How Not To Die

Since starting Dr. Michael Greger’s book, “How Not to Die” on October 9 I’m down 5.2 kg = 11.5 lb. My total weight loss so far is 22.8 kg = 50.2 lb. Yes – over 50 lb now!
I highly recommend the book. It’s the best health and nutrition book I’ve ever read. It’s also the only book in that category I’ve ever gifted to friends and relatives! I’m that excited by it.
I’ve had ups and downs over the last few years, and still have quite a ways to go, but I’m on a weight loss streak again. I’m in “healthy eating” mode. I attribute that mostly to:
(1) Dr. Greger’s book for getting me psyched again. Following his “Daily Dozen” has been helpful and revealing. I’m doing some things I hadn’t been doing carefully before. I’m adding a tablespoon of walnuts to my green salads. I’m also adding ground flaxseed, which I never bought before. I’m making sure to get in my daily servings of cruciferous veggies, other veggies, whole grains, legumes, and fruits – particularly berries, and a variety of spices, including turmeric – also a first for me. And I’m exercising more. Obviously all of that has given me a boost!
(2) The encouragement and advice of people like Chef AJ (who taught me the best way to air fry potatoes), Plant Based Gabriel and Potato Strong guy, all who have been supportive and have great advice. You can find them all on FaceBook.
And onward! Stay the course!

And the best diet advice is…

I started a discussion in a healthy eating / diet group I’m a member of (Whole Foods Plant Based) and it generated a lot of comments. A lot! I tallied the opinions expressed, and thought my friends might find the results interesting.

As I have experienced in the past, a lot of the info is contradictory, so ultimately I need to use my best judgment and sort out what is practical for me and what is not.

The numbers are the numbers of mentions of that opinion. I’ve listed in the order of most comments expressing a particular opinion.

– Calorie limits (in vs out) and tracking are needed: 27

– Limiting starches is needed: 11

– Chef AJ is helpful (and her new book): 10

– No food limits are needed: 9

– Intermittent fasting is helpful: 8
– Everyone is different (what works for some doesn’t work for others): 8

– Calorie tracking/limits are not needed: 6

– More exercise is needed: 5

– Portion control is important: 4
– I’m eating too few calories: 4
– Greens are important: 4
– Dr. Joel Fuhrman is helpful: 4
– Weight Watchers is helpful: 4
– Nuts, nut butters, processed grains, avocados, etc. will hurt weight loss: 4

– Calorie density is key or all that matters: 3
– Avoid sugars, dairy, excess oil, processed food, fried foods: 3

– Adding more starches is needed: 2
– Eating fruits is good: 2
– Lots of beans and veggies are good: 2
– Fruit should be limited: 2
– Starch/carb calories don’t count as much as fat calories: 2
– Aging slows your metabolism: 2
– Following Engine 2 resulted in weight loss slowing down: 2
– WFPB is for everyone: 2
– Drinking more water is helpful: 2
– Crack and meth are bad: 2
– Salads are good: 2
– Gut health is important: 2
– Dried fruits and fruit juices hurt weight loss: 2
– Increasing fiber is helpful: 2
– Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson is helpful: 2
– RH fitness in the UK is helpful: 2
– Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution is helpful: 2
– The time of day you eat is important: 2
– Going to a program center is helpful: 2
– Amla Green is helpful: 2
– WFPB is about healthy eating, not about losing weight: 2

– Gbombs are good: 1
– Chef AJ didn’t really help: 1
– Juice cleanses help: 1
– Smoothies are good: 1
– is useful: 1
– Keto is bad: 1
– Nutritionists and therapists can help: 1
– No exercise is needed: 1
– Never eat until you are full: 1
– Eat whenever you are hungry: 1
– Dr. Neal Barnard is helpful: 1
– Dr. Doug Lisle is helpful: 1
– Yo-yo dieting makes it harder to lose weight: 1
– Menopause makes it hard to lose weight: 1
– Humans are herbivores: 1
– Humans are omnivores: 1
– Keto works for no one: 1
– Keto works for some people: 1
– WFPB is a lifestyle, not a diet: 1
– Overeaters Anonymous is helpful: 1
– Barbara O’Neil’s Proper Diet is helpful: 1
– Strength training is helpful: 1
– is helpful: 1
– Limiting high fats and adding starches is all you need: 1
– White rice is not good: 1
– Beachbody 21 day fix is helpful: 1
– Dr. Alan Goldhammer is helpful: 1
– I may be in starvation mode: 1
– Mastering Diabetes is helpful: 1
– The Pleasure Trap is helpful: 1
– The Power of Habit is helpful: 1
– Starches are just side, not main courses: 1
– Mindset breakthrough sessions are helpful: 1
– Calories don’t count: 1

Some final thoughts on John McDougall’s “The Starch Solution” diet

The post  below was removed from the Facebook “McDougall’s Starch Solution Group”. I’m surprised, because there were many supportive, informative comments in response to my post.  The comments were useful, and no arguments were taking place. Many people are going through the same problems I experienced, and it seems short-sighted to try to cover that up.

Because the post was removed, I have left the group and am continuing my search for a workable diet. There were useful suggestions after my post and I did want to read them again. The messages about Chef AJ were particularly interesting. I hope the original poster gets back to me by private message so I can get more information. In the meanwhile, here is the which was deleted from the group.


At this point I may get kicked out of the group, or asked to leave, but please give me one last chance to explain what I think is the problem. I mean it with sincerity and good intentions.

After much back and forth with The Starch Solution since last May, during which time I lost 40 lb and then gained it back, I have come to feel that the real “starch solution” is to eat less starches.

