I Tried an Intense Metabolic Reset Program for a Month -- and It Worked
Health complications that are a sign of a bad diet
It was 30 days of hard work, bland food, and hulk juice -- but it ended with a six-pack.
No matter who you are or how disciplined your fitness routine, there will be times when you'll fall off the wagon. Once you've realized you're out of your typical flow, you can adjust your approach and hit the reset button.
Last winter, I noticed just how much I was ordering food instead of opting for healthier options - every single day, and for almost every single meal. Even though I'm a fit, active, generally healthy individual, it was starting to make me feel gross.
Thankfully, I'm far from the only person to feel this way. I’ve followed Steve Weatherford, former New York Giants punter and "fittest player in the NFL", since he's transformed from a football player into a fitness trainer and coach. I noticed on his social media accounts that he’d recently gone through a similar experience himself.
After his slump, he emerged with what he was calling a 30 Day Metabolic Reset - a program designed to improve your health, balance your gut, increase your energy, and help you lose fat and undigested foods in your body. The program had just launched, but it already had thousands of followers.
“I didn’t initially plan to share the program - I was doing it for myself,” Weatherford explained in a phone interview with MensHealth.com. “Moving from New Jersey to southern California with four kids, a pregnant wife, a dog, etc., life was crazy and my diet sucked for six weeks. While we were waiting to get into our rental home, we ate every single meal out, and I just felt like crap. I wanted to look better, I wanted to function better, I wanted to feel better.”
Like Weatherford, I was feeling like crap and wanted to make a change to help make me function and feel better. My goal was to cut down on body fat, and after seeing that Weatherford was able to lose five percent, I decided to give the program a try.
Before I fully committed to the plan, I read through the program and realized there was a bit of prep I needed to do. First, I had to fill out a quick questionnaire about myself - age, weight, height, body type, activity level, etc., - that would help create the personalized nutrition plan (which Weatherford created with his friend and personal nutritionist Jason Phillips).
To follow the program to the letter, I would have to take a handful of supplements throughout the day. Weatherford doesn’t say supplements are required in order to succeed, but explains that they worked for him and recommends using them if it works for your body.
I spoke with Allen Tran, MS, RD, CSSD, high-performance dietician for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams to learn a bit more about exactly what I was being asked to put into my body. A handful of the supplements, like vitamin D, fish oil, digestive enzymes, and probiotics, could be obtained through food, and were on the “wellness side” of the supplements spectrum.
“Many people have intolerances or can’t balance their gut health, so these can help with that,” Tran told me. “You don’t need more than 100 percent of each vitamin, but lots of people don’t always get a hundred from their environment or food alone.”
The other supplements like glutamine, BCAAs, kelp, CLA, and fat burners were on the “performance side” of the spectrum. Many of these supplements help preserve muscles when doing things like fasted cardio (which I’d be doing on this program), or aid in building muscle and enhancing metabolism, explained Tran.
In the end, I got all except the fat burners, because I didn’t feel they were necessary for me, and ZMA and magnesium, because I have zero sleeping issues (and didn’t want to develop any). Weatherford sells the full stack on his website, but I got mine elsewhere. With a couple coupon codes and promotions, they weren’t too pricey.
Then it was time to check out the personalized nutrition plan. The program calls for a caloric deficit, meaning eating less calories than needed to maintain your current body weight, cycling between high, medium, and low carb days, focused on regimented macros.
Translation: less protein than I was used to, barely any carbs, a lot of “hulk juice,” (more on this later) and very plain, measured out meals. I’d never done a diet plan before that required measuring meals, so I was excited to go all in. I got a food scale and blender, then stocked up on the essentials - egg whites, chicken sausage, potatoes, ground turkey, jasmine rice, black beans, steak, asparagus, chicken, spinach, kale, apples, bananas, lemon, ginger, hot sauce, and mustard, which were all recommended for my food plan and the shopping list provided as a part of the program. I also ordered pre-made meals from an online service for clean eating.
Unsurprisingly, there was no alcohol allowed. The program also requires you to drink one ounce of water for every pound of body weight. I kind of hate water, so I knew this would be a challenge. (Weatherford said seltzer was OK, so I stocked up on that as well.)
Then came the hulk juice. After I signed up for the program, I was given three different videos recipes for hulk juice. The concoctions varied, but the basics are banana, apple, lemon juice, spinach, kale, and water.
For the first week of the program, you replace your last meal (meal four) with hulk juice. Then after day seven, you add in meal four, and have hulk juice as a snack during the day. You can have as much of it as you want, though Weatherford cautions that it has a lot of natural sugar so don’t over do it.
I would be doing daily fasted cardio sessions first thing in the morning; that meant 30 minutes of continuous cardio of my choice at a heart rate range between 125 and 177 beats per minute (BPM), done on an empty stomach. This meant I could go for a run, run on the treadmill, walk on an incline, run hill sprints outside, jump rope, do burpess, create my own HIIT circuit, etc.
