Plant-Based Atkins Diet

Plant-Based Atkins Diet
4.69 (93.78%) 45 votes

Harvard study found that men and women eating low carb diets live significantly shorter lives, but what about the “eco-Atkins diet,” a plant-based, low carbohydrate diet?


This was a pretty dramatic case report, but it was just one person. Recently, researchers at Harvard decided to look at 100,000 people: “Low-Carb Diets and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality.” They found that low-carb diets were associated with higher all-cause mortality, higher cardiovascular disease mortality, and higher cancer mortality. The final nail in Atkins’ coffin. Men and women on low-carb diets lead significantly shorter lives; more cancer deaths, more heart attacks.

Sure, you may lose some weight, but the only way we may be able to enjoy it is with a skinnier casket. But wait! In 2009, some enterprising researchers came up with a plant-based, low-carb diet; the so-called “Eco-Atkins” diet.

They figured that maybe the problem with the Atkins diet wasn’t that it was high-fat, high-protein, but that it was high-animal fat, -animal protein. So they constructed a vegan version of the Atkins diet. How is that possible? Well, lots of mock meats, seitan, soy burgers, veggie bacon, veggie cold cuts, veggie sausage, tofu, lot of nuts, avocado, etc.

How did they do? Pretty good, actually. Instead of their bad cholesterol going up, like it does on a meat-based Atkins, after just two weeks on the plant-based, low-carb diet, their LDL was down more than 20%. Now the whole study only lasted a month, though, so you couldn’t really make any generalizations. But it was intriguing enough that when the data was run at Harvard, they picked out the people eating plant-based, low-carb diets to see if they suffered the same low-carb fate.  That’s the nice thing about doing dietary studies on 100,000 people at a time: you can find people eating just about anything.

What do you think they found? This line represents the mortality rate of the typical diet. And this is what they found for people following more of an Atkins-style low-carb diet: significantly higher risk of death.

But what do you think they found for those following a plant-based, low-carb diet? Do they suffer the same crazy mortality as the Atkins people? Or maybe they didn’t do that bad, but still had more mortality than those eating regular diets? Or did they have the same, or lower mortality? They had lower mortality.

They concluded: “A low-carbohydrate diet based on animal sources was associated with higher all-cause mortality in both men and women, whereas a vegetable-based low-carbohydrate diet was associated with lower all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality rates.”

So it appears, what matters really isn’t the ratio of fat to carbs to protein, but rather, the source— whether they’re coming from plants or animals.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is transcript contributed by Bruce A. Hamilton.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Stacy Spensley / Flickr

This was a pretty dramatic case report, but it was just one person. Recently, researchers at Harvard decided to look at 100,000 people: “Low-Carb Diets and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality.” They found that low-carb diets were associated with higher all-cause mortality, higher cardiovascular disease mortality, and higher cancer mortality. The final nail in Atkins’ coffin. Men and women on low-carb diets lead significantly shorter lives; more cancer deaths, more heart attacks.

Sure, you may lose some weight, but the only way we may be able to enjoy it is with a skinnier casket. But wait! In 2009, some enterprising researchers came up with a plant-based, low-carb diet; the so-called “Eco-Atkins” diet.

They figured that maybe the problem with the Atkins diet wasn’t that it was high-fat, high-protein, but that it was high-animal fat, -animal protein. So they constructed a vegan version of the Atkins diet. How is that possible? Well, lots of mock meats, seitan, soy burgers, veggie bacon, veggie cold cuts, veggie sausage, tofu, lot of nuts, avocado, etc.

How did they do? Pretty good, actually. Instead of their bad cholesterol going up, like it does on a meat-based Atkins, after just two weeks on the plant-based, low-carb diet, their LDL was down more than 20%. Now the whole study only lasted a month, though, so you couldn’t really make any generalizations. But it was intriguing enough that when the data was run at Harvard, they picked out the people eating plant-based, low-carb diets to see if they suffered the same low-carb fate.  That’s the nice thing about doing dietary studies on 100,000 people at a time: you can find people eating just about anything.

What do you think they found? This line represents the mortality rate of the typical diet. And this is what they found for people following more of an Atkins-style low-carb diet: significantly higher risk of death.

But what do you think they found for those following a plant-based, low-carb diet? Do they suffer the same crazy mortality as the Atkins people? Or maybe they didn’t do that bad, but still had more mortality than those eating regular diets? Or did they have the same, or lower mortality? They had lower mortality.

They concluded: “A low-carbohydrate diet based on animal sources was associated with higher all-cause mortality in both men and women, whereas a vegetable-based low-carbohydrate diet was associated with lower all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality rates.”

So it appears, what matters really isn’t the ratio of fat to carbs to protein, but rather, the source— whether they’re coming from plants or animals.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is transcript contributed by Bruce A. Hamilton.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Stacy Spensley / Flickr

Doctor's Note

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Atkins Diet and Erectile DysfunctionEating To Extend Our Lifespan; and The Real Paleo Diet.

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

135 responses to “Plant-Based Atkins Diet

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  1. So, a diet based on what we’d identify as overly processed, vegan junk food is healthier than a meat-based diet. At least the vegans got some phyto-nutrients from nuts and avocados- but the diet may have been high in sodium also. But is there a more optimal diet than that, or are we to conclude that carbs are bad for us? Do they negatively impact our blood sugar? What would happen if this vegan junk food diet went head-to-head with an all-natural low fat, high carb whole vegan food diet consisting of no processed food and only vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, and a few nuts and seeds, say just one serving a day? What is the real difference between animal and plant protein and fat? Plant protein is probably the same in amino acid composition when a variety of sources are eaten, but it adds phyto-nutrients. Fats on the other hand may have a lower degree of saturation than in animal products, and I think, more vitamin E to preserve them from rancidity. Could this account for the differences observed in this clinical trial?

    1. Low carb vegan is not equivalent to junk food. Eating a salad is a low carbohydrate meal. don’t expect to stay full for long though if you eat this way!

        1. Well, no. If you choose to eat a large salad as your main meal. It may fill you up, but you will get hungry rather quickly afterwards. Salads are very low carb low calorie meals and your body will burn through it quickly, Complex carbohydrates like brown rice, beans, potato, etc on the other hand, are more calorie dense and take a longer time to digest, keeping you satiated longer.

          1. I haven’t found that to be true. I eat a salad – serving-bowl size – that typically includes a large grated carrot, a few handfuls of mixed greens, a few handfuls of spinach, maybe 1/3 of a red bell pepper, 3 – 4 cherry tomatoes, and some broccoli or a 1/2 cup (or less) of broccoli sprouts and I don’t get hungry for hours (dressing is the juice from the tomatoes and some ketchup). When I eat a lot of fiber such as in that salad, I might wait another 6 hours before I feel even a little hungry. That salad and a bowl (normal soup bowl, about a cup and a quarter) of cooked beans of some sort, plus maybe a banana or apple or two here and there is enough to keep me satisfied for a full day, but there are days when all I get is the salad and the fruit and I’m still fine.

          1. Better late than never… If the beans are first sprouted then it might be low carb, depending on how far they are grown. Of course that would take us back to low calorie as well so would have to toss in a nice, ripe avocado, and/or maybe some nuts/seeds, perhaps blended w/ garilc, smoked chipolte powder, and sweet red peppers. MMmmmmmmm….

          2. your troll name of toxins is appropriate. Before opening up to comments, why dont you read why this diet is considered low carb, because its probably the healthiest diet out there. Its probably also mis named, because people like you will automatically be thinking its purely vegan junk or high protein but in truth this diet is more a low glycemic, higher protein plant based diet

      1.  Low carb vegan isn’t necessarily equivalent to junk food, because not all “junk” foods are the same.  Potato chips and a veggie “meat” aren’t the same in quite a few respects.  However, low carb vegan, such as the Eco-Atkins diet referenced in the video, almost surely will have a fair amount of sodium in it.  Given that you don’t want too much sodium in your diet, it follows that low carb vegan probably ends up as a less healthy diet in general than a whole foods vegan diet.   This isn’t to say that a low carb vegan diet is as bad as a potato chip diet, or that one needs to avoid high sodium processed foods like veggie “meats” entirely to eat healthy.

    2. remember it was compared to a regular diet, so a regular diet isn’t that healthy. thus even a diet that contained “junk” vegan food was better than a regular diet. but you are right to ask how it would stack up against a whole-foods, plant based diet. probably not as well. Interesting that we talk about faux meats as being “junk processed foods, but no one ever says that meat is a processed food. But why not? it certainly meets the definition, no fiber, low water, low nutrient and full of chemicals.

