The ORNISH Diet

This diet originates from Dr. Dean Ornish who is known for his renowned heart-healthy lifestyle programs, which include high-carb, low-fat vegetarian diet of mostly beans, fruits, grains and vegetables. Dairy products are to be eaten in moderation, and meat is discouraged. Less than 10% of daily calories may come from fat.

Both versions of the Ornish diet emphasize reducing the intake of high fat, high animal protein foods, such as red meat, pork, bacon, ice cream, etc., and increasing consumption of complex carbohydrates, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in their natural forms, legumes, nonfat dairy, soy products, and egg whites.

The diet recommends minimal to moderate use of salt and sugar, 70-75% of total calories from carbohydrates, and 15-20% of calories from proteins. The diet leaves little room for calories from fat.

Two types of diets exist under the Ornish umbrella – the prevention and the reversal. The prevention diet is for individuals who do not have heart disease, but who have cholesterol issues. It is customized according to health risk factors and health goals. The reversal diet is for individuals who have been diagnosed with high cholesterol or heart disease.

Both diets include exercise and focus on stress reduction and smoking cessation techniques as needed.

Both diets allow you to eat the following foods whenever you feel hungry. Eat until you are full (but not until you are stuffed):

  • Beans and legumes (lentils, kidney beans, peas, black beans, red Mexican beans, split peas, soybeans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, navy beans, etc.)
  • Fruits (apples, apricots, bananas, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, oranges, peaches, raspberries, cantaloupes, watermelons, pears, honeydew melons, pineapples, tomatoes, etc.)
  • Grains (corn, rice, oats, wheat, millet, barley, buckwheat, etc)
  • Vegetables (potatoes, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, mushrooms, eggplant, celery, asparagus, onions, sweet potatoes, spinach, etc)

It is recommended that the following foods be consumed in moderation:

  • Nonfat dairy products (including skim milk, nonfat yogurt, nonfat cheeses, nonfat sour cream, and egg whites)
  • Nonfat or very low-fat commercially available products (including whole grain breakfast cereals, nonfat mayonnaise and salad dressings, oatmeal, fat-free crackers, and egg substitutes. Products with a high sugar content should be avoided.)

Prevention diet – this is customized according to a cholesterol profile, genetic disposition, weight, age, and any other health risks and health goals.

Reversal diet – this is a whole foods vegetarian diet high in complex carbohydrates, low in simple carbohydrates (e.g. sugar, concentrated sweeteners, alcohol, white flour), and very low in fat (approximately 10% of calories). Those few plant-based foods that are high in fat are excluded, including all oils (other than 3 grams per day of flaxseed oil or fish oil to provide additional omega-3 fatty acids), nuts and avocados. The diet consists primarily of fruits, vegetables, grains and beans (including soy-based foods). It is supplemented by moderate amounts of nonfat dairy and egg whites. Patients with high triglycerides and/or diabetes are especially encouraged to limit intake of simple sugars and alcohol. As a rule of thumb, the diet recommends trying to include foods that have less than three grams of fat per serving while avoiding saturated fat and sugar.

ATKINS® DIET

Four Phases of Atkins:

The Atkins Nutritional Approach™ (ANA) is an easy-to-follow four-phase program. Initially, you cut back significantly on carb intake to lose weight; then you gradually add back a variety of “good” carbs as you get closer to your goal weight. Once you reach your goal weight, you will find your individual ACE (Atkins Carbohydrate Equilibrium), meaning the approximate number of “Net Carbs” you can continue to eat without gaining or losing weight. Changes in your activity level, hormonal status or other factors may raise or lower your ACE. Here’s how to do Atkins properly.

Phase 1 – Induction

We recommend you do the first phase of Atkins for at least two weeks. You will be staying at or below 20 grams of Net Carbs per day. (Carbs such as fiber don’t count in this tally. Eat three meals a day or four or five small meals, if preferred. Don’t skip meals. Eat until you’re satisfied but not stuffed.

  • A sample breakfast might consist of an avocado-tomato omelet and decaf coffee with cream. For lunch you could have a cheeseburger (minus the roll) and a tossed salad. Dinner might include broiled salmon and spinach sautéed with garlic.
  • Foods that combine protein and fat, such as poultry, fish, red meat and eggs, will be the foundation of your meals.
  • Most of your carbs will come from nutrient-dense foods such as leafy green vegetables dressed in olive oil.
  • Take the three Atkins supplements described in the opposite column, or other similar supplements.
  • Drink at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water each day to hydrate your body and flush out impurities.
  • Exercise regularly, preferably combining an aerobic activity such as walking or running with an anaerobic activity such as weight training. Always check with your physician before starting any exercise program.

