What Is The Best Life Diet?
Exercise physiologist Bob Greene’s The Best Life Diet is an easy-to-follow,
no-gimmicks approach to a healthy
diet and lifestyle. It’s a dietitian’s dream
diet — and one that apparently changed talk show host Oprah Winfrey’s life.
Winfrey describes in the foreword how, after years of struggling with diets, she
found success with The Best Life Diet.
There is nothing groundbreaking about The Best Life Diet. Greene’s “diet” is
synonymous with the phrase “lifestyle change.” There’s no going on and off this
diet, because it’s not a “diet.” It’s a lifestyle of healthy eating with an
emphasis on regular physical activity.
The Best Life Diet is a safe, effective way to lose weight and improve
fitness. But it is not quick or temporary. You’re encouraged to make gradual
changes, one step at a time. The aim is to transform your old eating and
exercise habits into healthier new ones that will last a lifetime.
Depending on your gender and activity level, The Best Life Diet guidelines
suggest calorie levels ranging from 1,500-2,500 and a recommended number of
servings from the various food groups. The basic premise is that the more active
you are, the more calories you can eat.
Greene’s fitness insights and easygoing style makes weight loss easy to
understand. Lots of great tips, recipes, menus, and useful tools are included to
help dieters get and stay motivated. The Best Life Diet is easily tailored to a
wide array of personal lifestyles, activity levels, and food preferences. The
program can be followed online for a fee, or by the book.
What You Can Eat on The Best Life Diet
There is no calorie-counting on The Best Life Diet, only a mindful approach
to making wise food choices and monitoring portion sizes. Splurges are worked
into the program during the third phase with an allotment of “anything goes”
It appears very simple. You can enjoy a wide variety of healthy foods while
slowly ridding your diet of unhealthier choices such as fried foods, foods
containing trans fats, white bread, sugary soft drinks, regular pasta, and
high-fat dairy. These foods are phased out and replaced with healthier foods
such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and more. Weekly eating
plans provide suggested meals.
Greene has placed his Best Life Diet seal of approval logo on a variety of
food products he recommends as healthy. Dieters are asked to make their
healthier choices from a recommended list of foods from companies involved in
How The Best Life Diet Works
Greene’s Best Life premise is to promote a non-dieting mind-set so you can
focus on improving your life and gaining control over your struggles with eating
and weight. While strict diet plans usually set you up for disappointment and
ultimate failure, Greene sets dieters up for success, one small step at a time.
Some programs start with a very strict first phase with a long list of
prohibited foods. Greene takes a different approach by starting with a more
liberal first phase:
- Phase One, a maximum of four weeks, focuses on slowly increasing
activity levels and changing old eating habits. Recommendations include no
eating two hours before bed, eating three meals and one snack daily,
eliminating alcohol (temporarily), staying hydrated, and taking a daily
multivitamin/mineral, omega-3 fatty acid, and calcium (if needed). The meal
and snack suggestions make healthy eating sound delicious.
- Phase Two, a minimum of four weeks, promotes a more aggressive
approach to losing weight through healthier eating and increased physical
activity. This phase builds upon the changes made in Phase One, with an
emphasis on controlling physical and emotional hunger, removing six problem
foods from your diet, weekly weigh-ins, and portion control.
- Phase Three is maintenance, or the phase for the rest of your
life. It focuses on eliminating more unhealthy foods and adding more
wholesome foods, and introduces “anything goes” calories. Greene’s “anything
goes” calories are similar to the “discretionary calories” found in the U.S.
government’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines, which allow you to enjoy your favorite
treats in small portions. Greene gives the green light for more “anything
goes” calories when you are most active.
Greene also tackles issues that lead to overeating, such as hunger and
emotional eating. Using his hunger tool helps dieters stop overeating by
learning how to gauge real hunger. He tackles emotional eating head-on by asking
dieters to answer some tough questions before beginning the program:
- Why are you overweight?
- Why do you want to lose weight?
- Why have you been unable to lose weight in the past?
Answering these questions honestly can help dieters identify the things that
need to be changed so they can start to address problem issues.
According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.”
What the Experts Say About The Best Life Diet
The Best Life Diet is based on science — it supports the U.S. government’s
2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines with very doable and easy suggestions. And most
registered dietitians and fitness trainers agree that true weight loss success
comes from making lifestyle changes.
Greene’s flexible approach helps dieters stick with the plan. But obesity
expert Cathy Nonas, RD, wonders if his realistic, gradual approach will appeal
to overweight people who want the quick fix.
“Once a person decides to lose weight, they want it gone immediately,” says
Nonas, former spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly
American Dietetic Association). “And unfortunately, they choose fad diets [and]
lose weight quickly only to regain it back instead of choosing a program like
Best Life Diet that tackles changing eating behaviors.”
Nonas says she likes the slow and gradual first phase followed by the more
intense second and third phases.
“Anyone who gets through the first phase, regardless [of] if they lose
weight, will improve their dietary picture,” says Nonas. If you’re not
successful at losing weight during the first or second phase, “stick with the
phase longer before moving on to maintenance,” suggests Nonas.
Counting calories is too difficult and inaccurate. But if you cut out the
sodas, fried foods, and giant white bagels, the calorie savings will add up.
“For people like me who already avoid the six perilous foods, it won’t make
much of a difference,” says Nonas. “But for anyone who eats or drinks the
high-calorie foods, it should help them lose weight.”
Nonas also points out that some “forbidden” foods can be enjoyed in moderate
“There is nothing wrong with high-fat dairy if you make modifications
elsewhere in your diet, and likewise if you enjoy white pasta or white bread as
long as you get enough fiber in your diet,” she says
The bottom line, Nonas says, is that Greene’s recommendations are sound for
the most part. She suggests that dieters buy the book but ignore the branded
“What is really important is not the brand of yogurt, but reading labels to
choose a low-fat yogurt,” she says.
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The Best Life Diet: Food for Thought
If you’re tired of gimmicks and strict food lists and are looking for a
program that can help you change your life once and for all, this book is for
The plan’s goals are attainable, and, more important, sustainable. Tools,
tips, recipes and a wealth of helpful resources, including the online Best Life
Diet message board, provide great support.
WebMD Medical Reference