Named after Dr Dean Ornish, the Ornish Diet is a lifestyle improvement program based on following a low-fat, strictly vegetarian diet. Dr Ornish calls it the “Reversal Diet,” as many followers account for the diet in reversing their heart disease. The diet that Ornish designed was similar to the regimen developed in the 1970s by Nathan Pritikin to combat heart disease. The Ornish diet recommends a minimal to moderate use of salt and sugar, 70-75% of total calories from carbohydrates and 15-20% of calories from proteins. As you can calculate, the diet leaves little room for calories from fat, as it is very strict in limiting fat intake. Several studies report an impact on the reduction of heart disease.
What can you eat on Ornish Diet?
The diet supplies only 10% of calories from fat. It excludes cholesterol and saturated fat, including all animal products (except egg whites and nonfat dairy products), nuts, seeds, avocados, chocolate, olives, and coconuts. Oils are eliminated except a small amount of canola oil for cooking, and oil that supplies omega-3 essential fatty acids. The Ornish diet also prohibits caffeine but allows a moderate intake of alcohol, sugar, and salt. There is no restriction on the calorie intake so long as the diet is confined within the recommended foods. Dr Ornish recommends high consumption of ‘complex carbohydrates’ — whole-grain bread and cereals, fruits and vegetables — rather than of simple sugars. This makes the diet very high in volume and fibre (and therefore ‘filling’) even though total kilojoule intake is relatively low.
Ornish states that his diet alone is not sufficient for reversing heart disease, but is only one part of an overall program that includes exercise, yoga, meditation, stress reduction, and lifestyle changes. In fact, patients are encouraged to confront the emotional aspects of their healing as well as physical concerns like diet and high cholesterol. Such a diet will very likely induce weight loss because you would have to eat a huge quantity of such foods before your calorie requirement could be exceeded. Therefore, putting on weight, or even maintaining high body weight, would be very difficult on this diet.
The Ornish Diet – What It Is
Unlike other diet books that make big promises, Eat More, Weigh Less, by Dean Ornish, MD, soft-pedals the health claims for this diet for the masses, adapted from his regimen to reverse heart disease. Ornish is well known in the medical community because of his success in reversing blockages to the heart, once thought impossible without surgery or drugs. Unlike other books that are full of scientific-sounding theories and explanations without clinical studies to back them up, Ornish’s explanations are simple and well supported. His main point is that eating a high-fibre, low-fat vegetarian diet will not only help you stay healthy, or get you there but also will help you lose weight. This is accomplished, according to Ornish, by a combination of diet and exercise that allows the body’s fat-burning mechanism to work most effectively.