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Dean Ornish Diet


Our Reviewer Says …

“Despite its low-fat flaw, the Ornish Diet has a lot of great advice that could help dieters not just lose weight, but learn a series of lifestyle changes that could improve their overall health in general.”

At a Glance

The Ornish Diet can be summed up in just three little words: “fat is bad.” Instead of reducing calories or counting grams, dieters are taught to divide foods into three categories: Foods that you can ‘eat freely’, ‘eat moderately’ and foods that the diet bans or ‘discourages’ you from eating. The foods that are banned are typically those that are higher in fat, including dairy products, meats, nuts and other foods that have average to high amounts of fat and/or cholesterol.

There are no “phases” or “stages” in the Ornish Diet’s “eat more, weigh less” strategy. Dieters simply begin eating the low-fat foods recommended and avoiding fatty foods in general-your daily caloric intake from fat is kept at around 10 percent. The program also delves into showing dieters how to add other healthy habits into their lifestyle, from exercise, meditation, imagery, breathing exercises, etc.


  • Cost: Below average. There aren’t any meals and supplements to buy or programs to join, so the diet will only cost you whatever the going rate is for fruits, vegetables and other assorted healthy, low-fat foods at your supermarket.
  • Meals Provided: None.
  • Diet Duration: There are no phases or stages to follow. Dieters being eating whichever foods are good and voiding those considered bad right from the start. The other aspects f the diet-which include recommending exercise, meditation, etc.-are lifestyle changes that the diet makes gradually, but not after any specific amount of time. The Ornish Diet is meant to be a lifetime commitment.
  • Fitness Requirements: The program encourages dieters to gradually increase their activity levels until they are doing some form of moderate-intensity activity for at least 30 minutes each day.
  • Time Commitment: Minimal. Because dieters don’t have to count or measure their foods as much as other diet plans, the time required to devote to it each day is slightly less than other diets.
  • Eating Out: Easy or difficult, depending on where you go. Eating ala carte can help you pick and choose the right types of foods that match the diet’s principles. However, finding actual dishes on the menu that are in line with the diet’s strict low-fat, vegetarian-inspired philosophy can be a challenge.
  • Alcohol: Dieters are told to limit their intake as much as possible.
  • Vegetarian-Friendly: Very. In fact, because the diet limits many types of meats-yet pushes dieters to eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole-grains-it’s probably one of the most vegan-friendly diets out there.
  • Strict/Flexible Eating Plan: Both! The program doesn’t really ask dieters to worry about portion sizes or counting calories, making it fairly easy to follow. However, it does divide foods into certain categories, banning certain types of foods for good, including meats

The Dean Ornish Website
Eat More, Weigh Less
Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease
Everday Cooking with Dr. Dean Ornish

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