Social media is abuzz with The Brow Diet.
No, it’s not the latest viral horror film involving the use of meat – although it’s probably in the works as we speak.
Instead, the Bro Diet is an eating plan for muscle gain and/or weight loss, derived from the bodybuilding tradition of the 70s.
It is both highly disciplined, which appeals to dieters, yet its fans find it extremely simple and easy to follow.
What is the Bro Diet?
You could say that the bro diet is food prep on steroids, figuratively speaking.
A sudden departure from the lore surrounding the gym, the diet focuses on simple, complete sources of protein, carbohydrates and fats.
This is a starter version of the method known as IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), where the top priority is to eat a certain amount of these three macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fat – every day.
What can you eat on the bro diet?
“The bro diet includes lots of healthy whole foods like chicken, rice, vegetables, oatmeal, eggs, and especially egg whites, and discourages intake of saturated fat, sugar, and alcohol,” says Jim White, ACM, X-P, CPT. A registered dietitian and certified personal trainer in Norfolk, Virginia.
While there are many ways to interpret the Bro Diet, it creates a lineup of predictable foods that are easily measured to help dieters create a calorie deficit.
Bro dieters often prepare these meals ahead of time and refrigerate them in containers for quick reheating or eating.
While there’s no rule against seasoning or creative preparations, most dieters tend to keep things super-simple.
Instagram photo of meal prep pot (tagged #brodiet) filled with unseasoned chicken breast, plain rice and vegetables.
To outside observers, the biggest knock against governance is that it can seem bland and repetitive.
But proponents of the diet have the virtue of simplicity.
“Some people need variety and some don’t,” says a bro dieter nicknamed “Mythical Strength” on Reddit’s /r/naturalbodybuilding forum.
“I can eat the same thing every day and be satisfied. It helps to have a distraction while eating, such as watching TV or YouTube. It takes my mind. A simple and delicious recipe for me is the slow cooker pot roast. Buy pot roast, put in water in slow cooker, throw in onion soup, cook on low for 8 hours.”
But, he added, “my other recipe was just meat.”
What are the benefits of Bro Diet?
“Looking at the brow diet through a scientific lens, the diet has its benefits and some inherent drawbacks,” says White.
First, the good news. Two main principles of the Bro Diet have proven to be highly effective for weight loss and muscle building:
- Plan ahead
- Portion control (although there is no specific calorie count)
It’s easy to follow and adhere to and explains how popular meal prep has become.
“Structured meal plans, with frequent (some bro dieters eat six meals a day, others partake in the standard three) breaks, offer the best success rates for diet adherence,” says White.
“Regularly planned meals reduce appetite and improve appetite control. Regular meals can also affect our health – increased meal frequency appears to have a positive effect on various blood markers, particularly LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and insulin.”
What are the drawbacks of Bro Diet?
But the diet is not without its potential problems:
- Bro dieters can leave the protein and cast vegetables aside. A one-sided emphasis on protein or the exclusion of other beneficial nutrients is bad for your body.
- Getting too stuck in a routine can mess with your head.
- The boredom factor can undermine your desired results.
White says the bro diet has many downsides.
“While diet monotony has proven to be an effective strategy for successful weight loss and maintenance, a person who lacks variety in their diet can end up with nutritional gaps. When you’re always eating the same foods, you must consider the micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals, you may be missing that are essential for your body to function and stay healthy,” explains White.
For example, bodybuilders tend to overemphasize protein while cutting carbohydrates in their diets; But research shows that eating protein as well as fast-acting carbohydrates is necessary for effective muscle growth, White says.
Also, the repetition and rigorous planning involved in dieting can be demotivating – or lead to dietary rebellion and unhealthy eating patterns.
“This can lead to binge eating, feelings of guilt after a cheat meal, and generally promote unhealthy behaviors such as avoiding social situations where food will be present and missing out on celebrations,” says White. “There are many stories of competitive bodybuilders struggling with eating disorders, disordered eating patterns, and distorted body image.”
These days, Instagram-friendly eating plans seem to come and go at an increasingly rapid rate. Experimenting with the bro diet (or a modified version) won’t necessarily lead to dietary disaster.
This can be a good short-term option for a dietary reset, after which you resume a classic – scientifically supported – recommendation for a healthy diet: variety.
“Several studies have shown that people who eat a wider range of healthy foods are less likely to develop metabolic syndrome and have smaller waistlines, lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels,” says White. “Also, studies have shown that eating a variety of foods promotes the diversity of your gut bacteria, which appears to play a role in everything from protecting against heart disease to our overall mood, immunity and storing belly fat.”
While rebooting your eating habits, the Bro Diet can help develop solid food preparation practices. White emphasizes the variety with this process.
“If you have a busy lifestyle and like the idea of meal prep, make sure to cycle through different recipes and meals each week,” she says.