“Real men eat plants, they do not eat meat. Go Plant strong”. This is the motto of Rip Esselstyn, the creator of the Engine 2 diet.
What is a Engine 2 diet? Wondering what are its benefits? Will it be helpful for me and how will it be good for me? Well, we will be looking into all these points and a bit more.
Rip Esselstyn is currently a firefighter, a former athlete and a medical scion. His grandfather, Caldwell Esselstyn, a former surgeon led the research on the prevention and reversal of heart diseases through a plant based diet. Rip Esselstyn was so inspired by the dramatic results that he wrote a book named The Engine 2 Diet on it. The book then turned out to be a national bestseller and several people adapted this dietary regime.
The aim of this diet is to provide optimal health and prevent chronic diseases, while helping you with weight management. The diet plan focuses on lowering bad cholesterol levels, while improving good cholesterol in the blood. Rip Esselstyn stresses that his goal is not to convert the Americans into vegans or vegetarian, but introduce a plant-based diet plan in their dietary regime.
Rip Esselstyn claims that the Engine 2 Diet can help reverse diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, cancer and Alzheimer’s caused due to the Standard American Diet. Besides preventing the diseases, the Engine 2 diet can also help you lose weight, sharpen the mind, increase lean muscles and energize the body.
A heavy consumption of animal products clogs the artery with saturated fat and plaque promoting dietary cholesterol in the blood. This can lead to cardiovascular diseases. A plant-based diet, on the other hand, provides healthy nutrients, fats and protein to keep the body in an excellent condition. The Engine 2 Diet is a “vegan diet with a twist”. It even cuts down the consumption of the vegetable oil. Vegetable oil strips the plant of its nutrients, leaving behind a lot of calories and saturated fat. Hence, it should be avoided while following the Engine 2 diet.
How does the Engine 2 Diet work?
The Engine 2 diet comprises of two 28 days diet program – “Firefighter” and the “Fire cadet”. The “firefighter” program immediately jump-starts the diet by quitting all the animal products, vegetable oils and processed foods and eating fruits, vegetables and legumes for all 4 weeks. The “Fire cadet” is a gradual approach. You have to eliminate the food types gradually, while adding healthy and nutritious foods in your diet. Esselstyn describes this transition from “dietary extravagance to dietary excellence” in 28 days.
The four-week program:
- Dump the dairy and processed foods, the greatest source of saturated fat
- Get rid of all animal products including eggs
- Focus on maintenance and discovery.
The book provides the weekly meal plans to help the cadets go through the four-week challenge. The dieters are encouraged to explore various meal plans and find out which one will work best for them. The dieters can also employ the diet’s tool and resources, including a reboot with the 28-day challenge. You also need to test your weight, cholesterol and other measurements to gauge your progress post challenge. Esselstyn promises that you can eat as much as you want to, provided you stop consuming processed foods and oil and stick to a plant based diet.
- Protein- 2 ½ to 6%
- Fat- 9 to 15%
- Carbohydrates- plant based carbohydrates should make the rest of the diet.
The Engine 2 Diet recommends the dieters to follow a plant-based diet based on vegetables, fruits, tofu, legumes and soy products. The dieters have to abstain from eating all animal based and refined foods. The book includes a weekly menu planner with more than a 100 recipes, and E2 approved foods with brand names.
Foods to include in The Engine 2 Diet:
- Vegetables, fruits and grains
- Meat substitutes like tempeh, tofu and seitan
- Milk substitute includes rice, almond, oat and soy milk, soy yogurt and hemp
- Cooked brown rice
- Hummus and nut butters
- Ground flaxseed meal
- Dried and fresh herbs
- Whole grain cereal, pasta and bread
- Raw nuts and salad
- Undressed salad
- Dried fruits without added sugar
- Low sodium and low fat soup
- Beans and legumes with no added fat or salt
- Pasta sauce without any added oil
- Fruit spread with no added sugar
- Sweeteners like agave, pure maple syrup and molasses
- Baked chips
- Low sugar and low sodium condiments.
