Already have an account?
Get back to the
Diets

The Virgin Diet — What “7 Days, 7 Foods, 7 Pounds” Really Means

The Virgin diet takes a new look at weight loss. It's less "restricting to lose weight" angle, and more "eliminating inflammatory foods."

Most diets focus on eliminating “unhealthy” foods like refined sugar, carbohydrates or fat. The Virgin diet, however, eliminates food that most people supposedly can’t “tolerate.” And, in turn, may lead to weight loss.

Avital Schwartz, RD, at Fay Nutrition says attributing weight gain to various “intolerances” is a myth. And while intolerances do exist, the diet vilifies generally harmless food groups that dieters can supposedly tolerate.

“Diets that focus on intolerances and eliminations have that age-old promise of ‘the secret’ or ‘the answer’ to finally losing the weight, keeping it off, and making it effortless,” Schwartz says. “Unfortunately, this just isn’t true. Regaining the ability to be an intuitive eater, one that listens to, understands, and follows their own body, while proactively adding in things, rather than restricting them, is the key to healthy bodies at healthy weights.”

Photo of young married couple cleaning kitchen counter. Husband is involved in cleaning duties. Focus on woman.
The Virgin diet eliminates 7 “widely intolerable” foods, which some feel may be the key to weight loss. Dzonsli/Getty Images

Resources

With any elimination diet, it’s important to pay attention not just to what you’re removing, but what you still include. Foods and techniques from the Mediterranean diet and other related plans make a good starting point.

Meal PlansHungryRoot, sustainable, tailored meal plans
Green Chef, eight different diet-specific meal plans with options
Cook Unity, restaurant-quality meals with diet-specific options
Diet BooksThe Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days, JJ Virgin’s original book on the Virgin diet
The Virgin Diet Journal, a journal for dieters to log progress
7 Day Virgin Diet, a guide to complete the diet in 7 days
CookbooksThe Virgin Diet Cookbook: 150 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Lose Weight and Feel Better Fast, JJ Virgin’s NYT best-selling cookbook
The Clean Cook: The Virgin Diet for Vegans, Vegetarians, and Pescetarians, plant-forward Virgin diet recipes
My Virgin Diet Cookbook, a book from one of JJ Virgin’s “successful students”
Snacks and SupplementsWonderful Pistachios, diet-friendly shelled nuts
Ora Organic Vegan Protein Powder, a diet-friendly protein powder
Future Kind Vegan Calcium Supplement, diet-friendly calcium tablet to keep levels up
Diet MedicationsRemote Pharmacy, online prescriptions and medication delivery, including Ozempic, Zepbound and compounded
semaglutide.
Helpful ArticlesNutrition Pro: Hidden Food Sensitivities May Stall Weight Loss — This Gut Healing Diet Can Help, Woman’s World
Is Fast Weight Loss Possible? Celebrity Trainer JJ Virgin Makes the Case with Her Healthy Gut Diet, First For Women
SupportJJ Virgin’s Community, dieters can connect with health coaches, read blog posts, and more from JJ Virgin
JJ Virgin Lifestyle Community, Facebook group with 10K+ members
JJ Virgin’s Official Facebook Page, 200K+ followers

The Virgin Diet Eliminates 7 “Intolerable” Foods In Cycles

Baking ingredients eggs flour butter sugar and cooking utensils on grey concrete background. Top view copy space
Many commonplace pantry ingredients are banned from the Virgin diet.Arx0nt/Getty Images

The Virgin diet was created by celebrity fitness and nutrition expert, JJ Virgin, in 2012, with the release of her book: The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days. Per JJ Virgin’s website, the diet focuses on the theory that stubborn fat is attributed to food intolerances, rather than laziness, genetics or cortisol levels. By eliminating the seven “highly reactive” (hi-FI) foods, dieters can supposedly heal their metabolisms and relieve other symptoms.

It Takes Place Over Three “Cycles”

There are three cycles of the Virgin diet. Cycle 1 lasts for three weeks, Cycle 2 lasts for four weeks, and Cycle 3 is “the Virgin diet for life,” to keep dieters on track indefinitely. Dieters can choose to stick with either a 1,200 calorie or 2,000 calorie diet.

