Doctor's Note

The title is a nod to Dr. Dean Ornish's smash bestseller Eat More to Weigh Less.

I talk more about the energy density concept in The Ice Diet and Nutrient-Dense Approach to Weight Management.

Are There Foods With Negative Calories? That was my last video—check it out!

Note that amazing Hawaii study was done by Dr. Terry Shintani. Looks like he has a new book out.

But doesn’t fruit have a lot of sugar in it? Check out my videos If Fructose is Bad, What About Fruit? and How Much Fruit is Too Much?

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

To post comments or questions into our discussion board, first log into Disqus with your account or with one of the accepted social media logins. Click on Login to choose a login method. Click here for help.

  • Julie

    So once we remove the water from fruit, the energy density goes up and satiety goes down. Two cups of grapes sound more filling than 1/4 cup raisins, but they are both around 130 calories.

    • Removing water is processing. Avoid it (processing) if you can. But do use it for food storage and hiking. I tolerate raisins, I love grapes. The thing is. Calories never have to be counted when one eats as I do, which is WFPB/90%

      • Julot

        but cooking remove more or less waters so it could be considered processing also and not whole foods anymore~

        • Some plant foods increase nutrient availability when cooked. The method of cooking can affect how much. We have videos on such and it’s in the Book. As Dr. Greger says, the BEST way to eat Veggies is WHICHEVER way you’ll eat the most of them. Some veggies I eat both ways, and nearly EVERY fruit becomes even sweeter if heated somewhat.

          I’m not a raw advocate, but that “raw” indicates a lack of processing-which can be much better than over-cooked or processed. Raw is good for many plant foods and it saves time and expense. But based on my experience and Dr. Greger’s research, “raw foodism” is not a panacea for modern nutritional needs.

          But that it’s a gigantic leap for anyone eating SAD. And if they want to engage in it, power to ’em. Hope they learn and get healthier.

          • I am not also a a raw advocate for many scientific medical reasons but when people asked me about my secret , my answer is a plan must have more than 70% plant and 70% of the plan nutriments must be raw. All my patients losing more than 70lb in a year without rebound are snacking with raw veggies. The nutrition plan can be very different depending of their needs. Snacking with ORGANIC raw veggies, help to have a healthy weight without counting calories and without starving..

          • Ray Tajoma

            There are healthy people living on 100% raw fruits, vegetables & nuts (no cooked foods). But I don’t think the reverse of it is true, healthy people living on 100% cooked or processed foods (no raw foods).

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            Not sure about that. Think of the Okinawan Blue Zone. Their diet was mostly cooked sweet potatoes. Drs. Esselstyn, McDougall, Barnard and others have exceptional results when their followers adopt a WFPB no oil mostly cooked but some raw diet, and when fat intake is lowered to 10% with minimal or no nuts and avocado, heart disease and diabetes are literally reversed.

          • Ray Tajoma

            “Mostly” & “some raw..” etc… So they did eat RAW fruits, nuts and vegetables and there is no indication that they ate little RAW.

          • Thea

            RaY: The actual numbers for the traditional Okinawa diet can be found in this video:
            If you study the table at the 1 minute 11 second mark, you will see that very little (just a few percent, which you can quantify if you want to add up those rows) of their food could have been raw. I come up with 4-5% tops, depending on whether or not they really never cooked the ‘other vegetable’ category and never roasted/cooked their nuts. I would define 4% of raw foods as “little” in this context. Would you really disagree?

          • Ray Tajoma

            Why would less than 1% of their diet be fruits ? Okinawa is a very green island with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Why would they eat so little raw fruits & vegetables (lettuce, spinach, carrot, onions, etc…). Burning/Cooking adds to the cost of food and serves no purpose other than taste – with the exception of some vegetables like potatoes and rice. Unless perhaps it was a religious belief against raw foods, anti-raw fervent among the Okinawans, or the soil was perceived to be contaminated. Perhaps the table is based on foods served in local restaurants, not the food people actually ate in their homes.

          • Thea

            Ray Tajoma: The information on that chart comes from a government study of 2,279 people. The study was conducted in 1949 . These people were not part of a religious cult or people worried about soil. (After all 70% of the diet was from potatoes…) The numbers are from a survey of the actual people, not menu plans at restaurants. (And you have to wonder how many Okinawans were eating at restaurants all that often in 1949.)

            My guess is that the Okinawan diet (the one that produced so many long lived healthy people) sounds illogical to you, because you have a strong belief that eating raw is more natural and easier than cooking. It seems like you have a picture in your head that if someone lived on a green island with so much easy access to healthy veggies, then those people would naturally eat raw foods. However, I was just reading the other day about how primates in general have a preference for cooked food. They did an experiment where they gave some primates (I don’t remember which ones exactly – maybe apes of some type?) a choice between raw and cooked food. The primates preferred the cooked food. In other words, I would say that based on that study and how often humans choose cooked over raw, it appears that humans have a natural affinity for cooked foods.

            You say that there would be no purpose to cooking food other than taste. Well, taste is pretty important, but I would argue that there is at least one other purpose. Cooked food is more calorie dense and digests faster. I’m guessing that these people would have wanted to be able to quickly eat a lot of calories. Imagine eating a cup of cooked spinach. Now imagine eating the same amount of spinach that went into that cup of cooked spinach, but eating it raw. The volume would be a whole lot more than a cup! Eating all that spinach takes a take a long time relatively. Who wants to spend *that* much time eating? (I know people on a raw diet do it, but those Okinawans would have been busy people…)

            Now let’s step back a moment from these little arguments and think about the big picture. You can’t easily be an active person and have enough access on an island to enough “lettuce, spinach, carrots, onions, etc” to fuel all the people in the villages all day long. Veggies are the lowest calorie dense foods around. The people needed some real calories, which would be one reason to explain why 70% of their diet was (cooked) sweet potatoes. If you are going to be eating massive amounts of sweet potatoes and you already have the fire going or the stove turned on, you will want to add some variety to the meal by cooking veggies with your potatoes. It makes perfect sense to me that they would be cooking their veggies and even some fruit. And it makes perfect sense that they would center their diet around potatoes as potatoes are both very easy and safe to obtain and have more calories per pound than say lettuce.

            From any angle I look at it, the numbers from the government study showing the traditional Okinawan diet sounds quite reasonable to me. So, here we have an example of an entire population of some of the healthiest people on the planet who ate largely cooked foods. You can argue that eating raw only is also healthy. (And I would say that such a statement is quite arguable.) But I don’t think you can argue that humans have any strong evidence to show that eating raw is healthier than eating cooked.

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            Wonderful common sense based on history. All successful trim healthy populations throughout recorded human history have had diets based on starches of one kind or another. Grains (wheat, rice, corn) squash, legumes, root vegetables.

          • Ray Tajoma

            Yes, but before your chart, there is another chart (at 1:06) that >80% of their diet was Vegetables & Fruits. So they did indeed eat lots of FRUITS & Vegetables, most of which we humans eat raw with the exception of some vegetables like potato.

          • wikisaur

            The study you mentioned about about primates eating raw vs cooked food is entirely subjective. Spinach raw vs cook might be considered equal, but potatoes raw vs cooked would be heavily canted toward the cooked and lettuce would be heavily canted toward the raw. Without knowing what foods they were using for testing, that test is useless.

          • Thea

            I would be surprised if the study didn’t account for that. In other words, it would have been comparing like foods and like foods which were normally eaten raw by the primates.

          • Eartha Baca

            This is one of the most on point replies in this thread. Hand in hand, this social conditioning is in the bigger picture, why we are bombarded with ‘food-like’ products in advertising. Keep America sick, feed the machine. Vicious cycle. Eating raw is a huge step towards health and wellness. And in our political atmosphere, if people really want to see a change, getting healthy is actually the best thing we can do!

          • wikisaur

            My diet consists of 50% raw, 0% ADDED oil, and no red meats. I’ve also nearly cut out salt and canned goods. The result is that at 350 lbs., I have no diabetes and good cholesterol levels. While I know that the pounds are still a major issue, I haven’t lost weight with my food regimen and refuse to go on a “diet” until the red flag of dieting–ie 98% of people who lose any weight will gain it back with dividends within 10 years–has been solved. If my weight goes down naturally given my food choices, great. I just won’t push it.


            Problem is people who promote a particular diet,and say they practice it sometimes dont. I met a man in the 1960’s who was described by the Vegan society as the first vegan child of vegan parents in England;he told me he wasnt extreme and enjoyed a mars bar for his lunch break daily at work! I have found a roughly 80% raw vegan diet has worked for me for more than forty of my seventy plus life …so far :-).

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            You’d have to show studies to back up that statement. There are no long term studies for raw food diets according to Esselstyn and Greger.

          • Dr. Esselstyn & Greger are absolutely correct. But just curios what our ancestors ate for tens of millions of years before cooking went main stream. Fire was only discovered a few hundred thousand years ago and probably a long time after that humans learned to make metal bowls (to hold water) to boil rice, potato & make bread. By that time their brain must have been quite evolved to be able to do that.

        • JoAnn Downey Ivey

          Don’t overthink it. Grinding whole grains into flour is one kind of processing, increases the calorie density in the bread products, disrupts the fiber, and causes a faster rise in blood sugar after the meal. Grinding flaxseeds into meal is another kind of processing. It makes the nutrients like Omega 3 available, whereas whole flaxseeds just travel on through intact. Cooking sometimes increases the nutrient value, sometimes reduces it. Just eat whole foods, plant based, with at least 50% of the calories from the 4 starchy foods:

          1) root veggies (except carrots,
          beets, turnip, daikon, and salsify which are too low in starch)

          2) legumes (beans, lentils, green
          peas) (McDougall limits beans to 1 cup/day max)

          3) winter squash like acorn

          4) whole grains

          Then add some non starchy veggies and a little whole fruit. You can see from Jeff Novick’s calorie density chart which foods are the best for weight loss. We tend to eat the same weight of food every day no matter what the food is.

          Fresh Veggies.…………..100

          Fresh Fruits………………250-300 cal/lb

          Starches/Whole Grains….450-500 cal/lb

          Legumes/Cooked Pasta…500-600 cal/lb

          Processed Grains………..1200-1500 cal/lb

          Nuts/Seeds……………….2800 cal/lb

          Oils around………………4000 cal/lb

          • Julot

            Fruit based diet is better and healthier than starchy food based and more adapted to our frugivore digestive system but it is harder to follow of course, more expensive, harder to get quality ripe fruits and harder to get enough calories, i have to admit~


            I feel bad if i eat that much starchy foods…tired, rhinits symptoms and more…

      • Stephanie

        What is WFPB/90%?

        • That’s my way of being too specific about the way I eat. WFPB is Whole Food, Plant Based and that is how I eat 6 days per week average. On Saturday or Sunday (or a holiday feast whenever it falls), usually not both, I’ll have a “free” meal or two with just about anything. If one assumes 21 meals per week (3×7), of them 19 are WFPB, you get 90%. This is how I avoid feeling “boxed in” by restrictions or even a “failure” if I eat one wrong thing. THIS avoids the problem for most folks who adopt a diet they cannot fully commit to. I am fully committed, because my exceptions are so minimal, they are built-in.

          • Ray Tajoma

            If something is bad, it’s bad. Doing it less frequently is Better obviously but it’s not justification for doing it at all. However if psychologically it helps you or you are in a transitional period then it makes sense. That’s how I quit smoking. Gradually.

      • Vege-tater

        I am a mutant, I eat 100% WFPB by default because I HAVE to to keep all the former illnesses at bay, but I still can’t get to a “normal” weight! Frustrating to hear I must be doing something wrong and I get why, but I lost a ton and can’t get to where I am “supposed” to be!

        • JoAnn Downey Ivey

          From Jeff Novick, Dr. McDougall’s RD: If you follow
          the principles of the program, especially of the Maximum Weight Loss program,
          you will be able to eat all you want of the recommended foods, until you are
          comfortably full, NOT STUFFED and still lose weight.

          The reason is due to calorie density. Many many studies have been done in the
          last few decades confirming this. If you allow people to eat “ad
          libitum” or all they want till they are comfortably full, from low calorie
          dense foods, they will lose weight, not be hungry and do not have to count

          Of course, calories still count, but it becomes almost impossible to over
          consume calories from the foods you choose if you follow these recommendations.

          These are averages for each category of food.

          Fresh Veggies are around 100 cal/lb

          Fresh Fruits around 250-300 cal/lb

          Starchy Veggies/Intact Whole Grains around 450-500 cal/lb

          Legumes around 550-600 cal/lb

          Processed Grains (even if they are Whole grain) around 1200-1500 cal/lb

          Nuts/Seeds around 2800 cal/lb

          Oils around 4000 cal/lb

          Food choices are based on where you are at and what
          your health goals are. For weight loss, neither puffed cereals or air popped
          popcorn or shredded wheat would be the best choice. Oatmeal would be far
          superior. You want food with volume and weight, not food with volume and air.
          Rice cakes are about 1750 cal/lb. Grape nuts are about 1640 cal/lb.

          If the calorie
          density of the food is below ~400 calories per pound, you will likely lose
          weight no matter how much you eat.

          Between ~400-~800 calories per pound, with some moderate exercise, almost
          everyone loses weight.

          Between ~800-~1200 calories per pound, most people gain weight, except for
          those with very high activity levels

          Over ~1200 calories per pound, everyone seems to gain weight.

          Remember, the physical sensation of “fullness” is influenced in a
          large part by the filling of the stomach and the triggering of the stretch
          receptors. This would happen regardless of the calorie density of the food, as
          long as enough food was consumed.

          However, between 400-800 calories per pound is the range where people either
          maintain, gain or lose a little, often depending on the activity level. The mid
          point of the range is around 600 cal/lb.

