Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds
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on March 28, 2009
I've read a lot of diet books and been on a lot of diets but what's so intriguing about Engine2 is that it's written by an unlikely character--a triathlete Texan firefighter who is not just a vegetarian, but a vegan, and not just a vegan but an oil-free vegan.

If you're not from Texas, you can't really appreciate what it means to be a vegetarian in a state that prizes its beef industry and barbecue. Why just last month at the Houston Rodeo one of the most popular foods sold was something called "chicken-fried bacon." It was deep-fried bacon!

Engine2 presents a pretty radical diet--no meat, no artificial foods, no white flour, no white pasta, no dairy, no oil. Yet there is something altogether compelling about the case Rip Esselstyn makes. It sound so logical, so simple ...

Anyway, I tried it. I have to admit I tried it imperfectly in that there were parts I didn't understand at first (but have since corrected--like eating white pasta). It's been about 3 weeks. I haven't been exercising up to his standards, either. But I lost 5 pounds and never spent a minute hungry or feeling deprived.

But I'm getting hardcore right now not because of the weight loss, but because I feel fabulous. I had no idea how bad I felt until now. I'm not kidding--my frequent headaches are all but gone, no more GI troubles, no more aches and pains. My energy level is increasing.

The recipes in the book are different but really great. Love the "Big Bowl," "Sloppy Joes," and "Fajitas" but be prepared--you have to be willing to start buying different foods (lots of produce) and cooking for yourself. But the recipes are quick and easy and very tasty.

I am totally sold on this. This is the first and only book review I have ever done here at Amazon and I did it because I'm just an ordinary woman living in Texas who tried this diet and discovered improved health instead of mere weight loss.
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on March 14, 2009
In this book review of "The Engine 2 Diet," I'll describe both my experience of the book itself and then my personal experience being on the diet for the past 3 weeks. Rather than call the Engine 2, a "diet," I'd prefer to call it a "lifestyle" with a major focus on dietary change. When you see the word "diet," you may immediately think of giving up quantity and giving up foods you are attached to. This is absolutely not the case with the Engine 2 diet. With this dietary plan, you can eat as much of the foods on the plan as you want to eat (with a few logical exceptions) and the foods you eat will taste wonderful. One thing for sure with this Engine 2 Diet, I always feel satisfied and don't have any cravings for foods---this was completely unexpected and surprising.

The book itself is very easy to read and follow. The book is divided into 3 major sections, (1) His philosophy of the Engine 2 Diet with the author's own story and background; brief citing and review of the medical and research studies documenting the health benefits with this diet; exploration of the myths about food and following a vegan diet; blood markers; and a brief review of exercise benefits and necessity with the diet. (2) How the Diet Works-the 28 day plan easily explained and described; how to seriously and deeply understand labels on all food products (this chapter is outstanding); and overall how to make this diet work to improve your life; (3) Recipes, meal plans, preparing your kitchen before starting the diet and how to shop for specific foods-brands to buy, foods to reject, ingredients to keep on hand, etc.

His reasoning and explanation for the diet are clearly explained. The health benefits are outlined and are numerous. The chapter on how to read labels is outstanding. You learn precisely what ingredients to avoid and how to properly shop for foods. You'll feel smarter than 99% of the population just after memorizing this one chapter. The recipes are easy to prepare, even for a novice cook such as myself. They taste great and are very satisfying. His website is excellent and adds an additional layer of organization to your menu-making and shopping lists.

I have been on this diet for the past 3 weeks and I have never felt better in my life (47 yrs). I started the diet for several personal reasons: (1) My cholesterol has gradually gone up above normal levels over the past 8 years and my physician wanted me to start Statin drugs. This was a major wake-up call because I don't want to be on a drug regimen for something I can control with diet. That's a HUGE POINT with this book---I am taking back control of my body and my health through the most basic empowering action--what foods I eat. The book stresses this aspect, how nutrition is at the root of health and disease. (2) I had gained about 10 lbs and wanted to get rid of excess weight. (3) (He does not discuss this point) I philosophically prefer not to eat animal products due to my love of the animal kingdom and wanting to reduce my energy demands on the environment. (4) I want to prevent the possibility of having cardiovascular disease, diabetes, memory loss, stroke, cancer, etc. as I get deeper into middle age. (5) I want more energy and want to feel better overall. (6) I suffer from some food allergies (including lactose and eggs).

