There’s one big reason women love the “million-nutrient detox” created by Joel Fuhrman, MD: “It makes aggressive weight loss feel really good,” says the University of Pennsylvania-trained nutrition expert and world-famous Eat for Life author. In mere days, “people experience sharper thinking, surging energy, less pain and more joy.” That’s all while melting up to four pounds every 24 hours. The secret? Filling up on a wide variety of micronutrient-dense plant foods — everything from summer’s juiciest berries, melon, and tomatoes to corn, pasta salad, and banana “ice cream.” Adds the doc: “It’s delicious and the best thing you can do for your body.”
Lots of doctors speak passionately about the styles of eating they swear by. Want an impartial assessment of how well Dr. Fuhrman’s plan targets flab? We’ve got one! Recently, NIH researchers decided to directly compare two popular approaches: A high-carb, low-fat plant-based diet like Dr. Fuhrman’s and a high-fat, low-carb keto diet. The results were stunning.
For the study, participants lived in a facility with special testing equipment, were served large meals, and encouraged to eat as much as they wanted. During two weeks enjoying plant-based fare (think fiber-rich fruit, oats, and bean tacos), folks automatically consumed 550 to 700 fewer calories per day than during two weeks noshing on keto options like omelets and tuna salad.
What surprised lead investigator Kevin Hall, PhD, and his team: Plant-based eating melted fat a lot faster, with folks getting rid of three times more flab than when they ate keto. In fact, keto mostly led to loss of muscle and water. Future studies are needed to determine how plants blast fat and protect firm muscle. But Dr. Fuhrman is pretty sure microscopic compounds will ultimately get the credit.
Why does eating mostly plants work?
Eating mostly unprocessed plant foods delivers 20 times more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and phytochemicals than just about any other diet. It also boasts the most different types of these micronutrients, plus so much fiber that you feel highly satisfied “without excessive caloric intake. Put together, it’s the formula for optimal health,” says Dr. Fuhrman, noting his plan slashes the risk of everything from eczema and joint pain to heart disease, dementia, and cancer. And that’s on top of being an effortless way to achieve optimal weight. In fact, one Harvard study found a higher micronutrient intake was the only factor setting a lean woman apart from her heavier twin.
So how do micronutrients slim? Vitamin C speeds fat burn, starch in beans inhibits fat storage, compounds in berries lower blood sugar, and the list goes on. Plus, “there are hundreds of beneficial compounds in plants yet to be discovered,” notes Dr. Fuhrman. He says the magic is in mixing micronutrients, and University of Georgia’s MaryAnne DellaFera, PhD, backs him up. Turns out, when micronutrients bump into each other, they often “trade electrons, which greatly enhances their effects,” she explains. Her studies show that as few as three antioxidants combined are up to 346 percent more effective at destroying fat than an equal amount of any single compound on its own!
Dr. Fuhrman adds that what you don’t eat on his plan is also key. He says things like processed food and oil not only stimulate excess hunger and weight gain, they also spike blood sugar, clog arteries, and cause hormonal issues. “A typical American diet can literally leave you unhappy, irritable, and always hungry,” he says. His hope is that you’ll be so thrilled by the difference his detox makes in a short time, you’ll stick with it for good.
What kind of results can you expect?
As pandemic stress seemed to worsen Betsy Mauter’s reflux, restless leg syndrome, severe allergies, and fatigue, the Ohio mom, 58, recalls, “I wanted to see my doctor, but COVID prevented it.” Hoping a better plant-based diet would help, she started cooking recipes she found on Dr. Fuhrman’s website. “Just doing that, I lost 20 pounds in two months.” Then she signed up for one of his detox challenges. Tucking into fruit salads, chili, bean burgers, and more, she loved the food. “I was surprised how quickly I felt amazingly better,” she shares. “All of my symptoms were completely gone in a few weeks. And this diet was like a spiritual hug for me. My moods and anxiety got so much better. After years of falling asleep in front of the TV every night, I had so much energy, I cleaned the house like a tornado. I became Betsy 2.0!”
Though Betsy had started around Thanksgiving, she felt so good that she kept at it through Christmas and New Year’s. “It’s a time when you usually gain. I lost 45 pounds!” Down from a size 16 to a 10, Betsy adds, “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I recommend Dr. Fuhrman’s plan to any woman who wants to reclaim her life, get healthy and lose a lot of weight!”
To learn more, visit DrFuhrman.com.
What does a day of eating a plant-based diet look like?
On Dr. Fuhrman’s detox, eat unlimited non-starchy veggies, fresh or frozen fruit, and beans. Optional daily extras: Two servings of whole grains/starchy veggies, two ounces of nuts/seeds, half an avocado, two tablespoons of dried fruit, and plant-based seasonings (herbs, mustard, and vinegar). Skip animal products, processed food, oil, and sweeteners. Use our sample menu at right or check out HelloNutritarian.com. Always get a doctor’s okay to try a new plan.
BREAKFAST: Top a bowl of berries and chopped fruit with optional nuts and nut milk or coconut water.
LUNCH: Fill warm corn tortillas with beans, veggies, avocado, salsa, and/or pumpkin seeds.
DINNER: Toss bean-based pasta with hummus and veggies to taste; top with herbs.
DESSERT: In blender, blitz a quarter-cup of walnuts to a fine powder. Add frozen chunks of two ripe bananas and one-third cup of any plant milk; blitz until smooth. Serve immediately or store in freezer.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.