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On September 24th, 53 year old Rocco Wachman of Scottsdale, Arizona was overweight, diabetic, with the heart of an 85 year old. On his meat-heavy diet he was eating the equivalent of 2 1/2 pounds of saturated fat a week! If he kept up this lifestyle, he was headed for serious trouble.
Dr. Oz came to the rescue--challenging him to take on a 28 day vegan diet that cut out meat, dairy, and eggs. He was coached and monitored by Dr. Oz's sidekick, Dr. Michael Roizen--known as the "Enforcer" for his caring, consistent, "positive pushiness". To read "Dr. Oz's 28-Day Vegan Challenge for Cowboy Rocco - Heart Disease Reversal Through a Plant-Based Diet Goes Mainstream - Sort Of" click here.
Dr. Oz's 4 week plan for Rocco
Rocco is going to be followed by a cardiologist--thank goodness--and the plan is to totally reboot his taste buds. No meat, no dairy, no eggs. The emphasis is more on ditching the animal protein--not so much on the importance of adding in high nutrient vegetables, like greens, eating high fiber low-glycemic grains, or eliminating added fats.
is concerned about how this diet will affect his sugar. Apparently he
has type-2 diabetes and is on medication. Dr. Oz says, "Not to worry.
I bet when you get rid of your belly, your blood sugar will come down,
and you'll probably be able to get off your medications."
Detox week. No meat. No dairy. No eggs. Break fundamental habits. Replace meat protein with nuts, beans, and seeds. Take a B12 or multivitamin. Rocco loves the taste of Oz's bean chili.
Go forward. Find alternatives to meat. Emphasis is substituting meat for "fake meat" alternatives, like seitan, fake soy burgers, faux barbecued ribs, or faux hot dogs. Lots of soy protein here.
Learn to avoid the junk food. Be cautious. Just because it's not meat, dairy or eggs doesn't mean it's good for you. Eating French fries & potato chips is not what the diet is about. Oz encourages Rocco to find healthy snacks--fruit, vegetables, whole-grain or soy chips. A little chocolate is OK as long as it has a 75% cacao content.
"Vegan meets reality" Dr. Oz says it's now time to add back a tiny bit of meat--but just as an "accoutrement". In my opinion, this could be the downfall of this LITE version of a "heart-disease-reversal-diet".
28 Days Later--How Did Rocco Do?
On November 6, Rocco returned to Dr. Oz's show to see how well the diet had worked!
It worked--check out Rocco's numbers:
Rocco's A1C Test--a measure of how one's body is managing glucose. Diabetics need to keep their A1C below 7%. A non-diabetic will have a level between 4-6%:
Before: 9 (diabetic) After: 7.7 (not perfect, but a lot better)
What's New With Rocco?
- "Everything feels different, as if a huge weight has been lifted off of me." -- "If I can do it, anyone can." -- "You've literally kick-started my life, and I have the opportunity of a lifetime!"
- He now walks 12,000 steps a day--keeping track with a pedometer. He quit using his ATV and truck to get around his ranch. To get in his 12,000 "steps" he now gets out of the house at 5:30 am, instead of the usual 9:00 am.
- Before the diet he was on 3 different medications--but he after only 28 days he was able to come off of 2 of these, one for cholesterol, and one for his diabetes.
- His blood sugar is now in the normal range--99--down from 172.
- His acid-reflux is gone!
- Although he was supposed to re-introduce meat in week 4, after eating some meatloaf, he didn't find it as satisfying. "I figure I will stay way from anything with a face or legs for a few more weeks at least." Roizen recommends doing it slowly, only 2-3 ounces twice a week.
- "Old Rocco" used to eat meat at every meal. The "New Rocco" now eats 5-7 times a day choosing from nuts, seeds, soy protein, vegetables and fruit.
- He's never hungry! He learned that when he eats the amount of food the size of his palm--he isn't hungry any more--and that he just eats again 2 to 3 hours later.
- He now eats more times a day than he did as a meat-eater, but at the end of the day he's consumed less calories, and can lose weight.
- The first 7 days were the hardest. "I had to retrain myself to wait for my stomach to tell my brain I was hungry. Previously, I let my brain tell my stomach when to eat."
- He plans ahead. There's no meat or junk food in Rocco's house. He keeps a stash of healthy foods on hand when traveling so he isn't tempted by fast foods restaurants. I did spot what looked like a gallon on milk in his fridge.
- Favorite vegan meal: A soy burger, pan-fried, served with green onions and garlic, spread with hummus, and layered between two pieces of tomato.
- Rocco says that changing his diet isn't anything that he couldn't have done by himself, but the fact that he had the "hands on" support and prodding from Dr. Roizen upped his odds. Besides, he had the pressure of millions of viewers counting on him, wanting to be inspired by his win!
- "I have an eating disorder & no one is out there to save fat guys." Thank goodness for Drs. Roizen & Oz.
- "It's a problem. I have to stay away from the things that created it--no different from drinking alcohol. No different than if I was addicted to drugs, or some other behavior."
I'm really excited for Rocco. He looks fabulous, and all his blood work, and body measurements have shown that diet & exercise can really improve one's health--and it can be done without drugs.
If he continues on the straight and narrow he's going to be an inspiration to many.
But I still think he's playing with fire if he goes back to eating meat. It's pretty easy to fall back into bad habits & bring back the food cravings that got him into trouble in the first place. He said it himself: "I have to stay away from the things that created it (his health problem)--no different from drinking alcohol."
The advice that I gave Rocco when he started his challenge still stands:
My advice to Rocco: Read Dr. Calwell Esselstyn's book now that you've completed your 28-day challenge. Stick to real whole foods and don't rely on faux soy foods. Learn to cook. Load up on healthy greens. Get a VitaMix and start making Green Smoothies (low on fruit). You really can change your taste buds! Get inspired by the experience of Michael F., who lost loads of weight, changed his taste buds, and best of all--got healthy!