Who the Ornish Diet Is Right for

The Ornish diet is considered one of the healthier diets for losing weight. It was created by Dr. Dean Ornish, the author of the New York Times best selling book, “Eat More, Weigh Less.” Dr. Ornish argues that many diets fail because they make dieters feel deprived and malnourished. His diet offers balanced and nutritious meals that not only lead to weight loss, they encourage good heart health.

Foods to Eat

While many diets advocate calorie restriction, the Ornish diet encourages dieters to eat as much as they want from a list of approved foods. This list includes all beans and legumes, grains, vegetables, and fruits. You can eat whenever you are hungry in whatever quantity desired. The only advice is to stop eating when you are feeling stuffed.

On the Ornish diet, you can also eat the following foods in moderation: nonfat dairy products and commercial products that are either nonfat or very low in fat. Dr. Ornish does caution that many commercially made products are high in sugar, so he advises dieters to read food labels and avoid foods that list sugar as their first ingredient.

Foods to Avoid

The Ornish diet is extremely low in fat and high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. The foods to avoid include meats of all kinds, oils of all kinds, sugar, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, alcohol, all high-fat or low-fat dairy and all commercial products containing more than 2 grams of fat per serving.

Oil is excluded as much as possible on the diet. This means that alternate oils often allowed in other diets are to be avoided such as olive oil and safflower oil. Ornish argues that the more oil you consume, the more weight you will gain.

Ornish explains that whole milk has nearly as much saturated fat as beef. It is to be avoided for this reason. Even low-fat milk is to be avoided because it contains 5 grams of fat, as compared with nonfat milk which has less than ½ gram of fat.

Benefits of the Ornish Diet

The challenge of dieting for weight loss is that it is difficult to limit calories over a long period of time. While some dieters are able to lose weight on limited calories, keeping the weight off is another matter. A government study reviewing different weight loss plans showed that two-thirds of dieters regained all of the weight within a year. Dr. Ornish and his colleagues conducted a study that showed most of the participants on the Ornish diet were able to keep the weight off, maintaining a comprehensive diet and lifestyle change for at least five years.  

In addition to keeping the weight off, the Ornish diet has proven to be healthy for the heart. In some cases, reversal of heart disease has been seen in those who followed the program closely. Ornish argues that his diet is for anyone who wants to lose weight and feel healthier overall. The allowed foods on the diet contain nutrients and substances that have anti-heart disease, anti-aging and anti-cancer properties.


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