          If you follow the MWL program, you will be applying the principles of calorie
          density. If it is not working as well as you would like then you can adjust the
          calorie density of your intake by making slight adjustments in your food

          The Okinawan diet, before Western influence, was around 600-650 calories per

          A starch based diet, made up of starchy vegetables and intact whole grains
          along with some fruit and veggies, will have a calorie density under 500
          calories per pound and maybe even 400 calorie per pound. It would be near impossible
          to overeat.

          You can also see the problem with many of the “low fat” diets that
          focused on processed whole grains, like whole wheat bread, crackers, dry
          cereals. At 1200-1500 calories per pound, if they become a large part of the
          diet, they can raise the overall calorie density and make it much easier to
          overeat on calories and easy to gain weight and/or not lose weight, even with a
          higher activity level.

  • This is why, when I was eating fruitarian, I had to learn to eat 2 or 3x more food to be satisfied, whilst dropping weight like crazy. Eventually my stomach got used to being stuffed every meal and with constant snacks, but didn’t stay on the “program”.

    Might have been easier had I been eating dates at the time. It did teach me good things and I saw my REAL HEALTHY weight and just how easy one can lose weight when he changes the quality of the food he eats. Hint, it has nothing to do with “organics” and “grass fed” or any other marketing of foods strategies.

    • Leslie

      Are you still on high fruit diet? What does your food intake/diet consist of now? Thanks.

    • Rebecca Cody

      Wade, I’m curious as to how you felt as a fruitarian, and how long you followed that regime.

      There is a man, Mark Simon, who developed an anti-cancer diet ( that restricts methionine, which is needed for cancer to metastasize. He seems to be having some success, though I don’t know statistics. I think I would go on his plan if the cancer I had a few years ago were to resurface, or even as a preventive measure. His diet is all fruit for a period, or all fruit alternating with a few days of vegan veggies and beans with some methionine.

      • Be very careful, David Servan Schreiber, passed from his cancer as did Steve Jobs to cite just 2. My best results as immunologist in oncology was a member of family also executive of a major food company (I do not want to mention) he was supposed to survive 6 months he is still alive 40 years after, as is my mother in law now 94 going 95 and her mother passed at 96 after 3 cancers. We all have cancers and we are sick only when we let our body tolerate the proliferation . For all my patients I was determining customized plan to avoid lack of nutriments. Food made from scratch at home with quality ingredients gives the best life support results.

        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          Schreiber never was fruitarian, was he? I love his book, we used it at MD Anderson. Very full of research and solid nutrition advice.

          • He was not a fruitarian. His book is a good book; I will say trying to explain epidemiolgy data and to relate them to some valuable advices. My personal journey showed me a more complexe response in cancer healing . It looks also that more balance is in a life, nutrition for the soul and the body, better are the chance to heal .

          • Rebecca Cody

            I agree with that – we need to address many aspects of our lives to be healthy, and especially to heal cancers. I don’t know if the NORI protocol, restricting methionine, would work for many, and I don’t think it is to be used long term, but many people have healed cancers through vegan eating and juicing, and those are pretty low methionine diets, too, though not as low as fruit only.

          • Rebecca Cody

            No, I don’t think so. From what I understand he ate vegan, but not whole food vegan.

        • Rebecca Cody

          Schreiber lived far longer with his brain cancer than was to be expected, I think about 13 years, especially as it came back very quickly after all treatments and before he researched diet and changed his diet, cut down on stress and took other healthy living measures. He felt it came back after a very stressful time which he presumably couldn’t compensate for.

          Steve Jobs lived for many years longer than most people do with pancreatic cancer, despite eating a kind of junky vegan diet. He went downhill fast after submitting to typical oncological treatments. This is pretty informative:…/…

          • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

            More like 20+ years, based on the book. Such an interesting story how he was even diagnosed! I think it just goes to show the power of nutrition and how lifestyle, mindfulness, and social support are crucial for the healing process after a cancer diagnosis.

          • The facts I knew and what was publicly said is quite different. Every case is different, in terms of food tolerance and metabolism. I am an advocate to use food to prevent most of cancers. When a cancer is under treatment , the nutrition must be very specific to restore immunology and help natural healing, go back to the prevention cycle. It needs a serious cooperation between the MD/Nutritionist/patient to make it specific. No one diet fit all.

          • Rebecca Cody

            Doctors like you are such a blessing in this desert of corporate medicine. Thank you for caring and paying attention to real healing.

          • John

            Brain and pancreatic cancers have about the highest death rate, so anyone who survives 13 years is quite impressive.

          • We may treat and more prevent pancreatic cancers, it is a deep localisation and when we diagnose it it is most of the time too late to be efficient.
            For brain tumor It is extremely difficult, I learnt to grow oligodendrocytes to evaluate some membrane modulation for MS. I work for years in neuroradiology and I used Brain tumors to know better the inflammatory brain tissue. Brain tumor lethal power depend from the localisation in the brain and all about the general status of the patient. It is the reason I believe in “Clean” well cook food to help to get a good balance. Everything must be in balance to be used but without excess. We have still a long work ahead before to eat healthy.

          • SeedyCharacter

            Dr. Jeanne Wallace, of Nutritional Solutions, specializes in treating cancers through nutrition. She’s had excellent results with treating brain cancers. She has clients from around the world given her solid reputation.

          • Yes , as an Immuno-clinician it is what I started in the early 80s before switching to cardio-surgery, where I improved the fat burning soup to make people losing fat before surgery. I developed and was granted an American patent for an artificial heart and lung for neonates, then I was asked to take care again of acquaintance nutrition problems in the US, I did this consultation on saturdays, with the presentation in 2006 then my main concern in the US is to see a food regulation to prevent diseases and with the casualties growing to take the technology for rescue to mass production and market to save innocent lives.

      • I felt great, was riding/training 100-200 miles per week (not fast, but serious). I ate that way for about 1.5 years. I stopped because I was tired of messing with fruit all day long and ALSO because I had to deal with quitting nicotine. It was well worth dumping the nicotine permanently to gain back the weight and risk some other health issues. Until I got skinny again WFPB.

        NOW I’ve moved far beyond that with WFPB and off the nicotine for about 8 years.

    • quality food may have nothing to do with organicsETC but when you are shopping as a regular person it is easier to shop organics and bio to get quality food. it is just less risky.

      • Sure, that assumes one lives near enough to a market large enough to support a selection of “USDA Organic” foods. Many of us don’t fit that category. We are conveniently ignored as we are a minority and we have our own special questions, also many of us grow our own. Another price of “living away from the big herd”.

        And the “USDA” part of that label troubles me after learning so much about how they are controlled by big food. My garden is taking a quantum leap this year…cut the store and travel and rules and regs out of the loop.

        • I experienced few years in deep Texas , Walmart was the only grocery with some USDA organic certified products. I ordered on line dry organic products, less pricy than Organic groceries faraway, I started to grow my herbs and few vegetables easy to get. I started again to make my own yogurt. This was working with not too much time to waste.

    • dancer80

      How much fruit were you eating? Did you drop weight as fruitarian without counting calories? I have a fast metabolism and can drop weight with very little effort. I found when I adopted WFPB diet with the plant component mostly consisting of vegetables, my weight tends to drop quickly. When I replace with certain fruits I found it did make some difference, but I have some intolerance to fructose-heavy fruits on the FODMAP chart. For example if I eat 1 large apple, I might have serious bloating. Same with other fructose dominant fruits like mangoes, grapes, and watermelon. I am intrigued by the idea of fruitarianism though.

      • I learned the fruitarian ways from the 80/10/10 book. I was eating so much fruit that I got tired of peeling it. 7-12 bananas every day. a 32-oz smoothie to start each day. Pineapples, Citrus, Berries, Melons, Apples, Grapes, constantly-5 or 6 apple lunches and 2 banana snacks, bushels of greens. I had no source of dates or more exotic fruits (small town) AND I hadn’t discovered the wonders of nuts and potatoes at that time. The most processed foods I ate at that time were Salsa and Tortilla chips. In retrospect, it’s fine eating and with starchy veggies and also nuts and Dates, I probably would have stayed on it longer. I would eat until I was stuffed and did stretch my tummy. Just kept getting thinner. Actually increased my processed and meat/fat consumption when I neared brutal skinny, to put a few pounds back on.

        If I needed to lose any weight, I know for a fact that I could do it rapido with such eating again. But I don’t need to lose a pound. WFPB keeps me at a happy weight, and I’m less hungry, and I’m eating a better range of foods.

  • Tara

    Great video! I follow a whole foods vegan diet, but I always get confused about nuts. I’ve read the chapter about nuts in your new book (and love it!), but I also am aware of Dr. McDougall/Esselsyn’s recommendations about nuts and they’re somewhat conflicting. Why do you think there are such conflicting opinions about nuts from whole foods plant based professionals? The mixed message (nuts help reduce heart disease and body weight vs. “the fat you eat is the fat you wear” and “nuts aren’t appropriate for heart disease because of sat. fat” has me somewhat confused. Thank you- I’m really hoping to hear from you!

    • Nelly

      I think it’s best to take a position between the two. I for example eat a 1/4 cup of nuts a day, but absolutely no more. A little is good but to much will give you loads of saturated fat.

      • I agree, don’t overdo it with nuts, but also no need to avoid them. Dr. Greger’s new phone app recommends 1/4 cup per day, which isn’t a lot. That being said, I always get the raw, unsalted variety. Salted nuts are often very high in sodium. Not sure if there is a difference health-wise between roasted vs raw, but, I like the flavor of raw.

    • This has been discussed extensively. Having worked with Dr. McDougall and Jeff Novick for over 5 years my understanding is that they recommend 1-2 ounces per day depending on activity and individual goals. Dr. Esselstyn is dealing with a population of proven Coronary Artery disease and has excluded nuts due to saturated fat. However he admits it may not be a necessary restriction but the studies have not been done. I tailor my recommendations based on individual goals and situation… bottom line is what works.

    • TheHulk

      When it comes to diet, too much of anything is bad.

    • Tim

      I’m new to this blog and love it. Like Tara, I recently read Dr. Esselyn’s views on nuts, seeds and avocado and I’m not sure which way to go. One thing that’s clear is I’m eating too many.




    • Andrew


    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Not sure about FODMAPS, I made a post about this a few days back and listed all the videos that discuss it.

      FYI your caps lock may be on :-) Check out more videos on weight management here at NutritionFacts, if interested.

    • jj

      Please do not holler at us. Thanks.

  • David

    Among Dr. Greger’s Greatest Hits:

    2003: About time for an updated version/Eh Dr. Greger?

    THANK YOU DR. GREGER: Devotee/7:00 Central/Weedays/Every Week/for past several years

    The David

  • ks391262

    Seems so obvious, but also it seems like almost nobody knows this. Reminds me of that study that came out a few weeks ago about the carbon footprints of various foods. Lettuce was surprising ranked higher than most meats, so of course the media jumped all over it “Eating lettuce is bad for the environment” and “Eating lettuce is worse than bacon for the environment” (and the absolutely most misleading one of all “Eating bacon is good for the environment”!) Of course, what most people failed to see was this was comparing each food “per 1000 calories.” So they were comparing the environmental impact of 1000 calories of pork, which could be eaten in a single meal, to 1000 calories of lettuce, which would be something like 17 pounds! I don’t know anyone who could even eat that much lettuce in a week! If they had compared them by the amount in a serving, you’d see the truth in terms of how much one person’s meal effects the environment. Additionally, the majority of calories eaten by people on plant-based diets come from starches: beans, potatoes, rice, whole grains, which were very low on the “per 1000” calorie chart.

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Great points! I commented about this right when that study came out, thanks to whoever mentioned it. Even one of my RD colleagues made a post about it, Ginny Messina. Check out here article if ya want.


    • John

      There are other green leafies that we can eat that are more nutritious than lettuce and probably have a lower environmental impact, such as cruciferous veggies. Also easier to grow in your back yard in most places.

    • TheHulk

      17 pounds of lettuce. My teeth gives up :D

  • Anna

    Hello to all,
    could anybody help with using the new App? I filled it out yesterday completely – checked the boxes – and I assume somehow the next day I would start from scratch, but it is the same boxes from yesterday. Do I just delete them for the next day and start checking them again? I downloaded it on my Samsung 5. Maybe I am missing anything?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Gosh I am not sure! Any App wizard’s out there? If it keeps giving you a headache email the staff here! Please be patient this is a very busy time of year and they are bombarded with questions.

      • Anna

        Thanks Joe, I will wait ;-)) I just deleted boxes from yesterday and started checking them again.
        Thank you for a prompt answer and I hope we will see you here as a volunteer often! Happy New Year and thank you for your dedication and professionalism.

        • I haven’t had that problem, clears out for me automatically. Maybe trying uninstalling and reinstalling? I’m using the iPhone version, so not sure if it’s an Android issue or just needs a re-install.

          • Anna

            Thanks Alexander , I tried to go to all my app menu and when I clicked on Daily Dozen , it came up cleared.
            So I think I just have to go there this way not from my screen .

          • Marc

            The app’s checkboxes automatically clear out for me daily, as expected, on a Samsung Android. And, how I access it is from clicking its icon I had it put on my home screen.

  • Hoosier

    So how would someone gain weight on this sort of a diet? I would actually like to add pounds but it seems like I’d have to eat 20+ pounds of fruits, veggies, etc and that may not even do the trick. I used to have trouble gaining weight with the standard american diet.

    • Thea

      Hoosier: Here’s my understanding: To gain weight in a healthy way (as opposed to doing it by eating cake and ice cream), you reverse the concept while still eating whole foods. So, as opposed to fresh fruits, eat more dried which are more calorie dense. You might eat more than the recommended 1/4 cup nuts and seeds. Eat lots of tofu and tempeh which have a lot of fat compared to other beans. Add in avocado, which is also high calorie density. Etc. That isn’t to say that you still should have some nice fresh fruits and veggies, but you would change the ratio of low and high calorie density foods. What do you think?