      1. “processed food” only means that it has been changed from its natural form. It has absolutely nothing to do with fiber, water, nutrients, or chemicals. Many highly processed foods are poor in these areas, but they do not define processed foods. A hamburger is more processed than a sirloin, but it’s not necessarily any worse for you, it’s just ground up. Whole wheat bread is a processed food, but it can be very good for you, and it’s certainly better than unprocessed beef.

  2. Did the good doc change his YouTube settings again?

    For weeks I’ve has no problem accessing your videos on YouTube with my old Palm. Today we’re back to missing videos on your YT home page. Can’t find the video by searching the title either.

    Can someone please post the direct link please???

  3. when you say regular diet that means like the kind where you might have corn flakes and milk for breakfast and meat loaf and mashed potatoes for dinner or a regular vegan/vegetarian diet? also how would a low carb vegan diet compare to a regular vegan diet? aaaand what do you think about maybe making a blog (or special area)dedicated to your recipes? i really like your recipes i have found so far on here and would like to see more :) thanks!

  4. So why are salads considered low carbohydrate? Romaine lettuce, for example, gets 67 percent of its calories from carbs — two-thirds of the calories are from carbs.

    1. Although romaine lettuce is primarily carbohydrates in composition, an entire head has only 21 grams of carbohydrates (RDA 7%). the whole idea behind low carb meals is to restrict overall carbohydrate intake, so greens and vegetables are typically low carb.

        1. Low carb is low *total* carbs in the diet. If you ate nothing but lettuce, that may not be a low carb diet, but typically lettuce does not contribute many calories to a diet, so it can easily be part of a low carb diet.

        2. When you eat carbs – also calculate the fiber. Sometimes the fiber can be the same – or i think at times the fiber is even higher than the carbs. When that is the case – there is a carb deficit – so – you are then ahead of the game where carbs are concerned.

  5. I too would love to know what line we would see on the graph if we looked at people who ate what this site has defined as a particularly healthy vegan diet, i.e., one primarily based on a wide variety of high antioxidant whole plant foods (not the faux meats and processed foods so much) with B12 and D supplementation. I don’t know if such data is available or not.

    The information in this video as-is is certainly important because it is one more brush stroke in the big picture. But unfortunately, people take information like this and start to say things like, “carbs are bad”. I don’t think we can make that claim just from the information in this video without having the comparison to people who eat whole plant foods, carbs and all.

    Just a thought.

  6. This “observational study ” only indicates that a high protein low carb vegetarian diet appears to lead to lower all- cause mortality rates versus either a high protein low carb Atkins type diet or a regular diet. I assume that a regular diet is a standard American diet (SAD)

    It gives no indication of whether such a diet would be more healthful than a high carb low protein whole food vegetarian diet.That would be of more interest to me and shed a little more light on the proper balance between protein, fat and carbs in the diet.

  7. There are many other studies that provide some lower-level explanations to the correlation. For instance, high animal protein is known to increase cholesterol. High cholesterol is known to increase risk of heart disease. Anti-oxidants and phyto-nutrients are known to have protective effects on human cells, retard or reverse growth of cancer cells, and prolong healthy life. Atkins is condemned by nutritionists everywhere, veg*n or meat eating, for many reasons, not the least being that it’s nutritionally deficient and high-cholesterol. That makes a vegan version of ‘high protein, low carb’ diet a very interesting edge case to consider how it differs, and what the implications are.

  8. I just cleared the former thread here. I’m all in favor of vigorous debate, but even if folks can’t keep things respectful, could we at least please keep things civil? i.e. no ad hominem attacks, profanity, etc. Thanks!

  9. I’d be willing to bet that the meat-based diet was not a healthy meat-based diet that recommended no bad vegetable oils, no trans fats, no nitites or nitrates, no meat with hormones or antibiotics, etc.

    Any healthy food in moderation is good whether animal-based or plant-based. This has been shown by various diets of primitive people throughout the world of years gone by.

    When my wife and I switched from a vegan diet to a low-carb high fat healthy diet which includes animal foods and saturated fat our lipids improved. Especially our triglycerides and HDL. I’ll be happy to post the numbers if you wish. If you continue to eat the polyunsaturated vegetable oils as part of your animal-based Atkins diet then you won’t be eating a healthy animal-based diet.

    1. Personally, I have my doubts that there is such a thing as a healthy Animal-based diet, Nevada. However, short-term gains can be made in a person’s lipid profile simply by eating fewer calories while on an Atkins diet, and eating too many simple carbohydrates on a plant-based diet can play havoc with your lipid profile. The real question isn’t what the short-term gain is in terms of lipids or weight loss,instead, I think we’d agree that it should center on the mortality and morbidity of its adherents. And, from the information given in this segment, it looks like these are negatively impacted by an animal-based diet. Some indigenous peoples do in fact, do well on diets that include meat, however often it includes small portions or omega-3 rich fish as the main meat source, giving them a measure of protection. Even so, their life expectancy isn’t particularly impressive and their rate of infectious diseases is quite high. Other groups of indigenous peoples, for example, ones the paleo advocates like to use as examples such as the Inuit or the Masai, have spectacularly short lives. Their lower lipid numbers seem to be due to omege-3’s in the case of the Inuit (also resulting in a high rate of hemorrhaging), and due to a diet high in vegetable saponins for the Masai who on their native diet, have the shortest life expectancy in the world.

    2. “Any healthy food in moderation is good whether animal-based or
      plant-based. This has been shown by various diets of primitive people
      throughout the world of years gone by.”

      No.  Since, so many of those “primitive people” have lived in isolated environments from “civilized” humans for so long, they likely have evolved differently (genetic drift).  Thus what works for them won’t necessarily work for us.

    3. The meat-based diet may not have been ideal, but the same could be said for the plant-based diets.

      The healthiest, longest-lived native peoples, such as the Hunzas and Okinawan elders, seem to eat a diet in which most of their calories come from plants.

    4. Agreed. All whole and natural foods are OK. High carb fruit and veggies are OK. High carb foods that are a concentration of sugars or starches separated from whole food raise blood sugar far too high. The body reacts by producing cholesterol. The kind that clogs the arteries. Remove the high carb, reduce the cholesterol. Fat is irrelevant. Low fat makes your body feel starved and store fat, and you are never satisfied. Processed foods that are touted as low-fat are almost always high sugar. It will not reduce your cholesterol. Has a low fat diet worked in the 30 years doctors have told us to remove it from our diets? We are fatter than ever, more heart disease and Diabetes than ever. Low carb works. I’ve done it. It works just as Atkins says. I didn’t buy a single Atkins branded product. Just eliminated (until weight and cholesterol was normal) simple sugars and high carb starches like white bread and pasta. I added back, as the diet dictates, whole grains in moderation and even potato chips, which is a whole food, when normal weight/cholesterol is attained. Not trans fat chips of course. How can a diet of natural food as nature provides be unsafe? You only need to cut the foods that make large food companies money. There’s where you get resistance and studies funded by the companies that “disprove” the Atkins or other low-carb diet results.

      I’m not an expert, but I have lived it. And then did some research to find out why it worked. Doctors are taught what is the accepted treatment for conditions at the time that they learn. Sometimes the science is wrong. History has proved that. Why can’t it be changed in this case? Is it political pressure on government or medical organizations by these VERY large companies who stand to lose profits by eliminating their products from our diets? I think it is so. If it didn’t work exactly as Atkins said it would, I wouldn’t be so sceptical of our medical leaders. They are just people who were told what’s what. And as they should, they adhere to what they were taught. What if it was wrong? 

      If this post disappears, I’ll assume that a food company is behind its disappearance. Follow the money. It leads to truth.

      1. More of these same old unscientific arguments that get repeated ad-nausium by people justifying there preference for meat based diets (pasture feed free range no hormone meat of course it’s sooo much healthier for you and the planet, not)

        “Has a low fat diet worked in the 30 years doctors have told us to remove it from our diets? We are fatter than ever, more heart disease and Diabetes than ever”

        You are assuming that the low-fat diet advocated is actually followed by the majority of western populations: newsflash Gremmin, it never has been. Most people are eating increasing levels of processed and denatured carbs, fats and animal based proteins than ever before in history in English speaking (as first language) nations. But you seem to know better than the largest epidemiological studies ever conducted. Losing weight via ketosis is not the same thing as living longer from a healthy diet, just ask Atkins — oh no you can’t he died of HD, too bad.

