Chicken Big: Poultry & Obesity

Chicken Big: Poultry & Obesity
4.89 (97.89%) 19 votes

Chicken consumption is associated with more weight gain than other meat.


We know vegetarians have considerably lower obesity rates compared to meat-eaters, but why? Is it because they’re not eating meat, or because they’re eating more plants? Or maybe they’re just eating fewer calories, or exercising more? This study controlled for all that.

In essence, they took men and women who ate the same number of calories a day, ate the same amount of vegetables, and fruit and grains, same amount of exercise—but, ate different amounts of meat. Men and women who ate less than a single serving of meat a day were, on average, not overweight, but the more meat they ate, the heavier they were, and by one and a half servings a day, they crossed the threshold of a BMI of 25 to become officially classified as overweight.

Which type of meat was the worst? If you remember back to that study of hundreds of thousands of men and women, poultry consumption appeared to be the worst, but maybe it was reverse causation, meaning obesity led to greater chicken consumption, and not the other way around. This new study controlled for that, adjusting for dietary habits, yet found the same thing. Chicken consumption was most associated with weight gain in both men and women. And it didn’t take much. Compared to those who didn’t eat any chicken at all, those eating about 20 or more grams of chicken a day had a significantly greater increase in their body mass index. That’s around one chicken nugget. Or a single chicken breast once every two weeks, compared to no chicken at all.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to jillmotts via Flickr.

We know vegetarians have considerably lower obesity rates compared to meat-eaters, but why? Is it because they’re not eating meat, or because they’re eating more plants? Or maybe they’re just eating fewer calories, or exercising more? This study controlled for all that.

In essence, they took men and women who ate the same number of calories a day, ate the same amount of vegetables, and fruit and grains, same amount of exercise—but, ate different amounts of meat. Men and women who ate less than a single serving of meat a day were, on average, not overweight, but the more meat they ate, the heavier they were, and by one and a half servings a day, they crossed the threshold of a BMI of 25 to become officially classified as overweight.

Which type of meat was the worst? If you remember back to that study of hundreds of thousands of men and women, poultry consumption appeared to be the worst, but maybe it was reverse causation, meaning obesity led to greater chicken consumption, and not the other way around. This new study controlled for that, adjusting for dietary habits, yet found the same thing. Chicken consumption was most associated with weight gain in both men and women. And it didn’t take much. Compared to those who didn’t eat any chicken at all, those eating about 20 or more grams of chicken a day had a significantly greater increase in their body mass index. That’s around one chicken nugget. Or a single chicken breast once every two weeks, compared to no chicken at all.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to jillmotts via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

The prior video that compared different types of meat, and found meat consumption to be associated with weight gain even at the same calorie intake, can be found at Meat and Weight Gain in the PANACEA Study.

Why poultry though? We don’t know, but here are some possible contributing factors:

Other surprising discoveries in the field include:

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

142 responses to “Chicken Big: Poultry & Obesity

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  1. A couple of years ago, my neighbor switched to a Paleo diet (despite my warnings), and eats meat (mostly meat) three times a day, including bacon and eggs for breakfast. He lost 20 lbs, and claims he feels better than ever. I keep wondering if some day a time bomb will go off in his body. Meanwhile, how do we explain this weight loss?

    1. lower carbs equals less sugar equals lower insulin equals more fat burning. I’ve lost 10 lbs on a paleo diet, with a better lipid profile and more energy. Millions of people experience the same effect. I eat grassfed/organic meat whenever possible. And while I miss the carbs, I love the eggs, butter and meat! I know that’s heresy here but at least for me it works.

        1. Luckily, when it comes to Paleo/Lowcarb diets, no one is REALLY concerned with the science. Its all “good news about bad habits, and nothing you show me to the contrary will ever sway my beliefs”.

          1. Well, it’s working for him.

            Also, most scientists still believe that high-glycemic carbs make you fat. In addition to creating hunger cravings that make you fat.

      1. Do the research and go for a vegan whole food plant based diet and you’ll feel a lot better. After a period of gaining some weight that is. The paleo diet causes severe harm to your metabolism. I bet there are people over here that can help you get of that horrible diet.

        1. There’s a certainty that borders on arrogance when someone confidently prescribes a diet for a person they know nothing about.

          Metabolic individuality is a basic – and unchallenged – reality. Some people thrive on carbs, others on animal products etc. Just look at the varied diets followed by traditional peoples. They ranged from almost entirely fat to entirely carb, and most were healthier than people are today.

          My doctor – whose nutritional prescriptions cure cancer in hundreds of people – says that I do best on a diet with lots and lots of varied vegetables and moderate amounts of clean beef, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy. It’s cured me of metastatic cancer and as I said earlier makes me feel great, while improving my blood work.

          i follow this site avidly as I learn much from Dr Geiger that I apply in my diet. But the absolute belief that animal products are bad for everyone is – with all due respect – absurd.

          Just read the stories of the multitudes of former vegans whose health improved after leaving the diet.

          If you feel great as a vegan that’s fantastic. I have no desire or interest in challenging you. All I ask is that you – and other true believers – respect my experience and do the same with people like me.

          1. nonsense. You don’t even know how to spell the man’s name. If you’d really heard what he says you’d go vegan. There is no group of people who benefit from eating meat.

            1. Your reply is utterly predictable. First attack me on an irrelevancy – that I made a typo.
              Then distort what I said by saying that if I hear what he says i’d be vegan. Well I do and I’m not.
              Then you assert an absolute – no group benefits from meat – without even a scintilla of evidence. Because there is no evidence that everyone benefits from veganism. Nice job!

              1. You’re selectively closing your eyes. The evidence is on this very website.

                And a typo usually means you mistype one character; You mistyped three. Don’t you hate it when people misspell your name? Or do you think that’s irrelevant too?

                1. Show me even one properly done large study that shows that every single person would benefit from a vegan diet over a non vegan diet. If you can do that I’ll become a vegan!

                  1. Dear Herb,

                    You are using to the nirvana falacy. This site is completely loaded with excellent studies that show the benefits of a plant based diet and the disadvantages of eating animal product. But only if veganism is 100% perfect for 100% of the human population will you change?

                    Why don’t you try a whole food plant based diet for month and then see if it is good for _you_?

                    Best of luck

                    1. Some time ago I tried a whole food plant based diet for much more than a month and I felt quite unwell. So I went to a doctor who specializes in nutrition and after some sophisticated testing and clinical judgment he put me a balanced diet – lots of veggies and moderate amounts of animal protein. He finds that the majority of his patients do much better on a balanced diet than on a vegan diet – and he’s seen thousands of patients. I am thriving on this diet – feel great and blood tests reflect that.

                      So many vegans treat their eating philosophy as it were a religion. Unless they’re converting people they feel like they are letting their religion down. Well there are many religions in the world just as there are many dietary traditions, and no one religion or dietary tradition has been able to prove it’s the only right path despite the efforts of their true believers.

                    2. The second paragraph is really uncalled for. There is no scientific evidence for any religion and there is a shipload of scientific evidence and logical reasons for veganism. If you would be convinced eating stones would be a benefit for you I wouldn’t mind at all but you are eating animals. They also have lives and also want to live and be treated with respect incase you forgot.

                      So please tell me how you felt unwell, and what you speficically need from meat which cannot be found in plants + a few supplements that would be in and on the plants if they were grown on a healthy soil.

                  2. What exactly are you asking for Herb? Randomized controlled trials involving thousands of people is simply impossible and doesn’t exist. We don’t even have that kind of evidence against smoking cigarettes. If you are asking for a study in which 100% of people benefited on such a large scale that is also not possible. These types of standards are too high for a population bases where there are many variables that may be unaccounted for. There is much evidence of significantly lower rates of chronic disease amongst vegans and vegetarians.
                    “Mortality from all-cause, ischemic heart disease, and circulatory and cerebrovascular diseases was significantly lower in vegetarians than in omnivorous populations. Compared with omnivores, the incidence of cancer and type 2 diabetes was also significantly lower in vegetarians.”

