Food Expert Alton Brown's Four List Diet Plan

Simply your life with lists of foods you are allowed to eat

Alton Brown
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If you're interested in kitchen science, then there's a good chance you have checked out Alton Brown's Good Eats show. His witty approach to a cooking show lasted 13 years until 2012 on the Food Network and on the Cooking Channel. He is considered one of the TV cooking world's stellar educators on food.

Years back, Brown gained a lot of weight and proceeded to lose 50 pounds over time. In one episode, "Live and Let Diet," he explained his method of shedding the weight. How did he do it? In many of today's diets, like the Atkins plan or Weight Watchers, carbohydrates are usually reduced or eliminated in the beginning. Here's what Brown's carb counts looked like.

Alton Brown's Diet Method of Losing Weight

Brown clearly states that not only is he not a dietitian or doctor, he did not consult a doctor when he started his "plan of four lists" diet. He devised a plan where he would stick to four lists of foods that he was allowed to eat. He had a short list of things to eat daily, a list of foods to eat three times per week, a list of items to eat no more than once per week, and foods to avoid completely.

There can be a great appeal to an approach like this, it tends to simplify your life. There can be value to having food rules to follow. Brown focused on foods that were nutrient dense, meaning they provided a variety of vitamins and nutrients for healthier eating.

Brown's "Eat Daily" List 

Some of the things Brown ate daily would not be considered low-carb, but as a whole, the plan had a moderate level of carbs, considerably lower than the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Brown diet plan might work for someone who has difficulties with glucose regulation, like someone who is at risk for diabetes, but not someone with a severe diabetes condition. His diet plan could be adjusted slightly and that would lower the carbs without significantly lowering the nutrients.

Daily List of Foods:

Grains are the item which stands out as being in the carbohydrate higher range and some might say are not really necessary to maintain a nutritious diet. Carrots are not as high in carbs as a lot of people might think, and they are packed with nutrients. Most (but not all) people can eat at least one serving of low-sugar fruit per day. Eating nuts and greens daily is an excellent idea. Some might want to incorporate adequate protein and olive oil on this daily list.

Brown's "Eat Three Times Per Week" List 

On Brown's three times per week list, representing the carotenoids, or nutrients found in orange vegetables, in sweet potatoes. Carrots or pumpkin are a lower-carb way for you to get carotenoids. Besides broccoli, perhaps consider expanding upon broccoli to include other vegetables in that family of cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and even consider adding on those vegetables your list of daily vegetables.

Three Times Per Week Foods:

Brown's "Only Once per Week" List

Brown allowed himself some indulgences at least once per week, alcohol or dessert, for example. It is definitely a good idea to limit processed meats, like bologna or hot dogs, to once a week. However, if you were to make modifications to make your own list, it might not be necessary to limit red meats this much.

Once a Week Foods:

Brown's "Zero Times per Week" List 

Getting a burger without the bun at a fast-food drive-thru once in a while or having a little artificial sweetener is not going to be the worst choice in the world. But, in general, these are good foods to avoid.

Never Foods:

  • Fast food
  • Soda
  • Processed meals
  • "Diet" anything (no artificial sweeteners)
  • Canned soups

Brown did not drink milk because it made him crave cookies, cake, and other sweet temptations. This is a good rule of thumb: If certain a type of food leads you down a wrong path, try to eliminate it.

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