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Ornish Diet

Ornish Diet Review (UPDATED 2024): Don't Buy Before You Read This!

The celebrated cardiologist wants you to go for veggies, and get exercise every day.

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What is it?

The Ornish Diet is a weight loss diet that claims to help improve heart health with a vegetarian based eating plan. It emphasizes eating whole foods and removing cholesterol and saturated fats.

There are very strict recommendations for what kinds of foods are allowed. Exercise also plays a role in this diet, which is advised to improve cardiovascular health. It’s also mentioned that the diet should be 70% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 10% fats. Our review experts have analyzed many kinds of weight loss diets, and the most effective overall was found to be the 18Shake Diet. This diet has a potent appetite suppressing meal replacement, and a fat burning diet pill. They help to provide well-rounded weight loss benefits without the use of preservatives, artificial ingredients stimulants, binders, fillers, or cheap additives. To discover more information about the 18Shake Diet, click the link provided here.

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Ornish Diet Ingredients and Side Effects

Information about this diet is available in a book entitled “The Spectrum”. It outlines different food groups from least to most healthy. The recommendations for the diet are as follows:

• Eat as much vegetables, legumes, beans, fruit, and grains one needs to remain full.

• Avoid both red and white meats, oils, nuts, seeds, sugar, full-fat dairy, avocadoes, and olives.

• Exercising a minimum of 30 minutes 5 times per week, or for 60 minutes 3 times a week.

• Eating low-fat or nonfat dairy only in moderation. All fats should make up only 10% of one’s diet.

• Reducing and managing stress with meditation, yoga, and time with loved ones.

• Avoiding dangeroushabits such as excess drinking and smoking.

         • Never overeat and eating smaller meals more often.

It’s likely one will lost weight on this diet since it does not allow for calorie dense foods such as sweets, meats, oils, and instead allows only vegetarian whole foods. Our review experts have craftedlistof the highest rated weight loss diets which is made available here.

The extreme limit on fat also will also lead to a major reduction of calories, as fats contain 9 calories per gram. Carbohydrate and protein have only 4 calories per gram in comparison. The exercise and managing of stress is also a healthy approach to weight loss.

There are potential issues according to Everyday Health.com:

“Because the diet is extremely low in fat of all types, it can be hard to follow long-term”

You might become hungry and find it difficult to stick to the diet plan”

Another main issue is possible according to the same group:

“If menus are not carefully planned, the diet can be very low in calories, vitamin b12, and iron. Vitamins and minerals are critical for proper cell metabolism”

Due to the potential issues, it can lead to health problems if one is not making sure to eat a balanced meal. There is a ban on meats as well which can be difficult for those who have never tried a vegetarian diet. There’s no evidence that eating quality meats in moderation isn’t healthier than a vegetarian based diet either.

The extreme reduction of fats can also make it hard to absorb fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E, and K. These vitamins requite fats in order to be properly absorbed by the body. Otherwise they can be filtered out and not used efficiently. This can promote side effects such as:

         • Loss of bone mineral density, fatigue, and muscle weakness.

         • Mood disorders, headaches, and migraines.

• Loss of appetite, inability to relax, and decreased immune function.

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Ornish Diet Quality of Ingredients

Eating whole foods such as grains, fruits vegetables, and limited fats can help with weight loss, but there is a potential health risk with the extreme nature of this diet.

It’s essentially a high carbohydrate and low fat based vegetarian diet. This can be hard to maintain overtime, as fats are a major energy source for the body. Fats also help to regulate metabolism, so by limiting this important macronutrient there can be future weight gain.

Fats do contain a higher amount of calories than carbohydrates, but they’re also more satiating and are necessary for a healthy body. The ban on meats can also be difficult for people to follow, as they’re filling and can be healthy when eaten in moderation. Click the link here to see a list of the highest rated weight loss diets.

The Price and Quality of Ornish Diet

There are many books sold by the creator of this diet, but the main one that describes the key details is “The Spectrum Diet”, which is sold for $16.97 on Amazon.com currently.

While it’s possible to lose weight when restricting calorie dense foods and fats, this can be a difficult diet to maintain long term. There’s also possible side effects which may result due to the extremely low amounts of acceptable fats. According to the US Dietary guidelines, fats should make up around 20 to 25% of one’s diet. At only 10% allowed by the Ornish Diet, one is missing out on a healthy macronutrient.  Life Hack.com adds:

“Fat is essential to brain health”

“Fat is good for your heart”

“Fat boosts your immune system”

Low fats can lead to many side effects such as dry and unhealthy skin, brittle hair and nails, and reduced brain and immune function. Due to tall these potential side effects, the Ornish Diet is a potential side effect causing plan. For a comprehensive list of the top ranked weight loss diets, click on the link here.