                    ” Our results suggest that vegetarians have a significantly lower ischemic heart disease mortality (29%) and overall cancer incidence (18%) than nonvegetarians.”

                    “Vegetarians had a 32% lower risk (HR: 0.68; 95% CI: 0.58, 0.81) of IHD than did nonvegetarians, which was only slightly attenuated after adjustment for BMI and did not differ materially by sex, age, BMI, smoking, or the presence of IHD risk factors.”

                    “Vegetarian diets are associated with lower all-cause mortality and with some reductions in cause-specific mortality.”

                    Here is the essylsten paper showing the effectiveness of a plant based diet reversing heart disease and keeping it reversed for years.
                    “Thus, 99.4% of adherent patients avoided major cardiac events.”

                    Drugs can never do that. No exercise regiment or anything, and diet did this. “genuine very large effects with extensive support from substantial evidence appear to be rare in medicine and large benefits for mortality are almost entirely nonexistent.”

                    1. First thanks for those links. I – like so many others – recoil at the absolutist mentality of so many vegans. That’s what I’m asking for – a bit of humility and tolerance. No one diet is best for everyone. it’s as simple as that. As far as these studies go count me a skeptic as to the need to totally eliminate all animal products from the diet. Vegans and vegetarians generally have much better health habits than do omnivores and it’s extremely difficult to control for all those factors in a trial.

                      I’d love to see an RCT comparing a Paleo/low carb diet to a vegan diet for CVD patients. I personally think that as long as one is eating plenty of varied vegetables and nuts healthy animal protein is not harmful for most people. I don’t believe that trial has ever been done. If I’m wrong I’d appreciate finding out from someone.

                    2. It is good to be a skeptic. I think you would appreciate and take interest in some of the biological implications of consuming animal products. Those here who have been with NF for a long time and who have seen much of the research contained in the videos come to realize that animal products can never truly be defined as a “healthy” meat, but perhaps a condiment to a largely plant based diet. The reason that animal products may cause harm is not unknown. Please see here for some of the biochemical implications.

                      In addition, to your request, my previous comment cited a study which showed how a low fat plant based diet reversed heart disease, confirmed by imaging. You can see more on paleo here

                      In addition, I can share with you a large quantity of studies that show the diet advocated for on a low carb diet will lead to unfavorable outcomes. That I will leave out of the post as to keep the length appropriate. I encourage you to view the videos I linked for you, and see the “sources cited” section and see the studies for yourself.

                    3. Thanks for the links. I appreciate your fair mindedness. i suspect there’s not much daylight between my dietary approach and your ‘animal products as condiment’ approach. Eating – it goes without saying – should be about pleasure as much – if not more – than health. And for much of the human race – certainly for me – animal products provide great pleasure.

                      Several of the first links aren’t working.

                    4. The videos are being transferred to vimeo so there is a lag time for us to get the video links embedded to the right place. Here are the corrected links.

                      The rest should work fine in the 4th link. Also, a plant based can be be pleasurable, I find it so. The standard American diet is pleasurable to most, which is why they consume it, but I don’t think that’s a justifiable reason to continue to eat these types of foods. We’ll carry on this conversation once you have seen some of the videos.

              2. Herb, you’re wasting you time. These folks have all drunk the Greger kool-aid. I protested the characterization of eggs as the devil a short while back and got hate male and faux concern for a week after. You seem to have a good handle on your diet and I thought your comment on metabolism was right on. I didn’t spell check this so maybe Han will find something to feel good about.

                1. Metabolic individuality does exist indeed. Some people can digest milk, some can’t. But people who thrive on animal products don’t exist. Best they can do is survive it.

                  1. What an interesting world view. The vast majority of humankind simply doesn’t exist for at least one feverish vegan. My advice, move to India where the insect larva in the grain supply will give you the B12 you desparately need to be congnizant of the real world. Your reply stinks of a food-based moral superiority. You should see someone about that.

                    1. Al: I’m not sure what your question is. But if you are thinking that Eskimos and Massai are examples of people who thrive on meat, it is actually a myth. People from those native cultures which consume a lot of meat do not live very long generally due to the harsh conditions in which they live. But even by the time they reach the early ages in which they die, the people show signs of heart disease. We even see this in ancient mummies who could not have been influenced by modern diets/products.

                      Here is a copy of a post from “xfjea” that is very helpful:
                      “The idea of excellent cardiovascular health among inuits is probably based on inaccurate data. See this review from 2003:

                      And here is what Graham wrote:
                      “Autopsy data on pre-westernised Inuit shows lots of data for atherosclerosis in the Inuit.

                      If this topic interests you, Plant Positive has some wonderful details and source materials on the topic. Search for words on the following link/page such as: masai, alaska, eskimo, etc. Then click the links to watch the videos. You can also click in his search box for “inuit”. Or even better, go to the top of the list of the “Primitive Nutrition” series and watch the whole thing. :-) It’s *very* educational.

                      Hope that helps.

              3. I am a long time vegan but I agree with herb here. Body’s are different. Some thrive on vegan and some on flesh. Check out the blood type diet

                1. Nick: I think you will be interested to learn that there is no scientific evidence to support the blood type diet. You can learn more here:

                  Also, I’m not aware of a body of scientific evidence which supports the theory that “bodies” thrive on flesh. Instead, the evidence tells us that some people can get away with consuming flesh – much like some people can get away with smoking all of their adult lives and not seem to face any of the serious consequences most of the rest of face if we take up smoking. That’s doesn’t make smoking healthy…

            2. Han, I appreciate your fervor. I’m happy you’re doing well on WFPBD.

              However, denying reality for some does a disservice to the objective of getting more fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, and intact whole grains into ppl’s diets. Not everyone thrives on a WFPB diet even when it’s properly planned.

              I would recommend letting go of diet dogma and check out the website of vegan registered dietitian Jack Norris who has been grappling with this real phenomenon.


              There are those who wish to eat 100% WFPB but can’t. Have some empathy for them, please.

                    1. A single blog post is “too much data” for you? Why are you spending time on Dr. Greger’s website if not for data?

                      I’m still waiting for that 100% vegan Blue Zone.

                    2. Well I read the Jack Norris website which states that people who quit veganism do it for the flimsyest of reasons so I assumed that was a mistake on your behalf. And I don’t know what you try to say with a “100% vegan blue zone,” how is that relevant for your argumentation?

                    3. Flimsy?

                      HRC sounds pleased that only 29% experienced ill health – but that’s almost one-third of people who tried the diet. I was actually hoping to find out that, say, only 1% of former vegetarians experienced poor health because it would allow me to retire from my nutrition work that, while being a labor of love, is indeed a labor, and takes away from my other efforts. At almost 1 out of 3 people, I’m not so sure it’s time to cross the finish line and declare victory.

                      If you weren’t so focused on argumentation and diet dogma, you might’ve noticed that phrase “ill health”. You call that flimsy?

                      All I’m asking is that you humble your viewpoint just a little, just to the point where you can admit that there are people who want to be vegans or vegetarians and just can’t be…or like myself can’t be any longer… because their health was suffering.

                      Have a little respect for your elder and more experienced WFPBers.

              1. I’m not familiar with the dietitian you link to so I’ll have to read about him, but want to add that in the spirit of improving health, it’s small changes we make to a lifetime of less-than-ideal eating habits that help one learn about their own health and get in touch with how food makes them feel.

                In intonation-less message board replies, sometimes good intentions (e.g. eat this way and you’ll be healthier) can be perceived as scolding one’s eating choices. It’s unrealistic that a person will suddenly drop what they’ve always known and overhaul their diet (let alone that of an entire family) overnight or in a week or even in a few months. It’s taken me well over a decade to get to a place where I function well in a mostly WFPB home kitchen – purchasing new equipment / tools and taking time to learn new foods, spices and preparations that I didn’t learn growing up…and I still am not 100% WFPB every day, I doubt I ever will be and that’s ok.

