The Engine 2 Diet, developed by a firefighter, former professional athlete, and medical physician Rip Esselstyn, is a low-fat, “plant-strong” regimen aimed at preventing or even reversing ailments associated with the traditional American diet, such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.
In addition, according to Esselstyn, Engine 2 diet users should expect to gain lean muscle mass, improve their minds, and revitalize their bodies. The diet is mainly vegan with a twist: it eliminates vegetable oils and only recommends whole, plant-based foods. Therefore, refined grains and shakes should be avoided in their entirety, intact grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
While whole, plant foods are unquestionably healthful, all of the diet’s “don’ts” can make it extremely tough to keep to overtime, according to U.S. News experts.
What is The Engine 2 Diet ?
These diets fall within accepted ranges for the amount of protein, carbs, fat and other nutrients they provide.
Pros & Cons
- Health and environmental benefits
- No calorie counting
- Complete lifestyle overhaul
- Considerable meal planning and prep
U.S. News Best Diet Rankings
The Engine 2 Diet ranked #19 in Best Diets Overall. Forty diets were evaluated with input from a panel of health experts. See how they rank diets here.
The Engine 2 Diet is ranked:
- #19 in Best Diets Overall
- #10 in Best Plant-Based Diets
- #15 in Best Fast Weight-Loss Diets (tie)
- #10 in Best Weight-Loss Diets (tie)
- #9 in Best Heart-Healthy Diets
- #8 in Best Diabetes Diets (tie)
- #6 in Best Diet Programs
- #21 in Best Diets for Healthy Eating
- #30 in Easiest Diets to Follow (tie)
How does The Engine 2 Diet work?
If you want to test Engine 2, you must first determine if you are a “firefighter” or a “fire cadet.” If you fall into the first category, you’re ready to make a complete lifestyle change that includes eliminating all animal products, processed foods, and vegetable oils from your diet. On the other hand, if you want to make progressive changes to your diet, try the fire cadet plan, also known as the 28-Day Challenge, to go from “dietary excess 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 with 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.
Invest in the “The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet,” which supplies recipe ideas and fitness tips for more guidance. 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.
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 include meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy.
- Extracted oil, including olive, coconut and canola oil.
- Refined bread and pasta.
- Refined sugar.
- Processed vegan meat substitutes.
- All coconut products.
- Nuts – except for walnuts – and nut butter.
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 does The Engine 2 Diet Support You?
If you’re looking to start the Engine 2 diet or have already begun your dieting journey, it’s helpful to know the different ways you can receive support throughout the process. Below are a few examples of how the Engine 2 diet can support you:
- The “Engine 2 Diet” book was written by the founder of the diet, Rip Esselstyn. It includes a 28-day “Save Your Life Plan.”
- The official Engine 2 website Plantstrong offers many resources, such as recipes, food to order, a podcast, retreats and events.
How much does The Engine 2 Diet cost?
On the Engine 2 diet, you’ll pay more for fresh fruit, but you’ll save money by eliminating the butcher. It would help if you thought about purchasing the book.
Additionally, the Plant strong meal planner provides daily tailored recipes. For $14 per month or $99 per year, you can create menus and grocery lists, chat with a planning expert seven days a week, see a full nutritional analysis, and access additional resources like emailed tips and grocery delivery in select areas, as well as access additional resources like emailed tips and grocery delivery in select areas.
Joining the Seven-Day Challenge is free — unless you purchase the book on which it is based. However, a paid 10-week intensive behavioural change program called Rescue 10x includes group support for those who want to take the challenge’s teachings even further. It focuses on applying the nutritional approach’s concepts to real-life situations. The program costs $199 and includes Esselstyn’s instructional videos, weekly lessons with at-home activities, live group calls with Engine 2 coaches, and coaching in a smaller private Facebook group.
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 fibre, which helps keep you feeling fuller longer. Also, you’ll be getting rid of vegetable oil, which is highly caloric.
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, website and online community 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% to 6% of Americans, depending on which poll you look at. 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. Rip and his sister Jane Esselstyn, a registered dietitian, co-authored “The Engine 2 Cookbook,” which features more than 130 Engine 2-friendly recipes.
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. Following 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 “Plantstrong Community,” 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 fibre-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, chilli 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.