“How Not to Diet” – my rating 2 out of 5

First, let me point out I am a big fan (pun intended) of Dr. Greger, and his first book, “How not to Die”, which inspired me to get back on the whole food plant-based bandwagon.

After getting back, I have lost 103 pounds, and just need to lose another 13 or so to get down to a normal BMI. All my blood test values are fantastic, and I believe getting back on WFPB turned my life around for the better.

I cannot imagine leaving the WFPB way of life, and I have turned into sort of a WFPB evangelist among my friends, some who tolerate it, and some who have actually been inspired by Dr. Greger’s first book and have started WFPB journeys of their own.

I was hoping his new book would have some more information on the best ways to lose the weight I still need to lose. However, like the song “Windmills of the Mind”, there are circles within circles, spirals within spirals, tunnels leading to tunnels of their own, and really not much conclusive, even after reading almost 600 pages.

I am glad he pointed out that calories are important for losing weight. Of course I did know that. And I am glad he confirmed my suspicion that intermittent fasting is no more useful for weight loss than general calorie restriction. But overall, I really didn’t learn much new.

His style of writing makes quick skimming all but impossible. That’s because he loves teasing you with possible scenarios, and then talking them down with his research analysis results. It’s hard following his train of thought sometimes. And his endless use of analogies drives me crazy. I keep on thinking, “get to the point already!”

The only thing new I really learned was that he feels that front-loading your food by eating your large meals earlier in the day and having a light dinner seems to change the way calories are metabolized. Chef AJ has been saying that for some time, but he presented research supporting that idea.

And he also claims that we should stop eating after 7 pm and that, too, somehow helps with net calorie reduction and metabolism.

But beyond those two points – in nearly 600 pages of convoluted discussion – I didn’t find much useful in the book, to be honest.

A friend of mine asked me yesterday if she should get the new book because she wanted to start WFPB and needs to lose 60 lb. I think I was fair in my reply that she should start with the original “How Not to Die”, which is much more informative, and then tweak from there, as I have done.

There are probably lots of you who will disagree with me. But that’s my conclusion after reading both books.

“How Not To Die” is an A+!

“How Not to Diet” is a C (to me).

Just released – “How Not To Diet”

I went ahead and bought Dr. Michael Greger’s just released, “How Not To Diet” (Kindle edition) after reading the free sample, even though there was an extremely weird passage about obesity skeptics (see below).

After all, “How Not to Die” inspired me to get back in the WFPB (whole food plant based) groove a year ago September, and I’m now down a total of about 104 lb, without about 14 lb to go to a “normal BMI.” And my blood sugar is normal, cholesterol fantastic, and things are going very well.

I’m looking forward to diet (s o r r y – “not diet” advice) to get me across my final goal. The free sample was overall interesting. I did want to mention my buying experience though.

  • You can’t purchase the Kindle book from inside the Kindle app.
  • You can’t purchase the Kindle book from inside the Amazon app.
  • You can purchase it from iPhone Safari at the Amazon site, but it’s like $25.
  • You can buy it from a computer web browser going to the Amazon site, and that way it’s $16.99, which is what I did. Why is it so much less expensive from my Mac’s web browser than it is from my iPhone’s web browser?
  • At the Amazon site, when making the Kindle purchase it says it comes with the free audio book. I don’t like audio books, but I figured, “If it’s free, why not?” So I chose that option. At which point the purchase price jumped to over $40! So I dropped that and just bought the Kindle version and had it delivered to my iPad.
  • After making the purchase, it said the audio book was available for free download now, so I clicked that. But it said there was a problem delivering that.
  • Then I opened the Kindle book, which works very nicely on my iPad. I noticed there was an audio play button at the bottom, and I touched it. Sure enough Dr. Greger’s (rather annoying) voice was narrating the page I was looking at in real time. So I have the audio narration anyway. So what was all that business about getting the audio book? Anyway, I turned off the narration because I’d rather just read it.

