Eat to Live

The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss


By Joel Fuhrman, MD

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Hailed a "medical breakthrough" by Dr. Mehmet Oz, Eat to Live offers a highly effective, scientifically proven way to lose weight quickly.

The key to Dr. Joel Fuhrman's revolutionary six-week plan is simple: health = nutrients / calories. When the ratio of nutrients to calories in the food you eat is high, you lose weight. The more nutrient-dense food you eat, the less you crave fat, sweets, and high-caloric foods.

Eat to Live has been revised to include inspiring success stories from people who have used the program to lose shockingly large amounts of weight and recover from life-threatening illnesses; Dr. Fuhrman's nutrient density index; up-to-date scientific research supporting the principles behind Dr. Fuhrman's plan; new recipes and meal ideas; and much more. This easy-to-follow, nutritionally sound diet can help anyone shed pounds quickly-and keep them off.

"Dr. Furhman's formula is simple, safe, and solid." —Body and Soul


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Table of Contents


Copyright Page

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This book is not intended as a substitute for medical advice from a physician. A physician should be consulted if one is on medication or if there are any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention. This book was current as of October 2010, and as new information becomes available through research, experience, or changes to product contents, some of the data in this book may become invalid. You should seek the most up to date information on your medical care and treatment from your physician or health care professional.


Let me tell you about a typical day in my private practice. I'll see anywhere from two to five new patients like Rosalee. When Rosalee first walked through my door, she weighed 215 pounds and was on two medications (Glucophage and Glucotrol) to control her diabetes, as well as two more (Accupril and Maxide) to control her high blood pressure. She had tried every diet on the market and exercised but still couldn't manage to lose the weight she wanted to. She came to me desperate to regain a healthy weight but skeptical that my program could do anything more than what she experienced in the past—failure.

I asked her what in her wildest dreams she wanted her ideal weight to be and how long it should take her to attain that goal. She thought that her ideal weight should be 125 pounds and she would like to attain that within a year. I smiled and told her that I could design a diet for her to lose about five pounds the first month or twenty pounds the first month and reduce her medications. Not surprisingly, she picked the latter.

After hearing my explanation of the program I designed for her, Rosalee was psyched. Despite all that she had learned from reading about dieting, she never realized how all the mixed messages had led her down the wrong path. The plan I outlined for Rosalee made sense to her. She said, "If I can eat all that good-tasting food and still lose that much weight, I will definitely follow your instructions precisely." When Rosalee returned to my office the following month, she had lost twenty-two pounds and had been off the Glucotrol for four weeks and the Maxide for two weeks. Her blood pressure was normal and her glucose was under better control on less medication. It was now time to reduce her medication even further and move to the next phase of the diet.

Rosalee is typical of the thousands of patients I have helped in my practice, men and women who are no longer overweight and chronically ill. I get such a thrill from helping these patients regain optimal health and weight that I decided to write this book to place all the most important information for weight loss and health recovery in one clear document. I needed to do this. If you implement the information in the pages that follow, you too will see potentially lifesaving results.

I also see many young women who want to lose twenty to fifty pounds quickly in anticipation of an upcoming wedding or trip to the beach. This winter I saw a swimming coach who had to look great in her bathing suit come summer. These younger and healthier individuals are typically referred by their physicians or are informed enough to know that it can be dangerous to crash-diet. My plan is not only a healthful, scientifically designed diet calculated to supply optimal nutrition while losing weight quickly, it also meets the expectations of those desiring superb health and vitality while they find their ideal weight. My diet style can be combined with an exercise program for astonishing results, but it can also be used effectively by those too ill or too overweight to exercise sufficiently.

In spite of the more than $110 million consumers spend every day on diets and "reducing" programs (more than $40 billion per year), Americans are the most obese people in history. To be considered obese, more than one-third of a person's body must be made up of fat. A whopping 34 percent of all Americans are obese, and the problem is getting worse, not better.

Unfortunately, most weight-loss plans either don't work or offer only minor, usually temporary, benefits. There are plenty of "rules and counting" diets, diet drugs, high-protein programs, canned shakes, and other fads that might enable you to lose some weight for a period of time. The problem is that you can't stay on these programs forever. What's worse, many are dangerous.

For example, high-protein diets (and other diets rich in animal products and low in fruits and unrefined carbohydrates) are likely to significantly increase a person's risk of colon cancer. Scientific studies show a clear and strong relationship between cancers of the digestive tract, bladder, and prostate with low fruit consumption. What good is a diet that lowers your weight but also dramatically increases your chances of developing cancer? Because of such serious drawbacks, more and more desperate people are turning to drugs and surgical procedures for weight loss.

