What Is the Omni Diet?

Omni diet

Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

In a never-ending sea of diet plans, one you may not know about yet is the Omni Diet. Nurse and author Tana Amen developed the Omni Diet after years of struggling with nutrition and health. She says that despite eating foods she’d grown up thinking were healthy, she still dealt with nutrition-related discomforts, such as bloating, fatigue, and skin breakouts. The Omni Diet is a six-week plan that claims to boost your health and aid in quick weight loss.

The overarching promise of the Omni Diet? Lose 12 pounds in two weeks. While the Omni Diet does have some good things going for it, the weight loss promise is a bit much. Most experts and public health organizations recommend you only lost 1.5 to 2 pounds of body weight each week. Weight loss at a faster rate can mean something is wrong or lead to a rebound after the diet is over. 

This diet mostly emphasizes healthy eating patterns, as well as exercise, but it has some downfalls. Keep reading to learn about the Omni Diet, what you can and can’t eat, and what the experts have to say.

What Experts Say

“The Omni diet recommends both plant-based foods and protein foods to spur weight loss and prevent disease. Experts agree this can promote good health—but note that eliminating most grains and dairy may be too restrictive and requires additional attention to certain nutrients.”

Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

What Can You Eat?

The Omni Diet is similar to the Flexitarian Diet in that it emphasizes mostly plants and is similar to the paleo diet in that it eliminates grains and dairy. Amen claims that “the balance of 70% plant-based foods and 30% protein restores energy, slashes the risk of disease, optimizes brain and hormone functioning, produces dramatic weight loss, and promotes health from the inside out.”

Amen describes the Omni Diet as 70% plant and 30% protein, making it similar to the Flexitarian Diet. The plan is dairy-free and gluten-free and only includes organic, hormone-free, and anti-inflammatory foods. 

Amen’s “Omni Golden Rule” is to eat 70/30 for 90/10 — that means eating 70% plant-based and 30% protein-based for 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time, you can give yourself some nutritional leeway.

What You Need to Know

You’ll follow a six-week plan with phases on the Omni Diet. Phases 1 and 2 are the most restrictive, and the phases allow you to incorporate more foods as they go on. Exercise is also a required part of the Omni Diet plan.

Amen’s book doesn’t specify meal timing, so you should just eat intuitively: Eat when you’re hungry, don’t when you’re not. You may find it helpful to stick to your current eating timeline, as switching both meal contents and meal timing all at once can be stressful and overwhelming. Most people do well with three large meals per day or five to six smaller meals. The best regimen will be one that suits your schedule and keeps you satiated throughout the day.

The Omni Diet gets really restrictive, really quickly. It might be hard for some people to completely turn over their diets and avoid foods they’re used to eating regularly. If that sounds like you, try eliminating foods one at a time. That way, you won’t be at a loss of what to eat; once you feel ready, you can start Phase 1 of The Omni Diet. 

If you want to follow the Omni Diet to a T, you should purchase the Omni Diet book. It’s available on Amazon as a hard copy and kindle version. In the book, Amen details the six-week plan and all of its phases and provides recipes, tips, and exercise guidelines. 

In the meantime, you can browse our Verywell recipes, many of which fit the bill for the Omni Diet.

Compliant Foods
  • Fresh vegetables except white potatoes

  • Moderate amounts of fruit, particularly berries

  • Naturally raised lean meat and poultry

  • Eggs

  • Beans and lentils

  • Herbs and spices

  • "Super foods" such as maca root and goji powder

  • Coconut, almond, olive, grapeseed oil

Non-Compliant Foods
  • Dairy

  • Grains and gluten

  • White potatoes

  • Sugar

  • Soy

  • Corn

  • Artificial Sweeteners

  • Alcohol

Fresh Vegetables

Channel any amount of inner vegetarian you have because you’ll need to enjoy vegetables on the Omni Diet. You can choose from any veggies on this diet, except for white potatoes. 

Moderate Amounts of Fruit

You’re encouraged to eat at least one serving of fruit each day on the Omni Diet — which is a good thing because fruit and berries contain tons of essential micronutrients to keep your body running smoothly. 