I’m reading the book now, but was just wondering – why all the confusion about how to purchase, and the vastly differing purchase prices depending on what device you are doing it on? Am I the only one to experience that?Anyway, the Kindle price is $16.99. So be sure you are paying the right price.

And here was that really weird passage about obesity skeptics I read in the free sample. It created quite a conversation in the Whole Food Plants Based group on Facebook:

Health at Any Size?

There are “obesity skeptics” who argue that the health consequences of obesity are unclear or even greatly exaggerated. They are a motley bunch of unlikely bedfellows, ranging from feminists, queer theorists, and new ageists to “far right wing, pro-gun, pro-America websites where the idea [is] that obesity alarmists are nanny-state communists who simply want to stop us from having fun.”

“How Not to Diet” by Dr. Michael Greger, page 47.

Strange, yes? Controversial language? He certainly could have written that better. But he just feels strongly about the health dangers of obesity and so I think was being intentionally provocative. Still, feminists and queer theorists (whoever they are) in bed with far-right gun nuts?

Anyway, I look forward to reading the book to see whether there is actually new, useful information in it as I am (very) slowly continuing my weight loss quest.

Milestone report – in the 170s

Forgive me. I love any excuse for a milestone report, be it in lb or kg.

Today is MyFitnessPal streak day 2,750.

As of this morning I went under 180 lb. My new weight is 179.5 lb = 81.4 kg.

Total lost so far: 104.9 lb = 47.6 kg.

Total to lose to “normal BMI” is now just 6 kg = about 13 lb.

I’m hoping to get under 80 kg by the end of the year.

It will be close. I’m ok either way though.

And onward.

November 28, 2019 – quarterly test results

My quarterly blood test results are in, and the results are great.

I recommitted to WFPB (Whole Food Plant Based) in September of last year, after being inspired by Dr. Greger’s guidelines in “How Not To Die.” I also follow additional recommendations for comfortable, sustainable weight loss from people like Chef AJ, Potato Strong, and Plant Based Gabriel, with some tweaks of my own.

And I carefully do calorie logging in MyFitnessPal. Calories count, whether you count them or not. I find calorie logging as essential as overall healthy eating and exercise.

To sum up, blood sugar remains normal, cholesterol is fantastic, blood pressure is great, and I continue to lose weight. The rest of this post are details, if people are interested in numbers and more!

What I eat and don’t eatI

I try to follow Greger’s Daily Dozen for the most part. The main exception is that I avoid eating nuts. As with many people, I find that nuts do, in fact, impact on weight loss. Calories count. See Chef AJ’s advice for example. She’s very supportive.

Although I avoid nuts, I do add flax seeds to my salads, which add healthy fats, aid in nutrient absorption, and are also tasty.

I’ve also been “sequencing” more, which is recommended for people trying to lose weight, by Chef AJ and others. Sequencing just means starting meals with very low calorie density foods, like a big salad. Then going on to cooked non-starchy veggies. Then, if you like, finishing off with satisfying starches, like potatoes.

Desserts are just fruits.

I find sequencing really helps with calorie control. There is no feeling of deprivation. If I’m hungry I’ll eat something, like a fruit, or some cherry tomatoes, some carrots or even a potato.

I’ve become somewhat of a carrot junkie lately. They make great snacks and are also nicely sweet tasting. I’ll slice them up and microwave them, air fry them, and even eat some raw. I think I’m turning into a rabbit. When cooked, they’re really tasty with some ginger powder sprinkled on them.

So I eat lots of veggies, and have fruits every day. In other words, I eat lots of carbs. Carbs do not impact negatively on blood sugar or weight.

Some Notes on Fruits

For weight loss reasons I have adjusted the kinds of fruits I eat. It turns out I had been underestimating the calories in many fruits. It’s very easy to underestimate if you don’t weigh things! Now I’m being more careful. I’ve basically given up bananas because they have an unusually high calorie density compared with most other fruits. In fact, 100 grams of bananas have more calories than 100 grams of potatoes! It’s a waste on a diet because they aren’t really filling; if I have a bunch in the house I will mindlessly eat them all.