I have cared for more than ten thousand patients, most of whom first came to my office unhappy, sick, and overweight, having tried every dietary craze without success. After following my health-and-weight-loss formula, they shed the weight they always dreamed of losing, and they kept it off. For the first time in their lives, these patients had a diet plan that didn't require them to be hungry all the time.

Most patients who come to me say that they just can't lose weight, no matter what they do. They are not alone. It is almost universally accepted that obese patients cannot achieve an ideal weight or even an acceptable weight through traditional weight-loss programs. In one study of sixty overweight women who enrolled in a university diet-and-exercise program, none achieved her ideal weight.

My diet plan and recipes are designed for the hardest cases and those who have failed to lose the desired weight on other plans. Following the dietary advice offered in this book, you will achieve remarkable results, regardless of your previous experience. Weight loss averages fifteen pounds the first month and ten pounds each month thereafter. Some people lose as much as a pound a day. There is no hunger, and you can eat as much food as you desire (usually more food than you were eating before). It will work for everyone.

My patients experience other benefits as well. Many of them once suffered from chronic diseases that required multiple medications. A substantial number of my patients have been able to discontinue their medications as they recover from angina, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, asthma, fatigue, allergies, and arthritis (to name just a few). More than 90 percent of my diabetic patients who are on insulin at the time of their first visit get off all insulin within the first month.

When I first saw Richard Gross, he had already had angioplasty and bypass surgery, and his doctors were recommending a second bypass operation because his chest pain had recurred and catheterization showed two out of the three bypassed vessels were severely blocked. Because he had suffered brain damage from the first bypass, Richard did not want to undergo another operation. Needless to say, he was very motivated to try my noninvasive approach. He followed my recommendations to the letter, and within two months on the plan his chest pains disappeared. His blood pressure normalized, his total cholesterol came down (without drugs) to 135, and he no longer required the six medications he had been taking for angina and hypertension. Now, seven years later, he is still free of any signs of vascular insufficiency.

I see numerous patients whose physicians have advised them to have angioplasty or bypass surgery but who have decided to try my aggressive nutritional management first. Those who follow the formula described in this book invariably find that their health improves and their chest pains gradually disappear. Of hundreds of cardiac patients treated in this manner, all but a few have done exceptionally well, with chest pain resolving in almost every case (only one went to repeat angioplasty because of a recurrence of chest symptoms), and I have had no patient die from cardiac arrest.

With the help of their doctors, most patients can slowly reduce—and eventually cease—their dependency on drugs. This program often enables my patients to avoid open-heart surgery and other invasive procedures. It often saves their lives.

However many details I provide of my patients' success, you are right to be skeptical. Thousands of patients with successful outcomes does not necessarily translate into your individual success. After all, you might point out, weren't these patients motivated by severe illness or the fear of death? Actually, many were relatively healthy people who came to me for routine medical care. They found a hidden benefit, and just decided to "eat to live" longer and healthier and lose the extra weight they did not need to carry, even if it was only ten to twenty pounds. When faced with the information in this book, they simply changed.

Dr. Fuhrman's Health Equation

These results sound fantastic, and they are. They are also true and predictable on my program. The key to this extraordinary diet is my simple formula: H = N/C.

Health = Nutrients/Calories


Your health is predicted by

your nutrient intake divided by your intake of calories.

H = N/C is a concept I call the nutrient density of your diet. Food supplies us with both nutrients and calories (energy). All calories come from only three elements: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Nutrients are derived from noncaloric food factors—including vitamins, minerals, fibers, and phytochemicals. These noncaloric nutrients are vitally important for health. Your key to permanent weight loss is to eat predominantly those foods that have a high proportion of nutrients (noncaloric food factors) to calories (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins). In physics a key formula is Einstein's E = mc2. In nutrition the key formula is H = N/C.

Every food can be evaluated using this formula. Once you begin to learn which foods make the grade—by having a high proportion of nutrients to calories—you are on your way to lifelong weight control and improved health.

Eating large quantities of high-nutrient foods is the secret to optimal health and permanent weight control. In fact, eating much larger portions of food is one of the beauties of the Eat to Live plan. You eat more, which effectively blunts your appetite, and you lose weight—permanently.

Eating to live does not require any deprivation. In fact, you do not have to give up any foods completely. However, as you consume larger and larger portions of health-supporting, high-nutrient foods, your appetite for low-nutrient foods decreases and you gradually lose your addiction to them. You will be able to make a complete commitment to this diet style for the rest of your life.