      • Thea

        I need to add to my answer.
        You are not the first person to ask about gaining weight. Here’s what I think everyone who wants to add weight needs to address: *Why* do you want to add weight? And do you want to add fat or lean muscle mass or both?
        If someone is emaciated due to disease or some other reason, it may be that that person really needs to add some fat to their bodies, perhaps in addition to muscle. But everyone else I would think probably would be healthier adding muscle rather than fat in order to gain weight. From what I have read, more muscle mass is associated with healthier outcomes, but more fat is associated with disease. When it comes to gaining weight, I don’t know if we really have an either-or choice. Perhaps to gain some muscle mass, one also generally gains some fat? I’m just trying to say that all else being equal, I don’t know how healthy it is to add weight when one is doing it by adding fat to their body. And thus it is important to understand why someone wants to gain weight and are they planning on doing it in a way that is adds the right kind of tissues?
        So, here’s where I’m gong with this: I’m no expert, but I think that increasing muscle mass is at least as much about exercise (especially high intensity exercise?) as it is about diet. If you want to gain muscle mass, my points about increasing calorie density are not sufficient to reach that goal. I think you have to work on some weight lifting too. That’s just my understanding.

        • Hoosier

          It’s definitely for muscle mass, but I am trying to incorporate the good fats in my diet. I know that I need to get back into the weight lifting regimen I used to, but I want to understand the best way to do that while not going down the road I went before (lots of meat, pasta, sugar, etc). Definitely not going there again. With that regimen, I will also be burning more calories as well so it makes it even a little tougher. I do incorporate avocado, nuts, seeds quite a bit. However, I’m concerned with going the dried fruit route knowing how much more sugar I’m going to be consuming. Seems to be mixed research in regards to dried fruit and whether or not it is actually beneficial. So many question marks in this area.

          Thank you for your insight and detailed response.

          • Thea

            Hoosier: That all makes sense to me. Best of luck to you.

          • Thea

            One more idea for you: I know that there are top notch vegan muscle builders as well as all around athletes. And while I don’t have the reference with me at the moment, there is also a book out there for vegan athletes. Hopefully they are meeting their goals in healthy ways. So, maybe you could do some research to find out what has worked for those people.

          • vegank

            It would be great to find an objective and science based book on this subject , as I find exercise like weight lifting
            (just to be toned and muscular, not for professional heavy weight lifting) more strenuous compared to when I used to consume animal based protein. I am trying to increase the amount of plant based protein but knowing the amount etc would increase my efficiency.

          • Thea

            vegank: I WHOLE HEARTEDLY agree that a whole lot more trustworthy information on the topic would be very nice. As I understand it, we need some extra calories if our bodies are going to be able to add tissues. The questions to me are: a) what nutrition is needed to help the body decide to add muscle rather than fat? (the assumption is more protein, but I don’t believe/know that is based on a whole lot of science. I think the topic needs a whole lot more serious attention), b) once the right nutrition is there, what types of exercise best promote the growth of muscle? Without the proper exercise, I don’t think the body has any reason to add muscle over fat – no matter what type of nutrition we get.
            I used to think that high intensity static resistance machines were the way to go. I got one myself and worked at it hard for about a year. I got stronger if you are to believe the machine, but I didn’t seem to grow any muscle mass. I’m just one example, but I feel that a lot more *good* research is needed. What I saw counting for research at the time I was looking into the topic left me feeling that there wasn’t much information that could be trusted.

          • vegank

            yes, as you mentioned we may need to rethink how we frame the question to begin with.
            I am not into building up a lot of body mass since I would look a bit comical being a smallish person, but I think we all need to have a strong core and so on in order to be independent, healthy , and less prone to having accidents. It also seems to improve our mental capacity and health.
            Most people I’ve known who lived long seem to suffer when they begin to lose their strength either in their legs or lose their sense of balance in spite of their good health. Then they also lose their self confidence understandably.
            But since that is still about 30 – 40 years away(hopefully) I would like to maximize the benefit of being on the WFPB diet and I’m sure a lot of the members here would be interested as well. If we’re making this much effort in being the minority group who avoid processed food, we may as well work towards our best potential.

            what I wondered was , if someone is training at least every 2nd days would it be ok to increase the amount of fats from nuts etc without it becoming a problem due to the omega-6 content.
            It would be great to find out in the future anyway. p.s. the recipe from the link below looks very appetizing and energizing.

            Sample meal plans for the female Vegan athlete:

          • Thea

            veganK: I totally relate to your post. And that sample meal plan (really, meal planS) looks delicious to me!
            I particularly liked that you mentioned balance, which I also think is important to incorporate into daily life. I try to remember this at certain points. For example, I use standing at a traffic light as a memory trigger and instead of standing there, I try balancing on one foot in different positions. I’m sure the people passing by think I’m strange, but I haven’t caused an accident yet. I also make sure I put my shoes on while standing up, balancing on one foot while I put my other foot into a shoe.
            Flexibility is another area that I think is important.

          • vegank

            I’m a former Chocoholic, so I guess WFPB needs to be worth putting in the effort and “sacrifice” !
            I like the idea of being mindful of the subtleties like assessing and incorporating balance and strength during mundane activities. When I think about it, relatives or friends who got injured or gradually lost their balance tended also to lose the mind-body connection eg just being aware of where you’re placing your foot instead of being lead by your racing mind. They often say “My mind was trying to regain my balance but my body wouldn’t do so”.
            It’s not only in elderly people these days but people in their 20s – 40s as well, due to obesity and lack of daily physical movement let alone exercise. The kind of food we consume can also make us lethargic and unmotivated to do any physical activities. On the other-hand WFPB seems to give us that energy both mentally as well as physically, especially since I used to have a problem with my blood sugar & lethargy.
            Flexibility too seems to give us that mindfulness and vitality, as well as preventing unnecessary injuries.
            I am not into Yoga or any thing but do try to incorporate stretching and also Pilates , which helped with my back & hip pains after becoming a mother. What form of training do you use?

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            Can’t remember where I saw this study, but it discovered that young people trip as often as older people…….but they catch themselves and often aren’t even aware they tripped. One of the key components in keeping good balance is strong leg muscles and also good core muscles. I do 50 squats every morning and also do leg curls and leg press at the gym – deadlifts are good also for hams. Crunches, planks, side bridges for core. Important really to work all muscle groups. Women will never get bulked up because we just don’t have the testosterone.

          • vegank

            I will try that routine , it should be a great addition to my Pilates and walking. (I am definitely not a runner).
            Do you do your workouts first thing in the morning or after breakfast?
            I do press ups as well where you have your knees touching the floor at about 30 degree angle, it seems to work for me though the real press ups are probably better in terms of seeing results sooner. I noticed when I had to do a bit of tree trimming (more like climbing & sawing) it was easier than it used to be a year ago.

          • Thea

            vegank: re: “What form of training do you use?” I have some negative associations with stretching. So, even though I think flexibility is very important, I don’t work at it the way I do balance. I do have a standing desk at work, though and do find myself doing more stretches than I used to just because it’s easier than it used to be. That’s really not saying much though. Good for you for working on stretches and Pilates. I think that’s great.

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            Dr. Greger has some videos on this subject of Omega 6:3 ratio I believe. My understanding is that the most important thing is the ratio, not the absolute numbers. Ratio should be 1:1 or 2:1 optimally, and no more than 4:1. Walnuts are about 4:1 but all other nuts are way high in 6s. Cronometer is a quick source for checking.

          • vegank

            Thank you, yes it looks like sticking with Walnuts is our best bet.
            I was not a big nut eater but since I have been incorporating weights , there seem to be a need to consume more.
            I am also reminded of the video Dr Greger did a while ago, to do with improving athletic performance with Beetroot, and eating watercress 1 hour prior to exercise to reduce the negative affects of oxidization.

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            Chewing foods high in natural nitrates such as arugula, kale, spinach, chard, beets, beet greens, cruciferous vegetables optimize the production of nitric oxide, the most powerful vasodilator in the body. That is a big part of Dr. Esselstyn’s program in reversing heart disease.

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            The general rule of thumb for weight lifting is that 1-6 reps = strength (the weight is heavy enough you just can’t do 7 reps). 7-12 reps is for hypertrophy, so aim for 8-10 reps where you can’t get up 11. Then anything over 13 reps is for endurance.

          • Thea

            JoAnn: Thanks for your tip. My point is that there are all sorts of rules like that out there and none seem to be based much on solid science as near as I could tell when I did the research.

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            I’ve found that works pretty well for me. Certainly power lifters for strength often do 2 reps or even just one. All the personal training manuals use that formula – there is overlap between the different categories, but I’ve never known anyone to get more than toned if they consistently lift 15 or more reps.

      • Daniel Wagle

        Would you consider bananas a bit more energy dense than some other fruits? I usually eat about 3 bananas a day and I do weigh them when I eat them at home. They have about 25 calories per ounce, compared to about 9 for strawberries or 10 for melons. When I do eat about three, the total calories easily exceeds 300 and sometimes the bananas are large and it goes over 400 calories.

        • Thea

          Daniel: re: “Would you consider bananas a bit more energy dense than some other fruits?” “Yes” in terms of exactly how you worded the question and the data you presented. But perhaps “no” in terms of the question I think you are trying to get at.
          Here’s what I mean. The topic is not so much about how many calories you eat (three bananas going over 400 calories) but about the calorie density (ie: for that same volume that you get from 3 bananas, which foods have more or less calories?) of a food in order to make a decision on whether it is a food that will help you with your weight goals (more, less, or maintain). I’ll take you at your word on the calories per ounce for bananas, strawberries, and melons. So, in that respect, you would have to say that yes, bananas have more energy density compared to some other fruits. And thus, whether you eat one, two or three bananas, you would get more calories for the volume compared to eating the same volume of say strawberries.
          But I’m not sure that type of comparison is all that helpful when someone is trying to manage weight. The pertinent question to me is: Is the distinction between bananas and say melons significant? Perhaps all these fruits are low calorie density in the big picture? Or maybe bananas really are higher in a signficant way? How to figure it out?
          One of the reasons I like to refer people to Jeffs discussion of calorie density is that he provides a framework for answering this question. It helps us to judge any food we are curious about. How do we judge which foods are low calorie density? Which are medium? Which are high? If you look at the following page, you will see an answer that makes a whole lot of sense:

          Here is the heart of the matter from my perspective: “Research has shown that people can eat freely of foods that are 300 calories per pound or less and not gain weight. People can consume relatively large portions of foods that are between 300 and 800 calories per pound and still lose or maintain their weight depending on their individual activity level and metabolism.

          And, when we look at the scale, we see that all vegetables, fruits, intact whole grains (potatoes, Pasta, Rice, Barley, Yams, Corn, Hot Cereals) & all Beans, Peas, Lentils meet that criteria [of 800 or less]. So, without knowing the numbers, we know we can eat freely of these foods as long as they are without added sugar, oil and/or fat.”
          One way to interpret the above paragraphs is that anything below 300 calorie per pound is low density. Or another way is to decide that anything below 800 calories per pound is low density as long as you get a bit of exercise. In the second definition (which I tend to favor at the moment), bananas and strawberries both fall into the same category. To me, that means that the distinction between bananas and strawberries is not all that relevant–unless perhaps someone is a fruitarian and all they eat is fruit??? In that case, the differences between bananas and strawberries could be very important!
          Now to figure out what counts as medium density:
          “When looking at the research, we also see that the intake of foods with a calorie density of 800-1800 should be limited as these can contribute to weight gain and interfere with efforts to lose weight. These are all breads, bagels, dry cereals, crackers, tortilla’s and dried fruit.”
          I highly recommend reading that whole page for more details.
          I think Jeff’s summary of the data gives us a classification system that makes a whole lot of sense. And in light of this understanding, I don’t think it is worth much putting bananas in a separate category from other fruits. Bananas are 400 calories per pound. Not super-low density, but not anywhere near the 800 mark either. What do you think?
          For anyone who finds this information exciting (like I do) and who wants to check some specific foods, below is a site that is great for doing that. Most foods on this site will have a calories per ounce option. Multiply the calories per ounce by 16 to get the calories per pound. And then you will be able to see where that food fits in the scheme of things. Here is the page for bananas:
 Hope that helps!

    • Reluctant Vegan

      Thanks for representing the “skinny” people! Health discussions always seem to focus around weight loss since so many Americans need that discussion, and everyone forgets about those of us who struggle to keep healthy weight (or muscle mass) on our bodies.

      • alot

        I agree there needs to be some attention on weight gain. I have been eating WFPB food and the only complaint I have about it is the weight loss and loss of muscle mass! I am lifting 70% of the weights I used to, my face is looking older and I have lost some of my feminine curves! This is in spite of eating nutrient dense foods and healthy fats like nuts and avocados. If anyone has any links to scientific evidence based resources that can help those on a WFPB diet gain healthy weight (muscle and good fat), please let me know. At the risk of sounding shallow, I do not want to look gaunt.

        • Thea

          alot: You are not being shallow. Check out my reply here: I hope that helps.

        • JoAnn Downey Ivey

          If you have fat in your face and lose weight and you aren’t eating enough calories to maintain your weight, then it may come off there. Sorry. No way to tell the body from where to remove fat. But a lot of plant based athletes lose no strength or muscle on a vegan diet. Serena Williams for one. I have lost no strength in weight lifting in 10 years and I’m 69. I can still curl 20# 15 reps.

          • Thea

            JoAnn: re: “I have lost no strength in weight lifting in 10 years and I’m 69. I can still curl 20# 15 reps.” You rock!
            Do you have any food tips that you think might help “alot”?

