What is the "Engine 2 Diet"? Is the Engine 2 Diet Healthy?

Photo by Elizabeth Kreutz.

Question: What is the "Engine 2 Diet"? Is the Engine 2 diet healthy?

Ever hear of the RAVE diet or the Skinny Bitch diet? Ever heard someone refer to a "whole foods plant-based diet"? The Engine 2 diet concept is the same. It's not a quick-fix and it is not a miracle diet or a fad diet. This is a healthy, low-fat, plant-based diet. Plant foods contain zero cholesterol, so this diet will temporarily lower your cholesterol as you'll be putting zero cholesterol into your body. Eat real foods, get real health. Read on for a review of this healthy way of eating, some sample recipes and to learn about losing weight on the Engine 2 diet.


What is the Engine 2 Diet?

The Engine 2 Diet is:

  • A book, 28-day diet plan and website devised by Texas firefighter Rip Esselstyn to reduce weight and cholesterol.
  • Plant-based and mostly vegan: You'll eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and seeds for low-fat protein. Sound familiar? A "transition" period includes some fish and chicken.
  • Some minimally processed foods are allowed: The Engine 2 Diet includes tofu, seitan, soy yogurt and even veggie burgers. Whole grain crackers and whole grain pastas are permitted. Rip makes it easy by listing brands and products that are "approved", but you'll need to shop for most of them at a natural foods store.
  • Low in fat: less than 2.5 grams of fat per 100 calories, and includes no added oils
  • Refined sugar-free: Rip recommends using natural sweeteners and unrefined sugars
  • Low in salt: Salt substitutes are suggested, and as you're eating minimally processed foods, you'll be getting rid of all the added salt in packaged foods.
  • No caloric limit: Eat as many healthy fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as you like.

The book includes some "firefighter inspired" exercises.

Is the Engine 2 diet healthy?

Yes! But only if you actually follow it and I'm talking about your life, not just the 28 days Rip recommends. There are, however, a few nutrients that those who follow a plant based diet long-term need to watch out for.

Just eating a plant-based diet is a huge nutritional improvement over what most Americans eat, and omitting food additives such as high-fructose corn syrup can only help! Even though Rip only requires 28 days to lower your cholesterol and lose weight, chances are, if you commit to the Engine 2 Diet for 28 days, you'll end up making some permanent and healthy changes to your diet, whether you're vegetarian, vegan or not.

Will I lose weight on the Engine 2 diet?

These people certainly did! Rip claims that every single person who has stuck with his diet has lost weight and lowered their cholesterol. There are no caloric limitations, so you're really free to eat as much as you want. As most plant foods are relatively high in fiber, you may feel full on fewer calories. I know plenty of overweight vegetarians and vegans, but the Engine 2 diet is much more than just a vegetarian or vegan diet - its a healthy and whole food vegan diet. Sodas and potato chips are vegan, but they don't come from nature and there's no room for them on the Engine 2 diet. Click here to see before-and-after weight loss photos from the Engine 2 Diet

Where can I get some Engine 2 Diet recipes to try?

Here are some Engine 2 Diet sample recipes:

See also: Buy the Engine 2 Diet book

To get more recipes, you can buy the Engine 2 Diet book, which includes 125 recipes. 

The Bottom Line

It's healthy, it's structured enough to help you stick to it, and it includes enough variety and food that you won't get bored. Rip is a great spokesman; he's straightforward, motivating, and his fire-fighting anecdotes are fun to read. And he's friends with Lance Armstrong. The diet is endorsed by Dr. Dean Ornish, and he has my endorsement as well.

Think of Rip as the male answer to the Skinny Bitch phenomenon: the message is old news, but the personality selling it and the way it's presented appeals to a new type of Americans who are perking up their ears to a plant-based diet for the first time.

Oh yeah, and don't forget to exercise!

Here are some resources to help get you started eating healthy: