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30 Days of RRARF, Day 1: What is RRARF?

Diet experiments are fun. And if not fun, at least they could be called interesting. RRARF is definitely going to be interesting.

What is RRARF?

Contrary to how it may sound, RRARF has nothing to do with dog chow or bulimia. RRARF actually stands for: Rehabilitative Rest & Aggressive Re-Feeding. This therapeutic diet was engineered by Matt Stone, who describes the diet in his free e-book:

“Most people crave refined sugars, sweets, junk food, rapidly-absorbed white flour products, caffeine, alcohol, and other drugs because they are tragically undernourished and their adrenal glands have been overtaxed by everything from dieting to working too much to experiencing some major emotional trauma. RRARF attempts to combat all of this in one fell swoop (the saying ‘fell swoop’ makes no sense, but hopefully you know what it means).”


I’ve been following Matt’s research into restoring metabolic health for some time, and while I’ve supported many of his general recommendations, I’ve never actually done the full RRARF program. From my own research into the work of Diana Schwarzbein, Julia Ross, Jon Gabriel, Linda Bacon and others, I know that metabolic recovery is an essential part of the healing process. But I told myself I didn’t need to do RRARF all the way because I’ve been working on healing my metabolism for about two years now with great success.

But… I’ve had some personal breakthroughs lately that gave me some insight into a few areas that I really need to work on. For one thing, I want to kiss diets and counting calories (or anything else) good-bye forever. I’d rather work with my body to the point where I can rely on my own internal signals for eating. I genuinely feel that if I can get my body to regulate my appetite, then that will pave the way for natural regulation of other things like hormones and body fat levels.

And after listening to Matt’s audio seminar sessions on lowering the weight set point and on addictive eating, I realized that I need to give sugar the boot, too. Not only because this seems to be the in vogue thing to do (have you read about Coconut Mama’s 21 day sugar detox?), but because I’m thinking this may be the main culprit interfering with my body’s natural regulation systems. (I’ll go into much more detail on giving up sugar–and even all things sweet–in an upcoming post.)


Make no mistake: RRARF is not a weight loss diet. As I said, I’m kissing those good-bye. Matt explains the point of RRARF like this:

“To be clear, RRARF – Rehabilitative Rest & Aggressive Re-Feeding, is a plan designed to achieve one primary goal above all others – raise that mitochondrial activity. It does this through a combination of lowering cortisol levels, restoring the health of the adrenal glands, raising the hormone leptin, increasing leptin sensitivity, topping off nutritional reserves, and flooding the body with a surplus of energy – long known to raise body temperature, increase metabolic rate, increase lipolysis (using fat as fuel), etc.”

How to RRARF

Here’s a brief summary of how Matt suggests doing RRARF:

1. Take a month off from exercise.
2. Eat as much food as you can within 30 minutes of waking.
3. As soon as you feel inclined to eat–eat again!
4. Get extra sleep.
5. Stay well-hydrated.
6. Minimize mental and emotional strain, within reason.

And although prejudiced individuals may have you believing Matt’s plan involves binging on Krispy Cremes and Gatorade, this is not at all the case. In fact, Matt lays out some pretty strong guidelines for what the ideal foods for RRARF should be (although he stresses not to get neurotic about food):

1. Rich in saturated fat, particularly short and medium chain saturated fatty acids (like butter and coconut oil).
2. Rich in unrefined starch.
3. High in calories.
4. Low in fructose.
5. Low in polyunsaturated fat.
6. Devoid of refined carbs, junk food, processed food, fast food, etc.
7. Devoid of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other drugs as much as possible.
8. High in protein (but not too high).
9. High in vegetables.

These are the basics of RRARF, but I will be delving into much more detail about the meaning behind these recommendations over the next 30 days. I’ll also dish about how I’m doing following the different parts of the plan. Some of these points are surprisingly easy for me to follow… others are going to be far more challenging!

Any questions? Ask away below in the comments!

Other RRARF Posts:

Day 1 on RRARF: What is RRARF?
Day 2 on RRARF: Why I’m Doing It
Day 3 on RRARF: Rest and Relaxation  
Day 7 on RRARF: Benefits Already!
Day 8 on RRARF: Eat the Food!
Day 9 on RRARF: Adieu, Le Sucre!  
Day 21 on RRARF: Deprivation is Dieting 
Day 23 on RRARF: Life Without the Scale

RRARF vs. The Milk Diet

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s blog.

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34 Responses to 30 Days of RRARF, Day 1: What is RRARF?