  • VegCoach

    Yes, of course! It’s a matter of readjusting the pleasure sensors in the brain to healthy food, then the lower energy density – or lower caloric density foods when consumed result in better health. Jeff Novick has an excellent talk on this;

    • Thea

      VegCoach: I love Jeff Novick’s talk on this topic. I purchased the full talk and learned so much from it. I’ve watched it several times. Unfortunately, I can no longer recommend it to people because they don’t sell it any more. I keep mentioning this in case anyone with any pull can get that changed. :-)
      That snipped on youtube that you found is a really nice part of the talk. Thanks for sharing that.

      • Paul

        It is available occasionally used on Amazon so you can tell folks to check Amazon. I have all the Novick DVDs including the Cal Density one, they are all good! I don’t know why the whole food gurus don’t want these DVDs in the public sphere if they really want as many people as possible going WFPB. My understanding is that the full DVDs uploaded on YouTube are taken down. :( Then again, I believe copyright law is theft, everything in print should be public sphere and free, so I’m not the one to ask. :p

        • Thea

          Paul: Good point about checking for a used DVD! But FYI: the one or two times I noticed a used one, someone was trying to charge 4 or 5 times the cost of the DVD. I found that really offensive.
          I am not quite as “far out” as you when it comes to copyright, but I’m closer to you than I am to he law in terms of believing what is right. I once happened to find a full length version of Jeff’s from Oil to Nuts talk on youtube. It was my first introduction to Jeff’s talks and I thought it was so good, I bought that DVD as well as several others. I love how Jeff goes into great detail on a single topic, but still manages to keep it engaging and entertaining. I have had to watch some of his talks multiple times in order to be able to absorb all of the info. I definitely got my money’s worth.

    • Joe Caner

      I remember this video as well as some others by Jeff Novick. I was so bummed because I loved olive oil, and he made so much sense that I new that I needed to let it go.

  • When you are presenting the low density food in this video, I must mention “the French paradox”. My results in weigh loss program in the US, look as the best results presented anywhere. My personal paradox is that patients here do not see me as a real MD , but as a traditional French woman. Nobody take as serious the knowhow of cooking. When I coached somebody to lose more than 70 lb, I gave recipes, to burn fat, to correct metabolism etc. Pound cake, yes, with quality ingredients and with fresh fruit as apples and with nuts . Low density is the essence of French cuisine and explains partly the normal BMI and the longevity of French people, if you have been in France the tarte aux pommes is one of the most popular dessert. It is 2/3 cooked fruits with a very light crust, same in spring for the fraisier, the sponge cake must be done by playing with fluffy biscuits and fresh strawberries, yes we may add some whipped cream , but again good cooks add a lot of air and water in these moistly recipes, rich in tastes not in sugar and fat. Have tasted a charlotte aux poires or a soufle aux framboises, very light density desserts, giving satisfaction but no belly fat.

    • Molly

      Typical ingredients in French cooking includes butter, milk, eggs and sugar. Thanks but no thanks, Dr. Mondiere

      • Sorry for you, French cuisine is plant based, what you are describing it is the cheap image some got from France.
        I am French , I wrote cooking class, I had problem with the American Chef using fingers to prepare the food and wanted to add butter in a Salmon terrine. I declined a TV show because I am a doctor not a cook, but I cook with creativity to have taste still be healthy.
        On the demand of my followers, a recipe book is going to be published this month : The Avocado Affair, it is not a medical book, it is just about the biochemistry of the avocado used all over the world, from Mexico for centuries. There are no butter, no milk, no eggs, no sugar and it is sophisticated with some old French recipes, I may add some mouse with yogurt which is delicious to have something with milk still healthy.

    • Molly

      By the way, I made an excellent whipped cream or meringue substitute the other day by blending together a cooked sweet potato, unsweetened apple sauce and a little water.

    • John

      And the apples are from Calville Blanc D’hiver, which have more vitamin C than oranges. You can’t even find them here. I grow them. They taste great! They are many great health traditions in France, including just not putting so much amazing stress on the individual. The French culture is almost like it’s set up for people! Ours seems to be about making money mostly. Stress is a great contributor to heart disease. John

    • M85

      There is no “French paradox”: Dr Greger explained it in an earlier video.

      • Dr Greger presented a paper about the different criteria to register cardiovascular diseases causes of death in France and the WHO guidelines. Nonetheless, Frenchs have a 10 years longevity expectancy more than Americans and spend less in healthcare. The longevity expectancy discrepancy was wider decades ago. Brillat-Savarin is recognized as the first chef to bring light cuisine not only in France but in the world. Watch the news , the general French population is slimmer ( not the president highly criticized for being overweight ) Cabu who was killed last year in Charlie hebdo attack, wrote a book in Americans, ( Cabu en Amerique ) where this cartoonist explained the obesity epidemic. In 2004-2006 when I was insulted everyday to be a French doctor, and I coached low income people from an evangelical church, for free, and used my French guidelines, everyone lost weight, the women were sending the husbands , not only to lose weight….

  • Will

    I always rewatch these daily vids even though I buy them beforehand when they are released via the series….that’s how good they are!!!

    • Thea

      Me too! There is a lot of information packed into each video. I find watching them again helps me to retain the details.

      • Tom Goff

        To be honest, I don’t buy these beforehand but I often revisit old videos of Dr G’s. My all time favourite though, isn’t here. It’s a video of a 2003 presentation of his annual review of the science. I watch it at least 3 or 4 times every year – that’s how important I think it is.

        There are probably copyright reasons why it and other pre-21012 presentations can’t be shown here but those earlier annual reviews would be great additions to the site, if it were possible to do so.

        • Thea

          Tom Goff: I’ve seen that talk too. I got a lot of out it. For one think, for the first time I understood the whole issue around omega 6s vs omega 3s. Thanks for the reminder about that talk.

  • Arthur Weiler
  • plant_this_thought

    I do enjoy “stuffing myself” guilt-free with plant foods. I gravitate toward having one enormous meal per day. I have a niggling suspicion, however, that my digestive system would prefer that I spread the demand out more. I would like to know if there is any advantage to spreading one’s food intake more or less evenly throughout the day versus a single bolus. Is there any relevant science, Dr. G? Topic for another video?

    • Tom Goff

      That’s an interesting question. I don’t know what Dr G’s view is but, in the meantime, this 2014 review is worth reading:

      • plant_this_thought

        Good article. It mainly talks about the advantages of intermittent energy restriction (IER) and time restricted feeding (TRF). The popular wisdom nowadays is that one should always have something in the tank. This article shows that we function better if there are large gaps between meals.

        • Tom Goff

          Yes. I am usually a very conventional 3-meals a day type of person but this article has definitely given me (apologies for the very tired old pun) food for thought. It may explain why intermittent fasting is such an effective strategy for achieving a healthy weight. I am going to have to think about this some more and seriously consider revising my eating habits.

    • Charzie

      I do the same one meal a day because I never have any appetite or desire to eat in the daytime, but come evening, that all changes and I become a passionate foodie! Despite the fact that I lost half my body weight and rid myself of many health problems after changing to a WFPB diet, I could not even approach what is considered an ideal weight. I am “religious” about what I eat since the original reason I started was to combat diabetes, which I succeeded in doing less than two weeks after changing my diet. Five years later, my health is good, I’m more active than I ever was and I feel great, but still can’t lose those last 35+ lbs, and have probably even gained some more. It’s so frustrating because everyone says you can’t be overweight eating WFPB, or if you are you’re doing it wrong, but other than the one meal thing, neither is true. Even at that, I know I consume less calories than the majority of people. My skinny, inactive, roommate, who pretty much eats a SAD, consumes at least twice as much as I do in sheer volume, and so probably 3-4 times as many calories since what I eat is much less dense! I have always had weight issues so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised but it’s pretty frustrating! Years ago when I tried to do battle with the standard caloric restriction, my slug-like metabolism was so messed up that I couldn’t even lose weight eating 800-1000 calories a day. Going plant based years later finally did the trick, but even though I’ve tweaked all the variables, other than forcing myself to eat when I am not hungry and don’t desire food, I am clueless! Any thoughts would be appreciated.

      • plant_this_thought

        “…my health is good, I’m more active than I ever was and I feel great…” Charzie: These are the important things, in my book.

        • Charzie

          Oh I so agree, but if I’m still laying on fat even though I keep my fat intake low and keep strict tabs on what I eat, it makes me wonder WHY. And because I was diabetic, I know it is always latent, so it is more than vanity. With this old body I am WAY past that issue! lol.

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            Just for fun check your daily fat intake on Cronometer. Mine is always around 9-10% which is with whole foods and 1-2T ground flax but no fatty foods like nuts or avocado. 10% fat is the level which Esselstyn and Ornish used to demonstrate actual reversal of heart disease.

          • Charzie

            I have, and I’m usually *below* 10%. Like I said, I had diabetes, so I don’t mess around or push my limits. It’s maddening.

      • Fred

        Thyroid…iodine? Look for foods/supplements that might increase your metabolism?

      • aribadabar

        I don’t think one meal a day is a good idea. It forces your body to store calories (in form of fat) because it is in a sort of an emergency regime. Consuming the same amount of calories over 3 meals a day is much more natural, healthy and normalize your metabolism and attenuates storage reflexes.
        Also, you cannot not lose weight if you are in a caloric deficit (calories in < calories out) so maybe track your intake for a few weeks in to get exact numbers of the amount of nutrients you ingest and you can add some exercise activities (even as simple as walking) to the log to see if you are in a real caloric deficit after all is said and done..

  • progun49

    So Dr Greger,
    What is the Hawaian Diet?? Please share about this. I am 11 yrs post bariatric (RuenNY) and over last 2 yrs have 9 l s that will not come off! I can’t get back down to 136 which is where I was for the last 9 yrs prior. I still have kept off more than my 100lbs though. Almost everyone I know has always gained it back but me. It’s an constant thinking before I eat for the rest of my life. But wish I could get these darn 9 l s to go! I love your tapes!!

  • anon

    I have yo-yo dieted for most of my life and am still overweight. I’ve been vegan for 16 years and vegetarian for 16 years before that. My scales show me that my percentage of fact is just over 32% although to look at me you wouldn’t say I was huge so I assume I’ve got lots of hidden fat around my organs. If I could lose a stone and a half I’d be happy, but my weight only ever varies 2lb up or down. The problem is that for the past few years I’ve been too scared to eat properly and have been eating less than 1000 calories a day most days, sometimes eating only a few hundred. I really don’t know how to shift the weight – I can’t possibly eat any less. Type 2 diabetes seems to run in the family, so I’m worried about developing it.

    • Nicki Kelly

      Anon, I do not understand why you wrote this post after this wonderful Video presentation. Maybe you need to watch it again and do some more research on the subject. Dr Greger clearly explained AND backed it up with the science research material showing you that by eating high fibre fruit, vegetables etc. in large filling quantities ….you lose weight. I am also not understanding your sentence that you ‘are scared to eat properly’ because that is the only way you will lose weight and avoid Type 2 Diabetes. I wish you all the best in your weight loss and health endeavors ! Please start eating health giving plant based foods.

      • anon

        The food I do eat is plant based – I’m vegan as I mentioned.

    • jj

      Restricting calories too severely causes the metabolism to go into starvation mode and hang on to everything. No weight loss that way.

      • anon

        It’s become a bit of a vicious circle I suppose over the years. I no longer enjoy food.

      • Paul

        I don’t see how that’s possible – don’t famine victims prove you wrong on that.

        • JoAnn Downey Ivey

          There must be a range where calories are not quite enough and metabolism slows down – I’ve seen it happen several times – that’s anecdotal and doesn’t count for anything I know, but it somehow does seem to happen. Obviously when you further cut calories below that range, then weight loss will occur.

  • Rhombopterix

    Ha, I’ve just written a book that tells how to eat low-nutrient density and be healthy. I call it “How Not to Die”…what say? He did? Oh…nevermind.

  • Ilana

    What’s the most recent data on melatonin, as used for sleep? Safe/beneficial for the long term? What about its relationship to autoimmune diseases?

    • thorn324

      Pardon me for not answering your question but rather for providing some ancillary information regarding melatonin. I was advised to take it by my GP and did so—twice—only to suffered with bouts of vertigo so severe that I was awakened by it in the middle of the night with the sensation of being in a rowboat in the middle of a storm-wracked ocean. Caveat pill-taker!

      • Ilana

        Thanks… I take it several times a week and it’s great but I’m concerned for the long term

  • vlp

    Off topic here, but wanted to share this recipe for an incredibly satisfying and completely healthy hot cocoa. PS I love the new book, it’s amazing, and I love eating this way as I have been for the last 8 months or so. I will never turn back to old eating disaster! Anyway, try this recipe folks, I pretty much guarantee you’ll love it.

    Better than Golden Milk Hot Cocoa (makes two cups)
    1 ¾ cups soymilk or other non-dairy milk of your choice
    ¼ cup water
    ¼ cup pure cocoa powder (no additives, just cocoa)
    ½ tsp. ground turmeric
    ½ tsp. ground cardamom
    Pinch of ground cayenne (use more if you like it hotter)
    1 tablespoon date sugar (pure dates, no additives)

    Whip all ingredients with a whisk while warming gently to heat. Serve hot but don’t allow it to boil. Enjoy! And try adjusting the spices to suit your tastes, this is just a start.

  • John

    Help! My SPAM folder keeps putting Dr. Greger videos in my SPAM folder. He’s my #1 source of diet info. Maybe it’s Big Pharma trying to get me to buy their pills instead of eating healthily. :)

    • TheHulk

      Add email address to the addressbook, this way it will be whitelisted.

  • TheHulk

    All these really points to one thing. Calories are shit! It’s a vague concept can’t be used to accurately measure one’s diet. All calories are not equal. Calories from cookies vs calories from fruits and vegetables are different.

    • M85

      Exactly: carbohydrate calories are different from fat calories and work in the body in different ways.