                The last statement above, “there are those who wish to eat 100% WFPB but can’t…” resonates with me because it’s true. I’m not yet versed in metabolic differences when it comes to diet but undoubtedly from a logistics perspective there are many people who would love to eat healthier but getting to even 30% WFPB each day is a tall order of change in the context of their life (routines, expenses, knowledge) and so they really never start.

                Better to encourage small changes maybe not so much as percentages but rather as positive behaviors. The format of focusing on specific nutrition/health topics has been effective and empowering in my life, without shaming, and as a result has motivated some fantastic dietary behavioral changes. Thanks, Dr. Greger!

                1. I hear ya! In my case, I was veg*n for 20+ years. Adding animal products back into my diet due to food sensitivities slashing the absolute amount and variety of plant foods I could eat was a necessity, and it was not a decision I undertook willingly or happily. Han’s arrogance is vegan zealotry I was once guilty of myself. It is disturbingly unattractive.

                  1. After reading your comment I am left wondering if the issues you mention weren’t precisely those food sensitivities?

                    Just because you would eat a WFPB diet, doesn’t mean you would get along right with everything, there might be a lot of things that won’t go right for different people because of any underlying problems.

                    Yet I am highly skeptical that animal products would do much for you at all, because they are very much devoid of any nutrients (you cannot take, where there isn’t) and instead are full of toxins, and hormones that are far from beneficial. Again would be a miracle if nocive or downright dangerous components could help your health.

                    There were (and there are) smokers who keep claiming they feel physically better if they smoke. But there isn’t any evidence to it, in fact just the opposite. Placebo effect can take people *very* far.

                    1. I repeat,

                      food sensitivities slash[ed] the absolute amount and variety of plant foods I could eat

                      which prevented me from getting enough of an important MACROnutrient called PROTEIN (verified by bloodwork).

                      All the antioxidants and micronutrients in the world do you little good if you die from a lack of essential MACROnutrients. You have to eat for survival. Dead ppl can not advocate for ANY diet.

                      Eating animal products does not make me feel good in any way, and it causes its own set of side effects, even keeping it down to 10% of calories à la Fuhrman.

                      Placebo? Tobacco? Give me a judgmental break. Although you mean well, Thule, you don’t know how presumptuous and rude that analogy sounds. I shudder to think I used to say such insensitive things to my friends and relatives.

                    2. Sorry, no bad intention there.

                      Ok I see you aren’t keen on a diet that includes animals, and the major issues was protein. But as you know many doctors think we need far more protein than the actual need. In fact, the protein profile of animal products is problematic, please check this to begin with:



                      Doctors were formed under the mantra of the extreme importance of protein, and under the now proved false assumption that only meat had all the aminoacids.

                      It is impossible for anyone to eat the amount of calories they need per day, and no get the quantity of protein they need. It has been more than proved.

                      And lastly, it would be in fact good if you keep low in certain problematic aminoacids.

                    3. What do I have to do, Thule? Violate my own privacy by posting my bloodwork just to satisfy your OCD over my diet?

                      The fact was I had to restrict both the variety and absolute amount of plants that I could consume, and that prevented me from taking in enough calories, and therefore, the minimum amount of protein and other nutrients an adult body needs just on the plants that were left over.

                      Not only did my blood work indicate a problem, but I DID THE MATH according to Dr. Greger’s videos on protein requirements.

                      Please stop countering my comments with points and videos I’ve already watched and accepted as fact. You don’t know what you don’t know, and I have to live in the real world.

                    4. (Just one question, do you have issues with all legumes?)

                      Because outside the western world there are many that are mostly unknown here, for example see Mung Daal that I was recommending to another person here.

                      This is given to babies and sick people, because is highly tolerated. But there are more options beyond.
                      In any case, good luck. Hope you get better.

                    5. Such an enlightening discussion thread. If we can get people to eat mostly plants, that is a big step in itself. As a future RD, I need to be wary of making dogmatic claims and really focus on the individual. As in your situation, sensitivities limiting consumption of the proper macro nutrients due to food allergies is a greater concern and trumps strict WFPB. And in your case, with your knowledge, I assume your diet is filled with plenty of plant foods along with small amounts of animal products to sustain macro nutrient needs. I look forward to reading the Jack Norris article. May I ask, what allergies and sensitivities do you have that prevented you from consuming enough food? I ask purely out of curiosity and not to look for “solutions”.

                    6. Thank you for your respectful reply, Toxins. I appreciate your acknowledging my background. I’ve been frequenting Dr. G’s site and watching his videos for years. In fact, it was one of his videos which helped me pin down one of my apparent widely-encompassing sensitivities.

                      I also appreciate your acknowledging proper nutritional priorities.

                      In this day and age of ubiquitous data mining (even emails e.g., gmail), I am not willing to disclose every issue I have on the Internet. I have several conditions, all of which affect my food options. At this point, I’m really getting tired of the restrictions, especially since I am also intolerant of many supplements. OK with b-12 and DHA, but can’t take even a multivitamin without repercussions. Very frustrating.

                      So I’m now reintroducing some foods, doing my best to evaluate them individually instead of as a group, reintroducing them in varying amounts to see if they can be permanent residents of my diet, which amounts and frequency.

                      I sure wish it were as simple as “Just eat WFPBD”, but it’s just not, when almost all plants contain the component that causes me the most trouble. If wishes were fishes…

                    7. It’s the typical “sensitive snowflake” troll. Tried veganism, no details about why he has to eat meat, just take his word for it.

                  2. I have a friend that has colitis. Was doing well on his way of eating but not totally vegan. He had hernia surgery this year and that set off the colitis and he is really struggling with what he can eat. Legumes are a no because of the skins. Whole grains are too irritating. Is there a plant based diet for colitis?

                    1. My heart goes out to your friend, jj. As I just told Thule, you have to eat for survival. If that means eating more digestible processed or animal foods, that may be a necessity. Perhaps this will be a temporary issue.

                      How well does your buddy tolerate a fermented legume product like tofu or vegetarian “meats” like seitan, Qorn, or Boca products?

                      If I’m not mistaken, Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat for Life book has a protocol for inflammatory bowel disease. Perhaps he can give that a try.

                      I wish you both well!!

                    2. He is hoping that this is temporary and can get back to a more varied diet. He used to like tofu recipes my sister fixed but she isn’t able to do that anymore. Not sure what recipe he might want to try himself as he is a beginner cook. I don’t cook with tofu anymore just because it takes more fixing to be palatable. I prefer whole foods simply prepared. Can’t remember about Quorn or Boca, depends on how they are spiced. He does like books so will look for Eat for Life for him. Thanks. “you have to eat for survival” I agree with that. Each person has individual struggles/issues and must do the best they can manage for their body. I used to think there was only the vegan way of life but have come to modify my thinking.

                    3. Did your friend try red lentils? They are skinless and cooked to a mush. Very digestible.

                      But here the legume that are given to babies:


                      Of course get the skinless version. They cook very quickly, and also get cooked to a mush.

                      But I must say that for colitis, your friend should try Lactobacillus acidophilus (only) not other organism for now.
                      L. acidophilus is homofermentative which means that the only byproduct it forms from fermentation is lactic acid. (No other by-products as gasses, which are produced by other lactobacillus species which aren’t homofermentative)
                      L. acidophilus NCFM produces a bacteriocin, called lactacin B that demonstrates antimicrobial activity against other Lactobacilli and Enterococcus faecalis.

                      A brand that I recommend is this:

                    4. Hadn’t thought of the red lentils. Thanks. I’ll cook some for him and see if he will try. He isn’t too open to probiotics yet as someone had him take really strong ones after surgery and the result was not good.