MY EXPERIENCE TO DATE: I love this diet. The recipes are easy to make, and follow. I have not cooked much before this diet, so this statement is coming from a man with little cooking experience. The food tastes great and he has the right seasonings and flavors combined. I NEVER go hungry, I NEVER have cravings, I don't miss the meat, dairy or eggs or oils. I have more variety in my daily menu than I used to have. Even during the first few days, I felt great. My blood sugar feels much more balanced and I don't experience the high and low energy spikes that I used to. I don't crave sugar or more food at night like I used to. I have more mental and physical energy.

I was amazed that I did not need oil to make pancakes and I did not need eggs to make spectacular french toast! I still can't believe how much sodium (salt) is in so many foods and that I don't need it to make the food taste good. I used to add salt to everything...I stopped that cold turkey with the Engine 2 Diet and I don't miss the salt. The reason is that the recipes have many other herbs and spices to take up where the salt was before. The flavors are wonderful. Aside from eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables daily (adding a lot of fiber to the diet), his Lasagna, Pad Thai, Big Bowl breakfast, Black Bean Extravaganza, & Chili are my favorites so far. There are many recipes to choose from, so you won't get bored.

My colon feels a lot cleaner and I feel lighter. I lost 5 lbs. and my entire digestive system runs much better with no distress. In fact, I feel so much better mentally and physically that it is hard to imagine not eating this way. I never expected this to happen. It's phenomenal.

When in the grocery store, I feel really good and knowledgable. I stop and read the labels with much more intelligence. I now understand (due to reading the book) what to avoid and what is healthy. I feel smarter and stronger with my food choices and this affects my attitude about other areas of my life. I'm much more conscious. I feel like I was let out of jail when it comes to eating. This diet makes me feel smarter and freer, another unexpected result. Rather than feel deprived, I feel like I have license to eat whatever I want. I also know that I am eating consciously with awareness and pleasure. My body thanks me all day long.

I thought I'd miss "protein" from animal products----I was quite wrong. I get plenty of protein on this diet from plant sources and grains. Again, all of my preconceived ideas went out the door, once I started this plan. I will find out my cholesterol levels in another week and surely the numbers will improve, thus keeping me away from drug therapy. But, perhaps, more importantly, this diet has changed my life in significant ways, improving my health, well-being, sense of power, strength and probably saving me from having a heart attack, diabetes or stroke later on---as I was certainly heading in that direction. I can't wait to see the reaction from my physician when he sees my improved blood cholesterol levels and I can safely reject taking Statin drugs. Millions of people take Statins for high LDL and total cholesterol levels, when the majority of them could simply change their diet plan and get off the drugs. Knowledge is power.

I really believe that this author has saved my life! This book is a gem and perhaps it will awaken you the way it has for me! Don't hesitate one minute. Read this book and take control of your life where you can really make a difference!
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on February 23, 2009
The Engine 2 Diet has typical self-help elements--personal success story, user testimonials, good advice, and bold claims for positive life-changing results. The advice is simple; Esselstyn summarizes it in just eight points. Like the advice in most self-help books, it's been preached elsewhere. Esselstyn's contribution summarizes the evidence for significant health benefits from a "plant-strong" diet, adds a dash of exercise, and lays out how to identify healthful choices and fix a variety of dishes from breakfast through desert.

