I can count the diet books I’d recommend on one hand. Or less.

But there’s a new diet book out that has elbowed its way to the top 5. Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet.

The Engine 2 story

Yes, Engine, as in fire engine. Rip Esselstyn is a fireman in Austin, Texas. He’s also a world – class athlete (came in 3rd not long ago in a Duathlon where the first place winner was Lance Armstrong).

And now: an advocate, educator, and motivator for a plant-strong diet. One where the four food groups are whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits. With a sprinkling of nuts on the side.

Engine 2 Diet rationale

Rip’s dad is none other than Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure. Dr. Esselstyn discovered in his practice that a plant strong, vegan diet not only stopped serious heart disease in some of his patients, it reversed it as well.

Soon thereafter, the entire Esselstyn clan adopted this way of eating. Including athletic son Rip.

And not long after that, Rip’s buddies at the firehouse – home of Engine 2 – in their usual competitive spirit – decided to find out who had the lowest cholesterol. What surprised them was that one of them discovered his total cholesterol was a whopping 344!

This inspired the month-long plan to see how much these firemen could drop their total cholesterol levels in one month, eating Rip’s way. That’s right, vegan lasagna, veggie wraps, and all the colorful, diverse yumminess of a plant-strong diet was the fare for those 28 days at the firehouse.

Every fireman in the project ate freely of the foods prepared “Rip” style. They dropped weight (average weight loss, 14 lbs) , total cholesterol (average drop, 30%!)), and as a group emerged enthusiastic about this way of eating.

Thus, the Engine 2 Diet was born!

The Engine 2 Diet is primarily a few principles for a simple, delicious way of eating.   This takes away the need for portion control, calorie counting, and all the other ways we devise that seem to adle our brains while not working on our weight loss goals anyway.

Engaging, informative and entertaining, it also makes for a fun read.

Here are the guidelines of Engine 2 Diet, as followed by the firemen during that 28 days.  In the book, Rip offers an option for working your way up slowly  (Cadet track) as well as a jump-in-with-both-feet plan (Firefighter Track).

The Engine 2 crew ate “Firefighter” from Day One of the 28 – day challenge.  By the way, the results were so positive in terms of health (lipid profile), energy and weight loss that apparently this diet has been maintained AND additional 28-day jumpstarts have been undergone since.

Engine 2 Diet “Cadet” Progression

Week 1: eliminate dairy, PLUS processed and refined foods such as white flour, refined grains, cakes and pastries
Week 2: stop eating meat, chicken, eggs, and fish
Week 3: keep the lid on all oils:  eliminate all “free fats”
Week 4: continue on with all from weeks 1 – 3

Or, you can just jump into Week #4

You work toward eventually eliminating “everything with a face” and high fat foods.  This shifts the fat profile from the standard American diet of 30% + percentage of calories from dietary fat to 10 – 12%, which is the amount found naturally in a diet of whole, unprocessed foods.

For those used to the SAD (standard American diet), this shift is a big change that can boost fat loss and overall health.

This underscores, by the way, why there is such an obesity problem in the U.S.

What DO you eat? Everything else!

Endless lists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains (including wholegrain breads and pastas), starches (potatoes, yams, winter squash), and legumes (beans and their friends!) can be found at the click of a mouse.

Rip’s Nutrition Tips
  1. Eating a plant-strong diet is the best way to fight the dangerous fires raging inside us—fires that create all the chronic Western ailments including heart attack, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
  2. The fat and cholesterol in animal products clogs up arteries and can cause impotence, which research shows may be an early sign of heart disease. But men, you can treat this without Viagra. Instead, eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
  3. The only nutrient that plant-based foods lack is vitamin B12. But you can get a daily supply with fortified foods or supplement.
  4. Some trendy diets claim that all carbohydrates are bad guys, yet of the three macronutrients that provide calories in our diet (carbs, protein, and fat), carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel source. They’re responsible for managing your heart rate, digestion, breathing, exercising, walking, and thinking.

Recipes to help you get started

The Engine 2 book has 125  mouth-watering recipes, worth the purchase of the book alone. Everything from pancakes to pizza, to Tex-Mex favorites and knockout chocolate desserts. Amazingly, as someone who has been eating vegetarian for over 35 years,  I found several nuggets of new ideas – simple things (I love to eat, but cooking, not so much!) I’d never thought of before.

And Engine 2 will get you started with some of the simplest recipes to be found.

The way of eating that Rip outlines in this book is a surefire way to help you get your skinny on.  Remember, you carve your figure with your fork.  Check it out.


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