          2. Is it possible that you have done well because you have increased your consumption of vegetables? The two good things that are on the Paleo diet are vegetables and nuts as well as fruits. Fruits, vegetables and nuts are correlated with good health in many studies. I don’t eat any meat, or as little as possible, because even if it is “grass fed” the slaughtering process is always an ugly thing. However, people in Okinawa eat *some* meat and still live a long time. No culture that consumes a LOT of meat, such as the Inuit are long lived. From a scientific point of view, I would say a person could eat up to 10% of their calories from non processed meat and still be healthy. The typical “Paleo” diet consists of 65% of calories being derived from animal products, which is far more than is healthy. Besides, eating tons of meat is hard on the digestive system.Eating ANY meat, in my estimation, if one has a choice is NOT kind at all. Maybe “grass fed” is not quite as cruel, but it still is for meat. Most people can do well on a Vegan diet if they make sure they get their nutrients. I remember one woman who claimed she didn’t do well on a Vegan diet because she became Vitamin D deficient. However, the sun is a good source, as well as mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light. If a person cannot make their own creatine (most people can create their own, but some can’t), then supplements are available. B12 can be derived from natural bacterial cultures. Before you assume you are healthy, you should get an angiogram, which would tell whether you had plaque build up in your arteries from all the animal products you consume. Blood tests don’t always show plaque build up. In my case, I had colon polyps five years ago (I got the colonoscopy because the stool test indicated blood), and thought I did not develop any additional polyps since subsequent stool tests showed no blood. However, today, I got the colonscopy and still had two additional polyps. I also once had a cracked tooth, which x rays won’t show. I had to go to an Endodontist to diagnose this and then get the root canal from her. So, you can’t always tell just by blood tests whether you are completely healthy or not. More invasive procedures can tell that.

          3. Meat eaters… so defensive. A meat diet may not do you any harm but it does the planet and of course the actual animals loads of harm. I am not vegan btw. I just don’t eat meat, fish, dairy or eggs because I know the harm it does.

              1. The term “vegan” can often include a moral philosophy beyond diet and health: no leather shoes, no handbags, or other products made of or by animals (honey). Thus the term whole foods plant-based diet was devised.

            1. Blossom, Your reply about the harm done through consumption of animal products takes a very narrow view. Like a lot of folks I raise backyard chickens. The birds roam the property freely and I take and use the eggs they produce daily. Trust me, they do not miss them and the eggs if left would be destroyed by vermin and the chickens themselves. Make some room in your philosophy for the many good folks who produce and use animal products humanely.

              1. Eggman: While backyard chickens are a step (or two) up from other farmed chickens, there are still a set of serious ethical and environmental problems with backyard chicken operations. I don’t want to spend the time explaining it all to you as I don’t think this is the place (my personal opinion). However, if you are interested, I highly recommend watching the movie, Cowspiracy for a beginning/beginner’s look at the issues in a manner that is entertaining.

                  1. MacSmiley: Thanks, yes. I’ve heard about cows that do that. There is also a video out there of a girl who wanted a horse, but her parent’s gave her a cow. So, she trained it to give her rides and jump hurdles. I’ve also seen a video of rescued dairy cows who jumped for joy after being released into a field. I’ve also read a story about a cow who made a Sophie’s choice with her twins. Incredible, true story in one of the books Karen Pryor wrote. The same book has a story about the grown, male head of a “natural” cow herd who has lunch with his mother every day. (They form life-long familial bonds.) Cows are truly amazing with inner lives that I would guess are equal too or more advanced than our dogs.

                    I’ve also heard a lot of amazing stories about chickens. For example, one of my friends taught her chicken to “sit” on cue.

                    The more I learn about the inner lives of non-human animals (from both anecdotes and scientific evidence), the more I feel awe and respect for them–and an obligation to treat them ethically.


                  Thea, I’ll certainly look at your recommended source. Your answer seems to indicate an interest in the environment . As such I’ve supplied the link above to give you food for thought on the cost to the planet to bring vegetables to the table. The most interesting assertion is that agriculture is the original cause of war. Talk about your ethical dilemma.

                  1. Eggman: I took a look at the article. I didn’t read it in detail, but I think I skimmed it enough to get the gist of the points. My opinion is that the guy makes no sense and is missing a bunch of key points. But if you want to argue for the moment that agriculture has a big cost to the environment and humanity (without qualifying that appropriately), then you have to stay away from meat, dairy and eggs more than ever–especially if you want to avoid war. They explain why in the movie I recommended, Cowspiracy.

                    For a less entertaining and perhaps harder to follow explanation (and one that may not address backyard chickens (I can’t remember), so you may not be interested), you might check out the following lecture. The benefit of this lecture is that it is free:

                    If you ever get a chance to watch Cowspiracy, I would be curious to hear what you think. Only a section of the movie addresses backyard chickens, but since you linked to the article above, it is possible that the entire Cowspiracy movie would interest you.

          4. Many people also do well smoking cigarettes & some live to late 90s smoking a pack a day and lots of alcohol consumption too. But on the whole population there is a direct correlation between cancer and smoking that cannot be denied. Also many fat people live very long productive lives. It’s all based on probability and chance. Eggs contain the highest amount of cholesterol. Cholesterol is associated with stroke, heart attack and many other diseases. Also consider innocent animals getting caged, tortured & butchered for your beliefs and the possibility that you may be wrong.

          5. It’s not just about health. Animal ag is destroying the planet. No one who has access to a modern grocery store or smartphones need meat to survive. We are currently witnessing the 6th mass extinction in history, I think your taste buds can take a seat for the greater good of the planet. I mean, roughly 900million people are starving, we slaughter 56 billion land animals annually, and there are only 7billion people on earth. Hello wake up please. By 2048 there might not be any fish in the ocean, if the ocean dies, we die. The ocean actually produces about 50% of the oxygen we breath. Not to mention rain forests are being destroyed to plant crops to feed to livestock. We are feeding livestock before people. This issue is extremely important not only from a Heath standpoint but for the sake of the planet, for our children’s children.

      2. “I love the eggs, butter and meat” is just like saying I love cholesterol, fat and dead flesh. Whatever spin you put on this one, it ain’t good for your tubes and senses mate.

    2. (1) Getting rid of non-satiating, hyper absorbable junk carbs and other processed foods engineered for hyperpalatability (2) Protein consumption can be satiating. Both circumstances leads to fewer calories actually consumed → weight loss.

      It’s not rocket science. Paleo is basically a low carb diet dressed up in a bearskin.

      1. Good point MacSmiley, while carbs go down and are depleted, protein and fat goes up, which is very satiating when consumed in high amounts, which, as you said, hunger and calories also go down, which leads to short term weight loss, but people don’t even consider the long term effects on their body systems, like clogging their arteries and damaging their GI tract.

    3. I believe your neighbor’s weight loss is best explained by understanding calorie density of foods. Of course as pointed out by many video’s on this site there are many factors correlated with weight problems ranging from possible viruses to hormones to persistent organic pollutants. The best resource for understanding calorie density is Jeff Novick’s presentation, Calorie Density: How to Eat More, Weigh less and live longer. The nice thing about Jeff’s presentation is he links calorie density to exercise. Another resource is Dr. McDougall’s excellent article for his monthly newsletter entitled, The Fat Vegan… see December 2008 via his website. The more animal products you consume the more risk you take on in acquiring many conditions linked to them. You can check out the calorie density of foods by using the website, Cron-0-meter. Select food, enter g for grams and 454 for number and hit enter the number of calories will give you the calorie density of that particular food (i.e. calories/pound). You do this and you can explain your neighbors success. Of course some of the subjective feelings of “feeling great” can be do to the consumption of animal products either through direct absorption of casomorphins or hormones or the production of endogenous morphines or other factors.