Esselstyn's "plant-strong" means vegan. Engine 2 adds strict limits on sodium, fat, and sugar. It may be smart to avoid the vegan label. Engine 2 is aiming for the mainstream. There's no mention of saving animals, just a healthy lifestyle saving people. Another thing you won't find, there's no advice to limit how much you eat. The diet focuses exclusively on what you eat, claiming you can eat as much as you want of the allowed foods, be healthier, and lose weight.

I love many things about Engine 2. It gives people excellent goals for better health and explains in detail how to achieve those goals. I found the chapter on reading labels extremely helpful, especially the specific criteria for the grocery store aisles. The large recipe section includes many simple everyday dishes and few elaborate dishes. It offers replacements for animal-sourced high-fat workhorses like mayonnaise, salad dressing, and sandwich fillings. The book's strength is showing how to live this lifestyle every working day.

The recipes are easy to follow, instructions are clear, and I usually end up with what I expect. I had trouble finding ingredients for some of the recipes, especially on the first trial, and had to substitute and omit. Substituting firm tofu for soft in the mousse was unsuccessful. The result was grainy and runny--edible but not appealing. With the right type of tofu, this was very nice, not as rich as a high-fat dairy version but nearly the same consistency, very tasty, and totally acceptable to my household. Omitting nutritional yeast from the salad dressing changed the consistency only slightly and made an acceptable dressing. The black bean sandwich spread, on rye with the fixing, will be a regular lunch. The curry-seasoned tofu sandwich spread was good with rice and chutney in a tortilla. The simple sweet potato fries didn't last long. I really liked the meat-less loaf, although the rest of my household was less enthusiastic. The sloppy joes were easy and tasty, with nice serving suggestions.

Coming from a former professional triathlete, I expected exercise would get more coverage. Esselstyn gives a basic workout, fine if you aren't already exercising regularly. He emphasizes that anyone can exercise without joining a health club or installing a home gym. I really loved this; I am living proof. Aside from one basic chapter on exercise, this book is about the diet.

Many readers will encounter real difficulties adopting the Engine 2 plan. The book glosses over difficulties and makes a couple of rather silly recommendations. Readers are to empty and refill their kitchens over a weekend to immerse themselves in the Engine 2 plan. I laughed out loud. What working family can afford to throw or give away hundreds of dollars worth of food? Not mine. Engine 2 recommends that you get several medical tests to compare before and after results. What insurers will pay for medically unnecessary tests just to see if a new diet works? These put me off.

Readers who can't or won't mostly buy fresh and cook from scratch will find it hard to adhere to the Engine 2 plan. Finding Engine 2 approved packaged prepared foods as well as some specialty ingredients is a significant difficultly. There's not much at my local Safeway. At My Organic Market (MOM), I find only a few canned and frozen foods that met the Engine 2 guidelines, even among the brands and products mentioned in the book. (And the stuff at MOM is pricey.) There are other stores and the internet but this is starting to eat up considerable time and money. As an environmentalist, I object to extra miles driving from store to store.

Most readers will have to give up many foods we are currently eating. Even with strong motivation, it's hard to give up favorite foods cold tofurky. The promised benefits are great enough that my household will adopt as much of the plan as our resources and willpower permit. But, it will definitely take much longer than 28 days and we will certainly make compromises between what Engine 2 recommends on one hand and what foods we can find, how much time we can devote to extra shopping and cooking, and what we can bring ourselves to give up on the other. Instead of a 28-day sprint, this will be a longer journey for us.
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on July 20, 2011
I stumbled across a film clip of Rip on Dr OZ's show purely by accident . I watched, sadly shaking my head ,..Wondering to myself... "These poor malnourished vegans...Don't they realize that their body's will fail if they don't eat meat and dairy?". An hour later I found Rips book ( Engine 2 diet) on Amazon and was able to read several pages. My husband and I went from heavy...HEAVY.. meat and dairy eaters to Vegans literally over night. I have NEVER felt better. I have the boundless energy of a kid. The inch's are melting off our body's and many of my "health problems" have vanished.Thank You Rip!!!!
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on February 22, 2009
Fair warning to the health care industry! After reading this book I am one less pawn that will be using your services and I'm certain others will follow. This is just too easy. Mr. Esselstyn shows how not only how to lose weight fast but how to lower your cholesterol *fast* in his 28-day program. I lowered my cholesterol from 195 to under 150 in less than 3 weeks then all the way down to 128 by the end of the 4-weeks. I've gotten most of my friends to follow suite with the same results.

