Keren Gilbert, Creator of the Hydrophilic Diet, Talks with Marta Montenegro

One of the most common questions people ask me is: What’s your diet? Is it the South Beach Diet, Atkins or the Carb Lovers? The answer is: it’s not one specific diet.

I do follow an eating plan, but don’t believe in a restricted diet unless there’s a health issue to tackle.

I don’t want anyone to be set on a diet and fail. That’s the reason why I recommend an eating plan that teaches how to follow a healthy food plan that you can feel comfortable with and make it a habit – that way you can keep the weight off forever.

From South Beach, Volumetrics, Carb Lovers to the Mediterranean diet, all these plans emphasize basically the same way of eating: lean protein, healthy mono-saturated fats, high-fiber fruit, plenty of vegetables and omega 3 fatty acids and whole grain carbohydrates – not just brown bread, pasta, or rice, but rather grains like amaranth, bulgur, orzo, quinoa, lentils, beans, among others.

The latest “must-try diet” I’ve come across is the Hydrophilic Diet, which I at first thought seemed like another Hollywood fad. It turns out this diet is very close to the way I eat. And, the best part: it emphasizes the exercise component, which very frequently is left behind with diet plans.

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In addition to the cardiovascular and weight-training components, the inventor adds exercises for your joints and bones to prevent two major conditions that affect us, such as osteoporosis and arthritis.

I interviewed Keren Gilbert, founder of Decision Nutrition and the creator of the new Hydrophilic Diet, to learn more.

Q: How important is the exercise in this eating plan?

A: Men concentrate more on building up their muscle mass, which in turn increases their metabolism. Women concentrate more on “being thin.” Therefore, many women concentrate on their cardio routines and forgo building lean body mass. Women need to have more of this frame of mind to increase their metabolisms for good.

Q: So what is the Hydrophilic Diet about?

A: The literal translation of the word hydrophilic means “water-loving.” I like to think of it as hydro (water) and philic (filled). Foods that contain hydrophilic properties are foods that possess a high amount of aquatic fiber that when ingested absorbs water and forms a gel in your stomach so that you remain full for longer.

When you build your meals around these foods, your body responds. Your digestion, hydration, hormones, and blood glucose levels all improve and you feel energetic and healthy. Not to mention that these foods provide an abundance of vitamins and minerals.

Q: How is this diet different from others that heavily advise water and fiber-rich food such as Volumetrics and Carb Lovers for instance?

A: The Volumetrics plan encourages foods that have high-water volume. The Carb Lovers Diet promotes resistant starch foods. The Hydrophilic Diet stresses integrating water absorbent foods that are high in pectin and mucilage into every meal. My plan revolves around building your meals with these types of foods. Examples of these foods are:

- Unprocessed seeds like chia seeds. My plan’s super food; sesame; sunflowers; and nuts;
Grains like oats, barley, brown rice

- Vegetables like okra, beets, asparagus, broccoli, celery, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and spinach
Herbs like parsley, basil and sage

- Seaweeds like kelp and dulse

- Legumes like kidney, lima, soy, lentils, and chick peas

- Pectin fruits like apples, pears and berries

- Herbal teas like nettle and slippery elm

- Supplements of psyllium husk and aloe vera

The foods that have high-water content on my plan with little water absorbent qualities are termed hydroneutral. The foods that have little or no water content with no water absorbing capacity are classified as hydrophobic.

Q: How important is the intake of protein? Is this diet similar to the South Beach Diet, which promotes lean protein, whole grain carbs, healthy fats, vegetables, and certain fruits?

A: The Hydrophilic Diet emphasizes all food groups, including protein. There is a stress to portion out your lean protein foods, which many of my clients have lost sight of since the entire high-protein craze. There is also encouragement of plant-based protein meals that have hydrophilic properties like lentils and chick peas.

Q: If you have to pick one protein, one carb, one vegetable, one fruit and one fat, what would you pick and why?

A: I would choose lentils, oats, okra, apples, and chia seeds. These foods are my choice because they are my top hydrophilic foods.

Q: The two most common problems that people find when dieting are overcoming a plateau and keeping the weight off after losing it. How do people overcome those issues?

A: These are valid issues. The most important aspect to getting over these two humps is the combination of work that you do on my plan. That is spiritually, working on your mind, and factually, acquiring the knowledge of building your meals. The lessons you learn will help keep you accountable to this life’s journey.

Here is an example of a typical day on the Hydrophilic Diet:

Chia Egg Omelet
3 Egg whites mixed with 3 tbs. chia gel
Choice of Vegetable Combo
(Mushrooms, peppers, spinach etc….)
Low Carb La Tortilla Wrap

Snack 1
Choice of fruit (Apple, Pear, ½ Grapefruit, orange)
And choice of
15 Almonds
24 Pistachios
6 Walnut Halves
1 tbs chia peanut butter

La Tortilla Wrap loaded with lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, peppers or any free veggies you choose
3-6 ounces of protein like grilled chicken, grilled salmon, 6-7 shrimp, tuna(no mayo), ¼ cup chia hummus(4 tbs),, 4-5 thin slices of low salt natural chicken or turkey slices
Any free condiments like raw sauerkraut, mustard, vinegar

Snack 2
Unlimited celery, cucumbers, carrots, peppers
2 tbs chia hummus or peanut butter

Always start with a soup or salad
3-6 ounces of your choice of protein (Chicken, salmon, fillet fish, shrimp, or tofu. Refer to recipes for some ideas but remember to prepare with oil spray or 1 teaspoon of oil and no frying!!! Side of any vegetable- steamed, roasted, grilled or sautéed with minimal oil.
½ cup of brown rice, quinoa, or ¼ sweet potato.

Snack 3
10 Frozen Grapes

Marta Montenegro, who is Venezuelan, inspires people to live healthy lives by giving them the tools and strength to find one’s inner athlete through her personal website She created SOBeFiT, a national fitness magazine for men and women, and the Montenegro Method DVD workout series – a program she designed for getting results in just 21 days by exercising 21 minutes a day . Marta is a strength and conditioning coach and serves as an adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Florida International University.

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