  1. Alix says:

    I am really glad to be ‘following’ along while you do this… I have been so interested to know how well it works! If it goes well for you I am going to buy it myself.

  2. Orneryswife says:

    I have been doing something somewhat similar to this for a couple of weeks. My DC, who uses applied kinesiology, has determined that it has favorably affected my metabolism/insulin resistance. I am not doing the lots of food within 30 minutes of rising, and I don’t think I eat enough food in general, but apparently I seem to be on the right track.

  3. Ginny says:

    I’m really interested to read along as you try this. I think that #2, eating as much as you can within 30 minutes of waking, would be really hard for me. I know I don’t eat enough to begin with, but eating anything first thing in the morning makes me nauseous. There are too many days that at around 4pm I finally realize I haven’t eaten anything all day. I just downloaded Matt’s ebook and plan on reading it in the next few days.

  4. Paula Runyan says:

    I am concerend about one part. The eating within 30 minutes of getting up.
    I take an all natural Thyroid pill ( immediatly up on waking, and must wait a full hour before I can eat.
    I want to do this, and am curious if changing it to 60 minutes will mess things up.

    • I’m not sure if it would have a large impact, if you still ate a good solid meal within a reasonable time of waking and followed the rest of the plan pretty well.

    • Shelley says:

      TTake the thyroid before you get up and sleep a little longer. Or take it at night a full 2 hours after eating. Tho it may affect your sleep if you take it at night. I take mine early in the am with a sip of water and then sleep a little more and then it doesn’t interfere with my breakfast.

  5. Paula Runyan says:

    wanted to mention, that the food guidlines are easy :o)
    That is how we have eaten around here for over 2 years already!

  6. You are awesome! I did RRARF last spring and have not regretted it at all! The first week was the most exciting for me because my body temp rose up from 95 to 97.2. I have yet to make it to 98.6. I have high hopes that I will, someday =).

    • Yes, I am excited to see what comes up for me in the first couple weeks. Most of this isn’t exceptionally different from my lifestyle already, but a few things are going to be big changes and I’m interested in seeing what that brings about!

      • I’m curious as to what the big changes are? You also mentioned that you are cutting out sugar… don’t you pretty much do that already?

        • Not as much as I should, to be honest. I don’t binge on sugar much anymore, but I have to admit I have something sweet almost every day, often with every meal. Not always a dessert, sometimes just some fruit for dessert or a drink sweetened with stevia. But Matt’s come across some very compelling research that even just the flavor of sweetness–without the calories or sugar–may still trigger unhealthy metabolic effects. So no stevia, no fruit, nothing sweet for the whole 30 days for me. I’ll be getting more into this in a few days, trust me.

  7. Oh, I’m super excited to see how this will go down. And can we please get Matt Stone to come up with a better title than RRARF? I liked HED (High Everything Diet) better.

  8. Paula Runyan says:

    What is Matt saying the carb/fat/protien ratios should be?
    With my high fat WAPF way of eating, I am having a hard time figureing out how to switch to more starch.

    • I actually think Matt is against advocating a specific macronutrient ratio. There is really no ideal if you look at traditional cultures. I think a middle of the road ratio is comfortable for most. Enough protein (just to ballpark it, I would say between 60-100 grams for most), and then the amount of unrefined starch that feels right with enough fat to make it tasty.

      But when it comes to switching to more starch, I think a slow approach is best in many cases. Simply add a little here or there–I know it’s hard to make a sudden shift in the way we eat and cook. Potatoes are great, in my opinion. They are tasty, simple and seem to be very well tolerated by most. Of course yams and sweet potatoes are pretty awesome, too.

  9. Brenda says:

    Wow, from your description, I’ve been RRARFing for about 2 months, and didn’t even know it, well, except for eating within 30 minutes of getting up in the morning — I just want a big glass of water first thing in the morning, and about the best I could do about eating is to put some whey in it. ;) Oh, and starch, I just added a potato about once a week because I’m trying not to feed any possible yeast overgrowth. I downloaded Matt’s ebook the other day, but have only made it up to page 33. Thanks for summarizing it for us! Also, as for Matt’s comment about, “one fell swoop,” it makes sense after reading this: :)

    • Ha ha, loved the link. Interesting to know where phrases like that come from!

      I used to have candida. Eating a ton of coconut oil seemed to help me more than anything. Cutting out starches never seemed to offer help in the long term.

