Meet the Woman Behind NYC's $10,000 Diet: F-Factor's Tanya Zuckerbrot

Tanya Zuckerbrot. Photo: Getty Images/Mike CoppolaIt turns out the only thing standing between you and a successful diet may be $10,000.

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Yep. That’s what deep-pocketed New Yorkers are paying nutritionist and best-selling author Tanya Zuckerbrot to counsel them through their journey of losing weight—sometimes as little as 20 pounds—according to a Sunday New York Times profile.

Zuckerbrot, who told Yahoo! Shine that she sees about 10 clients a day and has up to 200 active clients at any given time, uses her own special combo of cutting-edge science, knowledge-based empowerment and empathetic hand holding to escort her high-paying clients to their target weight goals.

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“So much of what we do is life coaching,” Zuckerbrot, author of “The F-Factor Diet: Discover the Secret to Permanent Weight Loss” and “The Miracle Carb Diet,” told Shine. “My job is to make sure my client feels better about themselves when they walk out than they did when they walked in.”

Of course anyone can choose the DIY approach to the diet by buying and following the books, as F-Factor media officer Gerry Casanova pointed out to Shine. (Following Zuckerbrot on Twitter can be helpful, too, as recent tweets have advised avoiding muffins and indulging in hemp seeds.)

But for those who can afford it, the hefty fee gets clients—who have included former CNBC host Donny Deutsch (who lost 20 pounds) and current Miss Universe Olivia Culpo—a series of 10 one-on-one nutrition counseling sessions with Zuckerbrot. Those kick off with an initial one-hour, in-depth consultation, during which time she assesses how ready a potential client may or may not be for the journey, sometimes having them complete a list of sacrifices and benefits to dieting, in order to find out if he or she is too resistant to begin.

“Because there’s nothing more damaging than me giving a diet and it failing,” she told Shine.

Then, if all goes well after hour one, it’s followed by a two-hour “education,” in which Zuckerbrot goes into depth about the science of weight loss and nutrition, “from anatomy to physiology to bio-chem,” she explained. “I say, ‘This is not my kooky opinion, these are facts. So I think we’re packaging it in a way, that, excuse the pun, is very easy to digest.”

It’s also during this session that she goes into depth about her actual regimen, which is based on eating enough protein and high-fiber carbs, including at least four high-fiber crackers a day, with allowances for both drinking alcohol and dining out. (Zuckerbrot’s own F-Factor-friendly foods are sold at high-end New York restaurants like Philippe and Bice, and clients are welcome to call or text her before they order from anywhere, so she can help them make appropriate choices.)

Throughout the dieting period, clients check in with their remaining eight half-hour follow-up sessions, during which time Zuckerbrot may act more as therapist than nutritionist.

“A lot of it is really psychology,” she said. “Sometimes they don’t even get on the scale. Sometimes we go through a box of tissues.” 

Part of Zuckerbrot’s appeal and success is not only that her advice seems to work, but that she is a living breathing testament to that. “Pencil-thin with a lustrous mane of black hair, she favors four-inch heels and form-fitting clothes, and could easily pass for one of the beautiful people who frequent her practice,” the New York Times profile explains. This works for folks like Culpo, who tweeted this week that Zuckerbrot was her “mentor in so many ways.”

“It’s one thing to be told from a magazine or a book what to eat, but it’s another to hear it from someone who’s absolutely breathtaking,” Culpo told the Times. “She has three kids. She looks decades younger. She’s a living example of the F-Factor diet.”

Zuckerbrot, who is gracious when speaking about her success, added, “The reason I make it easy is I practice what I preach. I am relatable and I’m right there in the trenches. The fact that my clients don’t have to give up the social aspect of their lives—that they are not sitting at home alone with their frozen dinners, and that they can eat carbs, drink alcohol? [They’re like,] ‘Yeah, I’ll do that!’” 

One happy client, freelance TV producer Suzanne Schechter, who lost 30 pounds with Zuckerbrot, summed up her own F-Factor experience for the New York Times.

“Is that worth $10,000? I don’t know the answer to that,” she said. “But I feel she is someone I can go back to for years to come if I need a little bit of a cheerleading session.” 

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