Eat to Live The Revolutionary Formula For Fast And Sustained Weight Loss
by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Reviewed by Barbara Sarter Ph.D., R.N., F.N.P.
If you know someone who need to lose lots of weight quickly and safely this is a must read. Most of today's popular diets are based on flawed or absent nutritional science, or take one small fact in a very complex science and magnify it to create a new approach laden with false promises. At best, they provide only short-term results. However, any health professional that reads Dr. Fuhrman's book will find it to be a most comprehensive, nutritionally superior and scientific plan for weight loss, far ahead of any of its competitors. But this book is not just about losing weight. It is about promoting a maximum state of health for life. In this, the book stands alone. It is a masterpiece of nutritional science; synthesizing decades of scientific research into a rational, feasible, delicious, supremely healthy plan for eating. Dr. Fuhrman offers us an invaluable tool for preventing and reversing the major chronic diseases that kill the majority of Americans.=
There are no gimmicks in this diet. It is exquisitely simple, thanks to a fundamental principle that Dr. Fuhrman has distilled from thousands of studies of human nutrition. That formula is Health = Nutrient/Calories. For each calorie we take in, we want to receive maximum nutrient density. Thus, this diet is called a high nutrient density diet. This principle leads to a reformulation of the current Food Pyramid so that fresh vegetables are at the base, most abundant, with fresh fruits and legumes next, then nuts and seeds, and only then complex carbohydrates such as whole grains. Animal protein, including dairy, eggs and meat, are at the very top, along with fats, oils, and simple carbohydrates. This is the basic structure of the high nutrient-density diet. Dr. Fuhrman is well aware of the normal American's food addictions (he is in private practice full-time and provides nutritional counseling to all of his patients) so he includes a 90% rule in the plan. This allows for 10% of total calories to come from food groups at the very top of the pyramid.
One great advantage of this diet plan is that it is very filling. Most people have trouble eating as many vegetables and fruits as are recommended - up to one pound of raw and one pound of cooked vegetables per day! If one approaches these amounts in one's meals, there is little room left for low-nutrient, high-calorie food, and excess starches - a common downfall of most low-fat diets.
Low fat diets have been criticized of late because studies have shown that they increase triglyceride and insulin levels. So an important point is that this diet's main feature is not that it is low fat, rather it is high in nutrients and fiber. Other low-fat diets allow a liberal intake of starches such as pasta and rice, so of course the studies have shown an adverse metabolic response. Not so with Fuhrman's plan; studies show the opposite, it lowers triglycerides and dramatically improves cholesterol ratios.
Dr. Fuhrman also addresses the common misperception that a vegetable-heavy diet is lacking in protein. He makes the point that 100 CALORIES (not grams) of a green vegetable contain dramatically more protein than 100 CALORIES of meat. 100 calories of vegetable is about one pound, whereas 100 calories of meat is about one ounce. So food tables can be very misleading. I calculated the protein content of a sample meal plan and found the percentage of calories from protein to be over 10% - well within the range of current national dietary guidelines. Dr. Fuhrman also makes the point that the SOURCE of the protein in one's diet is also of critical importance. Animal protein raises cholesterol; plant protein lowers it.
Clearly, Dr. Fuhrman believes that knowledge is power. The first four chapters provide the reader with a comprehensive overview of human nutrition. The explanations are scientifically accurate and very clear, with graphics to illustrate. Throughout the book, extensive scientific citations are provided. In chapter five he evaluates other popular diet plans, including the Atkins plan, and exposes their flaws. Chapter six explains the high nutrient density diet. The average weight loss is 15 pounds the first month and 10 pounds monthly thereafter. This chapter also discusses important issues and misunderstandings related to macronutrients - proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Chapter seven is perhaps the most powerful chapter of the book. It offers compelling evidence of dietary causes for most of the common health problems faced by Americans. Then Dr. Fuhrman explains how diet can prevent and even reverse heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, chronic headaches, and autoimmune disease. He relates true stories of patients (who gave permission to be named) who have been able to stop their antihypertensive, antianginal, and antidiabetic drugs; patients who have experienced gradual elimination of their chest pain; patients who have been able to stop their use of toxic drugs for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. I was able to review the charts of Dr. Fuhrman's patients and verified that he is accurately presenting these results.
Chapter eight offers the six-week weight loss plan based on the high nutrient density diet. The sample meal plans and recipes are wonderful, obviously drawn from his and his family's own experience of observing this diet for many decades. The only addition I would have liked to see is more discussion of how those who are already slender can keep their caloric intake at an appropriate level. For them, more nuts and beans and more whole grains are clearly appropriate, and it would be nice to have their concerns addressed as well. But for the majority of our population, Eat to Live is must reading, a prescription for life-long health and reversal of killer chronic diseases. It is written in an engaging and personal style. I found it hard to put down. Every health professional should read it - and use it.