This Dean Ornish Diet review takes a look at a popular low fat, largely vegetarian diet that is good for your heart and weight loss goals – so does it work?
Just as Dr Aggotson initially developed the South Beach Diet as a result of working with patients suffering from heart disease, so Dean Ornish designed his “Eat More, Weigh Less” diet to reverse the effects of heart disease.
The diet is centred very much on eating lots of fruit, veg and whole grains and very little fat.
As such, it runs counter to the current low carb trend.
Whilst not intended at first as a weight loss program, you certainly can drop a few pounds by following the diet.
Dean Ornish Diet Review – How Does it Work…?
Change and choice is very much what the ‘Eat More, Weigh Less’ philosophy is all about.Unless you’re a vegetarian or currently follow a low fat diet based on fresh fruit, veg and wholegrains, you’ll need to make some pretty radical changes to what and the way you eat to do the Dean Ornish Diet.
Ornish contends that by making the right food choices you’ll eat fewer calories, largely by cutting back on fat.
As such, you can actually eat greater quantities of food and still lose weight.
Whilst this diet isn’t strictly a vegetarian diet, it could easily be one as the small portions of lean chicken and fish could be eliminated entirely if you chose to.
Refreshingly, this is a very simple diet to follow with no convoluted and controversial scientific theories to follow.
You simply fill up on naturally low fat foods like fruit, veg and wholegrain cereals as well as cut back on fatty foods.
This includes veggies like avocado as well as nuts, which are high in fat.
As fat contains twice as many calories gram for gram than protein or carbs, by significantly reducing your fat intake you’ll be able to fill up on fibre-rich wholefoods, whilst automatically cutting back on calories.
You’ll also feel fuller for longer as all that fibre is very bulky!
As with other low fat diets you’ll be eating around 10-15% fat, which is around a third to a quarter of the average western diet.
Fat in this diet comes from very small quantities of healthy oils like olive oil and a few nuts.
Animal protein is from lean skinless chicken, turkey breast and white fish like cod and plaice.
Sugar, red meats, refined grains like white pasta and white bread and alcohol are all out.
Ornish also asserts that this needs to be viewed less as a diet, more as a long term eating plan that requires you to make – and stick to – life long lifestyle changes.
Exercise also features as a strategy for weight loss and heart health, with an emphasis on aerobic exercise to strengthen the heart and cardiovascular system generally.
Dean Ornish Diet Review – Does it Work…?
One of the few diets to actually have some research evidence to back up weight loss claims, our Dean Ornish Diet review found that an average of 24lbs lost per year can be expected.
However, research from the US and UK indicates that the results from following this diet are likely to be similar to other popular diets like Weight Watchers and low carb diets like the Zone.
Where this diet really scores is on its heart health benefits.
It’s high in fiber. Fruit and veg are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
The low fat content, particularly of saturated fat will benefit clogged up arteries and raised cholesterol levels.
Indeed, research indicates that in general, vegetarians are healthier and less likely to be overweight than people who eat meat.
However, the protein content is quite low, particularly if you omit meat.
There’s good evidence that protein promotes weight loss as it boosts your metabolism, stops you feeling hungry and spares muscle tissue when dieting.
We’d prefer at least 20% of calories to come from protein, ideally nearer to 30%.
Our Dean Ornish Diet review would also suggest that the low fat content could also be a problem. A diet as low as 10% in fat could get a touch boring and may prove hard to stick to. Fat adds flavour to food and it can taste bland without it.
Low carbers may find the high percentage of calories that come from carbs a bit alarming.
However, given that they come from ‘good carbs’ like wholegrains, fruit and veg, which release their energy more gradually than simple sugars, this shouldn’t cause a problem.
Dean Ornish Diet Review – The Bottom Line…
There are a lot of positives in this diet, such as the low saturated fat and high fiber content based on fruit, veg and wholegrains.
However, it’s so strict at just 10% fat and calls for such radical changes in eating habits that it may prove difficult to stick to.
Adding some more olive oil, oily fish like salmon and low fat dairy products would add some much needed variety and flavour.
If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll love it. If not, it may prove a struggle to stick with.
Undoubtedly a heart healthy plan, we’d thoroughly recommend it with a few healthy additions.
Our Dean Ornish Diet review verdict? Very good in parts and undoubtedly a healthy choice!