Those of you who regularly read my blog are aware of the fact that I’ve been a big fan of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat To Live (ETL) program. I followed it (for the most part) for 3 years and love the wide variety of nutrient-dense plant-based foods the plan recommends, as well has how eating all of healthy stuff makes me feel.
I decided to compare the ETL plan to Dr. Mark Hyman’s Eat Fat Get Thin (EFGT) program, which I started in January. As with the ETL program, I will admit that I didn’t follow the EFGT plan perfectly every single day. But I didn’t stray from EFGT any more than I did on the ETL plan, so I do think I’m able to make an apples-to-apples comparison of my experience on both diets.
My plan was to follow EFGT for an entire year, then have blood tests done so I could compare that objective evidence, as well as my more subjective “feelings” about following both plans, to see which plan was preferable for me – or if it was a tie!
Why I’m Stopping EFGT (whaaaaat???)
As much as I would have liked to get through a full year on EFGT, I decided to stop EFGT for 3 main reasons:
- It’s Hard Being A Vegan On EFGT
In my last quarterly ETL Report, I mentioned that Dr. Hyman’s EFGT diet provides a recommended list of protein sources, however, they are largely animal based. The only plant-based sources of protein for the 3-week weight-loss plan are tempeh, tofu and nuts. Even on the life/maintenance plan, the only additional source of non-animal protein allowed is ½ – 1 cup of beans, which provides about 5 – 18 grams of protein depending on the type of bean or legume.
In that report, I showed how it’s possible for a vegan to get enough protein on the EFGT plan, but the vast majority of it comes from just 2 sources – tofu and tempeh. Now I love both of those products, but frankly it just became mind-numbingly boring to eat the same thing day in-day out, no matter how much I seasoned them up.
In contrast, the ETL program allows unlimited amounts of beans and legumes, which are good sources of protein, fiber, resistance starch, and lots of vitamins and minerals. I normally eat at least 3 cups a day of all sorts of beans and lentils on the ETL plan so I never got bored with the protein choices.
- Strange Muscle Cramps
About 2 – 3 months into the EFGT plan, I started getting some cramping in my hand muscles – something I never experienced before. Then I started getting sharp, stabbing pains in my right thigh muscle – also something I never had before. They didn’t last for more than 15 seconds as I could massage them out, but they really HURT. And it was almost dangerous when they occurred while driving a car or walking down stairs!
After a month of this, I decided to start taking a calcium-magnesium-potassium supplement which is supposed to help muscle cramps. Although the stabbing pain wasn’t really a cramp, I tried it anyway. It worked instantly and the cramps/stabbing pains haven’t come back since I started taking the supplement daily.
So what’s the difference between the EFGT and ETL programs that could explain this development? Frankly, I don’t know. Dr. Hyman does recommend taking a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, which I admit I did NOT do. However, I never took one following the ETL plan either – and never had cramps.
The biggest differences between EFGT and ETL are in the consumption of animal products (EFGT encourages organic, non-GMO types, ETL does not recommend any or very limited amounts), how many beans to eat (EFGT limits to ½ – 1 cup per day, ETL allows unlimited amounts every day), and how much/what type of fruits to eat (EFGT limits to ½ – 1 cup of berries 4 times per week, ETL allows unlimited amounts of all types of fruit, minimum of 4 servings per day recommended).
So I’m back on the ETL plan. I’m not taking the calcium-magnesium-potassium supplement anymore. The cramps/stabbing pains stopped. I have no idea whether the cumulative amounts of vitamins and minerals from daily unlimited bean and fruit intake made a difference, or if it was all just some kind of weird coincidence. This isn’t a scientific experiment – I’m just using myself as a nutritional guinea pig to see what works for me.
- Lower Energy Level On EFGT
I have to say this one kind of surprised me. I thought that the extra servings of healthy fats would provide a surge of energy, but it didn’t. I actually felt less energetic. I even started taking cat naps – something I’ve never been able to do. I mean it – I have NEVER been able to take a nap during the day. But I started to be able to do so on EFGT.
Again, I have no good explanation for this. Maybe my body was missing the natural sugars in the all of the fruit I ate on the ETL diet? As this isn’t a scientific study and I wasn’t constantly testing my blood to see what was going on, I cannot explain what happened.
So for these 3 reasons, I decided to stop the EFGT program and go back to ETL.
I definitely learned some good stuff on EFGT and am making slight modifications to my ETL plan based on what I learned. Stay tuned for future posts about all that! And I’m researching other diets to see if there’s one I can test drive starting next year!
In the meantime, if you have any questions, please let me know and I’ll try my best to answer.
Eat well – be happy!