Business of Ornish Diet

The creator of the diet is a Dr. Dean Ornish, a physician based out of the United States. He promotes a strict vegetarian lifestyle, as he claims the saturated fats in meats can be harmful. A science and health writer named Melinda Moyer has criticized this diet by stating:

“Ornish’s diet would probably be an improvement on the current American diet – if people could actually follow it long-term”

She also adds:

“claims about the dangers of saturated fat and red meat go beyond the science and in some cases contradict it”

According to her, there are many unproven claims made about the dangers of being a meat eater. The Journal of the American Medical Association also performed study on this diet and found:

“At one- and five-year check-ins, control-group dieters were on average 3 pounds heavier than when they started”

So with repeat use, this diet has been shown to actually promote weight gain.

EDITOR’S TIP: The top 10 list of the best diets is available here.

Customer Opinions of Ornish Diet

Here are some select quotes taken from customer reviews:

“Dr. Ornish diet can lead to deficiencies in fat soluble vitamins”

“The main problem with developed after a while, was the relentless hunger”

“I was short of nutrients and my body was telling me to get them

“My LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides started increasing as did my weight”

Not only did many users find it impossible to continue the diet, but there were issues caused by major side effects. People often added how they felt hunger pains, fatigue, mood swings, irritability, and some even increased in weight.

There were a few customers who made sure to receive medicals to tracktheir progress. They often found that their health actually decreased, and that there were issues with higher levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol. People were concerned and confused as they assumed it would be the opposite.

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Conclusion - Does Ornish Diet Work?

The Ornish Diet provides a clear list of food allowances and recommendations. There are only 10% fats and the majority of the diet is carbohydrate based. People are allowed to eat as much healthy carbohydrates as they want.

It’s a vegetarian diet as well which claims to be able to improve heart health and help with weight loss. While there are some good recommendations made such as not smoking and exercising more, the ban on meats and low fats can lead to side effects. Many who have tried this diet mentioned it’s impossible to maintain. Users add how they felt fatigued, irritable, low functioning, ill, and some even gained weight and had increased bad cholesterol.

Our review experts have rated many diets and the most effective for weight loss was the 18Shake Diet. It offers a meal replacement that suppresses appetite for hours, and a fat burning diet pill. When combined they offer increased weight loss benefits. There are no added stimulants, preservatives, artificial additives, colors, or cheap binders. Customers have also reviewed it highly with testimonials and reviews testifying to its weight loss effects.

The 18Shake Diet is also backed by an entire 30 day money back return policy. This guarantee allows people to try the diet with no questions asked if a return is requested. For more information about the 18Shake Diet click on the link provided.

How Does Ornish Diet Compare?
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  • 36 /100
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The Ornish Diet was developed by Dean Ornish M.D. and first detailed in his book ''Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease.'' It is a diet that is specifically formulated to reverse heart disease but has recently been used as a weight-loss program. This vegetarian diet emphasizes low-fat, filling foods, including legumes and other high-fiber choices.

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(Page 1 of 1, 11 total comments)


Some of his recipes DO include foods with a little sugar and alcohol - moderation is the key word here.

posted Dec 30th, 2012 6:08 pm



Great for reducing blood pressure, cholesterol.

90% of the recipes are totally delicious!

Desserts are hard, but we've come up with blending non-fat yogurt with berries etc and freezing that.

posted May 31st, 2012 11:38 pm



My husband and I have been on this plan for 10 days. His cardioligist recomended this diet to reduce his cholestoral.
At first it was a challange to remove meat and fats from our diet, but the reciepes are good and we have each lost 6.5 pounds. No hunger, counting calories or weighing foods.
Highly recomend watching the documentary, "Forks over Knives" this explains much of Ornish and Essellstyn's principle on healthy eating. This has been an eye opener for heart health, which is better than just losing weight!!!

posted Jan 18th, 2012 2:01 pm


I'm already a vegan and I can't follow this. No simple carbs, ever??? No thanks! I prefer Dr. Oetker to Dr. Ornish - mmmm muffins.

posted Feb 23rd, 2010 1:52 pm

sally lafferty

i have got the dean ornish books but i have not read it all yet, i see it is mainly vegetables, which i dont mind too much, but it is a vegetarian diet, i do mind all vegetables, and i think you need to eat fish and protein, in small amounts, i am not even sure if you are allowed low fat spread on it if i diont follow it 100 per cent i suppose it must do some good anyway, as i intend to cut down on alcohol, and increase my excercise, also do some meditation , which may all still help , i also like to use olive oil , or is it all or nothing , meant to be

posted Jan 21st, 2010 12:20 pm

Joanna Hrach


I began the Ornish Advantage Diet program thru our local hospital. I have since lost 14 pounds and my cholesterol and tiglycerides have dropped without taking any mediction. I can et out because mny restaurants are putting vegetarian items on their menu.

