Eat More, Weigh Less, Wait, What?

Seeming to violate one the laws of physics, Dr. Dean Ornish has a diet plan that promises to reduce your weight while you eat more than you currently eat.  Actually a combination of exercise and diet, this regimen has a growing army of true believers.   The only catch?  Say goodbye to meat.

Dr. Ornish set out to create a meal plan to reverse heart disease.  This was a controversial goal, in that accepted medical wisdom held that surgery was the only way to successfully treat heart disease.  His diet of low fat, high fiber foods actually did help his heart patients.  To their happy surprise, they also lost weight, an average of 25 pounds the first year.

Fundamentally, the Ornish diet breaks foods into three groups: always, sometimes and never.  The always group is made up of those foods that you can eat whenever you want, in any quantity you want.  Wow.  In this category are beans and legumes, fruits, grains and vegetables.  The sometimes category contains foods that you can continue to eat, but in moderation.  These foods include non-fat dairy, such as skim milk, egg whites, non-fat yogurt and sour cream and low-fat cheeses.  The never category contains foods that you should never eat.  These foods have substantial fat components and are the primary cause of the heart diseases that Dr. Ornish set out to cure.  Among these never foods are meats (yes, all of them), nuts, oils and seeds, sugar and its derivatives, avocados and alcohol.  Additionally, all processed foods that contain more than 2 grams of fat are forbidden.

In addition, the Ornish prescribes (well, he is a doctor) a half hour of moderately intense exercise every day.  This, plus mediation, yoga or therapy for stress management is the doctor’s path to wellness.  The diet attacks a problem that is common to many diets, the dreaded plateau.  Often with diets, you lose weight happily for a week or two, then your body adjusts to the new, lower calorie intake and your weight loss stops.  Sometimes that plateau lasts a week; many times it lasts much longer.   This plateau period is the end of many diet programs.  The Ornish diet avoids the plateau by not reducing your calorie intake.  In many cases, you actually eat more calories.  The make-up of those calories changes, away from fat and toward fiber.  You feel hungry more often, but you can eat all you want from the always food groups, so you don’t feel deprived.  Since your body doesn’t face reduced calories, you don’t encounter the plateau.  A steady progression of weight loss can be maintained.

Is this the diet for you?  How much to you like eating meat?  That is a fundamental question for those considering the Ornish diet.  If you are ready to take on vegetarianism, this could be a very good way to get healthy and lose some weight.  Can’t give up the cheeseburger?  Then move along, there’s nothing here for you.

Has the Ornish diet changed your life?  Click on the Comment button and tell us about it.

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