Plant-Based Diets

Joel Fuhrman’s “Nutritarian” Eat To Live Diet

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For Weight Loss and Disease Reversal, Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat-to-Live Diet is Powerful

vegan diet to lose weightDr. Joel Fuhrman entered the plant-based arena with his book, Eat To Live, in 2005.  Eat to Live is a lifestyle-changing book that will guide you through a permanent weight loss solution. The idea operates within the reasoning that obesity or becoming overweight is due to the fact that people normally comply with their daily caloric requirements from fat and refined carbohydrates instead of high-nutrient foods. Because there are fewer nutrients in their diets, their body becomes more susceptible to disease.

The key? A formula represented as H=N/C or Health= Nutrition/Calories. Dr. Fuhrman refers to his way of eating as being a “nutritarian” to create the best possible health.  To achieve this, your diet will be based on a high proportion of nutrients containing non-caloric components such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients over food with high calories containing carbs, fats, and proteins. As such, you are consuming foods with very high nutrient density.

According to the book, highly refined grains, dairy products, and meat have little to no fiber content. Carbohydrates coming from processed foods are risky for your health since they can quickly increase the triglyceride levels and deplete your body of its current nutrient store, thereby creating deficiencies, instead of supporting it. The more you consume highly processed foods, the greater your risk of heart attack. By following his food recommendations and avoiding the restricted foods, Dr. Fuhrman claims that you can lower the risk of developing diseases such as allergies, appendicitis, arthritis, asthma, abdominal spasm, esophageal spasm, fatigue, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery, fatty liver, gallstones, gout, gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension, hemorrhoids, kidney stones, lung diseases, macular degeneration, mental confusion, nausea, obesity, premature mortality, sexual dysfunctions, osteoporosis, and many more.  There are thousands of enthusiastic people who following the Eat to Live principles and have benefited greatly.

Limit Food to 3 Meals Per Day Without Snacks

Dr. Fuhrman suggests only eating three meals at the most, without any snacks. You can even eat just twice a day if your body can be sustained with this amount. One thing that you shouldn’t forego is eating breakfast. Your body will need time to complete the digestion process. Once it finishes digesting, that is when efficient detoxification and cellular repair start. Thus, you should only eat when your body already signals you to eat. When you still don’t feel hungry during the time of the day when you’re supposed to have a meal, you can skip that meal. The best way to get into a regular pattern of eating is to stick to a regular schedule with appropriate amounts of food in every meal. Of course, this can be challenging at first. So aside from avoiding overeating, you can eat less at one meal to make room for the next meal. Observe how much you eat and see which one is most suitable for you.

healthy saladHigh nutrient foods are mainly sourced from plants, be it vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and beans. This large variety of choices can already become the foundation of your high nutrient per calorie meal. It would be great to only have plant-based foods, but if you are still eating animal products, you can limit them to small servings per week. You should also lower down or even eliminate processed foods and those which contain empty nutrients such as white flour, sugar, sweeteners and junk food. As part of the daily diet, Fuhrman suggests incorporating what he calls as the G-BOMBS or the greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds.

Make Salad Your Main Dish for Lunch and Dinner

The author also promotes eating large amounts of salad and to consider it as the main dish for lunch and for dinner. According to Dr. Fuhrman, the body only needs 10 percent of protein for the calorie requirements and 2.5 percent of this can be sufficiently supplied by plants. For your salad, the best greens to incorporate are lettuce, romaine, mixed greens, arugula, baby spinach, Boston lettuce and watercress. You can also add tomatoes, shredded onions, red and green bell peppers, cucumbers, beets, snow peas, sliced zucchini, broccoli, and cauliflower. Raw cruciferous vegetables such as kale, baby bok choy, red cabbage, and Nappa cabbage are also great additions to your salad.  Dr. Furhman also suggests adding cooked beans or even soup to your salads!

Dr Fuhrman’s G-BOMBS Are Very Important to Good Health

One of the key components of is Nutritarian Diet is what Dr. Furhman refers to as  G-BOMBS: greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds.   He claims they are potent to fight cancer and should be included in your diet daily for optimal health.  Let’s look at them more closely.

G – Leafy greens should be the cornerstone of the healthy veggie diet.  They are the most nutrient-dense of all foods.

B – Beans and other legumes are the most nutrient-dense carbohydrate source.

O – Onions (including leeks, garlic, chives, shallots, and scallions) are members of the allium family of vegetables that are also helpful for cancer protection.

M – Mushrooms have anticancer as well as anti-inflammatory properties.  They should not be eaten raw as they do contain small amounts of a mild toxin which is greatly reduced in with cooking.