    • JoAnn Downey Ivey

      The conversion of carbohydrates or protein into fat is 10
      times less efficient than simply storing fat in a fat cell, but the body can do
      it. If you have 100 extra calories
      in fat (about 11 grams) floating in your bloodstream, fat cells can store it
      using only about 3 calories of energy. On the other hand, if you have 100 extra
      calories in glucose (about 25 grams) floating in your bloodstream, it takes 23
      calories of energy (Dr. McDougall says 30 calories) to convert the glucose into fat and then store it. Given a choice, a fat cell will grab the fat and store it rather than the carbohydrates
      because fat is so much easier to store.

  • M85

    This is really good but I think the real key to weight loss is eating lots of carbohydrates (starches/fruit) and low fat (10-15%). As Dr McDougall has explained very clearly De Novo Lipogenesis means that it is very difficult to gain weight on starches and fruit, especially from whole foods. One of the risks with emphasising ONLY low calorie density is that people can end up feeling weak, hungry and lethargic because they consume too few calories.

    • Charzie

      I followed McDougall for about 5 years now, and have lost half of my body weight, lots of illnesses and feel great! Though I’ve even tried his maximum weight loss tips, I still cannot shed the last 35+ lbs to be in the range recommended, other than starvation! I’m clueless and frustrated.

      • M85

        From what I’ve read weight loss can plateau after a while then it often starts again after some time. I think you just need to be patient and keep your fat intake low and over time you should continue to lose weight. Almost all the high carb low fat people I’ve come across get slim in the long run, I think if you’re losing lots of weight maybe your body needs more time to adapt.

  • Strangelove

    And how do we know if we’re not underweight when we already eat healthily? Can we eat a lot of low density foods and be OK or is there a risk of losing muscle? I just found out today that I lost 3 kilograms in the last few months and my BMI is now 18.2 (underweight is <18.5). I feel perfectly fine and I'm very active, but it came as a surprise given that I've been eating like 3000 calories a day (I'm a 27 year old woman) and more nuts and seeds and dried fruits than usually recommended. I thought it might be anxiety leading to overeating, but maybe I just need that amount of food. (It could also be a bad estimation from the app I used, and I only logged meals for two days.) On the other hand, I cut back on oil and fried foods, which is a positive change that could explain weight loss. So in conclusion, I'm eating more and weighing less, but it worries me a bit.

    • Forget apps and recommendations. Eat as much un-processed whole plant foods as you can stand. Especially nuts. Most recommendations are completely outdated and are based on calorie counting and other such numerical notions that DO NOT fit actual human nutritional needs. Forget calories, eat a wide variety of plant foods and be happy. Supp with B12 if you eat zero meat. If you’re going to eat animal products, restrict them to a very small amount. Eat dates, olives, avocados, seeds and nuts for more density, then leafies, tubers, and other fruits for less. Design your plan for you, not any app.

      • Strangelove

        That’s what I do. I eat WFPB. Dates are expensive and I don’t like olives, but I eat raisins, dry figs and avocado, apart from nuts, seeds and lots of legumes, fruits and vegetables, and B12. I just tried making some estimations because I was eating a lot and then I found out I had lost weight. On top of that, I don’t have much muscle over my ribs and my breastbone is more prominent. For some people I look weak and malnourished. However, you’re probably right. I just need to check if this is my “normal” body. Before going vegan and doing exercise I had never been so thin and I had no visible muscle. Now I have just a bit of fat, mostly around the hips and legs, and some muscle but not on my chest and shoulders.

  • Mary

    I am trying to put on weight as I am 5ft6inches and only 45kg. I eat tons of food but watching this video I realise it is low in energy density. My diet is predominantly vegan and I do have lots of oats, brown rice, nuts and olive oil in addition to fruit and veggies and beans so any ideas on what to do to gain weight while being on a healthy diet? Thanks

  • JoAnn Downey Ivey

    I’m on the Esselstyn plan which is no nuts, avocado, oils or other fatty foods. Just 1-2T ground flaxseed daily. A couple of years following his studies which had 10% or fewer calories from fat, only 0.6% of those studied suffered a cardiac event. Compare that with the Mediterranean Lyon Heart study where 25% of those studied suffered cardiac events. That 10% fat number was also used by Ornish, and the Ornish/Esselstyn studies are the only ones showing actual reversal of heart disease.

  • HaltheVegan

    Off topic, but I just noticed this in the news:

    A Chinese company called Boyalife Genomics is planning to open a factory the size of three football fields in Tianjin this year, and what they’ll be manufacturing is… cows. Clone cows. 100,000 of them per year to start, but company founder Xiao-Chun Xu dreams of cranking that production level up to a million per year.

    Industrial cloning on this scale has never been attempted before, but the Daily Beast portrays Xu, 44, as a serious player, with the educational and entrepreneurial background to make it happen — he has a Ph.D. from Washington University, worked as a project manager for Pfizer, and serves as an adjunct professor of molecular medicine at Peking University. His new project is reportedly attracting a great deal of interest from investors.

    Beef consumption is growing at double-digit rates in China, but the Chinese cattle industry has not previously focused on large-scale meat production, and domestic beef has been of low quality.

  • thorn324

    Another wonderful & informative video from Dr. Greger—and just in time for the New Year’s resolution to lose weight!

    I’d like to offer a correction of something that occurs at 4:09 in the video (and the analogous place in the transcript) regarding increased food weight eaten on The Hawai’i Diet: the greater amount was on average actually ca. *5.66 ounces* rather than “4 pounds” more in the subjects’ prior daily diets (1872 g/d – 1711 g/d = 161 g/d [1 oz = 28.349 g]). My correction of this detail notwithstanding, the difference of 1025 kcal/d remains as an astonishing difference.

  • brunomatoso

    Hi. If Dr. Greger could answer it would be amazing.

    I know NutritionFacts has been talking about this for a while and I know this is an offtopic but i was watching an Gary Yourofsky speech where he said that he doesn’t take or took b12 pills or fortified foods since being vegan and he has normal b12 levels as we can see on his website. He says that we produce the b12 we need in the mouth and intestin and absorb quite fine. This is supported by Dr. McDougall and some research he linked.

    • JoAnn Downey Ivey

      Dr. McDougall recommends 5 micrograms of B12 minimum daily. Get blood levels checked. It was discovered I had pernicious anemia so no amount of B12 was every going to be absorbed. It’s dangerous to not have sufficient B12 in the body – that’s why they call it pernicious anemia. And even if you don’t have that but your B12 levels are too low, it takes a long time for symptoms like peripheral neuralgia to show up.

  • Valerie

    Can parboiled rice be substituted for brown rice since it gas a very low GI?

    • JoAnn Downey Ivey

      Dr. McDougall says that white rice is not a deal breaker although brown rice is preferable. GI is not everything. With the whole grain you get all the nutrients and fiber. But before KFC hit Asia, you had close to 2 billion slim trim people, the majority of whom ate white rice. White rice is not the enemy of weight loss – it is fat in oils, animal products, and EXCESS fatty foods like nut butters and avocados. For those people needing to lose weight, Dr. McDougall calls fatty vegan foods special occasional treats, not daily fare, and he has excellent results in helping people lose a lot of weight and also improving their health.

  • Jean Hayes

    It is SO fun to be able to eat SO much food and feel full and NOT gain weight. YAY for plants!

  • Ray Tajoma

    I think “Calorie density by Volume”- not weight. The body doesn’t care or even know about the weight, but food volume fills the stomach up until there is no more room in the stomach. That’s my understanding of how weight loss surgery works – by reducing the size (volume) of stomach or intestines.

  • Ray Tajoma

    I think “Calorie density by Volume”- not weight. The body doesn’t care or even know about the weight, but food volume fills the stomach up until there is no more room in the stomach. That’s my understanding of how weight loss surgery works – by reducing the size (volume) of stomach or intestines. A good example would be lettuce or raw spinach: low calorie, low weight, high volume.

  • karenwojo

    I was wondering what the Dr’s thought are on the old “Fit for Life” food combining theories – that you should only eat certain foods together – and that you should only ever eat fruit in the morning on an empty stomach.

    • JoAnn Downey Ivey

      That ‘food combining’ myth was proven wrong a long time ago. Jeff Novick has written extensively on this.

      Is Food Combining Beneficial?

      Apr 28 2014 | Jeff Novick, R.D.

      Is Food Combining Beneficial?

      In 1951, Herbert M. Shelton, N.D.,
      wrote a little booklet titled Food Combining Made Easy. Although it
      became popular with health enthusiasts (and it continues to be quoted and
      reprinted even today), it seems clear from the unhealthful foods included in
      the menus that Dr. Shelton intended it for the general public. The rationale he
      gave for food combining was based on his understanding of the physiology and
      biochemistry of digestion at that time. He thought that if you ate proteins,
      starches, and sugars together at a single meal, the meal couldn’t be
      efficiently digested and fermentation would occur. He recommended eating
      proteins, starches, and sugars at separate meals (along with leafy greens and
      other vegetables).

      Food combining did not catch on with
      the general public in Shelton’s day, but it made a big impact on the natural
      health movement. Many prominent individuals and organizations, including the
      American Natural Hygiene Society (ANHS), now known as the National Health
      Association (NHA), promoted it, and it became an article of faith among many in
      the vegetarian, natural hygiene, and raw food communities. It reached its
      widest audience in 1985 with the publication of Harvey and Marilyn Diamond’s
      bestselling book, Fit for Life, which was based in large degree on food
      combining. Fit for Life sold more than twelve million copies.

      Fit for Life made food combining a household word, and a great many
      people attributed their improved digestion and health to their practice of food
      combining. It seemed as though Shelton’s dream of improved health for the
      masses was beginning to come true. But there was a problem. By the time Fit
      For Life hit its peak of popularity, there was an altogether better
      understanding of the basic principles of physiology and the biochemistry of
      digestion than when Food Combining Made Easy was written. It turned out
      that Shelton was wrong. Proteins, starches, and sugars could be digested
      together. It wasn’t long before the practice of food combining was no longer
      among the recommendations of the ANHS or the International Association of
      Hygienic Physicians (IAHP).

      Not everyone who practiced food
      combining was happy about this turn of events. Many natural hygienists and raw
      food adherents continued to religiously promote and follow the food combining
      rules. But that wasn’t an option for the ANHS or the IAHP. Their recommendations
      need to have a scientific basis in fact, or at least a strong likelihood of
      fact. They could not continue to promote food combining simply on the basis of
      tradition or loyalty to familiar teachings or practices.

      If the underlying scientific
      rationale for food combining is flawed, how do we explain the thousands (maybe
      millions) of people whose digestion and health improved after they started
      practicing food combining? One of the great difficulties of studying human
      beings (in addition to the fact that we are so complex) is that we can’t put
      people into “test tubes” to study one health factor at a time. As a result,
      when a person adopts multiple new behaviors, such as improved diet, regular
      exercise, and more rest and sleep, it isn’t always possible to say with
      absolute certainty where the benefits come from.

      Generally speaking, people who
      practice food combining also make other beneficial diet and lifestyle changes.
      They tend to stop overeating (relatively speaking); they reduce their intake of
      unhealthful fats; they stop drinking coffee, soft drinks, and alcohol with
      meals; they reduce or eliminate cooked, highly processed, and refined foods;
      and they eat simpler meals made of raw foods and unprocessed or minimally
      processed cooked foods. They also tend to get more exercise and sleep. Each of
      these steps has been shown to improve health. It should be clear that people
      would have experienced the same long-term digestive and health benefits if they
      did not practice food combining but still practiced the other health-promoting
      behaviors. It is hard to imagine that the people would have experienced the
      same long-term digestive and health benefits if they practiced food combining
      but led sedentary lives, ate traditional American foods, and substituted coffee
      and other stimulants for rest and sleep.

      Can the practice of food combining
      be of benefit in and of itself? The answer seems to be, “No.” But if the
      practice of food combining helps a person to avoid overeating, avoid drinking
      anything but water according to thirst with meals, and avoid eating unhealthful
      foods, benefits will accrue. The practice of food combining prevents people

      eating any conventional American
      meals, so that is of benefit. It is important to understand that all of these
      health benefits can be achieved without practicing food combining. Can
      practicing food combining result in any harm? Unfortunately, “Yes,” if the
      rigidity of the rules leads a person to eat an extreme, unbalanced diet or
      causes unwarranted stress or estrangement from family and friends.

      I hope that it is comforting to
      learn that you can improve your digestion and health without the unnecessary
      complexities of food combining. Just make sure that your diet is centered
      around natural whole or minimally processed plant foods. Favor simplicity over
      variety, eat slowly, and chew your food really well. In other words, keep it
      simple, relax, and enjoy your food.

      If you have been practicing food
      combining and it brings joy and simplicity to your life, there is no reason to
      abandon it. Just make sure that you attribute your improved health to your
      healthful diet and lifestyle, and make an effort to ensure that your family,
      friends, and community continue to get accurate health information.

      The Physiology and Biochemistry of

      Since food combining was based on
      the understanding of physiology and biochemistry of digestion in 1951, I
      thought it might be interesting to describe current thinking on the subject.
      Let’s look at the process of digestion in relation to the main areas where digestion
      takes place: the mouth, the stomach, and the small intestine.

      In the mouth, the primary digestion
      that takes place is mechanical, through the teeth, tongue, and the chewing of
      the food. Other than the mechanical breakdown from chewing, the only real
      biochemical digestion comes from salivary amylase, which is secreted by the
      salivary glands. It is a precursor and a preparatory step for the real starch
      digestion that happens later, and it works best in an alkaline environment. The
      mouth is not where much starch digestion really takes place. The amylase simply
      works to break down some larger starch molecules into smaller ones by breaking
      the bonds in the chains of the starch. Additionally, there is some lingual
      lipase that is released, mostly in infants (due to the high fat content of
      breast milk), but it does little to digest the fats we eat.