People have come back at me saying things like, “The MWL (Maximum Weight Loss) diet recommends reducing starches to 50% instead of 70%.”

Yes, that’s true. The MWL program does recommend less starches. But this isn’t the MWL group. We are talking about SS here in this group, right?

Or people will point out that Dr. McDougall says things like, “For more rapid weight loss you can reduce starches” and he then also refers to the MWL diet.

My problem with that is that McDougall never out-and-out admits that The Starch Solution simply does not work for some people – perhaps many people from posts I’ve seen here.

I think he shouldn’t say, “for more rapid weight loss” try MWL. I think he should say, “This diet may not work for many people because the starch ratio is too high and for some people you may not be able to lose weight AT ALL unless you reduce your starch portions to 50% or even less, like with the MWL diet.”

In other words, it’s not a matter of trying to achieve “more rapid” weight loss by reducing starches, it’s really a matter of trying to achieve any weight loss at all!

Of course another thing to consider is that a reduced starch diet like that is basically a plain old vegan, non-fat, non-nuts diet like many other doctors, including Ornish Heart-Disease-Reverse and Esselstyn propose.

I realize some people have achieved great success on Starch Solution. The Potato Strong guy seems to be doing really great.

All I’m saying is that The Starch Solution is not a universal answer and that Dr. McDougall’s 70% starch solution is too high for many people and I wish he would just admit that. Throwing in passages to the MWL diet while talking about SS and somehow mixing them up and saying they’re all the same thing seems off to me. It’s feels like “bait and switch to sell the SS book, frankly.

I do think vegan, non-oil dieting is probably healthiest. But I really do think that as far as weight loss goes, making most of your diet starch-based hurts weight loss for many people. I know it does for me.

So attack away. I’m just being honest here, as best I can.

After 30 weeks on “Starch Solution” having problems and returning to plain old calorie counting – yet again

Previously I had posted here about my first 15 weeks on Dr. John McDougall’s “Starch Solution” and the better results I achieved compared with Dr. David Ludwig’s “Protein Power.”

Unfortunately at week 30 I’ve regained about 1/2 of what I lost those first 15 weeks. I’m still down about 20 lb from when I started 30 weeks ago, but I had been down 40 lb, so I’ve regained half of what I’ve lost.

My blood tests remain good. My blood sugar HbA1c is now in the normal range, and my cholesterol is extremely low. All my blood tests are in the normal range.

But I think my blood sugar will start going up unless I can, yet again, get weight loss under control. I had dropped below 100 kg for a few weeks, and now I’m above it again. For the year I’m down a disappointing 11 lb only. I suppose you could say if my new year’s resolution was to lose weight this year I’ve technically kept that resolution, but still…

And I am still down 46 lb from my high in 2012. So I’ve managed to avoid a complete rebound so far, for the first time ever. So that part is good.

But “Starch Solution” just isn’t working anymore. I need to rethink again.

As I posted in the “Starch Solution” support group on Facebook, I appreciate everyone who gave constructive comments. Different diets work for different people I think. I don’t think there is a universal answer that works for everyone, which is why people everywhere are endlessly debating different kinds of diets.

Multiple people in the Starch Solution support group agree with what I wrote and say they have the same problems I do. So I know it’s not just me.

For now, I think the best way to get back to losing weight is to strictly count and control calories again. Just keep on logging everything in MyFitnessPal, which I’ve been doing for over 1,600 days now, through good and bad days, and really try hard to stick within calorie limits.

I know calorie counting works. And it offers the most variety. However, I also know it’s not sustainable after a couple of years, having done it many times and then rebounded. But to be honest I also feel that while Starch Solution worked at first, it too has turned out, for me, to be yet another diet that isn’t sustainable long term. Some things about that diet are not right, and some things Dr. McDougall, the author of the diet, has said also turned out to be hyperbole at best.

I do recognize that Starch Solution seems to work for some people and am not disputing that. Even low-carb ketogenic and near-ketogenic diets seem to work for some people (though not for me – too high calorie). I imagine even “Protein Power” works for some people, though I gained weight trying that.

The advantage of low calorie diets, where you take into account what you eat, and calories expended in exercise, and log everything, and are very careful to keep calories in balance, is that it always works as long as you can stay on it. And calorie-counting offers the most variety (no particular food is forbidden), and offers a positive, measurable encouragement to do exercise (the more you exercise, the more you can eat and/or the more weight you lose).

The premise with Starch Solution, that the starches would keep you satisfied and control your hunger, only seemed to really work for me for the first 10-15 weeks. And during that time I was also ill for 5 weeks with a bad summer cold and lost my appetite. So I lost an unnatural amount of weight during the illness. Since my first 15 weeks, though, It’s been rough and I just need to try something “different” while trying to figure this out.

So it’s back to “good old” calorie counting for now. And I’m not particularly caring exactly what is in the food I eat as long as it’s low calorie and seems to satisfy me so I don’t overeat. I honestly think everything else – cholesterol, blood sugar, overall health – comes with weight loss. After all, if you are on a low-calorie diet then it’s impossible to eat too much fat, or too much sugar, or really overdo too much of anything unhealthy. Calorie limits create a cap on everything. The fact there might be non-vegan ingredients in food doesn’t, by itself, really matter than much. For example, think of ordinary miso soup. The dashi in miso soup contains some bonito extract. I can’t believe that is going to make the difference between good and bad health.

Calorie counting also makes it easier when on the go, because calories are labeled everywhere, even in many restaurants.

Anyway, here I am going with yet another change of diet. And it’s a diet I’ve been on before too, so while I’m not exactly full-to-the-brim with confidence I am going to try it again.

All I can do is keep trying.