The 5 Factor Fitness Diet

By Jim F

Five Factor Fitness

Five Factor Diet, by Harley Pasternak, has been growing in popularity – due to celebrities like Jessica Simpson and John Mayer using the plan.

What is it about, and is it a good program?

The 5 Factor Fitness plan was Harley’s original plan published in 2004. The Five Factor Diet is His follow-up.

It’s all about fives: 5 meals a day, 5 workouts a week each made up of 5 exercises… You get the picture.

The Five Criteria for Diet

At each meal:

  1. low-fat quality protein
  2. low- to moderate- glycemic index carbohydrate
  3. fiber
  4. healthy fat
  5. sugar-free beverage

Sundays are a “cheat day” – essentially eating what you want. The book contains a few basic sample meal plans and a selection of recipes for each meal.

The Five Factor Workout

5-factor-dietThe following variables are shifted every week: Type of exercise (strength training, cardiovascular, core movements), Repetitions, Sets, Resistance level, and Rest Periods.

Equipment: Only Dumbbells and a bench required.

Phases (Total 25 minutes)

  1. Cardio Warm-up
    At 65-85% of maximum heart rate – for 5 minutes.
  2. Strength Training
    Each day has two different exercises (superset). Sets, reps and rest are altered each week. This is actually meant to total 10 minutes.
  3. Core Exercises
    This includes various crunches and twists – with varying rep, set, and rest ranges. For 5 minutes.
  4. Cardio
    The cooldown. Author Pasternak believes this will help alleviated DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Minimum 5 minutes.

The book is interspersed with testimonials (including that of Halle Berry whom the author claims was the inspiration to write the book).

Will the Magic of 5 Work for You?

On the whole it’s a fairly concise, well-explained fitness program. Just bear in mind one thing: The celebrities have the fitness trainer (Paternak) working alongside them. That is always going to be superior to having a book on the floor next to you.

The book bears many similarities to Tom Venuto’s BFFM program. However the 5-factor has more detail in the workouts, but less science and discussion of Calories.

UPDATE: The 5 Factor Diet can now be followed on-line


  1. George

    What I love about the 5-factor diet is the exercise. So many diets today offer what they say is a quick fix. Most of us know this is not what works and if it does it is short lived. I would recommend this diet to anyone who is ready for a good workout and a healthy eating plan.

  2. lo

    I did this diet for a while when it first rose to extreme popularity a few years ago. It made me feel so tired and sluggish. One of the commenters above was correct — it’s a diet, not a lifestyle change. The meals listed were far too big for me to be eating them as often as instructed, but bizarrely, I was still hungry. It was, perhaps, one of the strangest and least effective diets I’ve ever tried.

  3. Tracey

    Has anyone ever actually tried this plan? I am starting my third 5 week cycle, and I thought the same thing as all of you when I started…I thought the workouts were going to be too short and I wasn’t sure about the diet plan. Well let me tell you, the day after my first workout, I could barely move. I continued to sweat for an hour after I was done. (and I’m NOT a beginner). I started this program to lose a few pounds I had gained due to an elbow surgery where I could do virtually no workout for 3 months. I was expecting to lose a few pounds, which I did. What I wasn’t expecting was to go from 153 lbs (I’m 5’5″ so that’s about 15 lbs too much) and size 11 to 128 and a size 6, and I did that in 10 weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I worked hard, never missing a workout, and if I didn’t feel like I was sweating enough I would do high intensity interval sprints for my phase 5 cardio (which Pasternak says you can do). I stuck to his meal plans, making sure I was making healthy and organic choices when possible ( I didn’t even have to give up bread! I just switch to whole grain and rye) This is the easiest plan I’ve ever followed. Don’t be taken by the short workout times. If you do them like you’re supposed to (read the book carefully) they will kick your butt. Stick to the program exactly and you will see some real results.

  4. JoJoAnnLee

    Rarely, do I ever respond / post on these, but I just have to share with you…. After my Dad died, I gained 30 pounds. 3 months after, I found the 5-Factor Fitness. Granted, I was disgusted at gaining that much weight – but I “Did” follow the program = “you” have to make the committment, babe. 1.) Eat the moment you get up, 2) Nothing with High Fructose Sugar, 3) Eat Nothing!! man-made and 4) worked out 25 mins/day for 6 days. (*When Sunday comes? After all of that work you’ve just put into YourSelf?…you wont want to cheat That Bad, you know? A: I lost 28 lbs. in 2 weeks, tummy was flat/6-packed and many times had a difficulty even eating the last of the 5 meals per day. Stay strong, and as you see the changes in your body – it WILL become infectious to/for you honey. This diet works. I now try to live my life by it – basically = Nothing Man made – Hope this helps you out 🙂

  5. An

    I think it’s ridiculous how many obviously fat people are tearing this LIFESTYLE to shreds without even trying it. I’ve been very successful; but then, I’m rarely sitting on my but finding things to comment negatively about online.

    And to the bimbo who was all upset over the inclusion of dairy: sweetie, calcium is necessary to keep our bones strong and be truly healthy. Nobody cares about your granola-flake ideas. Now go hug a tree.

  6. katie

    A lot of people are commenting on the fact that a 25 minute workout is worthless, and that this is a “foo foo” workout. But if you push yourself- it is not. I was doing P90X for a couple months (loved it), and wanted to change up my routine and find something that didn’t take me 60+ minutes each day. I tried this fitness plan, and my muscles are actually pretty sore the next day. It’s all about how hard you push yourself, how heavy you go with the weights, etc. I love the workout. Like anything else- your results depend on how much effort you put forth.

  7. aa

    ang you are very smart thats exactly what im doing having 5 meals a day all healthy and low in calorie
    you should only need 1000 calories the most
    stop your mouths from eating all that junk and yull lose all that weight in no time trust me these diets are just waste of time and money
    stop your mouths and workout garentee to lose weight