Phase 2 – Ongoing Weight Loss

Slow your weight loss by gradually increasing your carb intake in increments of 5 grams of Net Carbs. (For example, 6 asparagus spears and half a tomato contain roughly 5 grams of Net Carbs.) Choose your additional carbs wisely, starting with non-starchy vegetables, berries (lower in carbs than other fruits) or Atkins controlled carb alternative foods. Never assume any food is low in carbs; instead, read labels and use a carb gram counter (visit http://www.atkinsonline.com/).

  • The first week, move up to 25 grams of net Carbs per day.
  • If you continue to lose weight, move to a daily intake of 30 grams of Net Carbs the next week, and so forth until weight loss stops for a few days in a row.
  • Drop back 5 grams and you should continue losing weight slowly. Stay at this level of Net Carbs until you come within 5 to 10 pounds of your target weight.

Phase 3 – Pre-Maintenance

When you get within 5 to 10 pounds of your goal weight, move to Pre-Maintenance. By losing those last few pounds very slowly, you’ll ease yourself into a permanently changed way of eating.

  • Each week, add more grams (as much as 10) of carbs to your daily allotment, going, for example from 50 grams of Net Carbs as day to 60 the next week.
  • As long as you continue to lose at an almost imperceptible rate, gradually introduce other fruits, such as grapefruit, kiwi or melon, whole grains and yams and other starchy vegetables.
  • When you achieve and maintain your goal weight for at least a month, you have found the Net Carb level called your Ace and have effectively moved to the final phase of Atkins.

Phase 4 – Lifetime Maintenance

To maintain your goal weight, stay at your newly found ACE.

  • Your ACE may range from as low as 40 to 120 or more grams of net Carbs daily, depending on your metabolism, age, gender, activity level, or other factors.
  • Continue to follow this healthful and satisfying way of eating and engage in regular exercise for effective weight control.
  • Changes in your activity level, hormonal status or other factors may raise or lower your ACE.

Weight Loss Diets

Among the several Weightloss programs available today, we bring you some of the most popular Diets to help you maintain a healthier life.

  • Atkins® Diet – The Atkins Nutritional Approach™ (ANA) is an easy-to-follow four-phase program.
  • Ornish Diet™ – This diet originates from Dr. Dean Ornish who is known for his renowned heart-healthy lifestyle programs, which include high-carb, low-fat vegetarian diet of mostly beans, fruits, grains and vegetables.
  • South Beach Diet™ – This diet was developed by Dr. Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist who wanted a diet to help patients prevent and reverse heart disease.
  • Weight Watchers® Diet – Weight Watchers® is a flexible diet plan and comprehensive approach to weight management, where each type of food is assigned a POINTS® value and participants are allowed a certain number of POINTS® each day.
  • Zone® Diet – This diet, originated by Dr. Barry Sears, is based on a balance between carbohydrates, protein and fats, eliminating cravings for any of these nutrients through deprivation.

What Does This All Mean?

So you have calculated your BMI and found which weight category your BMI matches. What does this all mean?

BMI is not the only indicator of health risk.
BMI is just one of many factors related to developing a chronic disease (such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes). Other factors that may be important to look at when assessing your risk for chronic disease include:

  • Diet
  • Physical Activity
  • Waist Circumference
  • Blood Pressure
  • Blood Sugar Level
  • Cholesterol Level
  • Family History of disease
BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal
25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and Above Obese

All persons who are obese or overweight should try not to gain additional weight. In addition, those who are obese or who are overweight with other risk factors should consider losing weight. A complete health assessment by a physician is the best way to decide the right steps for you.

Whatever your BMI, talk to your doctor to see if you are at an increased risk for disease and if you should lose weight. Even a small weight loss (just 10% of your current weight) may help to lower the risk of disease.

Physical activity and good nutrition are key factors in leading a healthy lifestyle and reducing risk for disease. Visit our Resource Section for links to information on BMI, obesity, physical activity and nutrition.
Common Myths
Myth: BMI Measures Body Fat

Two people can have the same BMI, but a different percent body fat. A bodybuilder with a large muscle mass and a low percent body fat may have the same BMI as a person who has more body fat because BMI is calculated using weight and height only.

These men have the same height, weight, and BMI, but may have different percent body fat.

6’3″ Height 6’3″
220 lbs Weight 220 lbs
27.5 BMI 27.5

This is a good reminder that BMI is only one piece of a person’s health profile. It is important to talk with your doctor about other measures and risk factors. (e.g., waist circumference, smoking, physical activity level, and diet.)


