Have you ever heard that food can be a drug? Tana Amen proved it by developing the Omni Diet, which improved her health and the health of thousands of people.
The Omni diet is an eating plan that allows you to take the benefits of eating plant-based foods while balancing them with lean animal proteins. At the same time, it restricts the consumption of sugar, artificial sweeteners, gluten, dairy, potatoes, corn, and soy.
By balancing the consumption of plant-derived food and lean protein, this nutritional approach allows you to feel energized, decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, and some types of cancer, and reduce inflammation in the body. What’s more, the Omni Diet promotes weight loss.
The Omni Diet is a six-week program that consists of three phases (two weeks each) during which you base your meals on the whole, minimally processed foods.
This phase is the most restrictive part of the Omni Diet. The first two weeks represent a transition from the typical American diet full of processed foods, saturated fats, and sugar to healthier nutrition. During this period, you eat 70% plant-based foods and 30% lean protein and should:
- restrict your food choices to those allowed by the Omni Diet (listed below)
- eat lean protein each 3-4 hours
- drink the Omni Diet green smoothie (or any other meal-replacement smoothie containing a 4-to-1 ratio of vegetables to fruits or no fruits at all, at least 20 to 30 grams of protein, and healthy fats)
- eat no more than 1/2 cup (~90 g) of fruits per day
- keep away from desserts and restricted food products
- make water your drink of choice (drink half of your body weight in ounces, but no more than 100 pounds per day)
- go to the sauna twice a week
In addition, it is advisable to take vitamin D, omega-3, magnesium, and probiotic supplements.
Phase two is less restrictive than phase one but still limits many foods. At this point, you continue following guidelines from phase one, introducing some changes like:
- allowing unprocessed desserts without added sugar or white flour (for example, dark chocolate)
- addition of exercise to your daily routine (begin with 30 minutes walk and gradually increase physical activity to a 30 minutes full-body workout)
The last phase is the most flexible. You are allowed (however discouraged) to eat 90% according to the Omni Diet guidelines and choose 10% of foods from the list of restricted food products. To not overeat forbidden food, Tana Amen suggests using a “three-bite rule.” The last implies taking three bites of such food, enjoying them, and throwing away the rest.
You can also reintroduce alcohol during this phase. However, as with the forbidden foods, it is allowed but discouraged. Don’t exceed two glasses of wine (each of 5 ounces or 150 ml) per week. Notably, alcoholic drinks that contain sugar or gluten must be avoided.
It is worth mentioning that Amen states that you shouldn’t feel guilt over the food. You can enjoy food on special occasions like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, etc. However, limiting your choice to one forbidden food at a time is recommended.
You stay in phase three for at least two weeks. However, if you want, you can stay in it indefinitely.
As mentioned above, the Omni Diet has a list of allowed and forbidden foods.
Foods to eat:
- non-starchy vegetables
- lean proteins (poultry, fish, lean meats)
- protein powder
- nuts (raw, unsalted) and nut butter
- seeds (raw, unsalted) and seed butter
- plant-derived, unrefined, organic, cold-pressed oils (olive, almond, grapeseed, macadamia nut, and coconut oil)
- herbs and spices
- non-grain flours (made from nuts and seeds)
- small amounts of stevia extract
- unsweetened plant milk
- green tea
- “Omni NutriPower” foods (goji berries and powder; 100% pure, “Dutch processed,” unroasted cacao nibs and powder; coconut and its products (water, milk, oil, butter, meat); macadamia nuts and oil and butter made from them; pomegranate; wheatgrass
Foods to consume in limited amounts:
- grains (only gluten-free grains are allowed)
- cooking oils (safflower, canola, corn, ghee, and vegetable oils)
- dried, soaked overnight, or cooked beans and lentils (allowed only in the third phase)
- some sweeteners (raw, unpasteurized honey or sugar alcohols like xylitol)
- coffee before noon (no more than 5-6 ounces or 150-175 ml per day)
Foods to avoid:
- simple carbs
- white flour, rice, pasta, and sugar
- instant oatmeal and breakfast cereals
- most types of bread
- gluten-containing grains
- white potatoes
- foods made of or containing soy
- dairy products (except ghee)
- some animal-based proteins (processed meats, beef and poultry that are raised commercially, farmed fish, ham, and pork)
- processed foods
- processed sugar (maple syrup, agave, white and brown sugar)
- artificial sweeteners
- corn by-products (including corn syrup, corn oil, corn chips, cornstarch, and popcorn)
- jams, marmalades, jellies
- condiments that contain restricted food as their ingredients
- juices and lemonades
- energy drinks
- fruit punch
- regular and diet sodas
- genetically-modified (GMO) food products
Since the Omni Diet is highly restrictive, it should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women and children. In addition, individuals with elevated cholesterol levels should consult with their doctor to discuss if the Omni Diet is sustainable for them.
Regardless of where you are now in terms of weight and overall health, we recommend consulting your doctor before starting the Omni Diet.
How to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies
The Omni Diet restricts many food products. Therefore, you are at risk of developing a deficiency in some of the essential nutrients while following this nutritional approach. Such nutrients include vitamin B-1 (thiamin), vitamin B-3 (niacin), vitamin B-9 (folate), vitamin B-12, calcium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, and fiber.
To ensure that your body receives an adequate supply of the listed nutrients, add some of the following foods to your diet:
- vitamin B-1 (thiamin): flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, asparagus, lentils, beans, green peas, tofu, fish (salmon, tuna, trout), pork;
- vitamin B-3 (niacin): bananas, avocado, mushrooms, green peas, nuts, seeds, poultry (chicken, turkey), fish (salmon, tuna, anchovy), red meat (pork, beef), beef liver;
- vitamin B-9 (folate): leafy greens, asparagus, citrus fruits, bananas, sunflower seeds, walnuts, peanuts, beans, lentils, peas, whole grains, eggs, seafood, beef liver;
- vitamin B-12: fish (salmon, sardines, trout), clams, beef, organ meats (liver, kidney), eggs, fortified nutritional yeast;
- calcium: leafy greens, winter squash, rhubarb, figs, almonds, seeds (chia, sesame, poppy), tofu made with calcium sulfate, edamame, fish (salmon, sardines)
- iron: dark chocolate, spinach, broccoli, beans, lentils, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, tofu, red meat, organ meats (liver), turkey, fish, shellfish;
- phosphorous: cauliflower, asparagus, tomatoes, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish (salmon, sardines, pollock), seafood (clams, scallops), poultry (turkey, chicken), red meat (pork, beef);
- zinc: dark chocolate, lentils, beans, chickpeas, nuts (almonds, cashews, pine nuts, peanuts), seeds (hemp, sesame, pumpkin), kale, red meat, shellfish, eggs;
- fiber: berries (strawberries, raspberries), fruits (avocado, apples, pears, bananas), vegetables (broccoli, carrots, beets, Brussel sprouts, artichoke), almonds, chia seeds, beans, lentils, chickpeas;
Some individuals may find it challenging to fulfill their body’s requirements for these nutrients solely by receiving them from the food. If this is the case for you, an alternative option is to discuss supplement intake with your doctor.
The Omni Diet promotes eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. All of these are consistent with the idea of a healthy diet that can help you lose weight.
However, the Omni Diet is very restrictive, making you avoid the whole food groups. As a result, it may be unsustainable for some individuals. In addition, it is much more challenging to stick with the overly restrictive nutritional approach in the long term.