May 21, 2018
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Diet for real men overlooks real life

By Emmet Meara, Special to the News

How long do you want to live?

After an exceedingly rare (10 years) visit to an actual doctor, the news was predictable, if not horrible. The blood pressure and cholesterol were only slightly elevated (thanks, Mom and Dad) but the blood sugar was rated “pre-diabetic” and the weight was, well, deplorable.

Radical action was required.

I bought a book.

I didn’t buy some girly book like “Skinny Bitch” aimed at women who already are skinny, or some tome by a doctor. No, sir. I bought “The Engine Two Diet,” ($24.99, Hachette Books) by Rip Esselstyn. Our boy Rip is no laboratory denizen, no research guru. He is a former All-American swimmer, a Texas firefighter who com-petes in triathlons and hangs with fellow Texan Lance Armstrong.

How’s that for bona fides?

After a routine physical at his Austin firehouse revealed the terrible condition of his crew, Esselstyn decided on real action. Somehow, he convinced his steak-eating crew to join him in a four-week experiment. The dubious crew saw their weight (one firefighter lost 20 pounds) and cholesterol (344 to 196) drop without additional exercise.

Thus, Esselstyn’s theory: “Genetics is the loaded gun. Diet pulls the trigger.”

The son and grandson of famous heart doctors, Esselstyn developed his 28-day diet program to change the meat-eating ways of his crew.

He has two plans, the Fire Cadet option and the more severe Firefighter plan, for real men.

The Cadet program starts with the first week by banning all dairy, milk cheese, creams, yogurt, butter, ice cream and sour cream.


My day starts with eggs, cream in my coffee and butter on my toast. Every day. On the rare days I have cereal at 7 a.m., I have to eat again at 10:30 a.m. Banning yogurt, ice cream and sour cream will be no problem. But we also drop processed and refined foods including white rice, white flour, white pasta, white bread, cakes, cookies, chips and soda.

Let’s stop at soda for a while. I have given up that bubbly since I learned that a 10-ounce can of Coke contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. I used to scarf two or three a day. That’s 30 teaspoons of sugar.

Let’s get to week two. That’s when we drop meat, chicken, even fish. As our boy Rip says, “Nothing that paws a hoof or flaps a wing. Nothing with a face or a mother, on land or in water.”

He can’t be serious. I just discovered the juicy burgers at Five Guys all across the country. It makes fast food taste like cardboard. I try to keep at one per week. I fail.

What’s left? Week three will eliminate oil. That includes olive, canola and coconut oils, including baked goods with oil and salad dressing with oil.

Week four we continue the new diet, just to get used to it. Don’t even ask about the severe Firefighter option.

All right. Theoretically I have emptied my cabinets and refrigerator with only mustard and Shredded Wheat left. What, in the name of all that’s holy, do I eat?

“Engine 2” has recipes to save your life.

Let’s try breakfast. “Rip’s big bowl” is his own cereal which includes oats, Grape Nuts, Shredded Wheat, flaxseed, raisins, walnuts, banana, kiwi, grapefruit and milk substitute.

How about a typical lunch? Rip recommends whole-grain bread, toasted with thinly sliced cucumbers, tomato, cilantro, sprouts, lemon pepper and lemon or lime juice.

Dinner might be tofu steaks (honest to God) or black beans and rice, made with beans (naturally) vegetable stock, liquid aminos, chili powder, tomatoes, onions, chestnut, corn peppers, cilantro, avocados, brown rice and tamari.


After 28 days of this, he predicts, our bodies will be “a nutrient paradise” and he is optimistic we’ll want to continue following it. Maybe not as strictly as he does, but at least a large part of the time.

“You will feel clean and light, energetic and optimistic,” he says in the book.

I know he is right. I know it would prolong my life, lower my blood sugar and slim my perfect body.

I don’t care. How long do you want to live this way?

You want the book?

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