      The stomach is set up mainly to
      begin protein digestion by breaking the larger proteins into smaller ones, and
      it does so in an acidic environment (though nowhere near as acidic as the
      stomachs of carnivores). The stomach is not the major site of protein
      digestion. The stomach uses its very strong musculature to convert the mass of
      food that we swallowed from a bolus (a soft mass of chewed food) into chyme
      (pulpy acidic fluid). It does this through powerful churning and contractions
      and secretions of fluids. No chemical breakdown of fats or starches occurs here
      because no enzymes for the digestion of fat and/or carbohydrates are released.
      The fats and carbohydrates simply get churned up. Their real digestion takes
      place in the small intestine. If we are eating healthfully, this will happen
      pretty quickly without the fermentation that the proponents of food combining
      say is supposed to be so rampant, but which no one seems to be able to

      This chyme is then released in
      amounts of about 5 ml at a time (about 1 tsp.) into the first part of the small
      intestine where the acid is immediately neutralized and changed to a slightly
      alkaline environment again. Additionally, bile is released to act as an
      emulsifier for the fat molecules. This is also where the chemicals and enzymes
      for the major digestion of fats, starches, and proteins happen all together.
      It’s truly an amazing event. Many specific types of enzymes are released that
      act on specific substances, and it all happens together in this alkaline
      environment. This is where the real complexity and wizardry of the digestive
      process happens. The previous areas were just preparatory stages for this part.
      This is where most of the digestion really happens, and it all happens together
      — fat, protein, and starch — in the same environment, which is slightly

      There are a few things that can
      cause significant problems for this system. One is the ingestion of large amounts
      of fats. This will slow the whole process down because the digestion of fat is
      very difficult, complicated, and time consuming. Chemicals are released that
      signal the system to slow down so it can have the time to work on the fat,
      which can take up to four hours or more.

      Drinking with meals can interfere
      with digestion, de-pending on the quantity of the fluid and its temperature and
      osmolality. Stress and anxiety also can and will shut the whole process down
      and cause a decrease in the necessary secretions and blood flow. Possibly the
      greatest risk of interference comes from overeating. Overeating interferes with
      everything, including timing, chemicals, and coordination. It also causes
      distention and other problems, especially in the stomach.

      As you can see, the practice of food
      combining only can be of benefit if it helps people avoid the actual
      impediments to good digestion: overeating, especially of fats, unhealthy foods,
      drinking with meals, and poorly managed stress. Fortunately, the benefits of eating
      (and thoroughly chewing) appropriately sized portions of whole, natural foods
      in a relaxed environment are achievable without practicing food combining.

      My best advice is to keep your meals
      simple, and take time to relax and enjoy your food.

      Copyright Jeff Novick, 2014. All
      rights reserved.

      • karenwojo

        thanks so much for that info, it’s much appreciated !!!!

  • Hi, I’m a vegan and make an effort to eat loads of fruit and veg. But i still find myself unable to resist oreos. (If they are in the house, i’ll eat half a packet in one sitting.) Similarly, i get 3pm slumps at work and I find myself sometimes craving a can of coke. Is there a way to cut these cravings? Do i just need to eat lots of lots of apples (I already eat quite a lot!) Thanks!

    • Thea

      Andrew: I’m sure you know the trick of not bringing the oreos into the house in the first place. I know, the hard part is resisting buying them at the grocery store when you have a habit of buying them. The trick is getting out of the habit. Which starts one shop visit at a time…
      I was thinking that you could try satisfying your sweet tooth with dates. Get some fancy dates that are very moist and rich and have the pits. (So eating a bunch is all that much harder. You have to pit them.) Some people will take a pecan (or other nut) and put it in the hole left by the pit. Then you have “pecan pie”. This is such a sweet treat that maybe you will eat less, hopefully just 1-3. (And you can work on eating less than the oreos.) But my thinking is: even if you don’t eat less than the oreos, at least you are eating real food and pretty darn healthy food at that. Two good sources for dates are the Date People and
      I don’t know what to do about the coke cravings at work. I keep a variety of teas at work and drink that all day long. But I’ve never craved coke, so I don’t know how hard it would be to switch beverages. You could try bringing a blender to work and making yourself a smoothie? Perhaps one that tastes sweet, including with dates? Since you already eat a lot of fruit and veg, that might appeal?
      I hope others have some good ideas too. But I’m thinking that if you have your heart set on oreos and coke, the bottom line is that you really have to want to stop consuming those things. And when you do get to that point, you will find a strategy that will work for you. Good luck.

    • JoAnn Downey Ivey

      Andrew those cravings sound like a lower blood sugar. If you apply the principles of calorie density, then your food choice for weight loss would better be a piece of fruit for immediate satisfaction and then something like a potato or sweet potato for longer term satiety. Fruit and root veggies have way lower calorie density than do processed foods, especially with added sugar and fat. Jeff Novick’s list of calorie density of foods:

      Fruits: 140-420 cal/lb

      Potatoes/pasta/rice/barley/oats: 320-630

      Beans/peas/lentils: 310-780 cal/lb

      Breads/dried fruits: 920-1360 cal/lb

      Honey/syrups/sugars: 1200-1800 cal/lb

      Chips/crackers: 1480-1760 cal/lb

      Nuts/seeds: 2400-3200 cal/lb

      Oils: 4000 cal/lb

  • Craig

    So I’ve been eating strictly plant based for a week now and I’ve gained 2 kilos unexpectedly, any idea why?

    • JoAnn Downey Ivey

      You ditched the oil, right? I’ll post Jeff Novick’s calorie density chart and you can see if you’re eating mostly from the calorically dense plant foods – not a good idea if your goal is weight loss.

      “Fresh Veggies are
      around 100 cal/lb

      Fresh Fruits around 250-300 cal/lb

      Starchy Veggies/Intact Whole Grains around 450-500 cal/lb

      Legumes around 550-600 cal/lb

      Processed Grains (even if they are Whole grain) around 1200-1500 cal/lb

      Nuts/Seeds around 2800 cal/lb

      Oils around 4000 cal/lb

      Food choices are based on where you are at and what
      your health goals are. For weight loss, neither puffed cereals or air popped
      popcorn or shredded wheat would be the best choice. Oatmeal would be far
      superior. You want food with volume and weight, not food with volume and air.
      Rice cakes are about 1750 cal/lb. Grape nuts are about 1640 cal/lb.

      If the calorie
      density of the food is below ~400 calories per pound, you will likely lose
      weight no matter how much you eat.

      Between ~400-~800 calories per pound, with some moderate exercise, almost
      everyone loses weight.”

  • Loneviking

    This concept has been proven for some 25 years now at places like the Weimar Institute in California or Uchee Pines in Alabama. As long as people feel full, and the food tastes good, the weight comes off; diabetes reverses itself and heart disease can be stopped. What is really tough for so many folks is learning how to cook and plan meals around this concept.

  • Hannah

    Hi Dr. Greger,

    After watching your videos and reading How Not to Die, I have been shifting first a vegetarian, and now a mostly plant-based diet over the last year. I have lost about 15 pounds without trying, which I assume can be attributed to eating more food that is less calorie dense and more packed with fiber. The problem is that I don’t have enough body mass to lose any weight, and am wondering if you have a suggestion for how to maintain weight on a plant based diet? I want to keep eating well, but don’t want to be losing weight. I always eat when I’m hungry, and eat until I’m full, and also engage in moderate exercise most days of the week.

    Thank you for your time!

    • Thea

      Hannah: Your post shows you have a great understanding already about the key to controlling weight – manipulating calorie density. So, I think the key in your case is to keep eating whole plant foods, but to shift some of your foods towards the more calorie dense whole plant foods. For example, instead of all fresh fruits, you might add some dried fruits which are more calorie dense. When eating greens, consider eating more cooked compared to raw. You may want to throw in some avocado and extra nut butters which are both high on the calorie density range. Etc.

      Those are just ideas. I don’t know what your current diet looks like. I’m just suggesting that you should be able to keep your diet super healthy and still get enough calories to maintain a healthy weight. You might consider using the following website to check out the calorie density of various foods that interest you. Most foods have a ‘one ounce’ size option. So, you can compare the calories of various foods to each other by picking always picking the same size option.

      Hope that helps.

  • Julio Cesar

    I could not find on this site or in the book “How Not to die”. How often should i eat? Three times a day? 6 Times a day? What is best acording to science?
    Is it answered yet?

  • Pam Westfall

    Is it possible to achieve a low density diet for those of us who suffer from gastro paresis and must consume a primarily low fiber diet? I would love to see a video on diet and gastro paresis!

  • ivaark

    Please, consider research of LOQUAT fruits as part of diet.

  • ivaark

    Dear Dr, Greger!
    I jumped on your proclaimed vegetarian diet 4 month ago, hoping to: normalize weight=> rise HDL, lower LDL, lower A1c, fight depression. Results was a bit discouraging to me: my HDL dropped from 90 to 60; LDL rise up from 80 to ~100. ( I am 71y/o white male w. elevated B/p and pre-diabetes 2.) I consume most of the diet ingredient recommended by you for the case, including amla, beans, cinnamon, turmeric, saffron, cocoa, all nuts and seeds from your list, about 6 fresh fruits from your list. I accompany my diet with everyday 2h workouts. Pro: I lost 5% of my weight.
    Any suggestion? explanation?

    • Thea

      ivaark: It sounds like you are doing a whole lot that is right. The drop in HDL is not a problem, but I agree that the rise in LDL is concerning. I have a question: You mention that you are on vegetarian diet, which includes the foods Dr. Greger has highlighted to help reduce cholesterol. I’m wondering: Are you still eating any eggs and/or dairy? Are you eating any oils?

      • Ivan Arkhipov

        Dear Thea! Thanks for the attention to my concerns. I am strictly on Plants Only diet (no eggs or diary). I switched on it from LOW Carb, where all nuts and fruits was excluded.
        My main concern now is that my weight moved from “plateau” of -7% of original weight but moved BACK to -5%. Ie, by adding nuts and fruits I GAINED back 5 to 10#.
        I take about 40 top performer plants recommended by Dr. Greger for the weight losing (row, frozen or powder)
        And see weight gain after that is discouraging.
        Could the reason be in my NES (night eating syndrome)? I restrict my self for eating fruits and berries only during the night.

        • JoAnn Downey Ivey

          Ditch the nuts for awhile and see if it makes a difference. Dr. Esselstyn showed actual reversal of heart disease with a no nut, no avocado, no overt fats diet. I couldn’t get my LDL down until I got rid of all high fat foods. There is no ONE food that we NEED to eat for optimal health.

          • Ivan Arkhipov

            Dear JoAnn!
            -I’m glad to be on the same page as you- I seized consumption of nuts/seeds, dried fruits and avocado. I do not use any oil. So now I am on fruits/veggies beans, legumes, lentils . What can be more cosher?
            Let’s see if this will work.
            – Do you think, that moderators forward most interesting comments (not like my) UP to the Dr. Greger?

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            Not sure about what Dr. Greger sees Ivan. But I know that both Dr. McDougall’s and Dr. Esselstyn’s patients are reversing heart disease and diabetes with no nuts/avocado. The best way to eat for weight loss is foods low in calorie density as they are grown, because we all seem to eat the same weight of food no matter what the food.

            Jeff Novick’s list…….

            Fresh Veggies are around 100 cal/lb
            Fresh Fruits around 250-300 cal/lb
            Starchy Veggies/Intact Whole Grains around 450-500 cal/lb
            Legumes/Cooked Pasta around 550-600 cal/lb

            Processed Grains (even if they are Whole grain) around 1200-1500 cal/lb
            Nuts/Seeds around 2800 cal/lb
            Oils around 4000 cal/lb

            Dr. McDougall talks about the conversion of food to body fat in The Starch Solution. The conversion of carbohydrates or protein into fat is 10 times less efficient than simply storing fat in a fat cell, but the body can do it.
            If you have 100 extra calories in fat (about 11 grams) floating in your bloodstream, fat cells can store it using only about 3 calories of energy.
            On the other hand, if you have 100 extra calories in glucose (about 25 grams) floating in your bloodstream, it takes up to 30 calories of energy to convert the glucose into fat and then store it.
            Given a choice, a fat cell will grab the fat and store it rather than the carbohydrates, because fat is so much easier to store.

        • Thea

          Ivan Arkhipov: In your first post, you said a pro of your new diet was that you lost weight. But now it sounds like you initially lost weight, but now have gained a small amount back and are concerned about that. Do I have that right? Also, the original concern from your first post was about a rise in LDL. So, I see two concerns there. Yes?
          We could start with the rise in LDL problem, but I think the two issues are likely interrelated and thus will address both. From what I understand, that’s pretty unusual on a whole plant food diet. But if you are gaining weight, it is well known that cholesterol goes up when people gain weight and so a rise in LDL might be understandable. Here are my thoughts: 1) JoAnn’s feedback about nuts may be applicable to you. Dr. Greger has some good studies showing that 1/4 cup of nuts a day may be good for most of us, but there is also lots of evidence out there (Chef AJ’s experience for example) that nuts lead to weight gain. And you don’t want that. So: a) are you sticking to 1/4 whole nuts or 2 tablespoons nut butter only? and if so, then b) perhaps you should try going nut and seed (except for 1 tablespoon of flaxseed I think) free for a while.
          2) I’ve heard lots of talk about the importance of the sleep period in helping us lose or maintain weight loss. You mention that you are eating through the night. That could be a big problem that you will want to address. Yes, fruits are very good for you, especially berries as you clearly know, but our bodies are made to have defined period where we are not eating. One poster on NutritionFacts recently posted about how he was not able to lose weight until he decided not to eat 4 hours before going to sleep and not to start eating 4 hours until after waking up. I’m not saying you have to do this, but if you can find a way to at least not eating during your sleep period and to try to stop eating a few hours before you go to sleep, this may help you with both your problems. I don’t know that it will. I’m just speculating. But it seems reasonable. Sadly, I don’t know anything about this condition so I don’t have tips for you on how to fight the midnight munchies. Maybe someone else can help with that.
          3) Getting some guidance on day to day eating might help. The way you describe your diet and exercise sounds so incredibly healthy. I think you should be very proud of yourself. However, the devil is in the details and that’s not something we could hash out over this forum. Instead, I will refer you to some great resources to help you understand exactly what it means to eat a whole plant food diet.
          The first referral is a program is that Dr. Greger recommends in his book How Not To Die. So, if you give this program a try, you can feel good that you are following Dr. Greger’s advice. It is a 21 day *free* on-line program. from PCRM (Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine) called 21 Day Kickstart. The program will “hold your hand” for 21 days, including meal plans, recipes, videos, inspirational messages, and a forum (moderated by a very respected RD) where you can ask questions.