        1. Atkins did NOT die of heart disease. He died from a fall on ice when he hit his head. I’ve seen a diabetics blood sugar that was so high it couldn’t be measured, drop to 120 in 2 weeks eating a very low carb diet with healthy meats (pastured /organic) and low carb vegetables. No medications. If you are diabetic eat a baked potato, rice, popcorn, or bread. (Wheat bread has a higher glycemic index than sugar.) Take your blood sugar before and 2 hours later. I rest my case. For every 1 gram of carb, blood sugar rises 5 points for diabetics. Ketogenic diets are now being used to starve cancerous tumors since the body is not being fed sugar from the carbs. The tumors are shrinking

          1. No he did die of heart disease and that was the original cause of death the coroner pronounced for him. His wife flipped out knowing what it would do for his reputation (and her income) and nagged them into saying he slipped and bumped his head. It didn’t change the fact that the coroner found his heart and nearby arteries to be riddled with HD.

          2. It’s not just glycemic index that you need to consider, its glycemic load. Fruits are mostly water, so while having relatively high GI the load is moderate, they also contain soluble fibres that buffer the release of sugars into the bloos stream. Yes, people can lose weight under ketosis, that doesn’t make meat proteins and fats healthy for consumption above very small amounts. There are other ways to lose weight than ketosis. If you’re happy, then good for you. Don’t confuse that with science.

          3. MARGE – The only reason the levels dropped is because they reduce carbs. That is not curing or reversing diabetes. Since carbs are the bodies primary and preferred source of fuel, removing animal products and clearing the insulin receptors of fat to allow them to function as normal is the optimal approach.

            You can reverse type 2 diabetes in 2 weeks on a very high carb low fat whole food plant based diet.

            Keto diets don’t starve all cancers, as cancer will use protein and fat as fuel sources too. Whatever they need to grow. Which is why high animal fat and protein diets can increase cancer risk.

  10. I would like to add my voice to those asking for any results of studies comparing standard vegetarian diets to lower-carb vegetarian diet.

    I have been vegetarian (not vegan – although there were periods of that) since 1990, but have cut out most sources of simple carbohydrates (grains, sugars, potatoes and many fruits) since January & have lost the 30 lbs that have been creeping on as I’ve aged. Mostly, I have done it by increasing my vegetable, legume & nut intake (to replace the pasta or rice or potato), not by increasing fake meats. It seems sustainable to me at this point, and the increased vegetable intake can only be good, right? But with so much contradictory information out there (especially on those sites that espouse a lower-carb diet, but also insist that one must eat a lot of animal protein vs. those veg sites that assume that lower-carb=meat-eating), I would like to know if this is something I should continue with or should I re-introduce grains?

    Could a lower-sugar, lower-starch, whole-food vegetarian diet (sort of paleo-veg) be optimal for health? It seems to make sense to me.

  11. In order for us to have an intelligent discussion about this, we would first have to establish that this unnamed study you reference in your description actually showed that people following actual low-carb diets lived significantly shorter lives.  You don’t even share what the study *is* in your description; we are expected to watch the video, I guess, to learn that information.  But the preview picture on your video is not promising.  “Self-reported adherence”?  So no one actually monitored everything this man was eating?  One man?  Really?  Nice science you got there.

    Two points for ya.  (1) How in the world did we survive either winter or the Ice Age with no agriculture–or plant foods available during cold months, actually?  (2) How is eating a plants-ONLY diet–which is what you’re REALLY after–“eco”-ANYTHING when we must clear land in order to grow most of our food crops?  Did they teach you nothing in earth science in school?  Did you not understand that clearcut land leads to greater erosion and severely reduces the number of trees that maximize the available moisture in a geographical area and improve the climate in a cooling rather than warming direction?

    Oh, you *didn’t* understand that?  My bad.  Maybe you’d better LEARN it.  Your kind of garbage pseudoscience is exactly why people keep up with the pro-agriculture apologetics in the face of all the damage agriculture has done over the course of civilized human history in the past 10,000 years.  (Iraq, for example, used to be cedar forest.  It is also the site of the West’s Fertile Crescent and corresponding agricultural revolution.  Whoops.)  But people will live in perpetual denial if they are addicted enough, I guess.  Your problem.  Too bad you’re making it my problem too–I have to share a planet with you.

    1. This is the oddest post. Why so hostel? Are you suggesting cows in feed lots are better for the planet?

      People have to eat and research suggests a plant based diet is best.

    2. You need to go get Weston Price’s book ‘Nutrition and Degenerative Diseases’,available ONLY from ; if you bother to read that you will stop asking stupid questions and making libelous statements.

      1. ppnf…that’s what was formerly called or closely related to Weston A. Price Memorial Foundation right..just looked there, sure enough ppnf is not only ideologically strongly anti-veg but even promotes the work of anti-veg fanatics like Lierre Keith (who’s also apparently a mentally unstable bigot, search for ”
        Lierre Keith: A Case Study in Anti-Trans Hatred” on veganideal blog) promotes coffee enemas etc etc. J.D. Ming’s post is seems meant to reply to Ghazeitline but accidentally replies to seilhan’s rant (or else is a deliberate deception) but those who value science and logic over anti-veg anti-science can skip ppnf’s sad excuse of a website

      2. If you actually read Price’s book you will see that almost all of the peoples referenced, although they ate some meat, ate mostly plants.

    3. Putting aside your hostility let’s address your two points, even if (for lack of space) only partially. Your point (1) confuses two completely unrelated issues. The video is about health. Your point (1) is about what humans used to do. Is it not clear as daylight that the two are not the same? What people did to survive the Ice Age tells us nothing about what’s healthiest/healhtier. If you want to confuse the two you don’t even need Ice Ages, you can just say, “how do you think Americans survived in Alabama in the year 1925? On an all-vegan diet?? no!!” and you’d be factually correct, they did not eat an all vegan diet in 1925 in Alabama..what does this tell us about the subject of the video, namely what’s healthy to eat? Nothing. (2) Last I checked the Amazon was not being cut down to grow plant food for people. It’s cut down for “raising” cows and for growing plants to feed the cows.

      Let’s add(3) We can add that even if tomorrow all of that changed and they started cutting down the Amazon for growing direct to consumer vegan food, guess what? Most vegans, would be opposed to such corporate practices, and they are not necessary. Just as many if not most vegans are against the massive use of pesticides, but yes, many veggies in supermarket have pesticides..Do we rail against vegan (and even omnivore) eaters of these? Of course not. Given education, and if also given a choice, and if affordable, these vegans (and omnis) would 95%+ of them, would choose organic. It’s silly to blame them for pesticides existing in veggies, except for that small minotiry (probably more like 1% than 5%) who might insist “no I insist my veggies be grown iwth the most pesticides” Similarly you can grow veg food in other ways that are bad – that’s not veganism’s fault any more than “it’s your fault they pay low wages to the workers in the factory that makes veg food!” which is nonsense – great majority is against such abuse of workers too, and no, clear cutting is not even remotely a necessary part of growing plant based food for human consumption. (4)Calories per acre anyone? Grams of protein per acre? Gallons of water per pound? The list goes on and on, why a carnitarian advocacy is horrible for the environment while the lightest fotoprint as a goal points in the direction of plant-based diet very strongly.

      1. Well said. Footprint of animal products is in order of 10-10^3 per calorie as plant foods on many metrics like GHG, water, embedded energy etc etc. Just for one stark example, the bumping and fart of livestock (enteric fermentation) and consequential land use changes (deforestation and savannah burning for pasture) in Australia accounts for over half the nations entire Green House Gas emissions.

    4. Twenty-six percent of the Planet’s ice-free land is used for livestock grazing and 33 percent of croplands are used for livestock feed production. According to the National Corn Growers Association, about eighty percent of all corn grown in the U.S. is consumed by domestic and overseas livestock, poultry, and fish production. As I understand it if we took the land we have today and used it to grow “human food” we would have enough to feed the world without cutting down any rain forests at all.

      1. We could return some areas to reforestation to offset our agricultural GHG emissions too and still feed the entire globe. But as long as people have a blood lust for meat this will remain but a hope for saving the climate this decade before it’s pretty much game over.

    5. Aaron Gronstal, in Astrobiology Magazine: “The interior of Yukon and Alaska was cold enough to support ice sheets but too dry for extensive glaciation.” Because of this, Beringia was a key location for life during the Pleistocene, when the Earth’s climate fluctuated between ice ages and glaciers often covered large portions of the globe.