  2. Chicken is more fattening than red meat? Chicken has about the same or maybe a little more cholesterol than red meat, but much less saturated fat. total fat, and less calories. It is clear, from this study, that eating chicken is fattening far out of proportion to its calories. Are there things that are the opposite? Things that have a lot of calories but are slimming? Yes, nuts and dark chocolate can be slimming. I think Dr. Greger here boldly claims that being Vegan is important for long life, already saying that milk makes people overweight. The science of being vegan is so strong it seems it perplexes many doctors. Dr. Greger does not suggest that red meat is healthy, knowing the animal saturated fats in it are a cause of MS, Fibromaylgia, and other nerve related disorders, Dr, Greger is suggesting here that meat and animal product is the source of disease in the world. Killing is the cause of harm in life, and freedom from guilt of killing can ease the mind into health. I was long hoping Dr. Greger would suggest a safe amount of meat to eat, which seems to be none. Oprah advocated a beef and pork (red meat) free diet, only poultry. She received death threats from the beef industry. I think that she had studied her diet and found it was healthier. Apparently, not healthy enough. Perhaps we could adjust the BMI to be more reasonable because no one in the country is thin enough to pass it, except vegans, and they represent less than one percent of the country.

    1. Chicken is not more fattening than red meat, nor any other meat. The study is flawed and misleading. It only shows that people who eat more chicken have a higher BMI. Which may be true, but it’s only half the story. First, the BMI scale is a very poor predictor of overall health–it was created almost 200 years ago by a Belgian man with no medical background at all. It doesn’t take into account a variety of factors affecting the height-to-weight ratio, such as skeletal structure, bone density and muscularity. So it would be a mistake to think this study shows that eating chicken is fattening, when it’s just as likely that people who eat more chicken have greater muscle mass. Both would put them above 25 on the BMI scale, which is useless anyway.

  3. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has demonstrated that all animal products ( and oils) build arterial plaque. So in my mind it does not matter how much weight you lose or how much more better you think you feel, arterial plaque is arterial plaque. Let’s go get some!

    1. Would you klndly refer me to the peer reviewed study by Esselstyn – or anyone else – that shows that all animal products build up plaque in everyone? I’ve never seen such a study so please enlighten me. Thank you.

  4. Dr. Michael Greger has also conveyed numerous times through his videos that animal products promote the growth of human cancer cells. The consumption of animal products is a ‘fast track’ to heart disease and cancer…the number one and number 2 causes of death in the western world.

    1. Thank you. That is a very fair assessment. Meat consumption, smoking, obesity, and a lack of exercise are the cause of illness in the Western World. He is arguing here chicken causes obesity. I think Fenugreek is a plant that can cure obesity, as is drinking tea, eating small fruits before meals, eating smaller meals, eating nuts, and drinking hibiscus tea. I think you are saying that Dr. Greger would agree meat causes Metabolic Syndrome or X Syndrome. High blood pressure, diabetes, large waist line, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high BMI. He shows that the plant based diet is an effective treatment for this disease. He shows that this disease is a huge risk factor for any illness. How thin do you have to be to not get these diseases? What is too much hunch? He said a waistline which is half your height is desired. If I eat only plants will I have that? I am too fat on the BMI and the waist measure scale. I was only that thin when I ran four miles a day. I am developing leg injuries and can’t seem to find the energy despite the fact that I walk much of the day. Was it because I ate meat when I was younger? Anyone can be skinny if they don’t eat meat? What do you do with the overweight vegetarians? They can eat nuts, beans, matcha, berries, beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and the richest ones in terms of antioxidants for a fighting chance.

      1. I lost 74 lbs in 7 months embracing a 100% ‘live’ plant-based-diet. The key word here is ‘live’. Nothing from a box, bottle, can, jar, bag, container, wrapper, or bag. I eat what I want, when I want, and as much as I want. I do not need to exercise to maintain my weight at 10% body fat. However, I do exercise for other reasons. This was in 1991, and still going strong today.

        1. We all cant eat 100% ‘live’ plant-based-diet all the time. I live in a country in Europe that get very cold in the winter and we have to buy frozen veggies and even cand

          1. You can still eat plant-based all the time. I live in a place that gets cold and I buy frozen veggies, but it’s still better than eating rotting carcasses (AKA meats). Plus you can supplement with live plants by sprouting regularly in your house and eating the sprouts of beans and legumes.

  5. How come no one ever looks at the fact that most American poultry is full of hormones and antibiotics? While it seems like it may be difficult to do, I’d like to see a comparison study or two that looks at consumption of poultry (and meat) raised with and without hormones and antibiotics. Just seems like such a no-brainer to me.

  6. I have read the studies and looked at the discussion and find it very disappointing. Its not natural foods that make you gain weight but ones that are grown with human intervention. Take chicken as the example: No where in the study does it say that the chicken meat these people are eating is from free range (true free range means no grain feeding or supplementing with anything but open spaces and naturally eating what they eat). So if they are eating the usual chicken meat supplied to humans then it is fed on a diet of GMO produce and the chickens themselves have been specifically manipulated in their breeding to produce more meat. So to get a real conclusion here you need to identify the source of the problem and not label it all as bad. What is reported in the video is bad science and does not help the cause. Bits of studies presented as fact is misleading and downright dangerous to those not aware of all the details in a study and even the intent behind the study so lets present facts in full in the future and stop pushing individual beliefs of what they think a study is saying. Its so full of holes it won’t hold water.

    1. Paul and Suzanne, thanks for bringing this up, as I have thought about this many times! I opt to be vegan for many reasons, but in all fairness, our tainted and unnatural food supply, specifically regarding animals, needs to be studied separately from the traditional forms in order to fairly access their subsequent impact! It is like comparing apples and oranges and isn’t relevant to those who do opt to include some animals in their diet. I just can’t fathom that a genetically altered un-chicken fed things that no normal chicken would chose to eat, in an environment no chicken would choose to occupy, is going to be the same nutritionally as a normal, naturally fed and raised, healthy chicken! Though as I said, I chose to avoid animal consumption, I still feel this is an extreme form of diet because I think as humans our natural food choices have always been opportunistic, hence our overwhelming “success” on this planet! In nature, we ate whatever we could get into our bellies, without it killing us short term…but we have since “evolved”, eh? LOL! It isn’t hard to extrapolate that the more unnatural our diets become, the more we suffer, and specifics aside, I think it is the BIGGEST issue facing us and our declining health. We all know the huge benefits that eating a plant based diet gives us, there is no question we should all strive toward that goal, but I can’t imagine that the harm from eating some natural animal sources is in any way equivalent to consuming the totally disparate monstrosities foisted on us today! It is a glaring oversight that only serves to muddy the issues, which is totally counter to what this site is all about! Thanks Dr Greger, for all you do! I just wish it were YOU who designed these studies so we could know the whole truth!

  7. I just clicked on the email for the Chicken video but saw one on the affects of mint on performance…odd? Anyone else have this experience?

  8. Since these studies were conducted prior to 2013 when roxarsone, carbarsone and arsanilic acid (arsenic) was routinely added to feed in order to have the animals gain greater weight. Could be a plausible explanation.

  9. Off topic: Thanks very much for all these great videos. I’m curious about the healthiness or otherwise of several supplements that I have been taking:
    Multi B (I take B12 daily as well)
    Thanks again :)

    1. Bruce: I don’t necessarily have a direct answer for you. But I believe that NutritionFacts has an indirect answer at least. For example, here are Dr. Greger’s overall nutrition recommendations. Note which supplements are included and which are not:

      Also, this website has several videos/articles on the general topic of supplements beyond what Dr. Greger recommends. Usually the news is bad. Here are some examples. You can draw lessons from these and apply it to your specific questions as you see fit.

      Here’s one on creatine itself:

      I’m not a doctor. You may have a specific condition that would make it wise to take one or more of the supplements you list. I’m just giving you general information. Hope that helps.

      1. Thanks Thea. As I mentioned above, I have a brain tumour. I started taking these supplements mainly from my own internet “research”, not due to a recommendation from a cancer specialist. I think I’ll try dropping the dosage of the ones that are not clear yet, by half. And for the ones for which there is good information that it is bad for people, I’ll just drop it.

        I’m wondering if the studies about supplements and longevity adjust for people like myself, who start taking supplements *because* they are unwell?