Foods to avoid in The Engine 2 Diet:
- Refined sugars like corn syrup, sauces, soda, candy and cookies
- Processed grains, white flour, white bread, white rice and white pasta
- Canned and packaged foods containing more than 2.3 grams of fat per 100 calorie serving
Alcohol consumption is not encouraged in this diet, at least for the 28 days period. Limit to one glass of wine a day, if necessary.
The Engine 2 diet advises its members to take Vitamin D and B12 supplements. They can obtain the nutrients through fortified soy-milk, yeast and cereals. You will need to consume fish oil to get omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. The dieters can also seek guidance from their doctor.
The website offers motivational talks by Esselstyn to coach the cadet through their weeks of challenge. The Engine 2 Diet book and website provides several tools for support. The website features an online educational support community called Engine 2 extra. This includes coaching, cooking classes, member reviews and discounts for events. It is also packed with hundreds of recipes. The recipes are usually heavy on Tex-Mex, but they have a range of option, including heart healthy alternative to the classic American food. The book also offers menu suggestions for various types of cuisine.
The book “Engine 2 Diet” costs $24.99. You can pay $99 for a year’s additional support.
The diet strongly encourages physical activity in this diet. It is considered a vital component to weight loss and good health. Rip Esselstyn recommends a corollary fitness program with his diet. You have to devote 20 to 40 minutes of your time to aerobic activity like walking, swimming and tennis three days a week. The other 2 days, you have to follow the E2 Exercise Program. You have to do three rounds of four exercises that can blend the strength training with aerobics. Simple stretches and moderate intensity exercise can be easily performed at home. The book also offers pictures and visuals with the description of the exercises. The exercises mentioned in the book work your legs, core and upper body.
Cons of the Engine 2 Diet:
- People following the Engine 2 diet do not get enough vitamin D, vitamin B12 and zinc. They also suffer from low levels of omega three fatty acids like EPA and DHA. However, Esselstyn states that plants can provide all the nutrients you need, except vitamin B12.
- The protein recommendation in this diet is well below the recommended value of 10 to 15%.
- Eliminating dairy products can decrease the calcium levels, leading to weak and brittle bones.
- The diet is very difficult to follow, as you have to give up meat, dairy and other animal products completely. This may feel very restrictive.
- There is no health risk associated with the Engine 2 diet. However, it would be wise to talk to your doctor before going ahead with the Engine 2 diet.
Benefits of the Engine 2 Diet:
1. Weight loss:
Just like the other plant-based diet, you are likely to lose much weight while following the Engine 2 plan. The diet is low in fat and high in fiber, thereby, keeping you full for longer time. You are also prohibited from eating vegetable oil, which will further restrict your caloric intake. Women can lose an average of eight pounds while following this diet, while men lose an average of 14 pounds. It also reduces body fat.
2. Cardiovascular benefits:
The Engine 2 diet, with its plant-based foods lack the saturated fat found mostly in the animal food products. This will keep the blood pressure in check, keeping the heart diseases at bay. Engine 2 diet is highly effective on cholesterol. The average drop in cholesterol is 20 to 40% of the total cholesterol. Most people lose 30 to 50% of the low-density lipoprotein.
Following a plant-based diet can control and even reverse the possibility of diabetes. The Engine 2 diet prevents insulin spike, thereby keeping the blood sugar levels stable.
The diet improves the digestive health. The gastrointestinal tract becomes more regular. It helps to reduce and eliminate acid reflux. It also improves diverticulitis.
Meat and dairy products often trigger headache in people suffering from migraines. Hypertension will also be a thing of the past if you follow this diet well.
Sample Diet Meal Plan:
Early morning: 7 am
- 1 cup of green tea without sugar
Breakfast: 8 am
- One bowl of oatmeal
- One serving of fruit of your choice
Lunch: 1 pm
- Grilled vegetables with corn tortillas
- One glass of orange juice
Evening snack: 4 pm
- Black bean burgers with baked sweet potato fries
Dinner: 9 pm
- Split pea soup with 2 slices of whole grain bread
- Chocolate tofu based mousse
This diet seems realistic and only realistic diets can bring about a lifestyle change for you. Try your luck at it and who knows you might see more benefits with this diet than others did. We would love to hear from you. Do keep us posted.