posted Feb 10th, 2009 10:56 am

Selina Mannion


I really love this diet. I lost 30 pounds on this diet. And I am still at it. People tell me how beautiful my skin is and how shiny my hair is when they never said that before. People tell me I look great. I use to always catch colds but now I don't. I have not gotten sick since starting this diet. The compliments I get on my body are non-stop. The only slight modification I made was I occaisonally eat pure peanut butter. or almond butter . The recipes kept me busy and I was never hungry.

posted Jan 13th, 2009 8:52 pm


After only 2 months on this diet I reduced my need for insulin by 80%. I miss some fat & dairy but have completely lost any desire for meat or fish. I spend more time cooking but truly enjoy this new way of eating and my new found energy.


After only 2 months on this diet I reduced my need for insulin by 80%. I miss some fat & dairy but have completely lost any desire for meat or fish. I spend more time cooking but truly enjoy this new way of eating and my new found energy.


This diet misses some of the common problems of dieters: if I had the will power to only eat when hungry or eat more fruits/vegetables, I probably wouldn't need the diet


Dr. Ornish's approach is a little too hard for me. i prefer a diet where you don't have to completely eliminate anything


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BACKGROUNDBACKGROUND Start the Diet Now Advertisement

Dr. Dean Ornish is a celebrated cardiologist who has written two books about losing weight - Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease and Eat More, Weigh Less. His diet strategy originally began as a treatment plan for heart patients who desperately needed to get their dieting habits on a healthier track. The results were both lowered cholesterol and a healthier heart, but also weight loss. In these books he makes his findings available to you.

The Ornish Diet is vegetarian. Ornish concentrates on removing fats and cholesterol from your diet by consuming mostly whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. In Eat More, Weigh Less, Ornish explains that the average American diet looks like this - 40% fat, 20% protein and 40% carbs. The Ornish plan recommends 10% fat, 20% protein and 70% carbs.

You'll also be encouraged to just get up and move. Exercise is important if you plan on losing the weight and keeping off, as this plan claims to do.

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  • Consume whole, organic foods
  • Promotes daily exercise
  • No calorie counting
  • Eat only when you're hungry
  • Book provides hundreds of recipes
  • Enjoy carbs
  • Strict diet
  • Give up a lot of favorites- alcohol, meat, sweets
  • Nearly an all-vegetarian diet
  • Miss nutrients from meat and especially fish
  • Difficult to eat out

Dr. Ornish prescribes a program that allows you to eat all the food you want, whenever you want (as long as you're hungry) and watch the pounds drop. Best of all, he says that sticking to the rules means you'll keep it off.

There are three categories that foods can be assigned to. Eating what you're supposed to here will help ensure success:

  • Eat Freely
  • Eat Moderately
  • Banned Food

Ornish's diet is almost completely vegetarian. Meat and fish are strictly limited, as are most animal fats. Dairy can be consumed in moderation, as long as it is no-fat, and an occassional egg white is permissable. You'll eat a lot of complex carbs- legumes (beans, peas), whole grains, fruits and some dairy. You are absolutely not allowed simple carbs- alcohol, sugar and honey.

Ornish's book comes with about 250 recipes. You're probably curious how a vegetarian diet rich in grains and fruit can be satisfying. Here are a few examples of the delicious and easy to prepare meals:

  • Black Bean Burritos
  • Rice Pilaf with Saffron Peppers
  • Eggplant Lasagna
  • Wild Mushroom Pizza
  • Oatmeal with Raisins and Cinnamon
  • Buckwheat Pancakes
  • Baked Bananas
  • Apple Cider Sherbet
  • Peach Bread Pudding

You won't get to take this diet sitting down. Ornish instructs that some form of moderate exercise will need to be a part of your daily routine. How you reach that goal is up to you, just get up and move. Moderate exercise can be a brisk walk lasting 30-60 minutes, light weight training, low-impact aerobics or even stair climbing.


Any diet that strictly excludes any single group of food is concerning. There are nutrients in all foods that your body depends on. Think all things in moderation. However, The Ornish Diet isn't one to skip over. Dr. Ornish is an expert in his field and his methods have been proven with both heart and weight loss patients alike. Critics slam Ornish for the near removal of meat and fish, especially the latter as it provides important Omega-3 Fatty Acids. A vegetarian lifestyle isn't for everyone, but some health conditions could dictate a need to make that change. Exercise should be an important part of any diet or lifestyle and Ornish has not overlooked this. If you're willing to make the sacrifices to give up what could be some of your favorite foods, then Ornish says you can achieve your goals.

Common MisspellingsCommon Misspellings

Ormish Diet, Amish Diet, Orish Diet, Deen Ornish, Omish Diet

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