      As the Earth’s climate varied, so did sea levels. This ebb and flow of the sea exposed a land-bridge across the Bering Straight between Alaska and Siberia. Not only was this an important route for the migration of animals between the continents of Asia and North America, it also expanded the ice-free land mass of Beringia. This provided a large area that was relatively rich in food – which was a lifesaver for those struggling to survive in the Earth’s frozen North. Beringia was by no means a tropical paradise for life, but the cold, wind-swept desert was an important ecological refuge for plants and animals when glaciation of the Earth was at its peak.’

      How did WE survive during the Ice Age? Are you suggesting that humans ate animals, not plants? And what did the animals eat? Most animals humans eat for food are herbivores. So there must have been plants growing widely enough for animals to eat if the humans were eating the animals to survive, which means the humans could also have eaten the plants. And nobody studying the Ice Age posits vast farms; they talk about plant life naturally occurring, supporting both human and animal life.

      Anyone who imagines that people in the ‘Paleo’ period were eating the same huge amounts of meat that Americans eat today, has never gone hunting to survive. Even today, anyone who goes hunting for several days to find an animal expends a great deal of energy (calories) to TRY to locate and kill an animal to eat. And anyone who goes hunting ALWAYS takes a food supply with him, because he knows that he could be tracking an animal for days with no luck before getting a kill – and may NOT get a kill at all.

      Even my grandparents, who had a large and very prosperous farm, did not eat meat three times a day or as their major source of food. They fed their twelve children largely on vegetables, legumes and grains. They raised their own pigs and chickens, but did not feed their family pork for breakfast and dinner and fried chicken for lunch seven days a week. Beans or greens would be ‘flavored’ with some pork; having your own ‘piece of meat’ would be a special thing on Sunday; a ham might be served on one or two major holidays in a year. Sausages would be broken up and fried up with potatoes and onions, not served as a typical serving would be today. Meat flavored vegetables or served as part of an overall vegetable and legume meal. And my father lived to 96 in robust health (never a cavity until he left home and started drinking Coke – and he never owned a toothbrush before he left home, either). His brothers and sisters have all lived at least into their 80s, despite having lived largely on foraged greens boiled with onions when they lost everything during the Depression and had no meat or flour in the house (they ate cornmeal mush or oatmeal mush for breakfast, and greens for other meals for days and weeks at a time). No problems with diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol or heart attacks in my father’s family. Only one sibling who had a drinking problem had age-related aphasia in his late 80s.

      It was not exclusively agriculture that destroyed the forests of the Middle East. If you care to visit the Middle East, you will see that Iraq is not vast stretches of farmland replacing forest. It’s vast stretches of DESERT. The fertility of the Fertile Crescent was increased (for farming purposes) by irrigation, but since there’s very little rainfall there, unlike Europe (which also underwent great deforestation for ship-building, among other things), the Fertile Crescent could not rebound from deforestation.

      “In ancient times […] much of the Fertile Crescent and eastern Mediterranean region, including Greece, was covered with forest. The region’s transformation from fertile woodland to eroded scrub or desert has been elucidated by paleobotanists and archaeologists. Its woodlands were cleared for agriculture, or cut to obtain construction timber, or burned as firewood or for manufacturing plaster. Because of low rainfall and hence low primary productivity (proportional to rainfall), regrowth of vegetation could not keep pace with its destruction, especially in the presence of overgrazing by abundant goats. With the tree and grass cover removed, erosion proceeded and valleys silted up, while irrigation agriculture in the low-rainfall environment led to salt accumulation. These processes, which began in the Neolithic era, continued into modern times. For instance, the last forests near the ancient Nabataean capital of Petra, in modern Jordan, were felled by the Ottoman Turks during construction of the Hejaz railroad just before World War I.

      Thus, Fertile Crescent and eastern Mediterranean societies had the misfortune to arise in an ecologically fragile environment. They committed ecological suicide by destroying their own resource base.” (Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, pp. 410-411)

      The history shows that agriculture INCREASED fertility in the Fertile Crescent by increasing the amount of water getting to otherwise arid areas, and also notes that GOATS – not only farmers – were part of the problem of deforestation.

      Trying to blame farmers for all the ecological ‘devastation’ in the world is just ignorance of history and way too simplistic, all for the sake of attacking one way of eating and defending another. Sheez. Get an education – and get a life.

  12. “Eat To Live” is essentially a low(er) carb, plant based diet style. Dr Bill Harris (from VSH) suggests (I agree with him). that no matter where you get your calories (Fat, protein or CHO) it only matters if it’s from healthy whole plant foods and not processed foods or animal products..

  13. The paleotrolls and others new to Dr. Greger’s extensive writings frequently ask him to shoot down or rebut the latest broscience or truthy cholesterol confusionist rehash of the low carb/paleolithic diet/atkins diet or the new fad perfect health diet charlatans. He’s already done it a thousand times before this installment so it’s really a ridiculous request — please read Dr. Greger’s free e-book ‘Atkin’s Exposed’ with over 1,100 references.

  14. Keep your heart healthy and live a longer, healthier life by eating complex carbohydrates (whole grains, root vegetables, legumes, and potatoes). Incorporating quality carbohydrates into your diet is made easy with this simple recipe which includes a delicious carbohydrate-rich food; sweet potatoes. Serve this dish over your favorite whole grain.

    You Make My Heart Skip a Beet

    – 1 red onion, chopped
    – 1 clove garlic, minced
    – 4 cups beets, cubed
    – 4 cups sweet potatoes, cubed
    – ½ tsp nutmeg
    – ½ tsp thyme
    – 2 tbsp basil
    – 1 lb organic* spinach
    – Black pepper

    In a large skillet, sauté onion and garlic with a splash of water until onion translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, boil beets in a small amount of water until mostly tender. Strain and add to skillet. Boil sweet potatoes in the same water until tender. Strain and add to skillet. Add seasonings to skillet and enough of the beet water to create a rich sauce. Fold in the spinach and continue to cook until spinach wilts. Serve spooned over
    whole grains (red rice, millet, barley etc.)

    *Spinach ranks 8th in the “dirty dozen: 12 foods to eat organic” so choose organic.

    ~Complements of lovestobevegan

  15. I’d like to see a comparison of high and low carb plant based diets. I still encounter even vegans who are afraid of carbohydrates not realising that whole, unrefined carbohydrates are actually important for health.

  16. Do you know of any studies comparing the health benefits of a High-Fat, Low-carb, Moderate-protein vegan diet (eco-adkins, vegan keto) and a Low-Fat, High-carb vegan diet (McDougal, Rawtil4, 801010, ricetarian, etc)? Most studies looking at either type of vegan diet compared them to a meat based diet. Which I feel makes it hard to really say if either are good for weight loss, health, diabetes, whatever. It’s no surprise that a high-fat vegan diet would be better than a low-fat meat based diet for certain health conditions. The presence of meat is the biggest issue. I’m still not convinced that high-carb is the way to go. Would a diet closer to the ketogenic diet, relying heavily on chia, flax, hemp, tofu, green veggies, coconut, nuts, olives and olive oil with moderate amounts of fruit and legumes possibly be best? Would eating 60-70% of your calories from fat be harmful in anyway? Provided you keep your omega 3:6 ration between 1:1 and 1:4?

    Follow up questions: Could the benefits of a strict eco-adkins diet simply come from the unavoidable elimination of processed foods like chips, chocolate and baked goods? Perhaps macro-nutrient rations don’t matter at all?

    1. lol. you should try to eat only and solely lean cut meat with lots of coconut oil and olive oil. as side dish use only chia seeds, heaps of it. will make you strong like a Kenyan runner on EPO. do not read books like “the starch solution”, “forks over knives” or any of the DOZENS of books that all talk about the same diet – despite being from different authors. ain’t that funny … they all talk about the same diet. they don’t come up with each their own diet, no, they all talk about the same diet. can’t be right … ;-)

      1. high carb low fat vegan kill kill my hormonal system…. So yes they can’t allways be right. ;)
        I think moderation is the key (after adopting a vegan diet)

    2. Yes. This. I have been wondering the same thing now for quite some time. I watched this video because I hoped it would address the idea of the diet you are describing, but instead it was mostly about higher protein and fat from soy-based meat replacements. I have been watching with great interest recent studies showing improved health metrics on a high fat low carb diet instead of a low fat high carb diet: lower fasting blood sugar, lower fasting insulin, better cholesterol profiles using the most advanced current metrics (i.e. lower triglycerides, higher HDL, and a transition from smaller dense particles of both LDL and HDL to larger particles, lower oxidized particles of LDL), lower HbA1C, better hormone and thyroid balance, and lower markers for inflammation. This would be accomplished as you wrote by eating a vegan diet very high in vegetables, high in nuts, avocados, flax, hemp, and other seeds, and possibly olives and olive oil (but those wouldn’t be necessary), and with low to moderate consumption of beans, lentils, grains, tubers, and fruits. I would love to see studies that compared three vegan diets: Low Fat-High Carb, High Fat-Low Carb, and Med Fat-Med Carb. All three could hold protein lower around 8%-12% to control for that variable. I am very convinced that a plant focused diet, with restricted calories is the healthiest way to eat, but I have been trying to wade through all of the different opinions and actual research regarding fat content in the context of of a very high plant intake, real food, vegan diet. I would love to see studies like that being done where the all of the diets being compared are high quality, high plant intake, vegan diets, that only alter the fat content and carb content from low, to medium, and to high.