Myth: BMI is a diagnostic tool

BMI alone is not diagnostic. It is one of many risk factors for disease and death. As a person’s BMI increases the risk for many diseases increases as well.

To learn more about what BMI is, and how it relates to health, please visit the BMI for Adults section.

If you would like to calculate your BMI please visit the BMI Calculator.

Related Resources

CDC, Healthy Weight and Obesity Links
This page provides links to information on education and resources, advocacy, and eating disorders.

CDC, Overweight and Obesity
CDC’s overweight and obesity web site provides much information on trends, contributing factors, health consequences, recommendation, and state-based programs concerning overweight and obesity.

CDC, 2000 Growth Charts
This site provides educational material, computer programs, and reports surrounding the 2000 growth charts.

CDC, PEP
PEP is a 12-week self-directed, worksite program to promote healthy eating and moderate physical activity.

CDC, Physical Activity: Energize Your Life!
This comprehensive site provides information about the importance of physical activity and how to make it a part of your life.

National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
NIDDK provides a site full of information and statistics on overweight and obesity, weight loss, and weight control.

NIDDK, Statistics Related to Overweight and Obesity

NIDDK, Weight Loss and Control

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
This site helps people assess their risk for disease and aim for a healthy weight.


Articles

Mokdad AH, PhD; Earl Ford, MD; Barbara A. Bowman, PHD; et al. Prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and obesity related health risk factors, 2001. JAMA 2001;289:76-79

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does CDC use the Body Mass Index (BMI) to measure overweight and obesity in the general adult population?

Calculating the BMI is one of the best methods for population assessment of overweight and obesity. It is low-cost and easy to use for clinicians and the general public. The use of BMI allows people to compare their own weight status to the general population. The only information required to calculate a person’s BMI are height, weight, and the BMI formula

BMI = (             Weight in Pounds             
(Height in inches) x (Height in inches)
) x 703

or

BMI =             Weight in Kilograms             
(Height in Meters) x (Height in Meters)


What are some of the other ways to measure obesity? Why doesn’t CDC use those to determine overweight and obesity among the general public?

Other methods include calipers (skin-fold measurement), underwater weighing, bioelectrical impedance, and computerized topography. However, these methods are very expensive, need highly trained personnel, and are not readily available to the public or general clinical settings.

Are athletes and other people with a lot of muscle considered to be overweight when their BMI is over 25?

According to the weight categories, any person with a BMI over 25 would be classified as overweight. This may not mean they have excess fat. Such categories are based on scientific findings that the risk for disease increases as BMI increases.

Most studies have examined the relationship between BMI and risk of disease. Therefore we do not know whether two people with the same BMI but different amounts of fat have different risks for disease.

It is important to remember that weight is only one factor related to disease. If you have questions or concerns about the appropriateness of your weight, please discuss them with your health care provider.

How is BMI interpreted differently for children (2 – 20 years) than adults?

BMI is calculated with the same formula for children and adults, but the results are interpreted differently. For adults the use of BMI to define overweight does not depend on age or gender. For children ages 2 – 20 years, BMI is plotted on a growth chart specific for age and gender. For additional information on the 2000 CDC Growth Charts please visit CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Body Mass Index Calculator

Note: These calculators require a JavaScript-enabled Web browser to operate. Alternately, you may make use of the mathematical formulas.

English Calculation

Height:  feet
and  inch(es)
Weight:  pounds
(Note: 8 ounces = 0.5 pounds)
Your BMI:
BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal
25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and Above Obese

Metric Calculation

Height:  Meters
(Note: 1 Meter = 100cm)
Weight:  Kilograms
Your BMI: 
 

Body Mass Index Formula

If you are unable to use the BMI calculator, or if you are interested in how BMI is calculated, this page has the mathematical formulas. You can calculate BMI using wither feet, inches, and pounds, or meters, centimeters, and kilograms.

English Formula

Body Mass Index can be calculated using pounds and inches with this equation

BMI = (             Weight in Pounds             
(Height in inches) x (Height in inches)
) x 703

For example, a person who weighs 220 pounds and is 6 feet 3 inches tall has a BMI of 27.5.

(             220 lbs.            
(75 inches) x (75 inches)
) x 703 = 27.5

What Does This All Mean?


Metric Formula

Body Mass Index can also be calculated using kilograms and meters (or centimeters).

BMI =             Weight in Kilograms             
(Height in Meters) x (Height in Meters)
or
BMI = (             Weight in Kilograms             
(Height in centimeters) x (Height in centimeters)
) x 10,000

For example, a person who weighs 99.79 Kilograms and is 1.905 Meters (190.50 centimeters) tall has a BMI of 27.5.

