, ‘if you do what you always do, you’ll get what you always got”. It’s time to retrain your brain AND your body! This is a fabulous program that offers a lot of common sense and is a fast track to a better metabolism and a more toned body, in conjunction with our hormonal balances. I’d give it a 4-4.5 out of 5, just knocked down off the top spot because of the over-the-top sales pitch and the fact that I saw two reviews in which they didn’t get their refund in the timescales they were supposed to.