      1. Russ Moore: Some of your criteria of health may not be very good criteria to use. For example, you wrote, “… higher HDL, and a transition from smaller dense particles of both LDL
        and HDL to larger particles, lower oxidized particles of LDL…”

        I could address “higher HDL” if you are interested, but thought I would quickly respond to the particle size idea first. Check out this video from NutritionFacts to see why I think this measure of health makes no sense:

  17. High carb veganism #rawtill4 or 801010 style makes the vegan diet so easy and makes me feel so good with my glycogen always filled up. Long term vegans like freelee or durianrider have seen so many of the most committed folks fall off from not eating enough carb.

  18. I am having trouble picking out a recommendation from this. So, does this mean that if you eat a lot of whole grains, legumes, and vegetables it is healthy to add some canola vegetable stir-fry to the mix?

    1. From what I gather, a low-carb eco-Atkins diet can be healthful for patients with hyperlipidemia. I’m not sure exactly how much canola they consumed, but surely the protein and fat were higher. The diet was only for a month. Other studies that focus on diets higher in carbohydrates interesting also have great results. A strict plant-based diet can help with diabetes, as Dr. Greger mentions in this video. Lastly, I like his conclusion, that perhaps what matters more is the ratio of plants vs animals in any diet.

  19. Can anyone suggest a good source for low-carb, plant-based recipes? This fairly unimaginative cook would like to widen her repertoire.

  20. Thanks for your great videos! But I wish they’d also compared the low-carb plant-based diet people with the high-carb, no processed-food plant-based diet. I’m conducting a six-week experiment on myself, since my LDL is still 173 though I’m on a no processed food, fruits and veggies only diet with lots of nuts and seeds.My first experiment is to go low fat -only 5 grams or so of fat per day but lots of fruit, beans, groats, and other intact whole grains. If my LDL cholesterol is still high, my next experiment will be a low-carb plant based diet. Love your work!

      1. My total cholesterol dropped from 243 to 207, and my LDL dropped from 173 to 149. I ate as much fruit as I wanted, had oatmeal most days and quinoa sometimes. Had beans and lots of greens. But only one to two tablespoons of nuts/seeds or nut butter most days. So it was basically the same diet I had before but with dramatically fewer nuts and seeds.

    1. My cholesterol did come down when I reduced nut and seed consumption to about 2 tablespoons per day, most days. My new total cholesterol was 207 instead of 243. My LDL came down from 173 to 149. Before starting my plant-based journey, my total cholesterol was 297, even though I was vegetarian for two meals a day and was thin and rarely ate processed foods.

    1. The ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index; see scoring system is an attempt to qualify different foods by comparing their nutritive value vs calorie density. The foods with highest ratio of nutrition to calories are giving the highest ratings. The most nutrient dense foods on this rating system are all whole foods, green leafy vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, seeds, beans, nuts, etc.

      There is a Convergence of Evidence ( that an optimal diet is plant based, and if one accepts the results of the ANDI scoring, then one would conclude that optimal diet is WFPB.

  21. What about the 2014 research results “Effect of a 6-month vegan low-carbohydrate (‘Eco-Atkins’) diet on cardiovascular risk factors and body weight in hyperlipidaemic adults: a randomised controlled trial” ? Would be interesting to have an update on that!

  22. Hi, I recently became a vegan after several years of testing different foods trying too find that perfect vegan diet that would work with my very picky likes and dislikes. I recently found many seitan based commercial foods that actually taste great, so being vegan is quite nice. I have also found lots of recipes for making plant based cheeses. I would really appreciate your opinion about these commercially available meat-like substitutes. Am I getting something that looks and tastes like meat or cheese, with the only positive that I am getting zero cholesterol, but I’m loosing out on all the other health benefits of a plant based diet. Or is it really healthy? Thanks

    1. li,papenburg2012: By eating faux meat and vegan cheese, you are definitely taking a step in the right direction. Vegan versions of these foods are: free of cholesterol, free of animal protein, have less saturated fat, and dramatically less contaminants. Often (though not always), the faux meats have fewer calories.

      The bad news is that these foods are often less than ideal. They are typically highly processed, including ingredients like isolated soy protein. Many versions of these foods contain extracted oils. There are some vegan cheeses that I would say are relatively healthy (for example, some of Miyoko’s commercial cheeses are oil-free), but even then, they are highly calorie dense. And they tend to be very expensive.

      There are some home-made faux meats that are relatively healthy. For example, you can make a home made “sausage” that has some beans in it along with the wheat gluten (which is not bad per say, but is a highly processed food/not a whole food). (For the sausage recipe, check out the Vegan On The Cheap book.) And I make some delicious vegan nut cheeses that are s made out of nothing but whole plant foods and a home made probiotic (called rejuvalac). Jeff Novick has a Burgers and Fries cooking DVD which demos extremely healthy recipes. But now we are talking about cooking some of your own food. If you don’t want to get into cooking your own food yet, then this idea may not appeal so much.

      Here’s my recommendation: Consider your commercial faux meats and vegan cheeses to be a great stepping stone. Use them as transition foods, with an eye towards moving toward more healthy (whole plant food) options in the future.

      If you haven’t tried the free on-line 21 Day Kickstart program, I would recommend it. It might help you refine your taste buds as well as expand your food world. 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.)

      Does this help?

    1. Sebastian: I don’t speak for Dr. Greger, but I think the new Daily Dozen found in Dr. Greger’s new book, How Not To Die, is essentially an answer to your question. Dr. Greger looked at all the science and came up with his recommended eating plan, expressed as the Daily Dozen. And Dr. Greger’s recommendations include generous amounts of whole grains, beans, and veggies — ie, lots of carbs.

      What do you think? Are you looking for a different kind of answer?

  23. Wow, I have been gravitating towards this eating style for the last nine months! I have some very interesting quantitative results I’m going to share hoping to find others on a similar path. My name is Chris and I have religiously been following the low-carb (<75g/day), moderate protein (70-100 g/day), very high fat diet (+140 g/day) diet for several years now. I have been monitoring many bio-markers along the way: am/pm weight, am/pm blood pressure, lipids, and energy levels. I started the diet using lots of animal products (meat, dairy, & eggs) became frustrated because my bio-markers went from ok to horrible! Long story made short, I decided to drop 99% of the animal products and try to remain VLC. My bio-markers are definitely changing for the better: Cholesterol from 169 mg/dl down to 162; LDL from 101 mg/dl to 92 mg/dl (VLDL now at 16 mg/dl); HDL from 48 mg/dl up to 54 mg/dl, and triglycerides from 103 mg/dl to 80 mg/dl. Blood Pressure average from 138/ 82 down to a solid 118/ 77 with an average pulse of 56. Body weight is very steady the last 18 months at 162 pounds (male 5'9".) In a couple of weeks I'm going in for a new lipid panel and will be glad to share the results. Anyone out there with similar results? If so, please post and let's share and talk about it.

    1. Chris: Getting rid of most of the animal products is a big step in the right direction, but I wonder why you think that eating a low carb, high fat diet is a good idea. I’m aware of the information in the video above, but I was under the impression that the video is comparing a plant based Atkins style diet to a Standard American diet. And the plant based Atkins does better than Standard. But how does a plant based Atkins diet compare to a low fat whole plant food diet? (Maybe the study answers that and I missed it.)
      Are you familiar with the traditional Okinawans, some of the longest and healthiest lived people in the world? Their percentages were: 85% carbs, 6% fat, 9% protein. In grams that’s: 382g carbs, 12g fat, 39g protein. Based on that as a guideline, I would describe your diet as high protein, excessively high fat, and frighteningly low carbs. So, I am wondering: what attracts people to high fat, high carb diets? Why is that compelling to you? What theory makes you think it is a good idea?
      I can see that your cholesterol numbers are starting to get down to a healthy range. I hope you make it to the safe zone with the diet that makes you happy. I also hope your diet leads to long term health.

