The Engine 2 Diet is a “plant strong” eating pattern that prioritizes nutrient-dense ingredients like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes.
Unlike other eating plans, it doesn’t focus on quick weight loss or increased fat burning.
Instead, the plan promises to help promote long-term health and protect against chronic disease by making a few simple swaps in your daily diet.
This article takes a closer look at the Engine 2 Diet and whether it works.
What is the Engine 2 Diet?
Originally designed by triathlete and former firefighter Rip Esselstyn, the Engine 2 Diet is a low fat, plant-based diet aimed at preventing chronic disease and promoting better health.
It’s based on “The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet,” a book that provides comprehensive information and guidelines for the diet plan.
According to proponents of the diet, the Engine 2 Diet is ideal for athletes, women who are pregnant or nursing, and adults who are already at a healthy weight.
The diet encourages nutritious plant foods and is free of animal products and added oil, salt, and sugar.
In addition to modifying your diet, the plan emphasizes the importance of getting regular exercise and drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
How it works
Unlike other popular diets, the Engine 2 Diet doesn’t require you to count calories or track your nutrient intake.
However, it requires you to switch up the foods that you eat and follow a low fat, “plant strong” diet plan.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are all permitted on the diet, along with limited amounts of nut butter, tofu, tempeh, seitan, smoothies, baked goods, and plant-based milk alternatives.
Meanwhile, all animal products, vegetable oils, and refined or processed foods should be avoided.
High fat or high sugar foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit should also be limited as part of the plan.
There are no required costs or fees to follow the diet, and a large collection of approved recipes is even available on the website for free.
The online meal planner can also be purchased for an additional fee, which offers personalized meal recommendations, grocery lists, and recipes for $14 per month, or $99 per year.
A stricter variation of the diet, known as the Seven-Day Rescue Plan, is also available and designed for those looking to achieve faster results in a shorter amount of time.
While research on the Engine 2 Diet specifically is limited, similar diet patterns have been associated with several health benefits.
May promote weight loss
Although weight loss is not the primary goal of the Engine 2 Diet, research shows that following a plant-based vegan diet may be beneficial for weight management.
According to one review of 12 studies, vegetarians lost an average of 4.5 pounds (2 kg) more than non-vegetarians over an 18-week period.
In another study, participants who followed a low fat vegan diet for 16 weeks lost significantly more weight — 14.3 pounds (6.5 kg) — as well as fat mass — 9.5 pounds (4.3 kg) — than a control group, on average.
Plus, a study in almost 61,000 people showed that vegans tended to have a lower body mass index (BMI), a measure used to estimate body fat, than vegetarians, pescatarians, and non-vegetarians.
This may be attributed to several factors. Plant foods are generally lower in calories and higher in fiber than animal products, and plant-based diets may also improve insulin sensitivity and enhance the health of the gut microbiome, leading to weight loss.
Encourages nutrient-dense foods
The Engine 2 Diet prioritizes healthy whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
These foods are rich in important nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
It also limits processed foods, which are typically high in calories, sodium, and added sugar, yet lacking in essential micronutrients.
This can not only help increase your intake of several key vitamins and minerals but also improve the quality of your diet.
According to one review of 12 studies, vegans and vegetarians typically had higher overall diet quality than non-vegetarians.
Furthermore, increased consumption of processed foods has been tied to a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, and premature death.
However, it’s important to note that the Engine 2 Diet also restricts several healthy, nutrient-dense ingredients that are high in fat, including vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Additionally, careful planning is required to ensure nutritional needs are met on a vegan diet. In fact, studies show that vegan diets may be lower in several nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, and zinc.
Simple and straightforward
For those seeking a simple and straightforward diet plan, the Engine 2 Diet may be a good choice.
Instead of requiring dieters to meticulously measure portions, count calories, or track grams of fat, carbs, or fiber, the Engine 2 Diet provides a simple list summarizing which foods to eat and avoid.
While it may be difficult to make the switch initially if you’re eating a lot of animal products, processed foods, or high fat ingredients, the simplicity of the plan may make it easier to follow in the long run.
Moreover, because there are no required macronutrient ratios, recipes, or meal plans to follow, your allowed room to experiment to find what works for you.
Although the Engine 2 Diet may be linked to many health benefits, there are a few downsides to consider.
First, it’s highly restrictive and limits many food groups, including all animal products, vegetable oils, and processed foods.
For this reason, you may find the plan difficult to follow, depending on what your current diet looks like.
Because so many foods are eliminated as part of the plan, going to restaurants or eating in social situations could also be challenging.
Without proper planning, the Engine 2 Diet could likewise increase your risk of certain nutritional deficiencies.
Studies show that vegan diets may be lower in important nutrients, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.
It’s also low in fat and restricts several nutrient-dense ingredients, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.
These foods are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Studies show that low fat diets may not improve overall heart health or protect against disease.
According to the creator of the plan, the Engine 2 Diet can help prevent a range of chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
Although no research is available on the effectiveness of the Engine 2 Diet specifically, studies on similar dietary patterns have turned up promising results.
In fact, studies show that switching to a vegan diet can increase your intake of health-promoting nutrients and offer protection against heart disease, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, low fat vegan diets have been tied to increased weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity, enhancing the body’s ability to transport sugar from the bloodstream to the cells more effectively.
For this reason, some studies have found that plant-based diets could help prevent metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Although more research is needed to evaluate a vegan diet’s effects on neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, some studies suggest that plant-based diets could potentially be used to help support brain health.
For instance, one study in 12,062 people found that vegetarians had a 38% lower risk of developing dementia than non-vegetarians.
What’s more, another study showed that making healthy dietary changes like increasing vegetable consumption and reducing sugar and salt intake was associated with a lower risk of developing dementia later in life.
The bottom line
The Engine 2 Diet is a low fat vegan diet that prioritizes plant-based ingredients like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Studies show that similar dietary patterns may promote weight loss and offer protection against chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
However, the plan is also highly restrictive, limits several healthy foods, may increase the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies, and could be difficult for some people to follow.