        Thanks again :)

        1. Bruce: I’m sorry to hear about your tumor. Dang. That’s way above my ability to comment/help. It seems to me that your approach is very reasonable and that you are trying to everything you can to help yourself in terms of doing the research and taking reasonable steps. I admire that. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

    2. The only supplement for the general population following a plant based diet is Vitamin B12. To understand the amounts you can view the series of 5 video’s that Dr. Greger posted in February 2012. You can start with posted on February 3rd and view the others. As Thea pointed out in her post there may be good reasons to take supplements but in general the track record for isolated supplements is not very good. You can watch videos on Beta Carotene, Vitamin A and Vitamin E to get the general idea. The physiologic and biochemical pathways in our bodies are so complex that it is difficult to fully evaluate the effects across all important areas. I would keep tuned as the science and recommendations keep changing and work with your physician(s) or other health care professionals as needed. Happy Holidays.

      1. Thank you :) I should have mentioned that I have a brain cancer (anaplastic astrocytoma in the brain stem and cerebellum). I have watched most of the videos on this site now, and I get the idea that most supplements are better consumed as whole plant foods. My experience has been that conventional nutritionists don’t have a clue, and most physicians don’t want to consider the possibility that diet can affect health.

        I have been taking these and other supplements for a few years now. (and I’m still alive, which is good ;) ) The supplements that I mentioned above are the ones for which I was unable to find any information about on this site. I’m wondering if I should keep taking them or stop – which is safest? Where else can I get good information?

        Thank you very much!

      2. Thanks very much.

        I should have mentioned that I have a brain tumour. (anaplastic astrocytoma in the cerebellum and brain stem)

        I have been watching lots of the fantastic videos here, so I understand that generally a plant based source is much better than a manufactured “supplement”.

        I have been taking these supplements (listed above, amongst others) for over four years now, and I am still alive (which is good, I quite like being alive :) ) These are the ones that I haven’t found a conclusive answer for yet.

        In my experience, most conventional nutritionists don’t have a clue about the benefits of a plant-based diet, and most physicians seem reluctant to believe that diet could be a significant factor in the health of their patients.

        So my question is: what is the safest path to take:
        1. drop these supplements completely
        2. keep taking them at the same dosage
        3. reduce the dosage to half what I have been taking

        I guess that 3. is the way to go for any specific supplement that I don’t get significant information on?
        Also, does anyone have any suggestions as to where I might get a more conclusive answer?

        Thanks very much :)

  10. Um, did anyone think of the possibility that because meat is high in complete protein (and chicken is particularly high in lean protein, which is why bodybuilders eat it) the weight gain might be due to lean mass gains (ie muscle). That would be a potentially good result. On a quick look I don’t see any control for that in the PANACEA Study, although it seems like an obvious hypothesis.

    1. Hi Lachlan, that is a great point. The study did account for the level of physical activity the participants did, although, it does not mention whether this affected their lean body mass. I will agree that BMI is not a good indicator of lean mass, which the study also mentioned could not be measured due to the nature of the study being observational.

      It is possible the weight gain was due to an increase in their lean muscle, but I hope you ask yourself if animal protein is really the best way to gain lean muscle. Not only does animal protein show a direct relationship with cancer promotion in the body, but eating more plant based protein is preferred among serious health professionals. If you are eating protein sources that also give you the filling effects of fiber, healing effects of antioxidants and much more, you will definintely build lean muscle.

      I also wanted to let you know that plants not having the “complete protein” needed is not true. Eating a variety of plants will give you more than enough protein, containing a full spectrum of amino acids. Click here to read more about the complete protein myth. I hope you take some time to check out the links in this comment. I can’t tell you how much brown rice and chicken breast I have consumed in the past while spending hours in the gym trying to get lean. Now, I hardly exercise like I used to and I am much leaner, and in way better health. This information changed my life! :-) Take care.

  11. What type of chicken ? Boiled ? Fried ? Cooked in the oven ? Chicken meat or skin ? I think that makes a huge difference too. FAT people like eating fried chicken with french fries and coca cola ! There you baby !

  12. So in switching to a plant-based diet, how long before we should see results? I feel better but I do not seem to be losing any weight and I am overweight. Is there a list/blog post or a video that outlines more specific findings on increasing weight loss?

    1. Here are some of the best weight loss tips I know of for a plant based diet. Via Jeff Novick.

      If you allow people to eat “ad libitum” or all they want till the are comfortably full, from low calorie dense foods, they will lose weight, not be hungry and do not have to count calories.

      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

      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 their Whole grain) around 1200-1500 cal/lb

      Nuts/Seeds around 2800 cal/lb

      Oils around 4000 cal/lb

      What they found is if the calorie density of the food is below 400 calories per pound, not matter how much they eat, they all lost weight.

      Between 400-800 calories per pound, with some moderate exercise, they all lost weight.

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

      Over 1200 calories per pound, everyone gained 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 maintained, gained or lost a little. It was the area that I call the “cut-off” zone and the results depending on the person and their activity level.

      These numbers are also inline with other recommendations.

      The recent WCF/AICR report on cancer recommends that the average calorie density of our diets be around 550-600 calories per pound, to avoid obesity and weight problems.

      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. Hence the principles of the MWL program is to avoid those foods, or really limit them.

      In regard to how many calories to eat, that is another number, that….

      1) has no simple answer unless you plan to maintain the exact same physical activity, exercise, stress, temperature, etc etc every day. The concept that everyone needs a certain calorie level that can be determined is wrong.

      2) i do not think people need to know this number nor do I think there are any great ways to calculate it. All the forumlas have great margins of error in them. So does all estimates of how many calories there are in food. Any calorie estimate you see on any food package can be up to 20% off. Formulas can be over 40% off. Professionals trying to track their calorie intake can be 30% off. Why attempt to measure something that we have such poor ways of measuring.

      3) calorie density is a much better approach then counting calories as it uses general guidelines and principles to help make healthier choices.

      We should focus our diets on a variety of healthy foods within the healthy food groups, get enough activity and physical exercise, and not worry about micromanaging our intake.

      If we need to lose weight, then we can shift our overall calorie density down by focusing on and including more foods lower in calorie density and limiting the higher calorie dense foods. If we need to gain some weight, then we can do the opposite and include more higher calorie dense healthy foods. Of course, we can also adjust activity levels to coincide with our food intake and our goals.

      To Summarize for simplicity for those interested in weight maintenance

      Eat Freely:

      (Foods Low In Calorie Density)

      Fruits and veggies

      Eat Relatively Large Portions Without Concern:

      (Foods Moderate In Calorie Density)

      Starchy Veggies, Intact Whole Grains and Legumes

      Limit These Foods

      (Foods High In Calorie Density)

      Breads, Bagels, Dry Cereals, Crackers, Tortilla’s, Dried Fruit

      Extremely Limit These Foods:

      (Foods Very High In Calorie Density)

      Nuts, Seeds, OIls, Solid Fats, Junk Foods

      The beauty of calorie density is that it frees us from all these numbers and having to count, portion weigh and/or measure anything. So, don’t get caught up in the numbers and for those who do not like numbers, just understand the principle.

      – Hunger & Satiety

      Whenever hungry, eat until you are comfortably full. Don’t starve and don’t stuff yourself.

      – Sequence Your Meals.

      Start all meals with a salad, soup and/or fruit

      – Don’t Drink Your Calories

      Avoid liquid calories. Eat/chew your calories, don’t drink or liquify them. Liquids have little if any satiety so they do not fill you up as much as solid foods of equal calories.

      – Dilution is the Solution: Dilute Out High Calorie Dense Foods/Meals

      Dilute the calorie density of your meals by filling 1/2 your plate (by visual volume) with intact whole grains, starchy vegetables and/or legumes and the other half with vegetables and/or fruit.