      1. Thea, it all started with a product called Bullet Proof Coffee, a high fat drink: This led me to a couple of high fat/ low carb researchers a long the same line of thinking Dr. Phinney & Dr. Volek: and finally Dr. Attia: Intrigued by the new science as well as the amazing athletic performance results I decided to give it a go. I simply wanted to discuss my results with others who were eating the same way. I am concerned because the LCHF diet flies in the face of modern nutrition. I’m going to know more when I pull my next Lipid Profile at the end of the month. If really want the gist of the LCHF diet go straight to Dr. Volek’s presentation.


        1. Chris: Thank you for the reply. Interesting to hear how these things get into people’s minds. I hope you find a group of people to connect with. My reply was in no way intended to come between you and anyone else who wants to dialog on the topic.
          FYI: Plant Positive is a site dedicated to debunking the cholesterol denialists. It is a set of videos and wonderfully indepth scholarly work, complete with references. All three of the people you mention are covered on the site. I found it pretty eye opening and compelling myself. If you are interested in checking it out, you might start here: Or just work through the series as shown in lists on the right side of the screen.
          I hope you find the support you are looking for.

  24. I’m having trouble building a new vegetarian diet for myself, there’s so much information to wade through on this site. I understand that Whole Food Plant Based diets are the best, but i’m trying to nail down if i’m eating too much plant cholesterol (peanut butter, nuts, coconut, avocados, minimal dairy), etc.

    Is there a section, or did Dr. Greger write a book, with a nutrition guide? Or has he endorsed any books I could buy that would help me assemble a diet? Thanks =]

    1. bonjohnson: Oh, the BEST question of the day!!! If you want to get started ASAP, here is an old, but recently revised general recommendation/overview page:

      But Dr. Greger recently released a book called, How Not To Die. Available many places, including Amazon. All of part 2 of the book is all about practical suggestions for implementing Dr. Greger’s eating plan: the Daily Dozen. If you want the Daily Dozen this second, you can download a free phone app. (assuming you have a smart phone). There is a picture of the Daily Dozen in the Book Trailer page on this site that will give you a hint on what it is all about.

      PS: plants don’t have cholesterol. But some plants have lots of saturated fat and maybe too much fat overall depending on your needs. If you follow the Daily Dozen, you should get it all balanced out. But we could talk further about the plants you listed above if you want.

      Diary is extremely problematic when it comes to health. Here is the topic page for diary:

      Another option for a plan/pattern to follow is the PCRM Power Plate. The Power Plate is a *super* easy system, though with less guidance that Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen. Let me know if you want a link to the Power Plate.

      How’s that to get you started?

      1. PPS: Dr. Greger does not take any money from his books, speaking engagements, this site, etc. All proceeds from the book go back into this website. This is one way that Dr. Greger avoids conflicts of interest.

      2. Thank you for this information, Thea! And, thanks for reminding me, I’m worried I may be eating too much saturated fats (not cholesterol)! I was not aware his book had a diet system (Daily Dozen) in it, I’ll definitely check it out. I will also do a little research into the Power Plate. =]

        In terms of dairy, yes, I’ve seen the videos, but I’m not quite ready to walk away from cheese altogether. I’ve been working on substituting with Nutritional Yeast and homemade Cashew Cheese. Cashew cheese has surprised me with at how rich, creamy, and tasty it can be!

        [PS: had to post from another account, but I am also bonjohnson]

        1. mrlee: You are not alone in having trouble giving up cheese. Cheese was the very last animal product that I gave up (threw away?). Some people go cold turkey. While I agree with all the reasons for going cold turkey, I found myself best able to make the transition more slowly. It sounds like you might be going through a similar process to what I went through.

          I’m a huge fan of the nutritional yeast/cashew cheeses. I’m assuming you are familiar with Miyoko’s book, Artisan Vegan Cheeses. re: cashews and creamy. I can remember that same amazement! I often tell people that cashews are god’s gift to vegans. (humanity?)

          Best of luck to you.

  25. i think the focus of any diet should be quality ingredients regardless of low carb. high carb. low fat or high fat. Tailor your diet to suit your needs by choosing from a range of fruit and veggies (organic if possible) and if you eat animal products make sure they’re grass fed and keep them to a minimum. Any junk food, vegan or otherwise will probably be high in sodium, fillers, thickeners, bad fats, sugar and the rest. I won’t eat animals but i really don’t think a diet high in veggies that is supplemented with some meat meals is any less healthy. You can find studies to support just about any theory.

  26. I don’t understand vegans and vegetarians who eat fake food and eat supplements like candy. It’s not real food. Ergo, YOU ARE NOT HEALTHY! You’re just another version of an eating disorder. You should get all your nutrition from real sources.

  27. I’ve just finished reading Gary Taubes’ book ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ and subsequently his shorter, updated release ‘How We Get Fat’. The low-carb aspect of restricting food I agree with: our family has been vegan for 4 years now (thanks to Dr. Greger!) but I now notice that we have allowed high-carbohydrate foods which we want to correct. As a result we’ve removed all bread, all pasta, all rice, couscous and white potatoes out of our diet. Is this a safe and healthful thing to do?

    I’ve since watched Dr. Greger’s above video and it seems he doesn’t have a problem with ‘low-carb’ per se, but more concerned with the source — ie. plants vs. meat — whilst eating low-carb.

    Mr. Tabues also refers to a diet study (in ‘How We Get Fat’, in a chapter called ‘The Nature of a Healthy Diet’) conducted by Standford University, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2007, known as the A TOZWeight Loss Study whereby 4 diets are compared on subjects over a period of a year, showing that subject lost the most weight, their triglycerides dropped the most, their HDL (good cholesterol) went up the most and their blood pressure went down the most on the Atkins diet compared to all the others in the study. (Conveniently, there’s no ‘vegan’ or even ‘vegetarian’ diet to compare to on this study!)

    Perhaps Mr. Greger can make a video clearing up this misinformation?

    We realise that we could add wholegrain pasta, wholegrain rice, wholegrain bread and couscous into our diet, however knowing that these are recent products invented by man over the past 10,000 years, we’re beginning to think that it’s better to exclude these altogether. After all, if humans have evolved over the past 25 million years or more (as Dr. Greger frequently points out) we hardly eat any high carbohydrates for perhaps 99% of our evolution apart from those naturally found in vegetables, legumes, beans and lentils (which are in very little amounts anyway).

    We’ve also heard the quote by Jared Diamond to describe agriculture as “the worst mistake in the history of the human race” and this, making sense to us, is our motivation for completely cutting out all bread, pasta, rice and couscous altogether as we’re concerned about constant the spikes in insulin. Essentially anything which contains wheat, as we never required or experienced these foods for much of our evolution over the past 25 million years. Therefore, we’re thinking to cut our even wholegrain carbs too (anything to do with wheat and agriculture).

    We assume it’s safe to do so?! I think this would make a great video, and if anyone has any advice I would be most grateful thank you! :)

    1. Andrew: I have some thoughts for you. First, note that Dr. Greger has referred positively to the website “Plant Positive”. The Plant Positive website has a series of videos that looks into the claims of Gary Taubes. The website examines the actual studies and what they say. Here is the first video in that series: I highly recommend watching that series of videos before deciding to make any changes based on what you have read from Gary Taubes. You might also look up a free on-line book from Dr. Greger called Carbophobia, which has been renamed: Atkins Exposed. You won’t see Gary’s “research” mentioned favorably there.

      Next I’ll point out that the traditional Okinawans are one of the healthiest and longest live people on the planet, routinely making it to 100. 85% of their diet was sweet potatoes – a starch based food. In the “Daily Dozen”, Dr. Greger recommends that people eat 3 servings of beans a day and 3 servings of intact grains. If you go to the topic pages for beans and whole grains on this site, you will see that there is a *giant* amount of evidence behind those foods as being health-promoting. I think it’s great that you are looking into taking bread and white rice out of your diet. I would not think that Dr. Greger would recommend removing beans and intact grains from your diet, because of the misleading information from someone like Taubes. If nothing else, consider this: If you are going to stay away from animal products. And if you are going to stay away from vegan junk food like oils. And if you are going to stick to the recommended amounts of nuts/seeds, which is just 1/4 cup, you may need to eat some starch based foods in order to get enough calories and feel full.

