I'll try any diet or fitness regime once, so when I heard about Sakara Life — something Victoria's Secret models do — I had to try it.
Sakara Life is an all-natural meal-delivery service that's completely vegan and plant-based. The idea, founders Whitney Tingle and Danielle DuBoise told Business Insider, is to feed your body with good, real, unprocessed food. It's not a juice cleanse.
"The Victoria's Secret Angels love our program because it's something they can do and still have energy. You look at their Instagrams and they're working out like crazy — they're like athletes," Tingle said.
"If you've ever done a juice cleanse, you know that you're low on energy, and so they know when they come to us that they're getting a really vast array of nutrients and plant protein to fuel their body and feel good and still get the results that they're looking for."
DuBoise said the models do Sakara Life meal plans before the big show and all year round. So in honor of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show airing, I decided to try it.
I woke up and saw that I had an email from my apartment building's front desk — I had a delivery at 5:30 in the morning. It was my food for the day.
Talk about convenience — Sakara Life delivers food to your door. The black bag was supposed to arrive between 6 and 9, so it was early. The menu is planned out by the company's team, but the program lets you choose allergens (that could be foods you don't like or don't respond well to or actually be allergic to) and the company will make concessions for you.
I realized I just had one day ahead of me, so I didn't expect any major or drastic changes.
It's impossible to discuss this food without addressing the price.
A single day of packaged food is $109 ($99 plus $10 for shipping) — more than I spend on a week's worth of groceries — and it comes with breakfast, lunch, dinner, a "morning water," a "night water," and a detox tea (which was missing from my black bag).
As a comparison, salad at Juice Press is about $12. But Tingle and DuBoise told Business Insider that Sakara Life has extremely fresh produce.
First up, the "morning water." It contains rose, silica, and trace minerals. According to the bottle, it's "designed to rehydrate and replenish your system." But how good can water be?
It's surprisingly good. I can taste the rose — and I know many models, like Victoria's Secret AngelJasmine Tookes, praise the wonders of rose water — but I'm a simple girl. I'll take filtered tap water.
For breakfast I had a gluten-free bagel made out of flax, chia, hemp, and poppy seeds.
It came with cashew cream (perfect for someone lactose-intolerant) with some veggies in the mix for extra nutrients. I wanted to like this so much. I do not eat gluten or dairy, and I eat pretty healthily, so I'm used to eating food that the average person might consider gross. I've tried a bunch of different flour substitutes, and I eat vegan cheese, which grosses everyone out.
The cashew-vegetable cream was fine by my standards — I'd eat it again — but eating the bagel was like eating a rock made out of seeds. I wanted to like it, but I couldn't even cut it open to put the cashew cream on it. At least it was filling.
Apparently, Tingle and DuBoise told me the bagel tastes better toasted, so I might have messed up here.
For lunch I had a samosa wrap on greens with kale and chutney dressing. It featured turmeric, a superfood.
The dressing was surprisingly good. The actual meal was pleasant — it was filled with veggies and cashews and topped with coconut (I opted to swap out chickpeas). The spices were potent. It took a while to chew, and I could enjoy the flavors and be more thoughtful about eating, rather than just scarfing something down. It was filling and took a long time to eat, which reinforced how this is the antithesis of a juice cleanse. I'd eat this again; it was a satisfying lunch. But was it worth $30? No.
I also tried some Sakara snacks.
My vice is mindless snacking, so I was interested in trying some of Sakara Life's snacks to see if they curbed my cravings.
These snacks aren't in the original meal plan, though, and I was concerned I was "breaking the diet" because I wasn't just eating the three prepared meals and the fancy waters. Tingle and DuBoise assured me that this diet is about creating a lifestyle with balance — and that even red wine is okay to have in moderation (which is great news!). Additionally, they encouraged me to not think about calories, but nutrition instead.
But not all healthy snacks are created equally. The root vegetable chips ($11), while flavorful and healthy-tasting, took way too long to chew for my taste, but this might be part of Sakara Life's plan. My jaw was so exhausted that I didn't want to eat anymore. I had a few and then threw the rest away.
Sakara Life sells very expensive Beauty Water.
It's $24 for 4 of them. What could make water cost that much other than a unicorn's tears? I asked DuBoise and Tingle exactly why this water is so special. Apparently, it has trace minerals, rose oil, and silica, which "makes your water wetter so your cells actually uptake more water," as DuBoise informed me, something I'm still trying to comprehend. Rose oil, she said, helps people de-stress.
At 5 p.m., I was hungry — but not ready for dinner yet — so I had a protein bar.
I had the vanilla matcha ginseng flavor (bars are $29 for a six-pack) and it was really good. It was better than a Lara bar, in my opinion. It was my favorite thing that I had all day. I was glad that program didn't completely prohibit snacking.
Finally — dinner. The packaging says this recipe was created by a former Le Bernardin chef.
I had requested to forgo grains, so the soba-noodle bowl didn't include soba noodles — and soba is apparently the superfood ingredient. I like vegetables a lot, so this wasn't a problem, but it was a pretty much just greens with zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, some seeds, and dressing. (I concede the dressing was very rich and actually fantastic.) Fortunately, I was pretty full from the protein bar a few hours earlier.
The packaging told me that the "shiitake mushrooms keep you focused and connected to the moment, while fiery Siracha ignites your wildest daydreams." My wildest day dreams were about rationalizing eating a $20-$30 bowl of lettuce.
My nightcap for the day? Night water.
This green concoction — which is part of the meal plan but costs $16 for 4 on their own — tasted surprisingly OK. It contained chlorella and trace minerals. I'm pretty sure I would have to drink this healthy elixir every day for a month to see if my skin would start glowing.