          (Click the green “Register Now” button.)
          At the end of the program, you will have a very good practical knowledge about how to eat with healthy and “low” (normal for most people) calorie density.
          So, now we are getting into calorie density. JoAnn already touched on this. I thought I would refer you to a free lecture from Dr. Lisle which does a lot to help people understand the theory and thus make it easy to apply to everyday life. If you practice eating low calorie density foods, you will lose weight. Here is the free talk:
          I’m not an expert, but I hope this post gives you some ideas you can try which would hopefully address both of your problems with one fell swoop. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

  • Julie123

    I heard about a process called ”de novo lipogenesis” in humans. It is said to be a process, which converts carbohydrates into fat and that it is almost only done by animals and really overfed humans. This would make it really hard to gain weight on a high carbohydrate diet. Could you evaluate on that?

    • JoAnn Downey Ivey

      The conversion of carbohydrates or protein into fat is 10
      times less efficient than simply storing fat in a fat cell, but the body can do
      it. If you have 100 extra calories
      in fat (about 11 grams) floating in your bloodstream, fat cells can store it
      using only about 3 calories of energy. On the other hand, if you have 100 extra
      calories in glucose (about 25 grams) floating in your bloodstream, it takes up
      to 30 calories of energy to convert the glucose into fat and then store it.
      Given a choice, a fat cell will grab the fat and store it rather than the
      carbohydrates because fat is so much easier to store.

  • sulland

    Hello – I am curious as to Dr. Greger’s thoughts on the recent NYT article about “The Biggest Loser” contestants and how many of them regained the weight they lost and/or are struggling to keep the pounds off. Would a person on plant-based diet who lost a significant amount of weight deal with the same struggles, a much slower metabolism? Here is the article:

  • ivaark

    Keep trying to ask question. No luck so far. My comments disappear.

    • Thea

      ivaark: I looked through two weeks of comments and did not see that any of your comments were deleted. It can be hard to find comments in disqus (the third party application used to manage comments) sometimes. One way to check that your comments are still there is to click the little down arrow next to your name. Look for that at the top of the comments section. Then, choose ‘your profile’. You will be able to see all of your comments starting with the most recent. Hope that helps.

  • Marty Kendall

    Low energy density high nutrient density foods….

  • Juliet

    Hi, I need some help from the knowledgeable people here. I’m wondering if there are any recommendations for weight gain instead? Apparently foods like fish and dairy and oils are recommended for weight gain, but we know loading on those foods are in no way healthy. I’ve tried nuts but no results.

    • Thea

      Juliet: As explained in this video, the key to healthy long term weight loss is understanding calorie density and eating low calorie-dense foods. When applied in reverse, the concept of calorie density can be used to gain weight. In general, you would want to eat more foods that are more calorie dense. This includes nuts, but includes a lot of other foods too. The idea is to not to just add a single one of these foods, but to add several foods into your diet until the amount of calories you take in exceed your energy needs. Examples of higher calorie dense foods appropriate for a whole plant food diet include: nuts, dried fruits, tofu, avocados, and olives. Also, eat more cooked foods compared to raw foods. The idea/point is:don’t just add nuts. Incorporate several of these foods throughout the day.
      While that’s the answer to your actual question, I would step back and ask, “Why do you want to gain weight?” Are you hoping to gain more fat? If so, why? Gaining fat doesn’t seem healthy to me unless you are severely fat deficient. On the other hand, if you want to gain more weight without gaining (too much) fat, then what you are really talking about is gaining muscle. Gaining muscle is a good goal. (From what I’ve read: All else being equal, having more muscle is healthier.) But gaining muscle is more than just changing your diet. Gaining muscle requires certain types of exercise. That’s beyond the scope of this site. I just bring it up so you can think about what your real goal is and what it would take to accomplish it.
      Dr. McDougall has a great article on the topic of gaining weight. It will provide some additional perspective as well as maybe some additional ideas.
      Hope this helps.

  • Is it possible to gain weight being vegan? Since I became vegan, my belly is bigger, I seem to be wider and have gained weight in general. I try to exercise regularly. I heard that beans make women having bigger waist and ties. Is it true? Is it possible that I would eat to many vegetables? Are the glucides in the beans bad, should I make sure I don’t eat too much? Maybe it is just because I’m getting older… (36) I try to have one meal with beans and one meal with 20g of tofu each day. My breakfast is a smoothie with 25g of vega proteins, 1 cup of fruit(berries), 1 cup of unsweetened almond mild, flax seed oil and 1 tablespoon of nut butter.

    • Thank you very much! I try not to eat more than 1/2 cup of beans a day and just 1/4 of starch a day.

      • I often have 1/2 cup of cashew yogurt and maybe 1-2 tablespoon of nuts later during the day. Am I eating too much nuts?

        • JoAnn Downey Ivey

          We tend to eat the same weight of food no matter what it is. So eating low on the calorie density chart will be better for weight loss goals.

    • Thea

      Anne-Julie Caron: Gaining and losing weight is a function of calorie density, as explained by the video on this page. Most people lose weight when they go vegan, but there are certainly people who gain weight too.

      The trick to losing or maintaining weight is to eat food of the correct calorie density – ie, calories per pound. Usually whole plant foods are just the right calorie density for losing or maintaining weight and people just don’t have to worry about it. However, there are some whole plant foods that are highly calorie dense. These include nuts, seeds, avocados, tofu/tempeh, and olives. If a diet is high in these foods, you could have a problem. Thus, I would say that your problem is *not* that you are eating too many veggies or whole beans. Your problem is that you are eating too many high calorie dense foods such as tofu and nuts.

      In order to really get what I’m talking about, I highly recommend you watch this
      entertaining and extremely helpful talk on the concept: How To Lose
      Weight Without Losing Your Mind.

      How do you know how calorie dense a food is? As good as Doug Lisle’s talk is, it pretty much just gives you a solid understanding of the concept, but not enough practical information in my opinion. For starting to get the practical information, I recommend a talk from Jeff Novick,Calorie Density: “How to Eat More, Weigh Less, and Live Longer,” which is no longer for sale. Argh! (I mention it just in case you can get your hands on a copy.) Happily, there is a very good second best source for that information: an article that Jeff wrote that you can get here:
      Be sure to pay attention to the charts.
      Chef AJ tells people who want to lose weight to eat “left of the red line”, where I believe the red line is on a diagram of hers representing is 600 calories per pound. And “left of the red line” is all the whole plant foods which are below 600 calories per pound. The above article from Jeff Novick gives you a good sense of which foods are “left of the red line” by food category. But if you want to look up the calorie density of specific foods, you can find many foods on the following site: Most foods on that site have the option of choose an ‘ounce’ as a size. Then you can multiply by 16 to get the calories per pound.
      It would be perfectly respectable if you are one of those people who are just not interested in the theory. You just want to dive right in and want straight how-to information. If you would rather not think about any of that (or start with the theory and then move onto this step), I have one more suggestion that Dr. Greger also recommends in his book, How Not To Die. Consider going through the free program from PCRM (Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine) called 21 Day Kickstart. The program will “hold your hand” for 21 days, including meal plans, recipes, videos, inspirational messages, and a forum (moderated by a very respected RD) where you can ask questions.
      (Click the green “Register Now” button.)
      At the end of the program, you will have a very good practical knowledge about how to eat with healthy and “low” (normal for most people) calorie density.

      I hope this helps. Good luck!

      • Thank you very much for all of this. It is very generous of you. But then how do you make sure you eat enough fat? and about protein? when I look at this 21 days meal plan, I’m worried not to get enough protein… Remember that I’m currently having 25g of vega protein in the morning and tofu for lunch… I’m worried to feel weak. thanks so much!

        • Thea

          Anne-Julie Caron: Your concern about protein is very understandable, because our society has been twisting our actual protein needs for years. The best protein 101 article I have been able to find, and one that I *highly* recommend that everyone read is this: I think you will feel a lot better about the topic of protein after reading that article. Dr. Greger touches on the protein debacle with this video: The Great Protein Fiasco:
          As for fat, did you know that even broccoli has fat in it? You can use that website I gave you to see this. Most people really don’t have to worry about getting enough fat in general on a whole plant food diet like the one shown in the 21 day meal plan. However, if it makes you feel better, you might follow Dr. Greger’s advice and eat 1/4 cup of nuts or seeds a day. And don’t forget that 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed. With those in your diet, you will have *plenty* of fat in general. And if you want to make sure that you have the right kinds of fat, you might also follow Dr. Greger’s recommendation of consuming an algae based DHA/EPA pill and making sure you do not eat any oils (which if you follow the 21 day eating plan, you will not).

          • Thea

            Anne-Julie Caron: One more thought for you: I’m not sure, but I’m thinking that that “vega” protein you mentioned is a protein powder supplement. After reading the protein article I gave you, you might re-think your need for a protein supplement. On top of that, I would point out that a protein powder supplement would be very calorie dense. (I may have miscalculated, but I think one of their products comes in at 1,665 calories per pound.) Not a good choice for someone trying to lose weight. So, if you don’t need it, why spend the money and the calories?
            I can’t say if you need that extra protein or not. I’m not an expert and I don’t know your particular situation. I’m just sharing information and ideas with you. I hope this helps.

          • Do I need to take a dha-epa pill if I take flaxseeds everyday?

          • Thea

            Anne-Julie Caron: This is a good question. The answer is that we don’t know. In the context of a whole plant food diet that contains *lots* of greens and no oils, a DHA/EPA pill may not be needed. (May not even be a good idea???) There is some good science, in my opinion, to back up the statement that supplementation may not be necessary in the context of a healthy diet, especially if someone is eating a tablespoon of ground flaxseed every day. I have shared the details of this concept in this post here:

            However, we do not have enough conclusive evidence to say for sure whether DHA/EPA supplementation is warranted or not for someone on a healthy diet. Using my own framing: This is one of those areas where Dr. Greger comes down on the side of caution and says that people may want to consider taking a DHA/EPA pill for insurance / just to be sure you are covered. There is a whole video series on this topic if you are interested. Or if you just want to know the bottom line recommendation, here it is on the same page I just referred you to in another post:

      • those are all great tools. I tried: I don’t understand why tofu and tempeh are bad for me… I don’t understand why those and legumes have 3 stars for gaining and losing weight. Do you think if I don’t worry about that and focus on calorie density, I’ll be fine? Right now I’M barely not eating starch, I’M worried to gain weight if I start eating like Jeff Novick says. Thanks!

        • Thea

          Anne-Julie Caron: Thank you for this reply as it gives me a chance to clarify something: I do *not* recommend using the Nutrition Self website for any health advice. Don’t look at their stars, etc. What they have that is very good is the actual break down of nutrition in various foods. That’s all that I recommend using that site for.
          Please note, tofu and tempeh are *very* good for you! The problem with those foods is that they are higher in calorie density (because they happen to be one of the rare high-fat beans) compared to other beans. So, if you are trying to lose weight, you would do better to eat different kinds of beans. For example, pinto beans came out at 640 calories per pound. While tempeh came out 864 calories per pound. On the other hand, when I looked up tofu, it came in much less than I remembered, at 432 calories per pound. That’s low compared to many other foods and well within recommended ranges. But when I look at the tofu in my freezer, it came in at 650 calories per pound, which is closer to what I expected. So, I wonder if there is something funny going on with the Nutrition Self data for the tofu page I looked at. While 650 seems in line with the pinto beans, with pinto beans, you get the whole food… Why not eat a mix of both kinds (soy based verses others) of beans?
          Why do you think you would gain weight eating starches? I think that myth started for a few reasons, one of which is what people put *on* the starches. It’s not the baked potato that is the problem, but what people put on the baked potato. That’s one of the beauties of the 21 Day Kickstart program. They show you how to eat your starches in a healthy way that also tastes great. Another benefit of the 21 Day Kickstart program is that it is not a commitment for life. It’s about 21 days. So, why not try it 100% for 21 days and see what happens?
          Good luck!

          • Thank you soooo much. This is so valuable. OK. so I can start eating flaxseeds everyday. I was actually taking 2 teaspoon a day of flaxseed oil (one in the morning and one at night). Is it as good? So to lose weight you would recommend to stick to that and not eat more nuts right? And then I would only need a B12 and vitamin D supplement right?

            Also, do you recommend to eat 3 meals a day even when not hungry? Because I heard we can gain weight if we don’t eat often enough.

            So, you are really telling me that I can eat 1 cup of starch (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes) and beans together and I won’t gain weight even if that’s a hell of a lot of carbohydrates. If so, this is amazing!!!!

            Finally, may I ask you if you are a doctor?
            Thank you so much, I will leave you alone after that, I promise!