      Finally, I’ll point out that these ideas that our ancestors did not eat grains and beans is simply false. Looking at the stuff stuck in teeth of ancient skeletons, they have found evidence that our ancestors ate starch based foods. This idea against agriculture as introducing new categories of food into our diet and harming our health is simply not supported by the evidence. Some people even believe (and have some good evidence for) that eating cooked foods is what allowed humans to develop large brains. No one really knows why we developed our large brains. The point is that it is by no means known, despite what some people write, that eating cooked plant foods is unnatural to the human condition. I don’t have all my source at my fingertips right now, but here’s one place you can start if you want to explore the evidence around what our oldest ancestors ate:

      Also, I found an old post from Tom Goff who wrote the following helpful information:

      “…people were processing and eating grains over 100,000 years ago so we clearly had the necessary enzymes long before the Neolithic. And our pre-human ancestors appear to have been eating them some 4 million years ago. Secondly, even our ape cousins have the enzymes for starch digestion (but they have fewer than modern humans). So it seems l ikely that the common ancestor of all apes had the necessary enzymes which takes us back many millions of years.

      I hope this post gives some perspective on the issues you are considering.

      1. Firstly I must thank you immensely for your detailed reply, you’ve been so incredibly helpful — thank you! :)

        We know that sweet potatoes are far better than their white variety, as they cause a ‘slow’ release of energy (and insulin) and we intend to keep them in the diet. We also intend to keep legumes, beans, tofu, quinoa and lentils richly in the diet which will provide much of the carbohydrates we need, together with the natural carbohydrates found in other vegetables (peas, carrots, butternut squash, parsnips, et cetera), which of course we will not restrict.

        What do you mean by ‘intact grains’?

        We absolutely don’t eat any ‘vegan junk food’ like seitan, tempah, packaged vegan cheese sold in supermarkets, et cetera. However we’re now concerned that ANY processed carbohydrates (i.e. even wholegrain ones that are ‘man-made’ so to speak such as wholegrain rice, wholegrain pasta, wholegrain bread, couscous [from wheat], et cetera) are too insulin reactive in the body. Perhaps we should stick to just ‘natural’ carbs so to speak?

        Thank you again for your advice and help.

        1. Andrew: An intact grain is one that has not had any cuts or processing beyond having the outer hull removed. So, wheat berries, not things made of wheat flour. Oat groats, not rolled oats. Brown/black/red rice, not white rice. Barley. Millet. Teff. Kamut, Farro etc, etc, etc. These are all perfectly “natural” grains. Here is a 12 minute video from Brenda Davis covering the Whole Grain Hierarchy: . Brenda Davis has been a guest blogger on NutritionFacts and is one of the authors of a book (Becoming Vegan) which Dr. Greger recommends at the end of his book, How Not To Die.

          Why bother? Based on the diet you are describing, it seems like you are basically talking about a whole plant food based diet much like what Dr. Greger recommends, but without the grains. Why bother including grains? My two thoughts are: 1) Dr. Greger included grains in his Daily Dozen for a reason. He did not include grain on a whim or to mimic what the government says. Check out some of the benefits listed from the NutritionFacts topic page for grains: . The point is this: I’m not an expert, but my opinion is that you could eat the diet you are describing and likely do just fine. *However* if you incorporated the intact grains, you would be doing that much better. So, why not include them?

          2) I’m guessing that your ‘why not’ involves this concern about insulin. I would suggest that this concern about insulin is non existent in a healthy adult eating a whole plant food based diet. That’s what all the experts who I follow would say: Be sure to eat your intact grains or processed grains known to be low on the glycemic index. How do we know grains are OK? The concern about insulin is usually related to type 2 diabetes and increased blood sugars. Dr. Barnard is a leading researcher on type 2 diabetes. His experiments have been published in well respected, peer reviewed medical journals. The diet Dr. Barnard found to be 3 times more effective than the ADA diet includes grains. Just to answer your question, I flipped through the recipe section of his book just now and noticed: oatmeal, rye bread, wheat berries, bulgur, sprouted wheat tortillas, barley etc. People eating his diet either reduced or got off their diabetes meds and stabilized their blood sugars. This says to me that the hysteria over eating intact and low glycemic grains for the general population is wholly misplaced.

          I would also point out that Dr. Kempner was able to reverse diabetic eye sight problems by feeding them white rice, sugar and juice. Also those people who are phobic about the potential insulin effects of eating grains tend to be the same people who say that it’s no problem to eat meat. Yet we know that meat is a huge risk factor for diabetes: and meat takes the *normal* insulin spike which we are supposed to get after eating some carbohydrates and dramatically exacerbates the spike: ! Does it really make sense to listen to people who don’t have the basic facts straight?

          Again, I hope this post has helped put this issue into perspective. It’s no skin off my nose whether people eat grains or not. :-) I just hate to see people avoiding such a healthy food based off of misleading and false information.

          1. I just wanted to respond and thank you for your generosity, we certainly have all the advice and research we need now to help us with our journey. I will go through all the links you provided and if we get stuck I’ll post back here. Again thank you so much Thea!

            1. Andrew: It was my pleasure to converse with you.

              I was doing some research for someone else and happened to come across a reference to an article I had forgotten. It’s an article that does a really great job on debunking myths about insulin. I highly recommend taking a look at the following well written, well researched article: It should put your mind at ease on the topic of insulin in the context of a whole plant food based (WPFB) diet.

              Also, I had earlier referred you to Plant Positive. I love Plant Positive, but I know that some people are turned off by him. There’s another guy, Seth Yoder who has done a blog which goes through the book Good Calories, Bad Calories and essentially debunks it. So, if Plant Positive turns you off, you can always try Seth’s blog. Here’s the start of the Taubes stuff: . (Note, he claims that he is only going to do one post on the topic, but if you look on his site, you can see that Seth wrote multiple posts about the book. So, lots to read if you want to learn why the book is so misleading.) Here is a quote from the review:

              “I honestly did not expect to find near as many misleading quotes, misrepresentation of studies, or outright fabrication as I did in Good Calories, Bad Calories. I mean Taubes writes for The New York Times for Christ’s sake – arguably the most prestigious and most influential newspaper in the history of the world.

              Nearly every single time I bothered to check a reference made in Good Calories, Bad Calories I found that Taubes had at best taken something out of context or at worst completely misrepresented a study. Not kidding. Here are a few examples…”

              This was just a follow up post. I re-found the above info and thought of you. :-)

              1. Thank you, the articles from Weightology were incredibly insightful! I’ve just read all six parts. I guess this all boils down to completely cutting out refined carbohydrates (i.e. white bread, white pasta, white rice) and even limiting the use of wholegrain carbohydrates (i.e. wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta, brown rice) as Brenda Davis appears to consider even these as not the best of the whole grains hierarchy (certainly better than most, of course, but perhaps should still be used sparingly in the diet).

                I would also suggest sparingly using white potatoes, as these could be seen almost as a refined carbohydrates, only for the reason that, for the most part, they are stripped of their skins in modern-day preparation and used as a ‘junk food’. Wikipedia says that they are a relatively modern-day vegetable, meaning that for 99.96% of our 25 million year evolution we would not have eaten them, having been domesticated in the Andes of South America between 7,000-10,000 years ago. Much the same as we should likely avoid most wheat products available in today’s market, as agriculture has similarly been around for only the past approximate 10,000 years as Dr. Gregor continually points out.

                In fact, it appears that for the most part of our evolution we subsided on very little relative carbohydrate content in general, apart from those found naturally in vegetables and other plant sources besides wheat, and therefore it makes sense for us to try and eliminate the ‘poor quality’, processed wheat-based ones from our diet.

                Thank you again for helping us draw conclusion on this subject!

                1. Andrew: Thank you for your reply and sharing your thoughts.

                  One little note: I agree that Brenda Davis would recommend staying away from consuming a lot of bread/flour products. However, whole grain brown rice would be at the top of the whole grain hierarchy. IE: I do not see Brenda grouping brown rice with bread. And of course, white rice would not be a whole grain… Just a tiny point so you can enjoy your rice if you wish. Humans have been consuming starchy foods like intact grains and beans for 100,000 years (not just 10,000). I see every reason to consume those foods in their intact forms.

                  FYI: Dr. Greger recommends black or red rice over brown: or check out this newer video on rice:

  28. What about intermittent fasting on a whole-food, plant-based diet? Usually intermittent (cyclic) fasting is associated with a high-fat, low-carb menu rather than the usual vegan mix. I normally eat once a day, with a plate of blueberries, some cherry tomatoes, strawberries, olives, an avocado, a 4.5-ounce 40-plus-ingredient superfood smoothie, walnuts–plus D, B-12, and zinc supplements, then live on roasted green tea for the next 23 hours. But that’s not so high-fat or particularly low-fat.