  10. Vegyid2 says:

    This is great! It is the first that I heard of this diet and thank you so much for sharing it .. I need something to straighten out my metabolism.. I will go to the link and read more.. my body temp is always low, I get addicted to carbs, and my weight is a struggle -always up and down 10 pounds and have an extra 15 on me.
    I will read more about it, but in the meantime can you eat sweet potato, winter squashes etc..??

    • Yes, starchy veggies like potatoes, yams, squashes, etc. are really the preferred form of starch on RRARF. They tend to be the most well tolerated, nutrient-dense and contain the least anti-nutrients (compared to grains and whatnot).

      • Janie says:

        For those of us who are insulin-resistant/prediabetic or diabetic, the potato would be worse than the yams, sweet potatoes and squah. The regular white potato cause a faster, bigger response of insulin than the “sweeter” cousins. Weird, huh?

  11. Hifromheather says:

    Elizabeth, I wish you luck. We will all be watching and rooting for you. I wanted to mention that amino acids can be extremely helpful for sugar cravings. My husband and I eliminated all sweet things some months ago and without the help of dl phenylalanine and L-glutamine. We don’t take single amino acids anymore, we just take a free form amino acid that contains 23 of them. But for the first few days, it was a life saver! (see or google Julia Ross)

    • I’m very familiar with Julia Ross’s work and have used amino acid therapy with great success for sleep and moods… but not for sugar cravings. Not sure why, but I never could get aminos to help me with my sweet tooth.

  12. “Eat as much food as you can within 30 minutes of waking.”

    I believe this is wherein lies my problem. It takes me 2 cups of double teabag green tea before I am even awake…I can’t even look at food until around 10am. How on earth do I turn this around? I think if I could eat well in that first 30 minutes it will set me up for the rest of the day, boost my metabolism and put me on the path to wellness! Any ideas?



    • I think this isn’t uncommon when the adrenals are stressed. If you’re not getting enough sleep, working on that may help. If you think the caffeine in the tea is affecting your appetite, you might also consider trying some tyrosine or DLPA in the morning in place of the tea and see if that allows you to eat a bit earlier.

  13. Sarah Smith says:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I know this is an old post, but I am wondering if RRARF worked for you.  I am coming off GAPS (Yay, after 17 months I am so ready), but sadly I have some serious adrenal fatigue going on.  I had this before GAPS too, but it went away for awhile at the beginning, and then made a comeback in the last few months.  I am thinking of trying RRARF for 30 days to get a jump-start back into adrenal health.  I think it would be easily do-able for me, although I may still allow a piece of fruit each day (I’m still nursing a baby, and sometimes I really feel the need for some quick energy; of course that could totally change if I am actually eating potatoes and corn once again on RRARF). Anyhow, did RRARF work for you?  Have you implemented any of the principles in the long term?  And do you have any other suggestions for me in regaining adrenal health?

    • Hi Sarah,

      I believe RRARF can be a great way to jump start thyroid and adrenal recovery, but in the long term it certainly does not replace a balanced, overall approach to improving your health. If your diet and lifestyle have been extreme in one direction (i.e. undereating and stress), then it can be helpful to temporarily go to the other extreme to pull things into balance. But a more balanced approach is definitely needed in the long run. RRARF gave me some benefits in the short term, but I have to say slow and steady changes over the years has offered the most improvement–it just required a lot of patience. 

      The idea of not being too restrictive in my eating habits is one principle I still use from RRARF. I never restrict carbohydrates anymore, and this is perhaps the most beneficial change I’ve made over the past few years. However, I no longer demonize fruit, honey or sugar. I include all of these in my diet, sometimes more and sometimes less. I still love potatoes, too. ;)

      Getting plenty of sleep on a regular basis, not eating a restrictive diet (like low-carb, low-fat, low-calorie, etc.), and learning to deal with stress have all been monumental in helping me get my energy and stable moods back.

      And I still have my weeks when I feel lower than usual–I believe that’s just the ebb and flow of life. But it happens a lot less than it used to!


  14. Stacywr says:

    For those of you who are doing this type of diet… I want to see your before and after pictures. I am really worried what this will do to my muscle tone.

    • This kind of diet, even without the exercise, tends to be muscle preserving because of the balance of macronutrients. In the long term, I believe exercise (especially strength training) promotes good health. But even some of the biggest body building gurus like Scott Abel and Tom Venuto suggest taking a break from training occasionally, or often if you train hard. Taking off 1-2 weeks every 12 weeks seems to be a general practice. This isn’t too far off from RRARF when you think about it.

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