TODAY

TODAY   |  April 18, 2013

New ‘Omni Diet’ focuses on veggies, protein

Tana Amen, creator of the Omni Diet, explains the 70 percent plant and 30 percent animal protein-based plan that she says can help you lose weight, reverse disease, and change your life, and TODAY nutrition editor Madelyn Fernstrom gives her take on the diet.

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>>> and now to eat smart today. a new plan to get you healthy while you drop some weight. the author of the omni diet, the revolutionary 70% plant plus 30% protein program to lose weight , reverse disease, fight inflammation and change your life forever. good morning to both of you.

>> thank you.

>> we should point out that, tana, you're not a registered dietitian, you're a nurse. and you obviously didn't have a lot of weight to lose.

>> i did not have a lot of weight to lose, but i was ill. chronically ill as a child and into my early adult years. and i had cancer that came back three times along with several other things.

>> so what made you write the book? how did you come across -- come up with this omni diet.

>> that's what motivated me. the tipping point was when i was given a laundry list of medications and i was taking medications to prevent the side effects of other medications. and i realized as a nurse that many of our patients were suffering from the same things. so a went on a health crusade and developed this program with some great mentors and a lot of research.

>> what is it?

>> it's as you described, the 70% plant, 30% protein. the quality of your calories matter so much more than the quantity. if you're eating the right foods, you get to eat a whole lot more, and if you do it more, i've got 126 recipes, they taste delicious. you know, great health is about abundance, never about deprivation.

>> let's get into this. madeline, looking into this diet, there's no dairy in this. where do you get your calcium?

>> calcium is found in concentrated form in dairy products , but if you can't tolerate it or choose not to eat it, you can if you're following this plan eat a lot of dark green , leafy vegetables , but you have to eat a lot. because it takes about 7 cups of arugula or 3 cups of broccoli to equal the calcium in a glass of milk. you have to work on that. when you cut out one source, you've got to pick up the pace in the other areas. dark, leafy greens , other sources in colorful fruits and vegetables, especially. orange colored ones. that's a real issue you have to pay attention to.

>> right, and i do recommend people eat a lot of greens. also, when you're optimizing vitamin "d" and exercising, you're going to optimize the intake of calcium. and one of the things i want to point out are the benefits people are getting. even though weight loss is a dramatic side effect , i call it a side effect .

>> it's not a weight loss plan.

>> no, but people are losing a lot of weight. that's where i'm getting the attention.

>> in protein you've got red meat included, which you don't see a lot in --

>> as long as it's high quality, grass fed , hormone free, antibiotic free. for me, it's the quality of the food you're eating.

>> important with the protein, which is great. so many proteins in nature from plant kingdom , from animal kingdom . when you have red meat , think lean and smaller amounts of high quality meat can actually satisfy you more.

>> we want to get to the five healthy habits saying people should do for two weeks. first one, drink fresh greens drinks twice a week.

>> drink your vegetables because you actually absorb about 80% of it when they're broken down really small like in a blender or smoothie as opposed to when you chew them.

>> what about the fiber?

>> yeah, you're including the fiber.

>> you've got the fiber?

>> yeah, putting it in your smoothie.

>> you're saying exercise one extra day each week.

>> if you train yourself, today, i don't have time. you don't have time to not to. train yourself one extra day each week.

>> find an accountability buddy.

>> absolutely. one of the corner stones of my program is community. so when people are accountable for someone and they've got support, that is huge for success.

>> and then you want us to go into the sauna twice a week, why?

>> not only is it great for you psychologically and emotionally and helps you to relax, it helps to detoxify. and green drink , sauna and exercise will help to break a plateau.

>> do you take your accountability buddy into the sauna?

>> i guess it depends on how much you like them.

>> and finally, write down five things you're grateful for.

>> when you start the day focusing on gratitude, it literally changes your brain chemistry and activates the part of your brain that is responsible for judgment, forethought and impulse control.

>> all right. well, thank you so much. thanks for your input too.