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Top MD: These ‘Invisible Carbs’ Lower Blood Sugar + Speed Fat Burn — Shortcut Recipes Make It Easy to Benefit

Dr. Terry Dubrow's plan helps reverse even stubborn age-related weight gain.

Want to make this your healthiest and happiest year ever? Then you’re gonna love what one of America’s favorite doctors has to say about losing stubborn pounds. “According to the latest research, strategies that make us feel good actually work better than ones that make us feel lousy,” shares Terry Dubrow, MD, Botched star and co-author of The Dubrow Diet and The Dubrow Keto Fusion Diet. His best diet advice, particularly for those of us with age-related belly fat we’d like to get rid of: Simply experiment with a relaxed approach to intermittent fasting as you enjoy carb-rich good stuff like creamy overnight oats and cheesy pasta dishes — yes, you get carbs! “My wife calls them ‘invisible carbs,’ and that’s really what they are,” says the doc. Read on to discover what he means by that — and how the Dubrow Diet could help you. 

What is the Dubrow Diet?

The Dubrow Diet is a relaxed take on intermittent fasting, one the doc and his wife, Heather Dubrow (of Real Housewives of Orange County fame), created to help keep themselves lean and healthy without sacrificing fun. The gist: Go as long as you comfortably can between your last sitting one day and your first sitting the next. “You’re asleep for most of your fast,” Dr. Dubrow notes. “Then, instead of breakfast, you have brunch.”

Some intermittent fasters also aim to eat keto, but Dr. Dubrow lets you enjoy healthy carbs — with an emphasis on invisible carbs (more on this below) — during half your daily eating window. Plus, you get a weekly cheat day. 

He adds that it’s fine to begin gradually, with, say, a 10-hour window, such as 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. “Your stomach will start to shrink, and you can usually switch to a shorter window without hunger,” he says. “You want to find the sweet spot that feels good while the scale still goes down. It might be a 6-hour or even a 4-hour window. But we’ve found an 8-hour window works well for many people.” 

Why the Dubrow Diet can speed fat burn

In a recent study published in Cell Reports Medicine, a group following Dr. Dubrow–style guidelines ended up blasting fat at double speed compared to low-carb dieters. The explanation? Dr. Dubrow says a big key is that going longer periods without eating activates autophagy, a cellular self-cleaning mode that primes our bodies to survive and thrive. It helps prompt waste and toxins to be purged from inside cells, plus aging and malfunctioning cells can self-destruct altogether and are replaced with brand-new cells.

“I call it the age-less switch, because it turns back the clock on a cellular level,” he says. “Your body does everything better, from regulating blood sugar and metabolism to fighting disease. You won’t get this benefit from other diets.”

Related: Can Skipping Meals Benefit Your Body and Mind? Here’s What Science Says About Intermittent Fasting

How invisible carbs help boost results

Intermittent fasting and autophagy both work in part by improving blood sugar. So why not cut all carbs to keep blood sugar as low as possible? “We love carbs. Cutting back too much sets us up for failure,” cautions Dr. Dubrow. That’s why he allows for the previously mentioned weekly cheat day, during which you can have anything you crave, aiming to stop eating when lightly full. Then there’s his more ingenious workaround: Every day during half your eating window, you can have a couple optional servings of carbs rich in resistant starch, or RS. That means oats, beans, even pasta, potatoes and/or rice that has been cooked and cooled (cooling causes resistant starch to form; reheating afterward is fine). 

“RS is classified as an ‘unavailable carb’ because the body can’t break it down normally,” says Dr. Dubrow. RS also releases compounds that do things like helping keep blood sugar 40% lower and increasing metabolism 70%. So it’s satisfying but “invisible” — because it barely counts!