Cycle 1 Eliminates Everything

During Cycle 1, or “Elimination,” dieters eliminate all seven prohibited foods: Gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, corn, peanuts and sugar. Beauty entrepreneur Krista Dolash describes the diet. She says although Cycle 1 of the Virgin diet is straight-forward, it requires quite a bit of attention to detail: “Easy, you eliminate these 7 hi-FI foods from your diet,” she writes. “You have to read every single ingredient on anything that is packaged. And let me tell you they sneak these 7 foods in SO many different things that you’d never expect.”

Cycle 2 Brings Four Foods Back

Woman eating a tofu salad
Although tofu, which is made from soybeans, is eliminated during Cycle 1, it can be tested in Cycle 2 — and (ideally) brought back during Cycle 3 of the diet.Yagi Studio/Getty Images

Following Cycle 1 is Cycle 2: Reintroduction. Four of the seven foods are brought back into the diet, with two “potentially healthy foods,” including dairy and eggs, and “potentially unhealthy foods,” which include soy and gluten. One of each is tested for four days per each week, with three days off in between. Corn, peanuts and sugar, the diet alleges, should supposedly be avoided 95 percent of the time. Any possible negative symptoms should be heavily monitored, though “intolerant” foods can be introduced three, six or nine months later, to see if the intolerance has subsided.

“By [reintroducing foods one at a time], you will be able to create a customized diet that is perfect for YOU,” Dolash wrote in her blog. “So many diets are the exact same for everyone, but each person is different so that is why I really appreciate this diet. Not one diet works for every single person.”

Cycle 3 Is for Life

The final cycle is meant to keep people on track for the long haul. They will continue to avoid sugar, corn and peanuts 95 percent of the time, while eliminating any foods that trigger unpleasant symptoms. “Once you get to Cycle 3 you are set and you should be pretty confident knowing what foods you should be eating,” she explains. “The book recommends that once a year you repeat Cycles 1 and 2 to see if your body has changed at all.”

Permitted Foods

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables (minus corn)
  • Meats
  • Fish
  • Legumes (minus soybeans and peanuts)
  • Whole grains

Restricted Foods

  • Gluten
  • Soy
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Corn
  • Peanuts
  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners

Supposedly, Dieters Can Lose 7 Pounds in the First Week

On her website, JJ Virgin says that dieters can lose up to seven pounds during the first week (during Cycle 1!). However, Dr. Chris Mohr, Fitness and Nutrition Advisor at Fortune Recommends Health, attributes the weight loss the diet’s elimination of high calorie foods. These include sugar, peanuts and corn.

Short-term, many may see weight loss primarily due to a reduction in calorie intake and the elimination of foods that may be high in added sugars and less healthy fats.

Dr. Chris Mohr

Other Benefits Include More Energy, and More

Young woman exercising outside, full of energy running across the bridge, healthy lifestyle
One advantage of the Virgin diet is boosted energy.Milan Markovic/Getty Images

But weight loss supposedly isn’t the only benefit to adhering to the Virgin diet. On her website, Virgin also says that dieters will lose any belly bloat, gain energy and clear up inflammation.

The Diet May Lead to Deficiencies, and an Unhealthy Relationship With Food

Although weight loss is likely, there may be short-term side effects and long-term risks of the Virgin diet. Dr. Mohr explains this is why working with a nutrition professional before trying any kind of diet is so important.

“Nutrient deficiencies are a concern because eliminating major food groups can make it difficult to get essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and fiber, among others,” he says. “There is also the risk of developing an unhealthy relationship with food, leading to anxiety and stress around eating.”

However, the Virgin Diet is Mostly Harmless

For the most part, though, the Virgin diet is largely harmless. It might be a good experiment to determine any intolerances, but Avital Schwartz says it likely won’t bring major advantages or disadvantages.

