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The Fuhrman Diet

By Janet Renee, MS, RD ; Updated July 18, 2017

Joel Fuhrman, M.D., claims you can lose up to 20 pounds in the first six weeks of his Eat to Live diet. He calls it a revolutionary formula for fast and sustained weight loss. If you follow the recommendations offered in his book, "Eat to Live," you can expect to lose about 15 pounds in the first month, Fuhrman states. You won't feel hungry and you can eat as much food as you want, according to Fuhrman.

The Formula

Fuhrman maintains that his diet will work for everyone, regardless of whether you've failed to lose weight with other diets. Central to the diet is a concept Fuhrman calls H = N/C, which stands for health equals nutrients divided by calories. Your health is predicted by your nutrient intake divided by the number of calories you consume, according to Fuhrman. The key to permanent weight loss is to eat a high ratio of nutrients to calories, explains Fuhrman.

The Problem

Fuhrman maintains that the primary problem with the typical American diet is that it contains too many calories compared to nutrients. Consuming such a skewed nutrient-to-calorie ratio can cause you to feel hungry and to eat even more low-nutrient foods, triggering a vicious cycle. Fuhrman and his colleagues conducted a study to examine the effects of switching from a low-nutrient to high-nutrient diet. The study involved 768 participants. Compared to a low-nutrient diet, the high-nutrient diet significantly improved the physical and emotional symptoms of hunger. The results were published in the November 2010 issue of "Nutrition Journal."

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General Guidelines

Fuhrman offers what he considers simple guidelines. Eat whole foods instead of processed foods and eat more fruits and vegetables. Processed foods have fewer nutrients. Avoid empty calories, such as cookies and junk foods. Avoid refined oils and avoid cooking your food in oil. Consume a limited amount of healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, avocados and unsalted olives. Decrease your intake of animal protein and eat more leafy greens. Fuhrman notes that this type of eating plan is high in fiber, which helps keep you full and promotes healthy cholesterol.

Practical Tips

To get started, Fuhrman offers 10 tips. Eat a leafy green salad before lunch and dinner. Eat at least four fresh fruits daily and consume a wide variety of non-starchy vegetables. Limit starchy grains and starchy vegetables to one cup per day during the first six weeks to facilitate weight loss. Eat beans or other legumes each day. Eliminate animal foods for the first six weeks. Include ground flaxseed regularly to obtain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Consume no more than an ounce of nuts and seeds each day and make mushrooms a staple, since they're packed with nutrients. Lastly, Fuhrman urges you to keep it simple.

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