          • Thea

            Anne-Julie Caron: Dr. Greger does not recommend any oils (no: flax oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc). What Dr. Greger recommends is ground flaxseed. The reason oils are not a good idea is because oils are missing important nutrients (and are more likely to go rancid). Also, oils can negatively affect the lining of your blood vessels. There are videos about the problems with oils that you can find if you are interested. Do you need tips on grinding flaxseed and how to incorporate it?

            You definitely need a B12 supplement. Dr. Greger recently did a set of videos on the topic of vitamin D. But if you don’t want to watch that set of videos, you can get a summary of Dr. Greger’s supplement recommendations, including vitamin D here:

            re: eat 3 meals even if not hungry?
            No. The way this method works is: no portion control. Eat all you want of only those foods that are recommended. BUT only eat until you are full. Do not eat beyond being full. So, if you are not hungry, do not eat. Whether breakfast is important or not is a controversial subject. I’ve seen both answers from sources I respect. So, I can’t answer that part of your question.

            re: “So, you are really telling me that I can eat 1 cup of starch (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes) and beans together and I won’t gain weight even if that’s a hell of a lot of carbohydrates.” I’m telling you to eat until you are full. So, if that’s 1 cup, then great. If it’s more, then great. If it’s less, then great. But be sure to also get a balance of all 4 food groups. Don’t forget your veggies and fruit too. Veggies and fruits have lower calorie densities and different nutrition. So, be sure to eat those foods in addition to your beans and intact grains.

            There are multiple systems to make sure you get a proper balance. The simplest one is to make your own meals while keeping the PCRM (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine – the people who do the 21 Day Kickstart program, which Dr. Greger also recommends) Power Plate in mind. Here’s the Power Plate: Page 1 gives you the idea of how simple this can be. The other pages explain more about each group.

            Another way to make sure you get balance is to follow Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen. You can learn more about the Daily Dozen in part 2 of Dr. Greger’s book How Not To Die. (I *sooooo* recommend that book!) Or if you don’t want or need as much detail, you can download a free phone app for the Daily Dozen. The Daily Dozen does a great job of explaining how to get balance in your diet with more detail than you get with the Power Plate. But keep in mind that the Daily Dozen can include a wide range of calorie densities. So, pick choices at the low end if you want to lose weight.

            Another way to make sure you get the proper balance is to simply try the 21 Day Kickstart program (and eat until you are full, but not over full). That program takes care of all the details for you. After the program, you will have a very good idea on how to move forward on your own.

            Am I a doctor? No. I’m not a medical or health professional expert of any kind. However, I have been closely following a set of experts, including Dr. Greger, for many years. I have also been a moderator here on NutritionFacts for many years and have been paying attention to what people report works for them. There are doctors who participate on this forum. So, if you have a specific question for a doctor, you can look for those posters.

          • one more question: if I only have been eating 1/4 cup of starch everyday for years, will I gain weight if I do the 21 meal plan or if I follow Jeff Novick’s article that says I can eat 1 cup of starch in a meal? Thanks…

          • Thea

            Anne-Julie Caron: One of the other experts I have followed is named Dr. McDougall. He has an entire book dedicated to helping people understand the important role of starches in the human diet. He will tell you that eating starches is the way to lose weight! The Starch Solution: The Starch Solution includes recipes and is another great eating plan if you want to give it a try.

            Of course, the devil is in the details. I can’t say if you will gain weight or lose weight or maintain. When you add 1 cup of food to your diet, what are you replacing? What are you eating your 1 cup of starch with? (Ie, are you putting non-diary butter on it? That’s not good for losing weight…)

            In other words, your question is too general/not enough details. And I’m not in a position to analyze your diet. All I can say is that if you move down the calorie density scale and eat healthy whole plant foods and don’t eat past being full, you are highly likely to lose weight. And if you follow a plan like the 21 Day Kickstart program, you can lose weight in a healthy way, because that program has been designed by experts. In the forum section of that program, there is a very knowledgeable RD who can answer any specific questions you have about diet.

        • JoAnn Downey Ivey

          If starches were bad, you’d have 2 billion fat Asians. What is bad is the calorie dense fatty foods and oils. Stick with low calorie dense foods.

          • Thea

            JoAnn Downey Ivey: Great picture! Thanks for sharing that.

        • JoAnn Downey Ivey

          Tofu and tempeh aren’t ‘bad’, but moderation is good – they are processed foods, more calorie dense, and higher in fat.

      • Hi Thea, I’ve been looking closely at the 21 meal plan and it requires too much cooking. I love to cook but don’t have much time in the next 21 days. I still tried to start my day with oatmeal but I did it overnight in the fridge (1/2 rolled oats, water, raisins, cinnamon). I was hungry 1.5 hours later… So I had 1/2 cup of blueberries the next morning. I feel like 3 hours later, I’m ready to eat anything, I’M so hungry. It makes me feeling like I’m craving food all day! I used to have 25g of vega proteins, 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup of blueberries and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter for breakfast. I could last 4 hours and didn’t feel weak all day.

        The fact that my snacks are fruit or vegetables make my saliva feel acidic or sweet or something, and I don’t feel great…I feel like I lack something solid in me. Like I run on nothing…

        In the 21 meal plan, the lunch after that would be a soup! there is no way I can only have a soup for lunch after that. I added a salad to that today. I don’t know why I feel so much different, I think it is because my breakfast is heavy enough and my snacks don’t include nuts anymore… no tofu…
        I’m also worried that this oatmeal and fruit option for breakfast is going to make me gain weight since it’s way more carbohydrates than I used to have with the powder protein…

        Thanks for your help! It’s been very useful and appreciated.

        • Thea

          Anne-Julie Caron: The 21 Day program gives you an idea of what foods are healthy. You do not have to cook all of that. If the 21 day plan is not your style, you could try Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen and make up the dishes yourself–as simply as you want.
          As long as you are eating whole plant foods that are generally low calorie density, then eat when you are hungry. You might have to eat bigger meals or more often than you are used to. Some people report that they eat more food and still lose weight on a whole plant food diet. There are no guarantees, especially since the key will be in the details of your diet and this is not a place where I can help you with those details beyond what I’ve done already. All I can say is that eating this way has helped a whole lot of people–both to overcome diseases and to lose weight. And the science stands behind this diet at the healthiest option / lowest disease risk for long term.

      • Is it possible that starting the day with more carbohydrates puts me on a sugar buzz all day (like insulin something…)? And then no tofu and nuts, only carbs (starch, veggies, fruit, legumes) all day…. Is it possible that it would make me feel bad?

        • Thea

          Anne-Julie Caron: There’s a world of difference between sugar and bread (carbohydrates) and whole, intact plant foods like oatmeal, beans, barley, apples, etc. Your body processes the processed whole plant foods differently than the highly processed foods. A “sugar buzz” is something you would get eating processed foods. Not usually from whole plant foods, especially on a low/normal fat diet. Here’s a NutritionFacts video worth seeing so that you can start to understand how your body deals with processed foods differently than whole foods. It should answer your question: “If Fructose is Bad, What About Fruit?”

        • NFModeratorKatie

          Consuming whole, plant-based foods should help you feel better! There shouldn’t be an issue with consuming carbs, are long as they are the right kind of carbohydrates (intact/complex carbs) – oats, 100% whole wheat pasta, quinoa, brown rice, beans, lentils, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables.

    • It seems you eat a lot of process (man-made) vegan foods. When you cook (over heat like in preparing beans) the food loses most of its water (weight). Then it’s calorie density goes up and you eat high calorie dense foods and gain weight. I also think you are too concerned about “Protein” deficiency in vegan diet. That’s a myth.

  • Jayan Venturing

    Hi, there,

    I’m a 20 year old vegan male opposed to gluten looking for a concise nutritional requirement chart.

    I’ve lived through the xyz’s of calcium, b12 needs, “must have protein” conversations, x amount of carbs and don’t drink flouride….

    People talk.

    Yet noones EVER been able to say exactly what it is one needs,

    from minerals to nutrients, fats through carbs.

    Any indication of a global holistic view would be really appreciated.

    A thorough post with clear facts would be AMAZING!

    I’m excited to research HOW to meet all my needs through which-soever foods and suppliments, yet I would love to know what they all actually are!

    Warm Regards,

  • Merna

    Wait so are we allowed to eat more calories than we burn? I struggle with this question..

    • Thea

      Merna: When the video talks about “eating more”, the concept is about eating more volume-wise. Not calorie-wise. Because whole, intact plant foods (like fresh fruits and veggies and potatoes) have a lower calorie density, you can eat more physical food, fill up naturally, and still get less calories. And thus still lose weight.

      Would you like some references to more information about calorie density?

    • EvidenceBasedNutrition

      Hi Merna! This is a great question you bring forward.

      The concept hightlighted in the video is energy density — calories per unit weight of the food.
      The video highlighted in this study compared an oatmeal cookie to fruit — the oatmeal cookie having a higher energy density led to weight gain.

      Foods that are higher in fiber and water (mainly fruits and vegetables) have a lower energy density and therefore can lead to a feeling of fullness while eating less calories and therefore lead to weight loss.

      In this video, at 3:29, Dr. Greger shows a study where calories are brought down to 1570 from 3000 from moving in the direction towards less energy density (plant foods).

      So, to your original question — Yes, you will gain weight if you eat more calories than you burn. However, eating whole-foods plant-based usually means eating less energy dense foods. This means you are eating a greater quantity of food and feeling full and satisfied with less calories and therefore, losing weight.

      Generally speaking, there health are many health benefits (in addition to weight loss) from moving away from energy dense foods in the direction of vegetables/fruits/whole foods plant-based diet. These videos are found throughout the

      I hope this answers your question and helps clarify things a little — to health!

  • tal

    There is something I dont understand and I would be very happy if someone could clarify.
    There is a growing community of vegan gurus who support a diet based on high carb low fat foods in HUGE portions. Somehow , many people that have transffered to this diet have been experiencing a dramatic weight loss. How come?

  • henry_land

    Hi, I can’t find any decent information anywhere… But, could anyone please let me know, how would I gain healthy weight? Thanks

    • Thea

      henry_land: As explained in the video on this page, the key to healthy long term weight loss is understanding calorie density and eating low calorie-dense foods. When applied in reverse, the concept of calorie density can be used to gain weight. In other words, in general, you would want to eat more foods that are more calorie dense. This includes nuts, but includes a lot of other foods too. The idea is to not just add a single one of these foods, but to add several foods into your diet until the amount of calories you take in exceed your energy needs. Examples of higher calorie dense foods appropriate for a whole plant food diet include: nuts, dried fruits, tofu, avocados, olives, and breads/crackers/dry goods. Also, eat more cooked foods compared to raw foods.
      While the following article is focused on weight loss, you could use the information in reverse for weight gain (or if your goal is just weight maintenance, follow these ideas): and
      The idea/point is: don’t just add a snack and junk food like ice cream. Incorporate several of these relatively healthy foods and cooked food in general in each meal and snack. For example, while a person wanting to lose weight would ideally use a vegetable-based sauce, you would use a nut-based sauce. While a person wanting to lose or maintain weight would include a whole lot of raw food, say big salads with some lemon juice as the dressing, you might eat smaller amounts of raw food and far more cooked veggies, beans, and grains proportionately.
      While that’s the answer to your actual question, I would step back and ask, “Why do you want to gain weight?” Are you hoping to gain more fat? If so, why? Gaining fat doesn’t seem healthy to me unless you are severely fat deficient, which I understand is fairly rare. On the other hand, if you want to gain more weight without gaining (too much) fat, then what you are really talking about is gaining muscle. Gaining muscle is a good goal. (From what I’ve read: All else being equal, having more muscle is healthier.) But gaining muscle is more than just changing your diet. Gaining muscle requires certain types of exercise. That’s beyond the scope of this site. I just bring it up so you can think about what your real goal is and what it would take to accomplish it.
      Dr. McDougall has a great article on the topic of gaining weight. It will provide some additional perspective as well as maybe some additional ideas.
      Hope this helps.

  • Shaylen Snarski

    I personally think they’re grasping at reasons they’ll never attain. There are so many people (including myself) who eat SO many calories, more than people who live off of a traditional westernized diet, I’m talking well over 2,000, and they’re the thinnest while still being healthiest people I’ve personally ever seen. Their diet consists entirely of plants. I think it’s simply that when our bodies are getting food to nourish them, my instincts based on what I witness in others and my personal experiences, is that your body maintains or corrects itself, it wants to be at its ideal weight and can work the way its supposed to. I don’t think calories are relevant, I think food is fuel and the better the fuel and more of it (so long as its good “fuel”) the better our bodies will run (look, feel, etc.) They’re never going to understand the complexities of nature which is so much greater than anything they can figure out in a lab or in their imaginations. It’s much simpler than all that unless you need definitive answers, but they’ll never be attainted. The simple solution is trust in nature and eat plants. Funny that the answer to our health concerns always stems down to living compassionately… You’d think the light switch would have gone on by now for more.

    • JoAnn Downey Ivey

      Spot on Shaylen!

  • Curious Mommy

    I have a question about the portion sizes of the Daily Dozen. Should they be adjusted for gender and build? Surely, for example, a very tall person and a petite person wouldn’t eat the same quantities, or another example, a highly active sportsperson vs a mildly active person? Could someone please advise so that I can adjust the Daily Dozen to the individual needs of my family members?

    • Thea

      Curious Mommy: It’s my understanding that the Daily Dozen is geared toward about a 2000 per day calorie diet – much like the recommendations that come out of the government. I think the staff is working on a way to present the Daily Dozen for those people who need to adjust it.
      In the mean time, I recommend using the Daily Dozen as helpful information on the types and relative proportions of food to eat. In other words, people might want to eat about the same amount of beans, other fruit, and whole grains. And make sure to include some berries and cruciferous veggies. Etc. And then just adjust portion sizes up or down as needed to meet your calorie needs.
      What do you think? Possible or too confusing?