      – Be Aware of the Impact of Vegetables vs Fat/Oil

      Vegetables are the lowest in calorie density while fat and oil are the highest. Therefore, adding vegetables to any dish will always lower the overall calorie density of a meal while adding fat and oil will always raise the overall calorie density of a meal

      – Limit High Calorie Dense Foods

      Limit (or avoid) foods that are higher in calorie density (dried fruit, high fat plant foods, processed whole grains, etc). If you use them, incorporate them into meals that are made up of low calorie dense foods and think of them as a condiment to the meal. For example, add a few slices of avocado added to a large salad, or a few walnuts or raisins added in a bowl of oatmeal and fruit.

    2. vwill: Toxins reply was *excellent* and a great summary of the concept of calorie density. If you want to expand your understanding a little more, here are some talks that will help with this concept and should help you loose weight without feeling hungry and still getting all of the nutrients you need:

      [1] Free lecture available on line by Dr. Lisle.
      “How To Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind”

      [2] Jeff Novick’s DVD, Calorie Density; Eat More, Weigh Less and Live Longer. Also check out Jeff’s DVDs in the Fast Food series. Great, affordable food that is easy to make. All of these are available on Amazon. Here is the first one:

      Good luck!

  13. I saw your recent FaceBook post congratulating Penn Jillette for losing 74 pounds in 12 weeks on a plant-based diet. On Penn’s podcast, he estimated that he might have eaten around 800 calories a day.

    My question relates to the idea of “metabolic damage,” which some folks online explain as an adaptation of the body to reduce the rate of metabolism during periods of starvation, i.e. calorie restriction.

    What do you think nutritional research suggests about the validity of the theory of metabolic damage? I guess the suggestion by the people vilifying calorie restriction is that Penn, for example, will have a greatly reduced metabolism and that he would gain back the weight quickly because of metabolic damage.

    Another confusing element is that Dr. McDougall says in the starch solution that excess starch calories aren’t converted into fat because, essentially, the human body is really bad at de novo lipogenesis. So, would Penn have lost as much weight, just maybe more slowly, if he had simply adopted a low fat plant based diet with more calorie dense plant foods such as potatoes and fruit (he said that he ate some rice, but not fruit and I think not potatoes, too)? And would that have been more healthy since it didn’t entail such dramatic calorie restriction and the potential for metabolic damage?

    I also should say that I understand that I don’t know exactly what Penn ate on his diet, but I think that it was telling that he didn’t count calories, because that likely means that he was filling himself up with low calorie density, high nutritional density foods like greens and colorful veggies with no added oils or animal foods. If he ate 800 calories a day and didn’t feel hungry, then I guess this seems like a powerful way for obese people to radically change their BMI’s and associated health outcomes, without the feeling of deprivation, not to mention the literal deprivation that comes from eating animal-based foods with low nutritional density, that normally accompanies such radical calorie restriction.

    I am a huge fan of your work. Thanks in advance for any reply.

    1. Hi Ian. Thanks for reposting your question. I too am not aware of what Penne ate exactly or the validity on the term “metabolic damage”. It is not found in a pubmed search, but I found a few websites of course coining the term. That seems like rapid weight loss I hope he was eating enough to feel full and not deprived of nutrients! At any rate he seemed to see great results and I am happy for him. In this study, A multicenter randomized controlled trial of a plant-based nutrition program to reduce body weight and cardiovascular risk in the corporate setting: the GEICO study participants followed a plant-based diet with no portion control and still found significant weight loss. I am not certain what is the healthiest approach, but to me if you can achieve weight loss healthfully by not depriving the body of nutrients and feeling full that is a better option than calorie restricted diets. I hope that helps, maybe someone has more to add. A few more videos on calorie restriction and diet from Dr. Greger if interested. And here. The latter video may be more helpful. Let me know if it helps?

      Thanks again for your comments!

  14. I don’t understand one thing. Why is this so amazing? Of course if the individuals eat the same amount of everything else except meat, you will see fluctuations in BMI according to that. The change in meat consumption is directly related to change in calorie consumption. It basically just says “If you eat more calories, you’ll gain more weight” – or am I missing something here?

  15. My son has the opposite problem. Rather than overweight, he’s underweight! He is 18 years old, 6′ 4″ tall, weighs 145 lbs., 36″ inseam, and his 31″ waist jeans are loose. My husband and I are on a plant-based diet, and when our son eats at home he eats plant-based with us. However, when he is at school, work, or just out and about he eats pretty much whatever he wants. What is a healthy way for him to add some weight?

  16. Hey Dr. Greger, i have recently decided to stop eating animal products and would like to share these videos with my friends, however i noticed you specifically said meat consumption is correlated with weight. but what kind of weight is it? is it simply just fat? or is it muscle too? or even why does it not matter? i ask because they are into fitness and building muscle and would probably want to find catches with these studies that affirms their current lifestyle choices. Thank you

    1. Nicole: I can’t answer your specific question (though I suspect we are talking mostly fat). But I can address the more general questions of: 1) Why it doesn’t really matter, 2) whether a whole plant food diet is good for athletes and muscle building.

      For question 1), I would point out that there are a bazillion videos (that’s an exact count) on this site showing many negative health impacts from meat, dairy and egg consumption. Even if someone wanted to argue that eating meat gave them some extra muscle (unlikely all things considered, but I’m stating it for the sake of argument), according to the data, that animal food consumption translates into increased risk for early death, cancer, diabetes, stroke, etc, etc, etc. What is the point if one does not gain overall general health?

      For question 2), I’ll share some of the stories I’ve picked up about vegan muscle builders and general athletes who have been improving their performance and setting world records after going vegan. Perhaps if your friends were exposed to some of this information, they would see the benefits of changing their lifestyle?

      I hope this helps.


      (article from meatout mondays)
      Vegan Bodybuilders Dominate Texas Competition

      The Plant Built ( team rolled into this year’s drug-free, steroid-free Naturally Fit Super Show competition in Austin, TX, and walked away with more trophies than even they could carry.

      The Plant Built team of 15 vegan bodybuilders competed in seven divisions, taking first place in all but two. They also took several 2nd and 3rd place wins.

      For More Info:

      When Robert Cheeke started in 2002, being the only vegan athlete he knew of, he may not have imagined that the website would quickly grow to have thousands of members. Robert says, “We’re discovering new vegan athletes all the time, from professional and elite levels… to weekend warriors and everyone in between.”

      For More Info:
      There was that other guy who just did a world record in weight lifting. “Congratulations to Strongman Patrik Baboumian who yesterday took a ten metre walk carrying more than half a tonne on his shoulders, more than anyone has ever done before. After smashing the world record the Strongman let out a roar of ‘Vegan Power’…” For more info:
      another article on the same guy:
      Here’s a story about a bodybuilder who doesn’t use any supplements. Just eats whole plant foods:
      Mr Universe – “Since going vegan, he has actually gained even more mass, now at 107 Kilos…”
      Bite Size Vegan has a youtube channel
      “In this video series, you’ll hear from various vegan athletes from all walks of life and athletic abilities speaking to such topics as vegan athletic performance, building muscle on a vegan diet, vegan endurance running, bodybuilding, body image, and more!”
      Here’s another site that I like:

      I found this story on the above site: “Pat Reeves has set a new world powerlifting record at the WDFPA World Single Lift Championships. The 66 year old lifter, who has been vegan for 46 years, lifted 94 kg to set a record for the under 50.5kg weight class while competing in France in June 2012. The lift was more than 1.85 times her bodyweight, which is exceptional for her division. Pat is now officially the oldest competing weightlifter in Europe.”

      Hope everyone finds this helpful.

      Story of Mac Denzig, winner of season six of The Ultimate Fighter
      Book: Vegan Bodybuilding And Fitness by Robert Cheeke

      For those who want a more thorough dietary guide, I suggest Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Brazier. His book is exclusively about vegan sports nutrition and contains a variety of great tasting recipes along with a 12-week daily meal plan.
      (someone on Amazon)

      More about Thrive:
      Thrive Energy Cookbook
      Created by two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion, Brendan Brazier, Thrive Energy Cookbook dives into Brendan’s philosophy on plant-based nutrition, showcasing 150 easy, health-enhancing recipes.