Every day included a weight-training session in the afternoon. Every exercise in the workout had a corresponding video to check form, some of which you can find online.
The program had a clever system to keep you on track. The only way to access workouts was to mark each one complete, which would “unlock” the following day’s workout.
You could still cheat in theory - but it would be a much more active decision to slack off.
My 30-Day Metabolic Reset Journey
The first day of my journey came - and I was too hungover to begin the program. Great start, right? My boyfriend and I just wanted Chinese food and to be lazy all day, so we decided we’d start the following day. After the false start, we woke up, took before photos, and started fasted cardio.
Here are the biggest takeaways from my first week:
You have to drink so. Much. Water.
An ounce of water per pound of bodyweight is even more than you think. I tried really hard to swallow my pride and down more H2O - but honestly, not one day of the plan did I drink the correct amount of water.
I did, however, manage to I drink way more than I had before starting. I drank a full glass of water in the morning, at night, and during the workout, which helped.
The workouts are tough, but you need to push yourself.
From supersets, to giant sets, to HIIT, the workouts that Weatherford and his team created have a ton of variety. In order to get the most out of the workouts though, you need to really give it your all. Don’t go into the gym tired and half-ass it. Push yourself.
The meals might seem light, but they keep you full.
I was taken back by how small I thought the meals were at first, and how little protein I would be consuming. But the three meals plus the hulk juice kept me full throughout the day. I was never starving or hangry. It made me reconsider my protein intake, as I was used to 8-12 ounce portions before.
Weatherford’s morning motivations became my morning caffeine.
When my alarm would go off, I’d turn over, grab my phone, and check out my plan for the day. Along with a new workout, every morning had a video message from Steve. Some of them were really relatable, others - like going to the Super Bowl - were not, but they all had good takeaways and each one got me a little pumped up to get out of bed and start the day.
Week 2 brought other lessons, which helped me hit a stride as the program became more of a routine.
Stick to foods you enjoy.
I tried to like them - I ate them for a couple days - but I just couldn’t do it. So I swapped them out for regular potatoes. Thankfully, the meal plan comes with a list of food swaps you can make for every category. This plan is already tough enough. Don’t make it harder for yourself.
Don’t delay fasted cardio.
It’s difficult to get turned onto cardio everyday if you’re not used to it. I found myself putting it off until two to three o’clock in the afternoon. It was to the point where I was starving but couldn’t eat until I got it done, so I was just jumping rope and doing burpees around my apartment.
Condiments are a must.
You need gym access and tons of workout time.
Even though fasted cardio is only 30 minutes, you still have to do it. Then you have to do a strength workout every day, too, which usually took between 45 minutes to an hour.
You’re dedicating about two hours to working out every day, which is time consuming. As a freelance writer, I was able to manipulate my schedule when necessary to fit in the workouts, but I know that my lifestyle isn't the norm. There's no denying that a program like this doesn't just take hard work and discipline - it requires a level of privilege to work, too.
The end was in sight.
The meal plan and workouts were routine as this point, and I looked forward to it. Fasted cardio was a bit of a drag on some days, but keeping track of the countdown on my social media accounts got me excited and kept me accountable. Plus, it didn’t hurt that I was looking great - my abs were really starting to show.
You get out of a reset program what you put in.
This program, and others like it, takes commitment. I didn’t cheat a single meal or skip a single workout. I pushed myself in the gym and I measured out my meals. I put my full effort into doing the 30-day metabolic reset with all my effort and it truly paid off.
After 30 days, I went from 117.3 pounds to 112.8 pounds, down 4.5 pounds. I went from 17.4 percent body fat to 12.7, down 4.7 percent. My arms, chest, back, shoulders and legs all got more muscular, lean, and toned. And the best part - I got a six-pack (which started showing the end of the second week). Don’t believe me? A picture’s worth a thousand words!
After the 30 days, I was energized, my gut was in check, and I felt fit, happy, and healthy as a whole. While I couldn’t wait to have my first cheat meal - which really was just chicken kabobs with all of the condiments and dipping sauces - doing this program has motivated me to change my lifestyle. There were some challenging drawbacks, though.
You really can’t eat out.
You technically can grab a bite out somewhere, but you still don’t know if they’re really giving you plain chicken. So making all your own food is the best bet. That can be a pain.
Your social life can disappear.
My friend had her 30th birthday party during my reset month. I went, but I only lasted about 45 minutes before I’d had enough. Everyone else was drinking and I just felt out of place.
A 30-day reset isn't really a sustainable lifestyle, which is why it's for a short, intense period of time. I’m not going to measure my food forever, but I’m a lot more aware of just how much protein I’m eating versus how much I actually need.
That's just one of the lessons I've applied to my everyday life from my regimented month of intense fitness focus. I got the results I wanted - but it took a hell of a lot of work.