The Vertical Diet: Fad Diet or Sound Advice?

The Vertical Diet: Fad Diet or Sound Advice?

Ever heard of something called “The Vertical Diet”? Today we’re going cover whether this is a fad diet and the pillars of this diet.

The Vertical Diet was created by Stan Efferding, the proclaimed strongest pro bodybuilder on the planet. This diet, which is detailed in a book (available on Amazon), Stan co-authored with Damon McCune. It claims that it offers “practical nutrition and lifestyle solutions that are simple, sensible, and sustainable.” Stan is an IFBB pro bodybuilder and a powerlifter in the Southern Powerlifting Federation. Unlike many pro bodybuilders, Stan graduated from the University of Oregon where he studied psychology. He also holds strength world records and has won some big bodybuilding competitions. While all this is great, is this diet another fad diet popularized by a celebrity type influencer, or is the advice sound? Well, before we get there, let’s look at what the diet entails.


(Image source can be found here)


Stan wanted to create a diet that was focused not only on macronutrients, but also looking at vitamins and minerals, the immune system, sleep, hydration and how all these things affect your hormones. He also recommends regular blood tests with your physician to determine vitamin deficiencies and checking hormone levels.

Here are the fundamental pillars of the diet:

(1) Digestion as a focus – this diet focuses on highly digestible foods (also known as low FODMAP foods) like meat, fish, eggs, some grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices. Avoid all foods that aren’t easily digested.
(2) Eat a variety of single ingredient whole foods – eliminating processed foods.
(3) Meet your micronutrients – by choosing the above foods, you can help ensure you meet your micronutrient requirements (to be monitored with regular bloodwork)
(4) Ensure you get enough sleep and get a CPAP machine when necessary.


As reviewed by, here is their bottom line of the diet:

BOTTOM LINE: The Vertical Diet is meant to aid muscle gain and improve performance by eating easily digestible foods, as well as red meat and white rice to boost protein and carb intake. Though it may be effective, it’s limited in variety, low in fiber, and may not work for everyone.

We would have to agree with this sentiment of the Vertical Diet. Some of the claims around gut health, metabolism, and muscle growth are not necessarily backed by scientific evidence (or are contradictory in the literature). It’s important to note that the Vertical Diet is very obviously better that eating a diet consisting of a ton of uncontrolled calories in the form of fast food and highly processed foods. This diet has a ton of benefits, but it also has some downsides. By avoiding large food groups (high FODMAP foods, anything that is more than one ingredient, any processed food), this is considered an elimination diet – which doesn’t have the best outcomes in the scientific literature in terms of long-term sustainability.

While one could argue that the Vertical Diet is a fad diet since it is a reducing diet that enjoys temporary popularity, we don’t think that is necessarily the case (although it might be). Most of the recommendations are based on fundamentally sound nutrition advice. Plus, this diet IS great if you have something like irritable bowel syndrome due to the easily digestible nature of the foods he recommends.

Like any diet, if you don’t think you can sustain eating this way long term, it isn’t the diet for you! Want to learn more about Stan’s dieting philosophy? Check out this YouTube video on Tom Bilyeu’s Impact Theory.  

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