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The Promise

Could the plan that worked for Oprah work for you? The Best Life Diet comes from exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer Bob Greene, who worked closely with Oprah Winfrey for years.

Even though "diet" is in the title, this isn't the sort of diet you hop on for a few days for quick weight loss. Instead, it's got staying power: It's a way of eating, and living, that helps you gradually change your eating habits so they stick with you for good.

You'll go through three phases:

  1. Baby Steps (at least 4 weeks): Prepare your body for weight loss by being more active, revving up your metabolism, getting rid of six "problem foods," and increasing the number of calories you burn.
  2. Get Moving (at least 4 weeks): Keep calories in check by increasing your activity at least one level, understanding emotional reasons for hunger, introducing "anything-goes calories," and portion control.
  3. Your Best Life (ongoing): Add even more activity; cut back on saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar; eliminate trans fats; and include wholesome foods.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

You’ll eat three meals and at least one snack a day, take supplements, and drink lots of water.

Phase 1: Say yes to a fiber- and calcium-rich breakfast every day, healthy 100- to 200-calorie snacks, no eating for at least 2 hours before bedtime, and lots of water. Say no to six problem foods: alcohol, soda, trans fats, fried foods, white bread, and full-fat milk and yogurt.

Phase 2: This phase is all about controlling your portions. You’ll eat the same types of food as in Phase 1, but you’ll add "anything-goes calories," with the amount depending on your activity level. In short, you have to earn them by being active.

Phase 3: You still keep portions in check, and you shift toward nutritious foods (leaner proteins, fruit, whole grains, colorful vegetables). You'll also focus on the quality of your diet. Everything you eat should offer great taste, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need to be satisfied and stay healthy.

The Best Life Diet doesn’t allow alcohol in Phase 1 but allows it in moderation in Phases 2 and 3 as part of your "anything-goes calories."

Level of Effort: Medium

Limitations: In Phase 1, you can’t have alcohol, soda, trans fats, fried foods, white bread, or full-fat milk and yogurt. In Phases 2 and 3, you may use some of those foods as your "anything-goes calories."

Cooking and shopping: You’ll cook or eat as usual, as long as you stick to the Best Life guidelines and add the vitamins and supplements Greene suggests.

Packaged foods or meals? No.

In-person meetings? No.

Exercise: Required. You’ll do cardio and strength training, ramping it up with each phase of the diet. It will take time, ranging from 90 minutes a week to 6 hours a week or more.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

Vegetarians and vegans: You can easily adjust this diet to make it work for you.

Low-salt: The plan slowly phases out high-sodium foods. But if you're closely watching your sodium levels, check food labels. The same goes for fat.

Gluten-free: This diet doesn't specifically avoid gluten, so check food labels carefully. The Best Life web site says you can set diet preferences and add custom foods when choosing a meal plan.

What Else You Should Know

Cost: None besides your groceries.

Support: You can join The Best Life's online community for $9.95 per month or $69.95 a year. There's a free 30-day trial if you want to try it out first.

What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:

Does It Work?

With its emphasis on nutrition and exercise, The Best Life Diet can help put you on the road to a healthy weight. It’s not a fad diet; it's a holistic approach to creating a healthy lifestyle.

Research on similar diets that emphasize fruits, vegetables, and lean protein while cutting back on fat, sugar, and fried foods have been shown to be an effective way to drop the pounds and help prevent some chronic conditions.

Because this plan may mean big changes, you will have to be motivated for the long-haul.

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

Diets like this one that help you reach and maintain a healthy weight can prevent and treat diabetes and heart disease.

Cutting out fried foods and high-fat dairy also will help bring down your cholesterol levels and fight heart disease.

If you have high blood pressure, the diet’s emphasis on low-salt foods can be just what the doctor ordered. But if you are on a low-salt diet, you will have to read labels to be sure you stay within your limits.

The Final Word

The Best Life Diet calls for cooking and eating a wide variety of tasty foods. You will even be able to treat yourself on this plan.

Eating out may be a challenge. Plan to learn your way around the farmer’s market and your own kitchen to get the most out of this diet.

You won’t have to buy any premade foods, but you will have to take some supplements such as multivitamins, omega-3, and calcium if you are not getting enough from food.

If you have a medical condition or take any medicines, talk with your doctor before starting any supplements, especially if you are on blood thinners.

Buying the book is the only expense unless you opt for the online support.

What you will have to invest is some time and energy if you are going to be successful with the Best Life Diet. It starts with a moderate amount of exercise and works up to almost an hour on most days.

Check with your doctor first if you have not been active or have any medical conditions.

WebMD Diet A-Z

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