    1. Bill Morris: Intermittent fasting is probably one of the most asked for topics. I don’t know when he will get to it, but I wanted to let you know that Dr. Greger has this topic on his short list of topics to cover.

  29. I have a question about broth that I do not see addressed anywhere on

    As a person transitioning to plant-based, mock meats have been helpful. I try to keep it to twice a week due to the added sodium. So I have toyed with the idea of making my own with vital wheat gluten. I am considering adding some organic, low sodium chicken broth for flavor.

    Similarly, yesterday i made a fish-less stew. I used a bottle of clam juice to provide the fishiness. It tasted great and no actual fish flesh.

    Per serving of stew, the clam juice provided 1 calorie, .5 gm cholesterol, 90gm sodium,

    So the question is . . . How bad can this be?

  30. Hello Rhys Ludlow,

    I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thank you for your question.

    Eating one serving of stew that contains enough clam juice to provide 1 calorie, 1/2 mg of cholesterol, and 90 mg of sodium is not a big deal, nutritionally. The entire scope of the diet is important in looking at a particular ingredient used in one food. If one consumed a primarily whole food, plant-based diet, yet consumed 1-2 serving of clam juice per week, this will have little to no impact on health. However, it is the accumulation of unhealthful foods in the diet that can have a more negative impact on health.

    I hope this adequately answers your question!

  31. From the Eco-Atkins video I understand the following:
    as long as you eat whole plant foods, you may use different proportions
    of Starches, Carbs, Protein and Fats according to your needs and grow healthy.

  32. Hi, Alexandra Mizrachi. Excellent question. Unfortunately, I don’t think those two dietary approaches have been directly compared in a study. If they have been, then I could not find it. It is clear from the existing research that plant-based diets, whether high-carb or low-carb, are superior to animal-based diets for most causes of mortality from disease, but it is not clear whether one approach is significantly better than the other.

  33. II was doing a fairly low carb almost vegan diet.

    I switched recently to add in more beans and lentils. I still haven’t added in any grains at all, but I was contemplating it.

    Wondering if this study is telling me that I should have stuck with what I had been doing.

    I am a little confused about exactly what this means.

    I am not confused that low carb vegan is healthier than low carb meat eating.

    I am also not confused that getting rid of refined carbs is better (I did this to get rid of food cravings and it worked)

    I am just confused about what this means, because I had added in beans out of those mortality studies.

    I probably won’t add in grains after seeing this, but grains had protective studies, too.

    Okay, I really am confused.

    1. Hi Deb! I’m sorry for all of your confusion. Lentils, beans, and oatmeal all sound like great additions to your diet! This study was simply comparing low carb vegan to low carb animal source diets, meaning that a low carb vegan diet is not necessarily the healthiest overall. Please do not feel worried about adding more carbohydrates into your diet, especially considering the ones you are adding are extremely health-promoting!

  34. That’s right, oatmeal was the other thing I recently added.

    Was I better off before adding the oatmeal and beans in?

    Hmmmm…. I need a new study.

  35. Deb, I’m glad you are reading this site and since you’ve indicated you’re confused let me encourage you to learn more about the health benefits of a whole food plant-based diet by watching some introductory videos which I think will answer your questions. As Dr. Greger has said: “Here at, we believe that a significant part of the problem is that individuals who want to make the correct dietary choices for themselves and their families are faced with a deluge of confusing and conflicting nutritional advice….Our goal is to present you and your doctor with the results of the latest in peer-reviewed nutrition and health research, presented in a way that is easy to understand.” Go to the drop down box on the upper left and click on “Introductory videos” to start.
    As far as adding oatmeal and beans–excellent additions. Lentils and whole grains as well. You can check out videos on these specific foods as well as other videos to answer your question. Keep up your learning by reading and watching videos and your questions will be answered.

  36. I love this site! Dr. Greger is a genius imo! I’m learning so much, but it’s still overwhelming, and still confusing to me. I’m trying to lose about 30-40 pounds while learning to eat a healthier plant based diet. I’m unclear on what is a safe amount of carbs I should eat in a day. On my food tracker is says I can have between 135-252 grams a day. I don’t want to eat too little or too much. I workout at least 5 times a week too…very high intensity cardio and strength training. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  37. I am a teacher, go to cross fit several days per week, and eat only plants. I find my blood sugar plummets during the day, but it is too difficult to eat enough food. By 1:30pm, I feel bloated and uncomfortable. I am intrigued by the idea of metabolic flexibility (I have no idea if I am using this term correctly). I want to be able to eat less and meet my energy needs. If I eat less, now, I get shaky. I just can’t keep up with glucose/carb demands and remain physically comfortable. The video notes a correlation between low-carb plant-based diets and low-death rates (simplified). Have any more long-term studies been done? I don’t know who else to ask.

  38. Meeting your metabolic needs is entirely possible on a WFPB diet. Be sure the diet is varied and includes beans, nuts, seeds and plenty of hydration, especially on days when you are exercising more vigorously. Dr. Greger’s app for the “Daily dozen” may be helpful to you to gauge the quantity of foods which should be consumed as recommended serving sizes are listed. Beyond that, I would recommend that you find a plant-based RD or doctor in your area to work with in order to customize your diet.

  39. Please provide any additional information on low carb plant based and or so called “Eco-Atkins” that you can. I’m interested. I’m getting good results designing my diet as best as I can following the above mentioned study.

  40. The main advice I’d give you is avoid the processed food such as fake meat. They tend to be very high in unhealthy processed fats and sodium. There are plenty of low carb whole plant foods available. My favorites are spinach and nuts.

    Dr. Ben

    1. I’m wondering if you watched the Dr. Gregers video on Plant-Based Atkins Diet.or this video: If so you will see many reliable research articles cited. As is clear the video you cited does not give any research to support claims made. It sounds good, but when it’s “put to the test” it doesn’t live up the promises. Please consider the research cited and review the videos above for a clearer picture why a whole food plant based diet can lead to lasting health and weight goals. Adding plants to a low carb diet is better than not consuming plant-based foods, but low carb cannot provide lasting health benefits. Please keep researching and you can provide your body the variety of healthy foods your body deserves.

  41. Dr. Gerger

    Proponents of Ketogenic diets such as Dr. Permuter say :

    “When you follow a diet low in carbohydrates, minimal in protein, and rich in healthy fats and plant-based fibers, you stimulate the body to use fat rather than glucose for fuel. More specifically, you force the body to turn to specialized substances called ketones for energy. In the absence of carbohydrates, ketones are produced by the liver using fatty acids from your food or body fat.” Etc

    Also “On the Eco Atkins diet, protein accounted for 31% of total calories, fat accounted for 43% of total calories, and the remaining 26% of total calories were carbohydrates. Common starchy items like bread, rice, potatoes, and baked goods were eliminated.”

    Also, besides the study you refer to as Eco Atkins there is one very large study – the study of seven countries , which found the Cretan diet to be superior for every single health marker. Cretans were not vegetarians but they ate very low meat and fish ( when the sea was cleaner of course ).

    There is an article, in Greek unfortunately, of a Greek professor of nutrition at the university of Crete, who confirms that Cretans calorie intake was 40 % fat from olive oil. They were also fasting the half of the year due to religious ceremonies

    That essentially makes the Cretan diet mildly Ketogenic and it is close to what Dr . Perlmutter and Atkins diet suggest but without the excessive meat and dairy consumption.

    Therefore can we conclude that mild Ketosis is healthy if it is plant based ? It seems reasonable to me since if one followers these diets is in mild Ketosis.

    Furthermore, in another video you describe the health effects of a low carb diet
    – Which makes one metabolically obese.

    In light of the evidence supporting low carb fat relatively high diet from plants should the description of the above mechanism be updated ? Or it is still true? And why?

    Many thanks

  42. Hi! I am an almost-vegan on a low carb diet. Since I am very busy and my family eats a regular diet, I do end up using meat substitutes. I am wondering if these have differences in how healthy they are? I live in Scandinavia where the offering is huge ranging from soya to pulled oats, different type of bean products as well as quorn. I try to mix it up and end up using different kinds.

  43. CR,

    I do see a point in using prepared products as either additives to the WFPB diet or as the occasional treat and yes they can be both healthy or just the opposite.

    Love the reference to the goldandgreenfoods….. however did you check out the sodium load for their product, very high to say the least. As a note some Quorn products are made from eggs ( and some also contain carrageenan. (

    So shopping with an eye on the label for questionable inclusions of suspect or just inappropriate ingredients is essential.

    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger

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