One more warning. Don't plan on ever going back to your All-American diet filled with fat and artery clogging crap that will cause your early demise. If you crave donuts, ice cream, fried food (of all varieties), etc this read will show you alternatives that are tastier and more heart-healthy! (I stole "heart-healthy" from Mr. Esselstyn). Your recipe suggestions are fantastic! I can see a whole other book coming with
just recipes :)

This is not a fad thing based on anything new. 20+ years of research went in to this and I can say 100% that this fact is what sold me. I can see no other plan from *any* popular book out there that is based on long term empirical evidence.

Just as important is you just may show your loved ones how to be a more healthy too. If only my Uncle would have read this book so he wouldn't have croaked from a massive heart attack at 47. Looking back on it now I see how preventable that could have been.

I am a convert. Thank you Rip Esselstyn. Why didn't someone write a book like this before? Maybe they did but I haven't seen it. My mom and dad always said to eat my fruits and vegetables. Of course they served up BBQ every Sunday so they didn't get it all correct ;)
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on February 10, 2014
Saw Forks over Knives, got the Engine2 diet and was ready to make a change. But no. This is not a stand alone cook book. (Kindle version)

Some of the 28 day diet recipes, but not all, are found here. Most of the book is anecdotes.

You have to go to the website and search around for the week 1-4 meal plans. Most of the recipes referred to on the weekly meal plans are not in the book or on the website.

Very poor website design as there are no direct paths to the info. So the meal plans are on the website, as are the shopping lists for each week, but buried. Buried deep. Many interesting recipes are referenced but I still have no idea how to make them as the remaining recipes are nowhere to be found.

I was thinking about buying the forks Over Knives Cookbook but that is not the Engine 2 Diet is it? Similar no doubt, but I would like to execute the 28 day meal plan and I find I cannot with the information available.

I have been trolling the Whole Foods website and various vegan/vegetarian websites for an additional week before I had enough info to get started.
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on July 30, 2009
This is the most amazing diet. I never go on diets but I bought this book as a gift for my son-in-law and when I read it I decided I had to go on it. Heart drugs had made me put on weight and even though I swim a mile a day it would not disappear. I was most concerned about my cholesterol which is normal but still I thought to try the diet. I have been on it for two months now and have lost ten pounds. I have been taken off the blood pressure medicine and all other drugs have been reduced. I have tons more energy. This diet consists of all the things I would never eat, (which I eat now), and none of the things I love. OH! Well!. The book itself is fun to read. I have now bought four of them for friends. Hey! I'm 73. If I can do it anybody can.
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on February 26, 2009
I've been eating a whole foods, plant-based diet for a year, thanks to the book "Eat to Live" by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. While many people follow his diet, most have never even heard of him. This is a problem because America is in a serious health crisis. I believe that Rip Esselstyn is about to become a household name and for that I am incredibly grateful that he wrote The Engine 2 Diet. I think this way of eating is so vital to our health and I believe Rip has the ability to make a big impact. While he may not be a doctor, his father Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. did important work showing how to prevent and reverse heart disease with a plant-based diet, so Rip has a solid background in this stuff. Rip was a professional triathlete and is now a firefighter - he's a guy we can relate to. As such, he makes a great spokesperson for a whole foods diet. (I've met Rip and he's a muscular guy - no one can claim that he needs meat, dairy or eggs to be strong.)

