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New Claims Warn of Dangerous Levels of Lead in This Popular Diet Food Line

Several women have made complaints of experiencing adverse side effects while following the F-Factor Diet.
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UPDATE: On Aug. 27, 2020, The New York Times reported that claims that the F-Factor products caused miscarriages are false. Nothing has been confirmed yet about the diet leading to any adverse symptoms as of now. F-Factor also released its most recent CoA to the public on Aug. 31.

This week, the legitimacy of the popular F-Factor diet, which is known for its tasteful protein powders and bars, has been put into question by an Instagram influencer.

Emily Gellis started sharing anonymous testimonials with her near-170,000 follower fanbase on Instagram earlier this week after reading about a woman who believed consuming the products is what caused her to lose her period. Gellis has continued to post women's accounts on her Instagram stories, with a majority saying they've experienced unbearable bloating, urinary tract infections, rashes, and even more severe side effects, such as heavy metal poisoning while following the diet.

All of these symptoms have led affected consumers to believe that the high-in-fiber protein powders and bars have high concentrations of lead. The claim may not be far-fetched either, considering the products have a Prop 65 warning label on them, indicating they do contain traces of metal. Passed in California in 1986, the Proposition 65 law, "requires businesses to provide warnings to Californians about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm," as stated by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

Believe it or not, heavy metals are often found in protein powders—this is by no means unique to F-Factor's products. Still, plant-based protein powders made from soy and hemp are often more susceptible to having traces of heavy metals due to contaminated soil and pollution. F-Factor's protein powders are made with whey.

The F-Factor website promises that people can, "Eat Carbs. Dine Out. Drink Alcohol. Work Out Less," when following the diet, which is heavily comprised of fiber-rich protein bars and powders that you make shakes with. The diet's approach is centered around increasing fiber consumption, which sounds harmless—especially in the way the website explains it:

"Fiber is the zero-calorie, non-digestible part of a carbohydrate that adds bulk to food. When you follow a diet rich in fiber you feel full after eating–so you'll generally eat less throughout the day. Also, fiber swells in the stomach, absorbs and removes fat and calories, and boosts metabolism."

However, as one person negatively affected by the diet pointed out to Refinery29, the website wasn't (at the time) transparent about one thing: Proof of a Certificate of Analysis (CoA). The International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations says that this document details "specifications on characteristics such as purity, strength, composition, and appropriate limits for ingredients in which there is a known or reasonable expectation that a contaminant or adulterant may be present."

It's important to note that these types of companies aren't required by law to reveal the level of toxins and chemicals that lurk within their products. Still, F-Factor posted its most current CoA on Aug. 31 in response to public scrutiny.

Creator of the F-Factor Diet, Tanya Zuckerbrot, who is also a registered dietitian, told Page Six, "What I can categorically confirm is that the rumors of dangerous levels of lead in the product is false." She also added that in the two-plus years she has been selling her products, she has received less than 50 complaints and requests for refunds.

"This rumor that somehow I created a product that's harming people's health is so malicious and frankly unfounded," she said.

To be transparent, F-Factor's Vanilla Shake Powder was the winner of our protein powder taste test last year. There's no denying that both the flavor and texture of the powder are near-perfect when blended with other smoothie ingredients. However, this test was performed purely on taste.

For more, check out 5 Dangerous Mistakes You're Making on a Low-Carb Diet.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more