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Dr. Oz and Pastor Warren explore plant-based 'Daniel Plan' for weight loss

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It's the weight loss plan that every dieter prays for: A diet that lets you eat more while you lose more. On his Dec. 12 talk show, Dr. Mehmet Oz revealed how a faith-based, primarily plant-based diet called the "Daniel Plan" fulfills that desire.

Pastor Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Mark Hyman created the plan based on the Bible. They believe that by following a program involving the mind and spirit as well as the body, you can lose weight more easily while enhancing every aspect of your well-being. It's all described in a book authored by the trio: "The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life" (click for details).

To succeed with this plan, you will need to:

  • Eliminate sugar and processed foods such as refined carbohydrates.
  • Eat more whole foods in their natural state, such as vegetables and fruits
  • View animal products such as chicken as more of a condiment than a main meal.

A sample day on the Daniel Plan:

  • Breakfast: 1 scrambled egg, 2 slices nitrate-free turkey bacon or 3 slices avocado, on whole grain or sprouted grain English muffin
  • Snack: Bowl of berries and 25 raw almonds
  • Lunch: Veggie lentil and chicken sausage soup
  • Snack: Pear with 25 raw almonds
  • Dinner: Ground turkey and broccoli pasta
  • Healthy Treat: Chocolate and walnut-dipped frozen banana pops

In addition, the Daniel Plan involves staying accountable by becoming involved in the community. For Warren, pastor of a large church, that means creating groups of members who help each other to lose weight. He encourages others to form their own groups who can motivate each other to stay on the plan in their own communities.

In Warren's Saddleback congregation, 12,000 members worked together to lose more than 250,000 pounds. Dr. Oz noted that they discovered when people worked together in small groups, they lost twice as much than people who did the program alone.

Warren also has created a journal-style book designed to help you track your success on the plan each day while focusing on a daily Bible verse: "Daniel Plan Journal: 40 Days to a Healthier Life" (click for details). It provides space to track each day's fitness success, diet accomplishments and related plan features.

While Warren contributed the spiritual part of the plan and Dr. Hyman provided the diet details, it is Dr. Amen's contributions to the "Daniel Plan" that may come across as the most controversial. He contends that weight and brain size are directly related.

In a recent interview with NPR, Warren noted that he was shocked when Dr. Amen "mentioned the fact that the larger your body gets, studies have shown your brain actually begins to shrink."

Challenged to verify that statement by NPR, Dr. Amen responded, "Hundred and forty studies now saying that as your weight goes up, the actual physical size and function of your brain goes down."

However, he added, he believes that the "Daniel Plan" can reverse the dangerous ratio of a large body and a small brain.

"Most diet plans or 'get healthy' plans deal with food and fitness. Burn more calories than you take in," Dr. Amen reflected.

"But actually human beings are far more complex than that. And so we added three more factors: the faith factor, the focus factor and the friends factor."

By combining a plant-based, clean eating food plan, focused fitness and friends, the three health experts agree that you can succeed with both weight loss and a healthier life.

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