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Food isn't just calories or fat grams or even a source of energy.

Some of these messages relate to your blood sugar and insulin production. Some of them govern your feelings of hunger and fullness. Others concern your fat burning and metabolism, and still others involve your hair, skin, mood and mental functioning.

This is why I say that not all calories are created equal. You might portion out a cookie, a hamburger and a serving of cauliflower so they all have the same number of calories, but each of those three foods is going to send your body very different messages. And it's the messages we care about, not just the calories.

Actually, it's not just what you eat that gives your body information. It's also how much you eat at one time, how fast you eat, what combinations you eat, how you feel while you are eating and even what you drink with what you eat. Every one of those things is important because each sends your body a message: burn fat or store it; build muscle or lose it; slow the aging process down or speed it up; create steady, sustained energy or crash and burn within the next couple hours. Don't worry if this sounds complicated: I have laid it all out for you. All you have to do is live by the Virgin Diet Plate and follow my rules of meal timing, and you will be golden. The Virgin Diet is designed to send only the right messages to your body — 24/7 for 21 days. I'm betting that you'll like the feeling so much that you'll keep sending all the right messages for a long, long time after that.

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