The food was hit or miss. But I'm sure that some of the other Sakara meal plans are better. The company constantly changes it up.
"Your taste buds — they do start to change when you start getting used to whole natural foods," Tingle said. I guess I thought I ate only healthy food; perhaps my taste buds are used to processed garbage.
The food was also extremely chewy. I wondered if this was to drive the point home that this was not a juice cleanse. I can say that it's definitely better — and more filling — than a doing juice cleanse.
I realize the program is called "Sakara Life" not "Sakara Day" — so I recognize that to get the full benefits, you'd have to really commit.
I'm sure that I wouldn't see the effects unless I went full throttle and ate the Sakara way for a full week or a month (the program does not feature meals on the weekend; you can splurge then). But until I can justify spending $109 a day on hit-or-miss food, I won't know for sure. (There's a slight discount for the ultra-committed: a 5-day plan is $420 with shipping, and a 20-day plan is $1,400 with shipping.)
"This program is really designed to be a sustainable lifestyle that fits into your life," Tingle said. I'm not sure that I would want to go fully vegan; fish and chicken are certainly parts of a balanced, nutritious, healthy, clean lifestyle.
And "my life" isn't one that can afford this sort of program. For what it's worth, Tingle and DuBoise informed Business Insider that Sakara Life offers other options besides its signature meal plans — like a lunch-box program for $130 a week, a "Clean Boutique" with snacks, and a cookbook with recipes to make yourself.
Extreme Diets: The Eating Habits of the The A-list
Extreme Diets: The Eating Habits of the The A-list
1/14 The Grapefruit Diet
This golden oldie has been around since the 1930s and was a favourite among classic Hollywood stars, like Marilyn Monroe. It involves eating half a grapefruit before every meal and is based on the idea that grapefruits contain a fat-burning enzyme that boosts the metabolism.
2/14 The Air Diet
Based on the French concept of breatharianism, the idea that air alone can keep our bodies active, the air diet involves sitting in front of food, placing a piece onto a fork, holding it up to your mouth… But not eating it. Instead, you are to subsist on water and salt soup only. Madonna is apparently a fan of pretend eating.
3/14 The ‘Liquids Only’ Master Cleanse Diet
She did look good in Dream Girls, didn’t she? But the lengths Beyoncé went to to achieve her svelte frame were a tad extreme. Instead of solid foods, she survived on liquids – famously a mixture of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water – for 14 days. Apparently, this helps to detoxify the body (a process it actually does every day, naturally and unaided by weird diets) and stimulates tissue growth. The dieter is also encouraged to drink laxative tea twice a day. Glamorously.
4/14 The Ice Diet
Renee Zellweger apparently fills up on ice to stop her piling on the pounds from non-water based foods. Which is, of course, totally ridiculous.
5/14 The Watercress Soup Diet
Liz Hurley once revealed that she regularly subsists on a six-cup-a-day diet of watercress soup when she wants to lose weight for a role. The low-calorie leafy green is also a diuretic, helping to combat water retention. It’s also a completely mental thing to do.
6/14 Placenta Pill Diet
When January Jones gave birth to her son Xander, she had her placenta dried and crushed and stuffed into pills, that she then took as a supplement to lose weight. No idea if it worked or not, but it successfully made us feel queasy reading about it.
7/14 The Victoria’s Secret Angel Diet
If you’re crazy – and, you know, called Adriana Lima or something – then this diet, usually undertaken nine days before a runway show, is for you. It involves omitting all solid foods entirely and subsisting only on protein shakes, supplements and vitamins. You also have to work out twice a day, consult a nutritionist, and, 12 hours before a show, stop drinking liquids entirely to drain the excess fluids from your body and dehydrate as much as possible.
8/14 The Baby Food Diet
Yep. No real food. Just baby food. And 14 jars of the pap a day at that. Jennifer Aniston loves it. Allegedly. As (also allegedly) does Reese Witherspoon.
9/14 The Drunk Diet
This was invented by Lady Gaga, who once eschewed her evening meals for a swig of whiskey – but adhered to a strict exercise plan, even when hung over.
10/14 The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet
Drinking apple cider before every meal seems like a terrible idea. But Megan Fox does it as a metabolism booster, which helps to rid the body of excess water weight and burn calories faster. Apparently.
11/14 The Seven-Day Colour Diet
This diet, apparently beloved by Christina Aguilera, at least has some nutritional merit. In order to get the correct balance of nutrients, eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables across the colour spectrum is a wise idea. But the Seven-Day Colour Diet says you should only eat one colour of food per day of the week. Monday = white food. Tuesday = red food. Wednesday = green food and so forth. Bonkers.
12/14 The Cabbage Soup Diet
Does what it says on the tin. You can apparently consume unlimited supplies of cabbage soup (lucky you), as well as some low calorie fruit and vegetables. Sarah Michelle Gellar is apparently an advocate.
13/14 The Grapefruit Oil Diet
Not to be confused with The Grapefruit Diet, this involves sniffing grapefruit oil in the vain hope that the aroma alone might trigger liver enzymes into calorie-burning, detoxifying gear. Jennifer Lopez is rumoured to partake in this lunacy.
14/14 The Macrobiotic Diet
Gwyneth Paltrow’s love of all things Macrobiotic is well documented. It involves a strict, mostly vegetarian plan with grains as the staple food, avoiding highly processed or refined foods and most animal products. She also has a 21-day GOOP cleanse, that involves eating just one meal a day and chewing each mouthful at least 13 times.
That said, the convenience is unparalleled. If I were famous and on the go (or a rich and lazy person), with unlimited funds, I would maybe think differently about the program.
But there is one glaring problem with Sakara Life that is impossible to ignore: It perpetuates the notion that eating clean, whole, nourishing foods is only for the rich.