Naturally Raised Lean Meat and Poultry

On the Omni Diet, you’ll eat grass-fed beef and free-range poultry. There’s limited evidence that grass-fed beef is healthier than grain-fed beef, as well as that free-range poultry is better for you than its conventional counterpart. 

Eggs

You can eat eggs on the Omni Diet, but they must be cage-free. There’s some evidence that cage-free eggs are healthier, but regular eggs still offer plenty of health benefits. 

Beans and Lentils

Beans and lentils are a great source of fiber, protein, B vitamins, folate, zinc, calcium, and iron. 

Herbs and Spices

Go wild with herbs and spices to flavor your meals on the Omni Diet. For spicy, try chili powder, cumin, and red pepper. For earthy, try rosemary, basil, and thyme. 

‘Superfoods’ Such as Maca root and Goji Powder

This group of foods is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, two cornerstones of the Omni Diet. Try adding them to smoothies or dairy-free yogurt bowls. 

Coconut, Almond, Olive, Grapeseed Oil

These healthy oils will give your food flavor and keep you satisfied for hours. Plus, healthy oils with omega-3s and omega-6s are known to keep your brain and heart-healthy.

Amen also recommends taking supplements, including a daily multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D, magnesium, and probiotics.

Dairy

On the Omni Diet, you’ll need to avoid dairy — an unfortunate fact (at least for those who don’t have lactose intolerance) because dairy products contain ample nutrients for strong bones and weight maintenance. 

Grains and Gluten

Again, except for those who have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, gluten-containing grains can have a healthy place in any diet. The Omni Diet requires you to cut out all grains during Phase 1, and you can slowly start adding them back in. However, you’ll need to avoid gluten for the full six weeks. 

White Potatoes

The Omni Diet cuts out white potatoes because they’re high on the glycemic index, which means they might spike your blood sugar. 

Sugar

You can’t argue that too much added sugar harms our bodies. High sugar consumption is linked to several chronic conditions, including obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Added sugar can also cause day-to-day symptoms like bloating, headaches, fatigue and difficulty focusing, and skin breakouts. 

Soy

There’s a great debate about soy: It’s a known allergen, and many diets encourage people to avoid soy because of its supposed harmful effects (most of which have been refuted), but soy is also known to help build muscle and contain all 9 essential amino acids.

Corn

Another common allergen, corn, is rich in carbohydrates and fiber but low in protein and fat. It’s a relatively fast-digesting carb, which makes it good post-workout food. The Omni Diet suggests avoiding corn because it may spike your blood sugar, especially if eaten alone.

Artificial Sweetener (except for stevia in small amounts)

Scientists still aren't sure about the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners, but there’s reason to believe they might be harmful (they are synthetically made chemicals, after all). If nothing else, we know that sugar alternatives cause digestive discomfort in some people, and that’s often reason enough to avoid them. 

Alcohol

You can’t drink alcohol during Phase 1 of the Omni Diet, and Amen urges you to skip it during Phase 2 as well. If you drink alcohol in Phase 2 and beyond, Amen encourages you to limit yourself to two glasses of wine or cocktails per week. Beer and other alcoholic beverages containing gluten aren’t allowed in any phase.  

Pros and Cons

Every diet has its pros and cons — on the Omni Diet, you can expect several of each. 

Pros
  • Emphasizes fruits and veggies

  • Teaches you to make healthy food decisions

  • Relatively simple

  • Encourages exercise

Cons
  • Difficult to start and not very sustainable

  • May interfere with social and family life

  • May lead to a weight rebound

  • Unnecessarily cuts out food groups

  • Expensive

Pros

Focuses on Healthy Foods

The Omni Diet encourages a high consumption of healthy foods, especially vegetables, that will provide plenty of nutrients and fiber. There is no room in the Omni Diet for processed foods, so less nutritious foods high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and sugars will be eliminated, leaving room for foods of high nutritional value.

Relatively Simple

Even though the Omni Diet is pretty restrictive, it’s not necessarily difficult to follow. The rules are hard and fast; straying from them would prevent you from achieving the results that the diet promises. Focus on produce and lean protein, and you’re good to go on the Omni Diet. 

Encourages Exercise

One thing we love about the Omni Diet is that it encourages physical activity. Many diet plans leave this critical component of health out of the picture, thus encouraging people to focus on food only. The Omni Diet provides exercise guidelines throughout the six weeks, starting with walking and leading up to a full-body workout. 