      An expert on how diet affects performance and how not to waste energy, Brazier explores how foods in their natural state maximizes energy and health, lowers body fat, improves sleep, and peaks conditioning and physical performance.

      Thrive Energy Cookbook includes the use of leafy greens, hemp seeds, quinoa, brown rice, and nuts as staples in an alkaline-forming, plant protein-packed diet regime.

      In addition to being a best selling author, Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman triathlete. He is the creator of the ZoN Thrive Fitness Program and the award winning, plant-based VEGA product line.

      And another article from Meetout Mondays:

      Vegan Figure Skater Takes Silver
      Canadian Olympian Meagan Duhamel and her partner Eric Radford won a silver medal in pairs figure skating at this year’s Olympic games in Sochi, Russia.

      Duhamel proudly took to Twitter announcing that she is an “Olympian, vegan, yogi and nutritionist.” Wonderful! Congratulations to Meagan for being an outspoken and shining example of what healthy vegan eating looks like. …

      (from Meetout Mondays)
      Plant-Powered Athlete: Griff Whalen [NFL Player]
      His teammates say he has the most enviable body on the team. They say he consumes an average of 6,000 calories and 200 grams of protein a day. They also say, he does it all by eating plants!

      In a recent interview on, Indianapolis Colts’ wide receiver Griff Whalen, talks about his vegan ways.

      “I feel a lot lighter, faster, quicker on the field. There isn’t that heavy feeling, that groggy feeling after I eat,” says Whalen.

      Hooray for another plant-powered athlete for us to cheer on. w00t! w00t!

      Read the full article on :
      (from Meetout Mondays)
      NFL’s David Carter on Living Vegan: In an interview last month on Rich Roll’s podcast, 27 year old Chicago Bears’ defensive lineman, David Carter spoke of a day in the life of the NFL, what he eats daily, his vegan journey, and his commitment to animal advocacy.

      “I can honestly say that being vegan is not only the most efficient way to be full-body strong, it’s also the most humane; everyone wins,” Carter said on the podcast.

      Carter is also the founder of The 300 Pound Vegan, a lifestyle blog where the NFL player writes about his journey through veganism and shares plant-based recipes. If nothing else, Carter shows us that living on plants is not just for endurance athletes or yogis but can positively impact heavy hitters in terms of their size, speed, agility, power, and quickness. Aww, yeah! Thanks for being so rad, David. We love it!

      Listen to the full interview on Rich Roll:
      Or for a written story with sample menu plan:

      And another article from Meetout Mondays:

      Record Setting, 92 Yr Old Vegan Runner

      Mike Fremont has been vegan for over 20 years, and has been setting single age marathon running records just as long.

      “At age 88 [Mike] ran a 6H5M53S marathon in Cincinnati Ohio and at age 90 ran a 6H35M47S marathon in Huntington West Virginia. [He] also set a single age world record for 90 years old in the half marathon in Morrow Ohio in August 2012,” said Veg World Magazine.

      According to an interview with Veg World Magazine, Fremont credits his vegan lifestyle for his continued record setting runs, at his age.

      We love seeing vegans making positive media waves, and what better way to showcase the health benefits of plant-powered living than Mike’s awesome running career. Here’s to you Mike, and vegan athletes of all ages!

      Learn more about Mike Fremont a

      from Meatout Mondays:

      World’s First Vegan Pro Soccer Team

      The Internet went wild last week as the news that English soccer (A.K.A football) team, the Forest Green Rovers, announced that the entire team and club is going completely vegan.

      “We stopped serving meat to our players, fans and staff about four seasons ago,” said club owner Dale Vince (via a recent article on He continued, “We’ve been on a mission since then to introduce our fans to this new world.” The article explains that while the club has been vegetarian for the past few years, they’ve decided to take the next step in going fully vegan (including their beer and cider options). Also cool to know: the club’s field is organic and they collect rainwater to use for irrigation. This is seriously super cool, you guys. Keep it up!

      Read the source article on:

      from Meatout Mondays:
      Vegan Arm Wrestler: Rob Bigwood

      “Some of his opponents say that since going vegan Rob is stronger, his stamina grew, and he became more difficult to pin,” notes an interview-style Facebook post by ‘Starry N Ight.’

      A competitive arm wrestler since 2000, Rob Bigwood has been making a name for himself in the arm wrestling community—not only as the one to beat but also as the guy who eats plants. Rob has said, “I was concerned at first [about not eating meat for strength] but didn’t care. I made a conscious and ethical decision to give up meat…It is more important to practice what I believe in than to worry about being a strength athlete. I have never felt better in my entire life and it was one of the smartest decisions I ever made.”

      Check out one of Rob’s interviews on

      from Meatout Mondays:
      Vegan Bodybuilder Bucks Stereotypes

      Vegan bodybuilder Joshua Knox shares his game changing and inspiring vegan story during a TEDxFremont, California presentation.

      In this five-minute long video, shared by Mercy for Animals, Knox talks of his ‘meat and potatoes’ upbringing and what led him to give veganism a try. The results were nothing short of wonderful.

      “Not only was I able to continue increasing my strength and performance but also saw massive gains in endurance as well… [and] rather than feeling like I was missing out on foods I really felt that I was opening my mind to so many things I would have never put on my plate…” Knox said during his presentation. Joshua also noted a drop in his cholesterol, while experiencing mental and emotional health improvements as well. Rock on, Josh! Thank you for sharing your story

      Watch the short video on Mercy for Animals’ youtube channel:

      from Meatout Mondays:
      Vegan Breaks World Record in Push-Ups

      A vegan from Kerala (a South Indian state) has just broken the Guinness World Record for knuckle push-ups (press ups). K.J. Joseph—a manager of an ayurveda centre in Munnar—completed 82 push-ups in 60 seconds, beating out Ron Cooper from the US who held the record at 79 push-ups in 2015. “Joseph has already entered the Universal Record Forum by doing 2092 push-ups in an hour. He is currently the record holder in the India Book of Records,” notes Thanks for making us vegans look good, Joseph. And congrats on your win!

      Check out the original story:

      from Meatout Mondays:

      Professional Bodybuilding Couple Celebrate Veganism
      Named 2014 Mr Universe, Barny Du Plessis and his fiance, named UK’s strongest woman, Josie Keck are excited to share and to celebrate their one year vegan anniversary this month. In a comprehensive interview by British publication, Daily Mail, the vegan (literal) power couple are “…serious about [their] crusade to save the Earth, the animals, [themselves], and our dignity as a species,” said Barny. The articles noted that, “Barny is on a mission to destroy the idea that eating meat is associated with manliness.” He said, “I’m living proof that you simply don’t need to eat meat or animal products to make great gains, be strong, healthy, fit, and feeling mighty.” We couldn’t agree more, Barny. Congratulations to you both on your anniversary! We’re so jazzed you’re passionate about veganism.

      “When training for competitions Barny eats up to 4,500 calories a day, while Josie consumes 2,200 of vegan food. While preparing for a competition their typical diet consists of a wide variety of vegetables; fruit such as apples, bananas, dates and berries; grains such as basmati rice, quinoa and tapioca, pulses like chickpeas and brown and red lentils; as well as powders such as rice protein, hemp protein and vegan protein blend.” And the article includes a sample daily menu for each of them.

      From PCRM Weekly News Update:
      What do the world’s top male and female tennis players have in common? They love vegan food! In a new Huffington Post piece, Dr. Barnard talks about plant-powered Novak Djokovic’s recent win at the French Open.

  17. I’m really disappointed that a website named nutritionfacts would produce a video like this. The study it’s based on is just bad science, and shame on you Dr. Greger for not seeing the giant flaws in it.

  18. They concluded the article with this quote wuat do u think “However, total meat consumption, or factors directly related to total meat intake, was not strongly associated with weight change during the 14-y prospective follow-up in this elderly population.”

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