From my own reading, I believe that vegetables need to be the main dish for truly optimal health, whereas Rip's book focuses more on grains (though he acknowledges on page 67 that veggies are the most nutrient-dense foods of all). That said, The Engine 2 Diet is sooooooooo vastly superior to the standard American diet that anyone who follows it will greatly improve their health. Thus, I can wholeheartedly support the book and recommend it to others. In fact, the diet and recipes are more user-friendly than some other books on plant-based eating offer, which will likely lead to greater success and adherence among those who follow it.

I had the opportunity to interview Rip on my radio show, Inner Views, in Austin. He was delightful to talk to, super nice and really down to earth. [...]

Good luck, Rip!
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on March 4, 2009
My wife and I have been on the Engine 2 diet for nearly five weeks. We've both lost weight and feel tons better. We have both observed more spring in our steps, and more energy. We started working out again and found that we didn't burn out as quickly at the gym now that we're eating a plant based diet.

If you have any doubt about the tastiness of the plant-based lifestyle, try the recipe for breakfast tacos and you will never worry about whether the food will be satisfying or exciting, or decadent again. All of the recipes taste great so far.

Switching to a plant-only diet is a hard sell. Rip does a great job convincing you with his own story and testimonies scattered throughout the book. If you need more convincing however, I recommend that you read his dad's book PREVENT AND REVERSE HEART DISEASE by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., and THE CHINA STUDY by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. We read both before discovering that Rip was coming out with a companion cookbook to his dad's work.

Expect a lot of flack from the world around you when you switch, but be dedicated. This is the only prescription for good health, everything else is incomplete. The whole of the American medical profession has failed us because of their obsession with treatments and procedures. They have ignored prevention and the benefit of true nutritional balance. Well, let's tell the Big Medical Machine to fudge off. We're not going to wait to get sick to have them try and fail to put us together again. We are going to prevent disease with a plant-based diet and live with a clean conscience, knowing that we are not contributing to the american health-care crisis.

Thank you Rip for this amazing book.
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on March 6, 2009
The quick review: Rip's approached worked for me and keeps working for me two years later. ENGINE 2 DIET is fun to read, is impeccable in its scientific foundations and gives you a big bundle of fire fighter tested recipes to boot. Buy the book, take the challenge, and you'll be wondering why you had to wait so long in life to find the information and guidance.

The long review: I will be 77 years old in two weeks. I met Rip some time ago and I've now been plant strong for more than two years. My weight is 180 (down from 230), my waist is 40 (down from 46), all my medical health tests are in the healthy zone and I am on zero medications. And, I need to add, I feel fine. I attribute this to my change from the standard American diet to eating plant strong, just as Rip explains in the book. And to a modest increase in exercise.

I have been retired for many years so I have been able to try one system after another and research them in books and on the web in my quest to score well on medical tests and feel fine. Rip's book is a great find. It joins a few other recent highly scientifically based books on nutrient dense eating styles to point to a workable way to health via plant strong eating. Rip's book is different in that first it is fun to read (stories, quips, friendly words) and second that it offers a way that an individual can run a personal test in only a few weeks. He offers you a challenge. You take it. You see the results. You decide whether you'll change your eating. And you can change it because the "how to" (explanations) and "what" (recipes) are in ENGINE 2 DIET. He references those other scientific books in ENGINE 2 DIET if you want to probe scientific foundations.

As an older person, I took the exercise message he gives and incorporated daily physical training into my life, but I toned down the activities. In discussion with Rip I have a routine that takes into account my older ligaments, my slower recovery time from older muscle tissue, and my lingering slower cardiovascular recovery time ( from a lifetime of too much standard American diet). I won't enter a triathlon contest, but by modest daily training I am strong enough and I can move enough to do just about anything else I choose.

I hope Rip is successful in setting up an ongoing web support system. Support when you take the challenge really helps. And for those who see exercise in an anathema, a web site might give a workable "challenge" method to guide those of us 'slightly less than normal" into exercising in a way that is do-able and reasonably pleasant.

Darrell Williams
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