The Daniel Plan: Review of Rick Warren’s Weight Loss Program

According to Paster Rick Warren the five essential components of his weight loss program, The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life , are food, fitness, focus, faith and friends. The Daniel Plan is a different approach to weight loss inspired by Warren’s own experiences battling weight loss in 2011 and again in 2013 after the death of his son.

At it’s heart, The Daniel Plan is about heart. According to Warren, he didn’t ever feel the need to get fit and stay healthy for vanity reasons like looking good or even feeling good. Ultimately, his conversion to fitness came as a result of his religious beliefs and his desire to heal his body as well as his spirit.

Rick Warren – The Daniel Plan

Rick Warren's Book, The Daniel Plan

No one can deny that Paster Rick Warren has had a tough time in his life – his experiences have been publicly paraded through the media for several years. Regardless of your religious affiliations or lack thereof, The Daniel Plan is a solid program that promotes healthy living and encourages people to take a more holistic approach to weight loss, including social support as a key component. This is something I’ve felt a lot of trending or fad diets desperately lack.

In my experience, it’s essential that any successful lifestyle change – whether it’s focussed on a fitness goal or otherwise – is almost certainly doomed to failure without solid social support. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people have and will achieve success at their health and fitness goals without incorporating social support as an essential element. Millions read books, watch DVDs or browse the internet and get weight loss advice then put it into practice on their own volition. Millions lose weight and get fit to a certain degree this way. But millions more fail – or at least fail to achieve all they set out to achieve.

How can Rick Warren help you lose weight?

Rick Warren Time

There’s no doubt that the plethora of information now freely available on the subjects of fitness, health, weight loss, diet and exercise do make a difference in the lives of a lot of people. I just wonder whether this information on its own is really very effective in helping people really change their lifestyle, not just their weight. In particular, I’ve come across too many people who have lost weight or improved their fitness who complain that despite being healthier in a physical sense, they just aren’t much happier. Weight loss and physical fitness are just scientific realities – eat less, eat better, exercise more and you’ll achieve something. But living in starvation or forcing yourself to exercise without also converting yourself to the lifestyle change just don’t bring lasting contentment.

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Of The Daniel Plan’s five essential components: food, fitness, focus, faith and friends, most diet plans include the first three. But as Rick Warren points out the ‘special sauce’ that makes The Daniel Plan different and most effective is the addition of the other two components – faith and friends.

When it comes to faith everyone has a different perspective on this powerful principle. With Warren, faith is an essential component of his efforts to live a Christ-centred life (as detailed in his best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life). Warren’s Christian faith has obviously been a bit part of his success overcoming heartbreaking personal experiences, including his wife’s battle with breast cancer and the death of his son, Matthew. Rick Warren is of course the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and in The Daniel Plan Warren has extended his ministry to helping people life a healthier physical life.

The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life

Rick Warren Daniel Plan TV

Rick Warren has written The Daniel Plan together with Dr Mark Hyman and Dr Daniel Amen. It details the lifestyle program that he followed in order to lose 65 pounds and also enabled members of his congregation to drop more than 250,000 pounds collectively in 2011.

According to Rick Warren, the inspiration behind his successful weight loss – and The Daniel Plan – was when he was baptising 800 people and thought, “Wow! Everybody’s fat!” At the same time 6″3′ Warren weighed in at 295 pounds and he realised he was also particularly overweight. In January 2011, Warren stood in front of his congregation of 20,000 people and proclaimed his need to ‘repent’ and lose 90 pounds. He then invited his flock to take up the challenge with him.

The Daniel Plan has five essential components: food, fitness, focus, faith and friends. In regard to ‘focus’ Warren explains that in particular, “it’s about what’s eating you.” The Daniel Plan promotes healthy eating, regular exercise, reducing stress, praying and getting social support from others by getting involved in small home groups.

According to Warren, the name ‘The Daniel Plan’ was taken from the bible from the story in which Daniel asks the king’s guard to allow him to eat a different diet to the rest of the servants (rich, protein-centric food). In particular, Daniel proposed that if he were allowed to eat healthy meals made up of grains and vegetables he would be healthier than the other servants. Daniel and his three friends were allowed to try the experiment and – so the story goes – they succeeded.

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But The Daniel Plan isn’t an exact replica of the fabled biblical diet because obviously the scriptural account doesn’t actually provide any specific detail of what Daniel and his friends actually ate. Instead, the meal plan involves eating “healthier, fresher and more natural foods,” according to Warren. “The line we use is: ‘If it grows on a plant, it’s healthy. If it’s made in a plant, don’t eat it.”

Does the focus on eating unprocessed foods sound a bit like ‘clean eating’ to anyone else?

Author Rick Warren is an evangelical Christian minister and founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California.

Co-author Dr Mark Hyman is a family doctor and best-selling author of ‘The Blood Sugar Solution’ and ‘Ultra-metabolism’.

Co-author Dr Daniel Amen is a psychiatrist and also an author of several books including ‘Use Your Brain to Change Your Age’.

The Daniel Plan includes a journal and a cookbook, as well as DVDs.

Proceeds from sales of The Daniel Plan go to Saddleback Church’s charities.

To find out more about The Daniel Plan and take up the challenge yourself, visit

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