Created by Dr. Dean Ornish as both a weight loss tool and a way to prevent or reverse chronic disease, the Ornish diet has multiple benefits, along with a few downsides. Outlined in the book “The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight, and Gain Health”, Ornish’s vision on a healthy lifestyle might not be for everyone.

Find out more about the Ornish diet pros and cons before deciding if this weight loss plan is the right solution for your needs.

Ornish Diet Pros

The foundation of Dr. Dean Ornish’s diet plan is “The Spectrum”, which separates foods into 5 categories, from group 1, the healthiest, to group 5, the least healthy. The Ornish diet is versatile, allowing you to make the choice of how much you’re willing to eat from group 1 and how rare you go to group 5.

You Control Your Own Plan

The Spectrum gives dieters a lot of leeway, depending on their goals: from losing weight to preventing or reversing heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. That could be one of the big Ornish diet pros, but it also means that you’re in charge of your progress. The better choices you make, the more likely you are to lose weight and keep it off, both in the short term and in the long run.

It’s Heart Healthy

Proving that heart disease can be reversed through diet and lifestyle, dr. Ornish managed to elevate his diet about most weight loss plans. The Ornish diet can reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and also lowers blood pressure, so it’s one of the best options for long term health.

Ornish Diet Pros

Won’t Leave You Hungry

If you’re worried about keeping hunger at bay, one of the most important Ornish diet pros is the fact that it’s high in fiber, so it guarantees satiety. Whole grains, along with fruits and vegetables, are among the easiest additions you can make to transition towards group 1, the healthiest group on the spectrum.

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Plenty of Recipes

While there are plenty of recipes in the original Ornish diet book, you can also purchase “Everyday Cooking with Dr. Dean Ornish: 150 Easy, Low-Fat, High-Flavor Recipes” or find hundreds of recipes online, so you won’t feel restricted in your choices.

Alcohol Is Allowed

Most diets restrict alcohol, but one of the Ornish diet pros is that you’re allowed to consume it on moderation, and not just heart healthy red wine. You can have up to 2 ounces of alcohol a day.

Ornish Diet Cons

If you’re looking for a quick way to lose a few pounds, the Ornish diet might not be your best choice. Most plans include severe fat restrictions, you’ll spend more on your groceries, and exercise is a must.

It Doesn’t Work For Everybody

While the health benefits of this way of eating are universal, one of the Ornish diet cons is the fact that the weight loss results might disappoint. Since you can choose your own plan, you’re more likely to cheat, and even if you do make the right dietary choices, you might not lose weight without exercise.

Ornish Diet Cons

Fat Is Very Restricted

With a lot less fat than the USDA dietary guidelines of 20-35% of daily calories, the Ornish diet can go as low as 10%. If you try to restrict fat too much on the beginning, you’re more likely to abandon this diet early on.

Can Be Difficult to Maintain

Even if you’re fine with the fat restrictions, they’ll limit eating out, and that’s definitely one of the Ornish diet cons. When you’re dining out, you’ll find yourself making requests that modify plenty of recipes used in restaurants.

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Can Get Expensive

Starting out isn’t free, as you’ll have to get “The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight, and Gain Health”, available under $15 for paperback and $13 for the Kindle Edition. “Everyday Cooking with Dr. Dean Ornish: 150 Easy, Low-Fat, High-Flavor Recipes” for Kindle also costs $10, but your grocery bills will definitely increase as well.

Exercise Is a Must

If you were hoping that dietary changes are enough to provide the weight loss and health benefits, you’re wrong. The fact that exercise, everything from aerobic and strength training, is encouraged could be one of the Ornish diet cons.