Cons

Difficult to Start and Not Very Sustainable

Switching to the Omni Diet is going to feel like a major leap from your regular diet, particularly if dairy, grains, and packaged foods are staples in your current diet. Phase 1 is the most restrictive, so you can at least hold out hope that it will get better. 

May Interfere With Social and Family Life

You might find yourself in a pickle at potlucks and other social gatherings while you’re on the Omni Diet. The diet requires you to cut out many foods that are integral to the typical American diet, and those foods will undoubtedly show up at social events. You can try eating before you go to an event, or bringing your own food. If you’re going to a restaurant, look up the menu beforehand to find something compliant. 

Expensive

Amen encourages Omni dieters to purchase grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, free-range eggs, and all-organic ingredients. It’s true that these types of foods might have small benefits compared to conventional foods, but they can get pricey and add up quick for a hefty grocery bill.

Is the Omni Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

When considering a new diet to try, you should research how each diet compares to the federal dietary recommendations, as well as other similar diets. The Omni Diet guidelines are pretty cohesive with the USDA recommendations, but the Omni Diet is a bit more restrictive.

For instance, the USDA recommends eating dairy, while the Omni Diet does not. Gluten-containing grains are completely avoided on the Omni Diet regardless of whether or not you have a sensitivity or allergy. The USDA does not differentiate between gluten-free and gluten-containing grains. As well, the USDA suggests limiting your sugar intake while the Omni Diet requires outright avoidance of sugar. Otherwise, the Omni Diet sticks fairly closely to the USDA guidelines in terms of consuming plenty of vegetables, fruits, protein foods, and healthy fats.

No matter what diet you choose to follow, you must know how many calories you should be consuming each day to lose weight. Ultimately, you must eat fewer calories than you burn to lose weight. Most people need around 2,000 calories per day. Women and children may need less, while men and very active people (male or female) may need more. Your age, height, weight, genetics, occupation, and physical activity level all play a role in your calorie needs — use our Weight Loss Calorie Goal Calculator to help determine your daily caloric needs.  

The Omni Diet is relatively healthy with its focus on unprocessed, whole foods that are highly nutritious. However, many people may find it too restrictive and unsustainable.

Health Benefits

Emphasizes Fruits and Veggies

On the Omni Diet, the bulk of your meals will consist of produce, fresh or cooked. You have free reign here: Stock up on leafy greens, cruciferous veggies (like broccoli and cauliflower), squash, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, bananas, apples, and more. All of these foods provide essential macronutrients and micronutrients

Teaches You to Make Healthy Food Decisions

By forcing you to avoid processed foods, the Omni Diet will teach you to purchase, cook, and enjoy healthier foods. This isn’t to say that all processed foods are bad all of the time, but whole foods do tend to serve your body better. 

Health Risks

May Lead to a Weight Rebound

Any diet with a specific start and end date, or a specific time frame, can lead to the yo-yo effect. Anyone can lose weight quickly for a short period of time, but the issue with this approach is that people tend to gain all the lost weight — if not more — back when the diet is over. The real challenge is maintaining your weight loss after the diet ends. 

Unnecessarily Cuts Out Food Groups

Some people have food allergies or sensitivities to dairy and gluten, but most people do not. For the majority of Americans, gluten and dairy have a healthy and important place in their diets. Many nutritious whole grains contain gluten, and dairy provides calcium and vitamin D, among other nutrients.  

A Word From Verywell

The Omni Diet certainly encourages people to make better food choices, but it unnecessarily cuts out major food groups for most populations. While some people do need to avoid dairy and/or gluten, most people don’t, and those two food groups can be part of a healthy diet. 

Additionally, the Omni Diet may be difficult to start and stick to if you’re used to eating a typical American diet. It might be easier to wane off of less healthy foods one at a time rather than cut everything out at once. For example, you might have better luck by cutting out sugar first; then gluten a couple of weeks later; then dairy a couple of weeks after that. 

If you decide to try the Omni Diet, you should consider consulting with a registered dietitian or your physician to make sure you don’t leave any gaps that could lead to nutrient deficiencies.

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