The Best Life Diet offers a healthy way to eat. The author, Bob Greene, is an exercise physiologist who believes this is a lifelong plan. He talks about getting to the cause of your weight struggles and working to fix them. You should lose 1 to 2 pounds per week on this plan.
How Might This Work?
This plan changes what you eat so that you are not taking in as many calories. It also addresses other things that affect your weight, such as your activity level, being in tune with your hunger, and emotional eating. Greene believes that dealing with the emotional reasons behind your weight is needed to lose weight and keep it off.
This plan has three phases. Before you start, Greene says that you must first find out “what in your life is stirring up your emotions and ultimately causing you to turn to food for comfort and distraction.”
The first phase lasts at least 4 weeks. The main focus is getting more activity and changing your meal patterns—not what or how much you eat. But Greene does support healthy breakfasts and snacks.
During this time you are asked to:
- Be more active.
- Stop eating two hours before going to bed.
- Eat three meals plus snacks each day.
- Eat a breakfast that has calcium and fiber.
- Drink a lot of fluids.
- Stop drinking alcohol.
- Start taking vitamin supplements.
- If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
You may not see much weight loss during this time. But Greene believes that making these changes will help you make the healthy habits needed for lasting weight loss.
You should expect steady weight loss in the second phase. You will need to keep doing the things you did in phase one. You will also need to:
- Learn about the reasons behind your hunger.
- Control your meal and snack sizes.
- Remove six "empty" or problem foods.
- Use a hunger scale.
The hunger scale is a ten-point scale based on the stages of fullness that will help you learn when to eat and when to stop eating. The unhealthy foods that you will stop eating during this phase are: soda, foods with trans fats, fried foods, white bread, regular pasta, and high-fat dairy products. You will stay on this phase until you are either at your goal weight or within 20 pounds of it (and for at least 4 weeks).
This is the phase you will stay on for life. The focus during this phase is to eat healthier foods and stay at a healthy weight. You will keep doing the things you did in phases one and two. You will also:
- Introduce extra calories that you can use any way you like. How many extra calories you get depends on how active you are.
- Balance your diet using the Best Life Diet guidelines.
- Remove more unhealthy foods.
- Add more wholesome foods.
- Exercise each day.
Greene’s book also has meal plans and recipes to give you ideas on what to eat. There are meal plans for calorie levels from 1,500 to 2,500. They all have at least 25 grams of fiber.
What Does the Research Say?
There are no research studies that have looked at this weight loss plan. But it is based on basics steps for healthful eating. Greene does also add his own ideas.
For one, he believes that it is hard to safely get enough omega-3 acids from the foods you eat because of concerns about mercury and other contaminants in fish. He thinks that all people should take a fish oil supplement. His point is fair, but check with your doctor before you take any supplements.
Experts differ on the risk that mercury in fish poses to our health. The American Heart Association believes that the benefits of eating fish outweigh the risks for most people. However, young children and women who are pregnant or nursing should limit the amount and types of fish they eat.
Are There Any Concerns?
There are no major concerns with this weight loss plan. Be aware that Greene has put his “seal of approval” on products that he thinks are healthy. His support of brands is helpful, but you should also know how to select healthful items on your own and not limit yourself to these foods.
This is a simple, sensible plan that will get you on the track to lifelong healthful eating and help you keep the weight off. It may be good for people who have struggled with their weight for years and tend to use food to deal with problems. This plan helps you get to the root of your emotional eating and then commit to changing your eating habits and being more active. It is not the right plan for people looking to get quick results.
Eat Right—American Dietetic Association
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Fish and omega-3 fatty acids. American Heart Association website. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/fish-and-omega-3-fatty-acids. Updated March 27, 2017. Accessed June 18, 2019.
Greene B. The Best Life Diet. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster; 2006.
Last reviewed June 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN Last Updated: 6/18/2019