“This diet is certainly not dangerous, so if someone wanted to attempt 16 weeks of restricting certain foods, as a fun experiment (key word fun, not unbearable!), they would not end up with any deficiencies or physical issues,” she says. “In the long term, eliminating whole foods like soy, corn, peanuts, wheat or other grains does not contribute to health, as these foods are excellent plants that have mountains of research supporting their positivity for our bodies from healthy microbiomes to lower LDL cholesterol.”

The Virgin Diet Will Likely Be More Costly Than Your Average Diet

A woman buys groceries with a shopping cart. A young brunette buys fruit in a supermarket.
Shopping at the grocery store on the Virgin diet may be more expensive than the average trip.SimpleImages/Getty Images

Because the Virgin diet eliminates refined sugars and carbohydrates (aka the pinnacle of the American diet), the Virgin diet will likely hike up grocery bills. Swapping that side of pasta for fresh veggies, or a bowl of ice cream for fresh fruit, will inherently make your grocery trips more expensive. Buying frozen fruits and veggies, along with less expensive cuts of meat will keep prices lower, but assume your trips to the store will result in higher grocery bills.

Pros

  • Weight loss
  • Less bloat
  • Lowered inflammation
  • More energy

Cons

  • Possible nutrient deficiencies: calcium, vitamin D, and fiber
  • Possible disordered eating habits
  • More costly
  • More effort and time dedicated to finding and making “permitted” foods
  • May take a toll on social life

If You Need One, Personalized Elimination Diets May Be Better

Woman undergoes an examination at dietitian-nutritionist's office . They looking results and talk about dieting and healthy eating
A dietitian-prescribed elimination diet plan will likely have more positive results than that of the Virgin diet.M_a_y_a/Getty Images

All in all, the Virgin diet appears to be mostly harmless. So Dr. Mohr says that if eliminating food groups works for you, it wouldn’t hurt to try. However, adhering to a personalized elimination diet, with expert guidance, would be more helpful.

“Personally, rather than prescribing the Virgin Diet, I would look to understand the specific needs and symptoms of the individual,” Dr. Mohr explains. “If someone is experiencing issues that could be related to food intolerances, I would first suggest eliminating one food group at a time to find the trigger, rather than eliminating multiple food groups right away.”

And Listening to Your Body Is More Important

Avital Schwartz adds that maintaining a stable weight requires listening to intuitive hunger cues. While intolerances exist, that likely isn’t the reason why you aren’t losing weight.

“As an Intuitive Eating practitioner, who understands that bodies want to work well and feel good, I know that any external source of control over your body is the opposite of what it needs, and the opposite of what ‘works’ psychologically,” she says. “If you can get back in touch with your hunger and fullness signals… you will live healthfully, longer, and at a stable weight for life.”

What foods can you eat on the Virgin diet?

Foods that are permitted on the Virgin diet include: fruit, vegetables (minus corn), meats, fish, legumes (minus soybeans and peanuts) and whole grains. Restricted foods are gradually brought back in over the three cycles, but sugar, corn and peanuts remain restricted.

Are there cheat days on the Virgin diet?

The three cycles are relatively strict on the Virgin diet, and cheat days aren’t recommended. JJ Virgin actually wrote an essay on her issue with cheat days, which can be read here.

Are there calorie restrictions on the Virgin diet?

Per JJ Virgin’s balanced diet guidelines, those adhering to her namesake diet can stick with a 1,200 calorie or a 2,000 calorie diet. This is what experts believe ultimately helps guide weight loss on this diet.

Are there risks to the Virgin diet?

Risks to the Virgin diet include possible nutritional deficiencies (calcium, fiber and certain vitamins). Such a restrictive diet may also lead to disordered eating habits.

What is the Virgin diet good for?

The Virgin diet may be helpful in identifying intolerances. But if one suspects food intolerances, a personalized elimination diet from a dietitian is encouraged.

Related:
JJ Virgin Says: Hidden Food Sensitivities May Stall Weight Loss — This Gut Healing Diet Can Help
JJ Virgin’s Diet Will Help You Lose 12 Pounds in a Week

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.