The Conscious Gut

The Vertical Diet: Uses, Examples, And Pros&Cons

What Is The Vertical Diet?

The Vertical Diet is an eating pattern designed for people who are no strangers to high-intensity daily workouts. Right off the bat, this is not an appropriate plan for overweight individuals whose main goal is to lose weight. If you fall into the latter camp, settling upon the Vertical Diet could lead to potential weight gain. This could happen regardless if you fall in the overweight category or not. The main goal of this diet is to enhance muscle building not weight loss. This nutritional framework is based on easily digestible macronutrients like milk, fruit, certain vegetables like carrots and potatoes, eggs, and fish. However, the bulk of your daily calorie intake needs to come from red meat and white rice. A major emphasis is on a growing calorie surplus which plays an important role in muscle gain.

The man behind this eating pattern is Stan Efferding – one of the World’s Strongest Bodybuilders (3). It is favored by avid CrossFitters and devoted powerlifters, but for registered dietitians it all seems like a tall story that raises a lot of suspicion.

The Vertical Diet claims to enhance gut wellbeing and correct nutritional deficiencies and hormone imbalances. In addition, it aids in recovery,  helps boost energylevels, and increase stamina and endurance (4).

Although this diet is mainly popular with professional high level athletes and powerlifters looking to maximize muscle, it can also be good for individuals looking to improve overall well-being and digestive health.

What Can You Eat On The Vertical Diet?

The fundamental basis of this diet includes food that is easy to digest in large quantities. For example, red meat and white rice play a signature role in this diet as two primary sources of protein and carbs and they are supposed to make up the majority of your daily calorie intake.

The list of products that are allowed also include a limited amount of salmon, chicken stock, whole eggs, nuts, sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, apples, cranberries, and yogurt. You should be highly encouraged to incorporate yoghurt into your daily menu if you wish to meet your micronutrient needs.

What To Avoid On The Diet?

There are several restrictions that you need to follow on the Vertical Diet. For example, you should not consume carb sources that are high in FODMAPs as they cause digestive distress in certain individuals. FODMAPS also include legumes, brown rice, and many cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kale etc.) which can cause gas and bloating.

Vegetable and seed oils, such as corn, cottonseed, canola, safflower, and sunflower oil are strictly avoided as well. Lastly, to avoid bloating starchy, slow-digesting carbs should be off-limits (wheat, beans, brown rice). This isn’t to state that all vegetables are prohibited. You can include easily digestible vegetables, such as spinach, cucumbers chime peppers, and potatoes.

Pros And Cons

The advocates of the Vertical Diet believe that the framework may improve a resistance training performance by manipulating different nutritional components to enhance it. Most diets fail due to excessive hunger or loss of energy, and the Vertical Diet is designed specifically to combat these pitfalls by limiting the amount of processed foods and carbs that wreak havoc on your digestive system and replacing them with foods that are good for your digestive system.

The downside of this approach is that the amount of food is limited and repetitive, which in a long run may even lead to nutrient deficiencies (12).

Also, as the Vertical Diet emphasizes red meat intake. Therefore, it is impossible to follow for people who are vegetarian or vegan.


Whether you will follow this diet or not, healthy food choices that are suitable and comfortable only for you should remain as the ultimate goal to reach out to. It is important to remember that the Vertical Diet will not affect unless you have optimal sleep and regular exercise routine. If you work consistently, want to build muscle and gain weight, the Vertical Diet may be worth trying!

Remember that a proper diet is not everything you need. Supplement your diet with some exercise to double your results.

Alexandra Danieli

Alexandra Danieli, CHC, The Conscious Gut
🥑 Overcome Anxiety and Depression
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