By following my menu plans with great-tasting recipes, you will significantly increase the percentage of high-nutrient foods in your diet and your excess weight will start dropping quickly and dramatically. This will motivate you even more to stick with it. This approach requires no denial or hunger. You can lose as much weight as you want even if diets have never worked for you in the past.

This book will allow everyone who stays on the program to become slimmer, healthier, and younger looking. You will embark on an adventure that will transform your entire life. Not only will you lose weight, you will sleep better, feel better physically and emotionally, and have more energy. You will also lower your chances of developing serious diseases in the future. You will learn why diets haven't worked for you in the past and why so many popular weight-loss plans simply do not meet the scientific criteria for effectiveness and safety.

My promise is threefold: substantial, healthy weight reduction in a short period of time; prevention or reversal of many chronic and life-threatening medical conditions; and a new understanding of food and health that will continue to pay dividends for the rest of your life.

All the Information That You Need to Succeed

The main principle of this book is that for both optimal health and weight loss, you must consume a diet with a high nutrient-per-calorie ratio. Very few people, including physicians and dietitians, understand the concept of nutrient-per-calorie density. Understanding this key concept and learning to apply it to what you eat are the main focus of the book—but you must read the entire book. There are no shortcuts.

I have found that a comprehensive education in the subject is necessary for my patients to achieve the results they are looking for—but once they understand the concepts, they "own" them. They find it much easier to change. So make no mistake: the complete knowledge base of the book is essential if you want to achieve significant success, but I know that after you read this book you will say, "This makes sense." You will be a weight-loss and nutrition expert, and by the end you will have a strong foundation of knowledge that will serve you (and your newly slim self) for the rest of your life.

Why should you wait until you are faced with a life-threatening health crisis to want health excellence? Most people would choose to disease-proof their body and look great now. They just never thought they could do it so easily. Picture yourself in phenomenal health and in excellent physical condition at your ideal body weight. Not only will your waist be free of fat but your heart will be free of plaque.

Still, it is not easy to change: eating has emotional and social overtones. It is especially difficult to break an addiction. As you will learn, our American diet style is addictive, but not as addictive as smoking cigarettes. Stopping smoking is very hard, yet many still succeed. I have heard many excuses over the years, from smokers aiming to quit and sometimes even from failed dieters. Making any change is not easy. Obviously, most people know if they change their diet enough and exercise, they can lose weight—but they still can't do it.

After reading this book, you will have a better understanding of why changing has been so extremely difficult in the past and how to make it happen more easily. You will also discover dramatic results available to you that make the change exciting and well worthwhile. However, you still must first look deep within yourself and make a firm decision to do it.

I ask you to let me make my case, and try this plan for six weeks. After the first six weeks—the hardest on the plan—it becomes a lot easier. You may already have strong reasons to make a commitment to the Eat to Live plan, or you would not be reading this.

Even with patients determined to quit smoking, I insist that if they are faced with significant work-related stress, have an argument, get in a car accident, or experience any other calamity, they should not go back to smoking and use smoking as a stress reliever. I admonish them, "Call me, wake me in the middle of the night if you have to; I will help you, even prescribe medication if necessary, but just don't give yourself that option of self-medicating with cigarettes." It is not so different with your food addictions—accept no excuse to fall off the wagon in the first six weeks. You can break the addiction only if you give your body a fair chance. Do not say you will give it a try. Do not try; instead, make a commitment to do it right.

When you get married, does the religious figure or justice of the peace ask, "Do you swear to give this person a try?" When people tell me they will give it a try, I say don't bother, you have already decided to fail. It takes more than a try to quit addictions; it takes a commitment. A commitment is a promise that you stick with, no matter what.

Without that commitment, you are doomed to fail. Give yourself the chance to really succeed this time. If you commit to just six weeks on this program, you will change your life forever and turning back becomes much more difficult.

Make a clear choice between success and failure. It takes only three simple steps. One, buy the book; two, read the book; three, make the commitment.

The third step is the difficult choice, but that is all it is—another choice. Don't go there yet. First, read the entire book. Study this book; then it will become easier and logical to take the third step—making the commitment to follow the plan for at least six weeks. You must have the knowledge carefully and elaborately described in this book before that commitment is meaningful. It is like getting married. Don't commit to marriage unless you know your partner. It is an educated choice, a choice made from both emotion and knowledge. The same is true here.

Let me thank you for beginning the journey to wellness. I take it personally. I sincerely appreciate all people who take an interest in improving themselves and taking better care of their health. I am committed to your success. I realize that every great success is the result of a strong and sustained effort. I have no aspirations to change every person in America, or even a majority of people. But at least people should be given a choice. This book gives everyone who reads it that choice.

