The VB6 Diet – Can Eating Vegan Before 6 PM Change Your Life?

We all know that feeling, the years are passing by us and with it our waistlines continue to grow. These unhealthy pounds just keep tacking on unrelenting as we age, and it gets more difficult to really do anything about it. Things like cholesterol, blood pressure or even diabetes creep up on us through an entire life that was stretched too thin and was too difficult. Not only do we struggle with weight gain on a day to day basis, but we also continually face our own body’s attempts to counteract any weight loss we are able to achieve. This even happened to a world renowned marathon runner, after 30 years of taking care of himself, once he hit the ripe “old age” of 40. Mark Bittman is now the famous food columnist, who wrote the now famous book “Vegan Before 6”. In it he details one of the most interesting takes on dieting that’s been released in recent years, the “flextarian diet” which he used himself to lose over 40 pounds.

This diet centers around a very simple diet, but executes it in a novel way.  Before 6pm, you eat like a vegan, with few if any animal products in your diet, and lots of healthy fruits and vegetables.  However, after this time, you begin to eat only meat products, which include all sorts of options. The science of this diet is what he spends the bulk of his time explaining, but there’s now a lot of supporters for this program.  For years, Bittman wanted to go to a vegan lifestyle but couldn’t maintain it for dinner.  Dinner is what he often referred to as the most “social meal of the day” and as such, it wasn’t possible for him to cut out all dairy and meat continually.  This pragmatism lead to this breakthrough, when he successfully lost over 40 pounds and stopped himself from developing diabetes (which he was in the early stages of at the time).

Dr. Bittman's VB6 DietAfter one month of starting the diet he later called “VB6”, he had lost 15 pounds. Can you imagine? That kind of weight loss is practically unheard of with any traditional diet or exercise program. Yet Bittman did it in a single month, and kept it off. After two months his cholesterol and blood sugar levels were normal again, and his sleep apnea which he struggled with for years had disappeared altogether. After four months he had lost almost all the weight.  Bittman noted that he just wanted to “see what happened” and wasn’t expecting these sorts of results. Yet, once he cut out the processed foods and sodas (aka empty calories) he found himself feeling so much better. In doing so, he cut out at least 2000 calories from his diet, and wasn’t even as hungry as he used to be. “Processed” foods as he calls them, are no joke to our bodies. They contain a plethora of harmful fats, carbohydrates and calories.

The Power of A Vegan Diet Without the Strict Requirements

This book that Bittman has wrote is actually what he calls “a personal journey”. This is not a prescription or a method that needs to be strictly adhered to, but a general strategy that can help people change their lives. For Bittman, and for many people on the VB6 diet, his health is the major concern. There are concerns about not having adequate protein on a vegan diet, but this is way overexaggerated with this plan. There are plenty of protein sources from vegetables and legumes, but also from meats that you eat after 6pm as well. The goal here is to change your physiological and psychological states, not just one or the other. This has proven to be the most effective way to lose weight, particularly with people who have regularly struggled with it in the past.

There are some major obstacles with any weight loss. As an example, people who eat lots of processed foods will often feel lethargic, lacking in the essential vitamins and minerals our body needs to survive and thrive. Bittman stated in a recent interview that he still loves his meat, he just finds himself craving less of it. That’s the goal of this plan, and the studies on it are proving it to be a very good weight loss program. Not only do people get their diet and health under control, they cut their risk of a lot of chronic disease (as is typical with any sort of weight loss). The more plant based foods you eat, the better you feel and the better you body is able to function. It just makes sense, until recently humans just weren’t able to get these sorts of high carbohydrate foods in great numbers.

The Alkaline Diet – Wholesome Foods To Balance Your Body’s pH

At 77 years of age, Gabe Mirkin still manages to bike 3 to 6 hours every day.  This level of stamina is not only extremely unusual, he ascribes it to his unique diet.  Rather than foods high in fat, protein, or carbs, as is all too often the case with his younger competitors, his diet is rich in fruits and vegetables and other natural foods.  He avoids red meats of all types and tries to stick to lean or vegetable proteins.  This is not the only person who has taken up this diet based upon good science that underlies it, there’s been a huge push from physicians in recent years to go to a more natural diet, one that will help offset much of the risk of cancer, heart disease or other problems that are oftne caused by these foods.

This plant-based diet has had a lot of support from dietitians and physicians over the years, including the notable Kris Carr.  After 9 years he is still going strong, showing some of the healthiest biological chemistries of anyone.  Acidic and processed foods, those such as grains and red meat, do far more harm than good to most people’s bodies.  Carr has tried to explain why it’s important to switch to an alkaline diet (a more basic diet) to avoid many of these problems.  It helps shift your metabolism into a much more active state as well as helps increase your energy and decrease your risk of disease.

Though many people have suggested that this diet helps to balance your body’s “pH” and therefore helps fix innate problems you may have, many physicians think this line is bogus.  The more alkaline foods that are part of this diet help for different reasons its claimed.  The pH balance argument is still pervasive, but Dr. Mirkin thinks it’s something totally different.  Your body naturally has good pH control, without needing your help oftentimes.  Beyond that, just because pH is important for your body’s chemical processes, this doesn’t mean that alkaline foods improve function.  Our bodies actually are really good at filtering out the excess acid from our diet, at least unless we develop a kidney disease later in life.

So the Secret is Just Good Foods?