Related: Eating More of This Starch Can Boost Gut Health and Aid Digestion

Why the meno-belly goes first on the Dubrow Diet

As we age and estrogen levels drop, it promotes storage of belly fat. The good news: Scientists using special scans have shown that “autophagy targets fat in the abdomen,” says Dr. Dubrow. “It’s the first area that breaks down.” Resistant starch has also been shown to speed belly burn. So it’s no wonder new studies show that women who eat in an 8-hour window and are allowed carbs rich in resistant starch melt their bellies a whopping 300% faster than other dieters. Basically, you trick your body into getting rid of belly flab “even during the hormonal changes of menopause,” promises Dr. Dubrow. 

Dubrow diet before and after: Leslie Fink, 59

Before and after images of Leslie Fink who lost 102 lbs with the Dubrow Diet
Lynn Lane

After losing 40 pounds to ease pain from a nerve disorder, “I hit menopause and gained it back,” recalls Leslie Fink, 59. Worried she’d need a cane again, the Houston paralegal and mom hired a keto coach; she lost $1,600 and just 2 ounces. Leslie’s doctor suggested intermittent fasting and unprocessed meals instead. 

“I started with a 10-hour window and gradually made it smaller.” She also slowly swapped in healthier fare: almonds for chips, salmon for hot dogs and resistant-starch–rich overnight oats, peas and lentils for processed carbs. “I started to feel better and better.” She was soon content with a 5-hour eating window, and pounds poured off. 

In about a year, Leslie shed 102 pounds, shrinking her meno-belly by 17″. Her insulin resistance reversed, her pain diminished by 90% and her mood and energy soared. “It’s not even a diet. I was recently visiting Chicago and ate everything in sight but still lost a pound. It’s pretty amazing!” For more inspiration from Leslie, follow @FitLifeWithFink on TikTok.

‘Invisible carb’ meal ideas perfect for the Dubrow Diet

A quick Dubrow Diet recap: To speed to a happy weight, Dr. Dubrow advises limiting calories to a short window each day, such as noon to 8 p.m. Enjoy protein, veggies and healthy fat throughout the window; add 1–2 servings healthy carbs during half the window (such as 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.; this keeps blood sugar lower longer). Best carb bets: oats, beans, cooked/cooled potatoes, pasta and rice. Sip zero-cal liquids freely. Once a week, enjoy a cheat day.

Sample breakfast: Cinnamon apple oats

Mix ½ cup oats, ½ cup milk, cinnamon and healthy sweetener to taste. Cover; chill overnight. Top with diced apple and nuts.

Sample lunch: Shortcut white chili

Simmer 2 cups shredded cooked chicken, 30 oz. cannellini beans, 16 oz. jarred salsa verde, 3 cups chicken broth and 2 Tbs. cumin.

Sample dinner: Your favorite lasagna

Simply prepare your favorite lasagna recipe, chill overnight, then reheat and enjoy. Buon appetito!

Bonus recipe: ‘Invisible’ Pilaf

Bowl of veggie rice pilaf, part of the Dubrow Diet
Dontstop/Getty

Special starch in Heather Dubrow’s recipe helps flatten bellies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup long-rain rice
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1 Tbs. butter or ghee
  • 1 cup chopped raw veggies, such as carrot, celery and onion

Instructions:

  1. In medium pan, boil 2 cups water. Add rice, oil and 1 tsp. salt. Cover; simmer 40 minutes. 
  2. Chill cooked rice overnight to allow resistant starch to form. 
  3. In skillet over medium-high heat, sauté veggies in butter until tender. Mix in chilled rice. Add 2 Tbs. water, turn heat to high and heat through, about 1 minute. Season to taste. Serves 4

Click through for more benefits of intermittent fasting:

“I’m 71, and Intermittent Fasting Saved Me From a Wheelchair — Plus I Lost 121 Pounds!”

Top Doc Reveals the Salt Trick That Makes It Easier to Lose Weight During the Holidays

Eat Like a Bear to Lose Weight? The 200 + Women Who’ve Lost 100 + pounds on the Plan Say ‘You Bet!’

Jennifer Aniston Swears by This Simple Eating Schedule to Stay Fit and Healthy at 52

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