            99.79 Kg            
(1.905 m) x (1.905 m)
= 27.5

What Does This All Mean?


BMI Table for Adults

For adults BMI can also be found by using

Body Mass Index for Adults Table (PDF-15K)

BMI for children and teens (2 – 20 years) is plotted on age and gender specific growth charts. For more information link to BMI for Children and Teens.

BMI is Used Differently with Children Than it is With Adults

In children and teens, body mass index is used to assess underweight, overweight, and risk for overweight. Children’s body fatness changes over the years as they grow. Also, girls and boys differ in their body fatness as they mature. This is why BMI for children, also referred to as BMI-for-age, is gender and age specific.1, 2 BMI-for-age is plotted on gender specific growth charts. These charts are used for children and teens 2 ö 20 years of age. For the 2000 CDC Growth Charts and Additional Information visit CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Each of the CDC BMI-for-age gender specific charts contains a series of curved lines indicating specific percentiles. Healthcare professionals use the following established percentile cutoff points to identify underweight and overweight in children.

Underweight BMI-for-age < 5th percentile
At risk of overweight BMI-for-age 85th percentile
to < 95th percentile
Overweight BMI-for-age 95th percentile

 

BMI decreases during the preschool years, then increases into adulthood. The percentile curves show this pattern of growth.
What does it mean if my child is in the 60th percentile?The 60th percentile means that compared to children of the same gender and age, 60% have a lower BMI.

Example

Let’s look at the BMI for a boy as he grows. While his BMI changes, he remains at the 95th percentile BMI-for-age.

Age BMI Percentile
2 years 19.3 95th
4 years 17.8 95th
9 years 21.0 95th
13 years 25.1 95th

We see how the boy’s BMI declines during his preschool years and increases as he gets older.

Why is BMI-for-age a useful tool?
BMI-for-Age is used for children and teens because of their rate of growth and development. It is a useful tool because

  • BMI-for-age provides a reference for adolescents that can be used beyond puberty.
  • BMI-for-age in children and adolescents compares well to laboratory measures of body fat.
  • BMI-for-age can be used to track body size throughout life.

For the 2000 CDC Growth Charts and Additional Information visit CDC’S National Center for Health Statistics.

For more information on how to use the growth charts visit The Growth Chart Training Modules.


References

Hammer LD, Kraemer HC, Wilson DM, Ritter PL, Dornbusch SM. Standardized percentile curves of body-mass index for children and adolescents. American Journal of Disease of Child. 1991; 145:259-263.

Pietrobelli A, Faith MS, Allison DB, Gallagher D, Chiumello G, Heymsfield, SB. Body mass index as a measure of adiposity among children and adolescents: A validation study. Journal of Pediatrics. 1998; 132:204-210.

What is BMI?

Body Mass Index or BMI is a tool for indicating weight status in adults.1 It is a measure of weight for height. For adults over 20 years old, BMI falls into one of these categories:

BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal
25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and Above Obese

Note: BMI for Children and Teens is based on gender and age specific charts.

BMI correlates with body fat. The relation between fatness and BMI differs with age and gender. For example, women are more likely to have a higher percent of body fat than men for the same BMI. On average, older people may have more body fat than younger adults with the same BMI.2

For more information about overweight among adults, see Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. Bethesda, MD: NHLBI, 1998.


How does BMI relate to health?

The BMI ranges are based on the effect body weight has on disease and death.3 As BMI increases, the risk for some disease increases. Some common conditions related to overweight and obesity include4

  • Premature death
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Some cancers
  • Diabetes

BMI is only one of many factors used to predict risk for disease. BMI cannot be used to tell a person if he/she has a disease such as diabetes or cancer. It is important to remember that weight is only one factor that is related to disease.


BMI for Adults

  • BMI Formula
  • BMI Calculator
  • What Does This All Mean?
    You have calculated your BMI ÷ now what? This page helps you look at your BMI and find out what it may mean.


References

Garrow JS and Webster J. Quetelet’s index (W/H2) as a measure of fatness. International Journal of Obesity1985;9:147ö153.

Gallagher D, et al. How useful is BMI for comparison of body fatness across age, sex and ethnic groups? American Journal of Epidemiology 1996;143:228ö239.

World Health Organization. Physical status: The use and interpretation of anthropometry. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization 1995. WHO Technical Report Series.

Calle EE, et al. BMI and mortality in prospective cohort of U.S. adults. New England Journal of Medicine 1999;341:1097ö1105.

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