A lifetime of compromised health does not have to be your destiny, because this plan works and it works marvelously. If you weren't sure in the past that you could do it, let me repeat that taking that big step makes all the hard work worthwhile, because then you get the results you desire.

You have my respect and appreciation for making that choice to help yourself, your family, and even your country by earning back your health.

Put my ideas through this six-week test before evaluating your progress or deciding how healthy you feel. Do the grocery shopping. If you have lots of weight to lose, begin with my most powerful menu plans and instructions, without compromise, for the full six weeks. You will find the physiology of your body changing so significantly that you will never be the same. Your taste buds will become more sensitive, you will lose most of your cravings to overeat, you will feel so much better, and you will see such remarkable weight-loss results that it will be difficult ever to go back to your former way of eating. If you are on medication for diabetes or even for high blood pressure, make sure your physician is aware of your plan at the outset. He or she will need to monitor dosage to avoid overmedication. Read more about this in chapter seven.

Here is how the book works: Chapters one through four, considered together, are designed to be a comprehensive overview of human nutrition. The foundation of your success is based on the scientific information contained in these four chapters. In chapter one, you will see the problems with the standard American diet and learn how our food choices have the power to either cut short or add many years to our life. You may think you know all this, but let me surprise you with all that you don't know. Chapter two explains why obesity and chronic disease are the inevitable consequences of our poor food choices. I explain the link between low-nutrient foods and chronic disease/premature death as well as the connection between superior health/longevity and high-nutrient foods. In chapter three you will learn about those critical phytochemicals and the secret foods for both longevity and weight control. You will also learn why trying to control your weight by eating less food almost never works. The final chapter of this section of the book explains the problem with a diet rich in animal products and puts into perspective all the misleading advertising claims about foods that people have accepted as truth.

The next two chapters apply the concepts learned in the first four chapters by evaluating other diet plans and tackling many of the current controversies in human nutrition. Chapter five deepens your knowledge of the critical issues in order to understand the accurate information that is essential for maintaining your weight loss over the long term—your most important goal. Chapter six discusses food addiction and the differences between true hunger and toxic hunger.

Chapter seven illustrates the power of the Eat to Live plan to reverse illness and provides instruction on how to apply this plan to remedy your health problems and find your ideal weight. Applying the Eat to Live formula to reverse and prevent heart disease, autoimmune illnesses, and so much more opens your critical eye to a new way of looking at your well-being. Health care becomes self-care, with food your new weapon to prevent and defeat illnesses. This is a key chapter, not just for those with chronic medical problems but for all who want to live a longer, healthier life.

Chapters eight, nine, and ten put the advice into action and teach you how to make the healthy eating plan of this book taste great. Chapter eight explains the rules for swift and sustained weight loss and gives you the tools you need to adjust your diet to achieve the results you desire. It offers guidelines and a set program that allows you to plan your daily menus. Chapter nine contains cooking tips, menu plans, and recipes, including the more aggressive six-week plan designed for those who want to lose weight quickly, as well as vegetarian and nonvegetarian options. Frequently asked questions and answers are put forth in chapter ten, and I provide more practical information to aid you in your quest to regain your health.

It is my mission and my hope to give everyone the tools to achieve lifelong slimness and radiant health. Read on and learn how to put my health formula to work for you.


Digging Our Graves with Forks and Knives


Americans have been among the first people worldwide to have the luxury of bombarding themselves with nutrient-deficient, high-calorie food, often called empty-calorie or junk food. By "empty-calorie," I mean food that is deficient in nutrients and fiber. More Americans than ever before are eating these high-calorie foods while remaining inactive—a dangerous combination.

The number one health problem in the United States is obesity, and if the current trend continues, by the year 2048 all adults in the United States will be overweight or obese.1


  • "A medical breakthrough. If you give this diet complete commitment, there is no question in my mind that it will work for you."—Mehmet Oz, MD
  • "You'll shed pounds pronto."—Us Weekly
  • "Dr. Fuhrman's formula is simple, safe, and solid."—Body and Soul
  • "No counting calories or eating synthetic diet foods...I lost 10 pounds in four weeks. The plan is flexible enough so that I can eat foods I like without feeling deprived."—Diane Williams, Self

On Sale
Jan 5, 2011
Page Count
400 pages
Little Brown Spark

Joel Fuhrman, MD

About the Author

Joel Fuhrman, MD, is a board-certified family physician who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods. His other books include Eat for Health and Disease-Proof Your Child. He lives and maintains a private practice in Flemington, New Jersey.

Learn more about this author