What is The Engine 2 Diet?
The Engine 2 Diet, which was created by a firefighter, former professional athlete and medical scion Rip Esselstyn, is a low-fat, “plant-strong” plan that aims to prevent or even reverse diseases that are linked to the Standard American Diet: heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Engine 2 Diet followers can also expect to increase lean muscle mass, sharpen their minds and energize their bodies, Esselstyn says. The diet is essentially a Vegan Diet with a twist – it cuts out vegetable oils and prescribes only whole, plant foods. Skip the refined grains and shakes and instead focus on foods such as whole, intact grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
- Health and environmental benefits
- No calorie counting
- Complete lifestyle overhaul
- Considerable meal planning and prep
The Engine 2 Diet is Ranked:
- No.4 diet in Best Diets for Diabetics (Tie)
- No.4 diet in Best Heart-Healthy Diets
- No.5 diet in Best Weight-Loss Diets (Tie)
- No.5 diet in Best Commercial Diet Plans
- No.6 diet in Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets (Tie)
- No.8 diet in Best Plant-Based Diets
- No.10 diet in Best Overall Diets
How does The Engine 2 Diet work?
If you’re ready to give Engine 2 a try, you first have to decide whether you’re a “firefighter” or “fire cadet.” If you’re the former, you’re ready for an immediate lifestyle overhaul, slashing all animal products, processed foods and vegetable oils from your diet. If you want to gradually change your diet, you’ll go with the fire cadet plan, aka the 28-Day Challenge, to go from “dietary extravagance to dietary excellence.” Either way, you can follow these tips right away:
- Toss all the animal-based products and processed foods in your pantry, including most fruit juices.
- Clear your freezer of anything that has more than 2 1/2 grams of fat per 100 calories.
- Restock your kitchen with whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits.
- Start your days with a big bowl of whole-grain cereal (with non-dairy milk, of course) topped with nuts and fruit.
For more guidance, invest in the Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue Diet, which supplies recipe ideas and fitness tips. Esselstyn also hosts online videos to guide newbies through the change.
Whether you decide to ease into the program cadet-style or jump in like a firefighter, dieters are encouraged to explore various meal plans to find what works for them and employ the diet’s tools and resources, including a reboot with the 28-Day Challenge, to stay on track. Eat as much as you want, and still lose weight, Esselstyn promises, so long as you stop consuming processed foods and oils and stick to a plant-based diet.
For those not yet ready to commit to the standard Engine 2 diet but still wanting to give it a try, there’s also the Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Challenge, outlined by Esselstyn in “The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet,” or available for download on Engine 2’s website. Reaping the touted rewards in just a week requires closely adhering to strict guidelines based on the diet’s “seven pillars,” which range from its plant focus to not drinking calories and limiting salt, sugar, and fat.
That means having:
- Vegetables of all kinds from leafy greens to potatoes.
- Whole fruit.
- Intact whole grains, such as brown rice, oats and quinoa.
- 100% whole grain food products including bread and pasta.
- Legumes, like black beans, lentils and chickpeas.
- Extra flavour: herbs, spices and condiments like ketchup, mustard and barbeque sauce.
- Water, tea or coffee.
- Animal-based proteins including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy.
- Processed vegan meat substitutes.
- Nuts – except for walnuts – and nut butter.
- All coconut products.
- Extracted oil, including olive, coconut and canola oil.
- Refined bread and pasta.
- Refined sugar.
You’ll also limit:
- Avocado to 1/4 per day or less.
- Walnuts – not more than a handful daily.
- Chia or flax seeds to a tablespoon or less.
- Unsweetened plant-based milk, only having it in cereals and recipes, and not to drink.
- Dried fruit to less than a tablespoon in cereal only.
How much does The Engine 2 Diet cost?
You may pay more for fresh produce on the Engine 2 diet, but you’ll save by skipping the butcher. You should consider buying the book. In addition, you can get personalized recipes daily through an Engine 2 meal planner that allows you to create menus and grocery lists, chat with a planning expert seven days a week and access additional resources, like emailed tips and grocery delivery in select areas, for $14 per month or $99 a year.
There’s no cost to join the Seven-Day Challenge (apart from if you buy the book it’s based on). However, for those wishing to extend the lessons from the challenge further, there’s a paid 10-week intensive behavioral change program called Rescue 10x with group support focused on applying the principles of the dietary approach to real life. The cost to enroll in the program, which includes educational videos by Esselstyn, weekly lessons with at-home activities, group calls with Engine 2 coaches, and coaching in a smaller private Facebook group, is $247.
Will The Engine 2 Diet help you lose weight?
You’ll probably lose weight on Engine 2. Like all plant-based diets, the plan is low in fat and high in fiber, which helps keep you feeling fuller longer. Also, you’ll be getting rid of vegetable oil, which is highly caloric.
How easy is The Engine 2 Diet to follow?
The Engine 2 Diet is ranked #28 in the Easiest Diets to Follow
If you’re looking for a mindless plan, The Engine 2 diet probably isn’t for you. It requires plenty of motivation and prep time, but the book and website provide tools for support.
- The Engine 2 Diet is pretty inconvenient. Following a vegan diet puts you among a very small minority – just about 3% of Americans, according to a Gallup poll. So you’ll probably have to get used to asking for substitutions at restaurants and making plenty of your own meals. While recipes abound, some of the ingredients on the “E2-approved foods” list rely on specific brands that could be tough to find or pricey.
- You won’t be at a loss for recipes on the Engine 2 diet. The book and website are packed with them. Recipes are heavy on Tex-Mex, but include a range of options; many are heart-healthy alternatives to classic American comfort food.
- You can eat out on the Engine 2 Diet – if you’re conscientious about it. The book offers menu suggestions for various types of cuisine. Avoid soda, and don’t be afraid to request substitutions, such as corn tortillas instead of fried chips, or extra veggies instead of cheese.
- There are timesavers. The Engine 2 Diet can take time, but detailed meal plans and grocery lists help.
- You don’t have to pursue the Engine 2 Diet on your own. The website features an online educational support community called “Engine 2 Extra,” which includes discounts for events along with access to coaching, cooking classes, member blogs and help with meal planning.
- You should feel full enough on the Engine 2 diet. Nutrition experts emphasize the importance of satiety, the satisfied feeling that you’ve had enough. Because this diet is built around fiber-packed veggies, fruits, and whole grains, you shouldn’t feel hungry between meals.
- Engine 2 recipes are crafted to be flavorful. Recipes include “Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna,” homemade hummus, chili dogs, sloppy Joes, “macaroni not cheese” and spelt pancakes. Instead of oil, Esselstyn advises cooking with water (or even beer) and baking with mashed bananas, applesauce, and prunes.
How much should you exercise on The Engine 2 Diet?
Esselstyn suggests a corollary fitness program with his Engine 2 diet. Should you choose to integrate the recommended exercise program into your new lifestyle, you’ll devote 20 to 40 minutes to aerobic activity (walking, swimming, or tennis, for example) three days a week. On two other days, you’ll follow the “E2 Exercise Program” – three rounds of four exercises that blend strength training with aerobics. The book offers visuals matched with descriptions of the exercises that work your legs, upper body, and core, followed by a cardiovascular activity. For his part, Esselstyn (who is pictured in the visuals) says that a vegan diet supported his career as a professional triathlete, helping him win major competitions.