For the most part, the fruits I eat are bags of frozen blueberries. Only 49 calories per 100 grams, and they make for a nice after dinner dessert. I’ll sometimes have watermelon and persimmons too.

Other Foods

I also eat firm (momen) tofu a few times a day. I find it filling, and it has a lower calorie density than potatoes, healthy fats, and has lots of protein. I’ve been eating tofu in place of other legumes in general lately. It agrees with me more.

I avoid animal products, oils and other added fats (completely), added sugar (as much as is practical), added salt (as much as is practical), and also stay away from highly processed high calorie density foods, like breads and pastas.

I don’t obsess about tiny amounts of animal products, like bonito extract in miso soup at a restaurant. I’m trying to make this easy and sustainable. I will also very occasionally have some sushi with a friend. When I eat rice I try to go for brown rice when possible, but I will eat white rice if that’s all that’s available.

No Fasting

I do not do intermittent fasting. It’s not necessary and I’m not interested in it at all. The whole idea is a big turn off for me. Dr. Greger’s latest research reports also confirms there is no advantage to intermittent fasting over ordinary daily calorie control (and, in fact, can be dangerous). I know there are a lot of IF fans out there, but I would not recommend it because it just doesn’t seem like a fun lifestyle, and it isn’t needed.

Logging with MyFitnessPal

I log my food and exercise calories in MyFitnessPal, and keep within 1540 net calories per day (food calories minus exercise calories). Today is my MyFitnessPal Streak Day 2,747. Daily logging in MFP has been a great sanity check and prevented me from having a complete rebound when I fell off the wagon in the past.

I’ve lost a total of 46.4 kg = 102 lb so far, and am just 7.2 kg = 16 lb from a normal BMI. Getting closer and closer! It’s never been this low since I started MFP logging in 2012.

Blood test results

Here are the latest and previous results. Normal ranges are in parentheses.

Total cholesterol (120-219)

  • Nov 28 – 118
  • Aug 29 – 116
  • Jun 8 – 136
  • Mar 19 – 133
  • Dec 20 – 124

This remains low, which I think is fine.

HDL good cholesterol (35-80)

  • Nov 28 – 46
  • Aug 29 – 40
  • Jun 8 – 34
  • Mar 19 – 38
  • Dec 20 – 36

LDL bad cholesterol (70-139)

  • Nov 28 – 55
  • Aug 29 – 56
  • Jun 8 – 73
  • Mar 19 – 72
  • Dec 20 – 67

Quite low! But that’s supposed to be great for your heart.

Triglycerides (30-150)

  • Nov 28 – 62
  • Aug 29 – 79
  • Jun 8 – 129
  • Mar 19 – 114
  • Dec 20 – 100

Also a drop from last time.

Blood Sugar HbA1c (4.7-6.2)

  • Nov 28 – 5.9
  • Aug 29 – 6.1
  • Jun 8 – 5.5
  • Mar 19 – 5.9
  • Dec 20 – 6.5

This value does not fluctuate over the short term. It’s a 2-3 month average. Previous HbA1c quarterly values were 8.2, and 10.8. So it’s a great improvement over time, and has been in the normal range since March.

More medication eliminated!

My doctor takes a conservative approach to reducing or eliminating medication, but finally today he said he doesn’t think I need my blood sugar meds at all anymore and dropped them completely! He said I can feel free to brag. The nutritionist was also very pleased.

The “E” Word

That would be exercise, something that has never been my strong suit, but I’m trying. It’s good for health, and the calories burned give me a calorie buffer when needed.

My daily exercise is mostly walking, and I’ve started doing daily indoor cycling too. I feel it gives me a better workout that I can actually feel, and burns more calories in a shorter time. Indoor cycling is deathly boring, but listening to NPR or music helps.

I’m going to start some upper body resistance training to build up some arm strength and maybe add some muscles, for my health. I haven’t started that yet though.