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How can I lose weight?

Answered by: Thea

To be successful losing weight involves first learning about the importance of centering one’s diet around whole plant foods and having a sense of how to implement it. That’s half the learning curve and it sounds like you’re already there. The other half is understanding the concept of calorie density and how to apply it to weight loss so that you don’t get hungry and you still get all the nutrients you need.

Dr. Greger covers calorie density, but not in enough detail in my opinion for someone who wants to apply it for the first time. Doug Lisle, one of the experts in the Forks Over Knives documentary, gives a great ‘calorie density 101’ talk officially called: How To Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind. I have watched this talk from Doug Lisle several times and think very highly of it.

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”. If talks aren’t your thing or you can’t get a hold of the video, this article from Jeff covers a lot of the same information. 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 about 700 calories per pound. And “left of the red line” is all the whole plant foods which are below 700 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. Here is a wonderful summary picture. That picture covers food categories. If you want to look up the actual calorie density of specific foods, you can find many foods on the following site: Most foods on that site have the option of choosing 16 ounces as a size. The number of calories at the 16 ounce size is the calorie density (calories per pound, which you want to be below 700).

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. 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. Another recommendation that Dr. Greger and I share is to get Jeff Novick’s Fast Food videos for tasty, affordable, fast and healthy calorie density recipes. I don’t follow the recipes much any more, but I still use the principles I learned from the first video in my daily eating plans.

Chef AJ’s latest work is wonderful for people who have a serious weight problem or very hard time losing weight. Here is a free demo on how to make veggies taste good. Chef AJ has an online program for people with food addictions. It’s not free, but for people who really need extra help, this may be the ticket. The online program aside, you might get some inspiration from Chef AJ’s talk about her life and struggle from this free talk. In addition to being motivational, Chef AJ’s talk helps point out that losing weight is a ‘devil in the details’ sort of thing for some people. Hence, it is worth taking the time to really absorb the concept of ‘calorie density’.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

2 responses to “How can I lose weight?

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  1. Hello,

    Two queries:

    1. Is it necessary to use powdered garlic, or could freshly squeezed garlic be used?

    2. Ditto re black cumin, how about using freshly ground – not powdered- grinding seeds in a mill?

    good things


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