B – Berries are true superfoods.  They are packed with phytonutrients to protect many function and organs.  They are also low in natural sugar.

S – Nuts and Seeds are a good source of Omega-3 which have cardio-protective properties.

When eating vegetables, it is best to prepare them raw or lightly steamed, if you want to cook them. As most of the vegetables listed have a negative caloric effect, eating more of them means that you are also burning more calories and lose weight. Foods with skins, especially those that are considered to be a part of the Dirty Dozen should be thoroughly washed and peeled off to avoid pesticide residue. If you are using tomatoes, use the fresh ones instead of the canned to avoid BPA exposure as the acid in the tomatoes can increase BPA leaching while they are still in the can.


Be Sure to Include Fruit In Your Diet

Add zest to your diet by eating three to four fresh fruits in a day. Not only are they delicious, fruits also contain essential nutrients that protect your body against diseases such as memory loss, dementia, and cancer. Choose fresh, whole fruits such as apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, grapes, kiwis, kumquats, mangoes, melons, oranges, blood oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, pomegranates, persimmons, pineapples, plums, strawberries, fresh figs, goji berries, tangerines, and watermelons. As always, clean your fruits thoroughly and avoid eating the skin of those with high pesticide residue, such as apple.

Since most fruits have high glucose and fructose content, what you can do is to eat them as part of your salad or after your main dish to reduce the glycemic load. Vegetables aid in the dilution and slower absorption of sugar in your body. Avoid too much fruit juice and dried fruits since they can increase your blood sugar. Limit the amount of dried fruit to at least two servings.

More About Beans, Mushrooms, Onions, and Nuts/Seeds

Aside from your daily veggies and fruits, Dr. Fuhrman also suggests incorporating at least one cup of beans in your diet. This can be comprised of white beans, adzuki beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lima beans, edamame, great northern beans, cannellini beans and black beans. You can also get your daily dose of legumes from chickpeas, garbanzo, lentils, peas, bean sprouts, tofu, soybeans, miso, and tempeh. Cooking your own beans is the best but you can also go for the canned ones as long as they have low sodium content as indicated on the label.

red onionMushrooms and onions are also highly recommended in the book as part of daily nutrition. Both foods have anti-cancer components which will highly benefit you. Cook your mushrooms well to avoid possible contamination as well as the possible intake of agaritine which is a mild carcinogen.

If you like to eat nuts and seeds, eat small amounts as part of your meal instead of eating them as snacks. Nuts and seeds are your healthiest source of fats and you can ounce a day. Consuming them as part of a vegetable meal, such as salad, enhances faster absorption of phytochemicals in the body. Half of your nut and seed consumption should come from walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds as these contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.  They are best consumed raw or you can lightly toast them, but not to the point of browning, as this will activate the carcinogenic components.

Limiting Starchy Veggies as well as Processed Fruit and All Animal Products

Dr. Fuhrman recommends the restriction of cooked starchy vegetables such as white potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, chestnuts, corn, sweet potatoes, acorn squash. If you are eating grains, choose whole grains and coarsely ground grains since they are healthier and are better absorbed by the bloodstream. Grounded grains have low nutrient per calorie content, which is not beneficial to your diet. Even with whole grain, you should only limit the amount to one serving or one cup per day. Refined starch grains present in pasta, white rice, white potatoes, tortilla, and bread should be avoided since these are nutrient dense.

mushroomsWhen following the Eat to Live diet, you should also avoid processed fruits, fruit juices, dairy products, processed animal products, salt, packaged food with high sodium content, condiments, cold cereals, instant oats, commercially packaged nuts and seeds, food with sweeteners, food with high sugar content, sweetened beverages, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and almost all types of oils, including olive oil and vegetable oil. Vegetable broth is a great substitute for oil in cooking as he suggests minimizing all added oils (including olive oil) . Oil, according to the book, only lowers down the nutrient per calorie density and is not beneficial for your diet and health.

Many people with chronic diseases have had tremendous success with Dr. Fuhrman’s dietary guidelines to minimize or even completely reverse their conditions.  He has published separate books for specifically addressing heart disease and diabetes successfully through diet. In his books and on his website, he relates many stories of people who have improved and even reversed many chronic disease with a plant-based diet focused on high nutrient per calorie density.

Have you ever tried Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live Diet?  How did it work for you?

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Thriving on Plants is a resource for a whole food, plant-based way of eating and living. Here we celebrate all things plant and honor the power of informed awareness and a diet focused primarily of unprocessed vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains to support good health and happiness. Discover what a little more plant can do for your life!


This website is for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing presented here should be construed as a substitute for medical advice. Before beginning any type of new diet (natural or conventional), it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed physician, nutritionist and/or healthcare professional.
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