There’s been so many studies over the years that have linked eating red meat to cancers of all types, as well as heart disease.  Chicken and fish are also considered to be acidic, however, though they have not shown this correlation in research to these illnesses.  What does that mean for our future health on this diet? Well we certainly should consider adding in these better protein sources in order to ensure we are living in a healthy manner.  According to the spokeswoman for the National Academy of Nutrition, she agrees with this assessment of the situation.  It’s more about getting healthy foods, vitamins and minerals into the body, she states.  The bottom-line is just to cut out the high-fat proteins and eat fruits and vegetables.  This is a very sustainable idea she indicates.

This diet is bringing on some great lifestyle changes, even if some of the claims about pH are unsupported by scientific evidence.  Many people will do great on the diet, and staying healthy on this diet will result in significant reductions in risk of long term illnesses as well as cancer.

Seven Most Alkaline Foods

Cutting Cancer Risk Through Natural Foods

Yeah, it’s not shocking at all that eating healthier foods cuts your cancer risk.  Antioxidant rich foods have been studied for decades and proven to help combat obesity and decrease risk of chronic illnesses such as cancer.  However, a diet based upon healthy fruits and vegetables? It’s hardly surprising that the Alkaline diet can offer a lot of benefits for cancer risk.  Though the jury is still out on research, as the studies are just beginning for this diet, cancer has been shown in dozens of trials to be significantly reduced if a person eats fruits and vegetables regularly.

Looking at the root cause of a disease and prevention at that stage is important, states Jones, a noted medical researcher in the US.  A highly acidic diet and chronic disease has been getting notice from physicians all over.  Dr. Robert Young has been writing about the subject extensively recently.  Young indicates that cells need to be in a healthy environment in order to thrive.  Acid-alkaline balance is important for this, he states.

The Ornish Diet – A Big Change But Does It Deliver?

Recently I saw someone looking through my desk, at the handouts/pamphlets I typically have around on the daily.  This person asked me when I approached if I knew of foods which were less than 10% fat, by calorie content.  It didn’t take me long to realize he was following the new Ornish program (named after the noted physician Dean Ornish).  That was certainly a difficult task for me, coming up with foods that met this criteria.  Yet, I had only been briefly aware of this diet’s existence prior to his arrival and question.  After he left with some good ideas on foods that meet this, I started in on researching this program for myself.  It wasn’t long before I realized why it’s taken off so much in the last several years.

This program centers around controlling how many calories you get per day from fats.  If you maintain a diet low in fats, the calorie count itself will not be a problem.  These do not include things like nuts, seed butters, or legumes as a result, as these are mostly filled with oils and fats.  What about something as innocuous as popcorn? Well that has almost 20% of its calories from fat, believe it or not (120 calories and 20 from fats).  It certainly can be a challenge to find foods that fit the criteria of the Ornish diet as a result.

The diet itself specifies eating foods such as whole grains, vegetables, soybean products, and legumes.  The diet also puts no strict ceiling to how much of each you can eat, as long as they have less than 10% fat as part of their calorie content.  This cuts out most meats, cuts out dairy (well egg whites are allowed) not including non-fat milks and yogurts.  The Ornish diet also requires people to not eat foods with natural oils, even things like olive oil are not permitted.  Fish can be eaten, if it’s not fatty, like salmon and mackerel, and flaxseed is a permitted oil for this program.

Ornish Diet FoodsOne of the reasons the Ornish diet works is much the same as the reason the Paleo or “Caveman” diet works (or the Mediterranean diet for that matter).  By removing unnatural and processed foods from our diet, we are able to avoid a lot of complex carbohydrates and fats that were not part of our evolutionary staple diet.  Once they are removed, our body’s metabolism greatly increases, allowing us to more easily process the foods we eat, and also burn more fat.  This has been known for a few years, perhaps even a decade or more, but these diets certainly can provide results that are positive given the overall goals underlying these food choices.

What’s the Scientific Community Saying about the Ornish Diet

If you have the time, take a moment and visit Dean Ornish’s site.  He does actually try to provide a bit of clinical research to support his claims.  The primary study cited is a weak one, however, with few people and poor selection of candidates.  However, it does show that the diet he recommends in fact worked in helping to prevent heart disease.  There was not a group that was “high fat” intake, to compare the results.  On account of this, the studies on the use of the Ornish diet are still ongoing and more research is needed on its specific guidance.

However, since this diet is similar to others like the Paleo diet, it’s clear that it may have the same benefits.  The reduction in body fat is undeniable from the Paleo diet, so the Ornish diet should offer something similar.  The real question is, is it worth the added expense and trouble to refine your food intake to such a small selection or stick with the wider Paleo diet’s choices? Typically the answer is go with what you know best, so if someone has done the “Caveman” diet in the past, they likely should stick with that one instead.

What’s worse about the Ornish diet, given its prescriptions about fats, is that it ignores the plethora of evidence that suggests carbohydrates are actually what the problem is.  The obesity epidemic has been consistently linked to carbohydrates, particularly in processed foods, in our diets.  This has been linked to diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses as well.  With a 10% fat diet, many people in studies showed less significant LDL, but it was also more dense.  This indicates there may be a higher risk of heart disease, not a reduced one.  For this reason, the Ornish diet really needs to some good science to back it up, given this.  Still, the program continues to grow in popularity, and perhaps real data will soon be available to assess its viability.