28 Aug What is the Nutritarian Diet?
The Nutritarian Diet was created by Dr. Fuhrman in an effort to help you not only lose weight, but improve blood pressure, cholesterol and overall health. According to Dr. Fuhrman’s website, the plan “emphasizes eating high-nutrient, whole plant foods that supply abundant amounts of micronutrients,” and eating this way “unleashes the body’s tremendous ability to heal, achieve optimal weight and slow the aging process.” So is this a plan worth trying? I break down the pros and cons and what you should know before deciding if it’s right for you.
While there are a variety of different plans under the Nutritarian Diet umbrella, the most common plan is the “6-Week Jump-Start Plan” based on Fuhrman’s book Eat To Live. This plan is essentially a low-fat, low-calorie, vegan diet. It’s based on the notion that if you eat foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories, you can eat more and feel fuller for longer. This plan has you eating about 2 pounds of vegetables per day and promises that you’ll lose 20 pounds if you follow the recommendations carefully.
The plan also has you cutting down on carb-rich foods like bread and pasta. In fact, the plan recommends including bread in a max of three weekly meals. It also has you eliminating essentially all animal-based products, including milk and dairy products, meat, chicken, and fish. Fruit juice, oils, processed foods are also off-limits. Snacking is discouraged since, according to Fuhrman, eating constantly throughout the day interferes with body-fat loss. And while it’s encouraged to avoid alcohol, you can have up to one drink per day if you find it will help you stay on track.
So what will you be filling your plate with? Lots of high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes. Fuhrman recommends having 1 cup of beans per day to increase your fiber intake and promote digestive health, at least 4 servings of fresh fruit per day (no juice or canned fruit allowed), and unlimited raw and cooked vegetables. Starchy vegetables should be limited to 1 cup per day and nuts and seeds are capped at 1 ounce per day. Water is the beverage of choice, but plain, unsweetened seltzer water or caffeine-free herbal tea is also acceptable.
After you’ve completed the “6-Week Jump-Start Plan,” you can reintroduce some animal products, such as fat-free dairy, eggs, wild fish, and organic meat as more of a flavoring or condiment than an entrée.
Filling your plate with plenty of plant-based, high-fiber foods is certainly beneficial to your health. There are studies that show eating a plant-based diet may help you lose weight and keep it off and eating a plant-based diet may also help reduce your risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. However, that doesn’t mean you need to completely abstain from eating animal-based foods like meat, fish and dairy. Animal-based foods can certainly compliment and plant-based diet when eating in moderation.
I always question any plan that eliminates whole food groups since they are difficult to follow and not likely to be maintained long-term. In this restrictive plan, you could likely fall short on key nutrients, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium. You may need to supplement if you follow the plan for very long, and Dr. Furman’s website does sell a women’s daily multivitamin with minerals and DHA + EPA.
In addition, the rate of weight loss of 20 pounds in 6 weeks is rather quick. According to the National Institute of Health, a safe rate of weight loss is between 1 to 2 pounds maximum per week.
This is an overly restrictive eating plan that will probably have you losing weight, but regaining it right back again. While eating nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes can help you lose weight, the elimination of numerous food groups isn’t the way to necessarily achieve your weight loss goals. Learning how to balance the foods you love (plants only or plants and animals) in a lifelong meal plan you can follow is really more what it’s all about.