The Engine 2 Diet

What is The Engine 2 Diet?

The Engine 2 Diet, which was created by firefighter, former professional athlete and medical scion Rip Esselstyn, is a low-fat, “plant strong” plan that aims to prevent or even reverse diseases that are linked to the Standard American Diet: heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Engine 2 Diet followers can also expect to increase lean muscle mass, sharpen their minds and energize their bodies, Esselstyn says. The diet is essentially a vegan diet with a twist – it cuts out vegetable oils and prescribes only whole, plant foods. Skip the refined grains and shakes and instead focus foods such as whole, intact grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. U.S. News experts rank the diet in the middle of the pack on most measures – while whole, plant foods are undeniably healthy, all of its “don’ts” can make it exceptionally difficult to stick to long term.

Pros & Cons

  • Health and environmental benefits
  • No calorie counting
  • Complete lifestyle overhaul
  • Considerable meal planning and prep

How does The Engine 2 Diet work?

If you’re ready to give Engine 2 a try, you first have to decide whether you’re a “firefighter” or “fire cadet.” If you’re the former, you’re ready for an immediate lifestyle overhaul, slashing all animal products, processed foods and vegetable oils from your diet. If you want to gradually change your diet, you’ll go with the fire cadet plan, aka the 28-Day Challenge, to go from “dietary extravagance to dietary excellence.” Either way, you can follow these tips right away:

  • Toss all the animal-based products and processed foods in your pantry, including most fruit juices.
  • Clear your freezer of anything that has more than 2 1/2 grams of fat per 100 calories.
  • Restock your kitchen with whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits.
  • Start your days with a big bowl of whole-grain cereal (with non-dairy milk, of course) topped with nuts and fruit.

For more guidance, invest in the Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue Diet, which supplies recipe ideas and fitness tips. Esselstyn also hosts online videos to guide newbies through the change.

Whether you decide to ease into the program cadet-style or jump in like a firefighter, dieters are encouraged to explore various meal plans to find what works for them and employ the diet’s tools and resources, including a reboot with the 28-Day Challenge, to stay on track. Eat as much as you want, and still lose weight, Esselstyn promises, so long as you stop consuming processed foods and oils and stick to a plant-based diet.

For those not yet ready to commit to the standard Engine 2 diet but still wanting to give it a try, there’s also the Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Challenge, outlined by Esselstyn in “The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet.” Reaping the touted rewards in just a week requires closely adhering to strict guidelines based on the diet’s “seven pillars,” which range from its plant focus to not drinking calories and limiting salt, sugar and fat.

That means having:

  • Vegetables of all kinds from leafy greens to potatoes.
  • Whole fruit.
  • Intact whole grains, such as brown rice, oats and quinoa.
  • 100% whole grain food products including bread and pasta.
  • Legumes, like black beans, lentils and chickpeas.
  • Extra flavor: herbs, spices and condiments like ketchup, mustard and barbeque sauce.
  • Water, tea or coffee.

You’ll avoid:

  • Animal-based proteins including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy.
  • Extracted oil, including olive, coconut and canola oil.
  • Refined bread and pasta.
  • Refined sugar.
  • Processed vegan meat substitutes.
  • Smoothies.
  • Juices.
  • All coconut products.
  • Nuts – except for walnuts – and nut butters.

You’ll also limit:

  • Avocado to 1/4 per day or less.
  • Walnuts – not more than a handful daily.
  • Chia or flax seeds to a tablespoon or less.
  • Unsweetened plant-based milk, only having it in cereals and recipes, and not to drink.
  • Dried fruit to less than a tablespoon in cereal only.

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