“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).

One year of “How Not to Die”

Just a little milestone to report. Today marks exactly one year since recommitting to WFPB (Whole Food Plant Based) eating after reading Dr. Greger’s “How Not to Die.”

Besides all the vast improvements in blood tests (great cholesterol, blood sugar down to normal) I’m down 25.6 kg = 56.4 lb this past year, and down 43.2 kg = 95.2 lb total on WFPB in all.

I’ve made a few adjustments along the way, balancing his reports with my personal experiences (they aren’t always 100% in sync – everybody is different), and continue to make adjustments as I slowly get closer to goal.
But overall I am very pleased and satisfied with this way of eating.

Normal blood sugar at last! Eating whole food plant based…

I just got back from my quarterly checkup at the hospital and am happy to report that my blood sugar, HbA1c is finally in the normal range.

This is 22 weeks after recommitting to WFPB (Whole Food Plant Based) and following Dr. Greger’s guidelines in “How Not To Die.”

Note: My only exception to Greger’s Daily Dozen is I have been avoiding nuts because, like many people, I find that they do, in fact, impact on weight loss. See Chef AJ for example. She’s very supportive.

In general, I stick with lower calorie density foods, including satisfying carbs like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and brown rice. Potatoes in particular are very filling and low in calorie density.

And I eat lots of veggies, legumes, and have fruits every day.

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. I don’t obsess about tiny amounts of animal products though, like bonito extract in miso soup at a restaurant. I’m trying to make this easy and sustainable.

I also log my food and exercise calories in MyFitnessPal, and keep within 1800 net calories per day (food calories minus exercise calories). There is no feeling of deprivation. If I’m hungry I’ll eat something, like a fruit, or edamame (great snack).

My doctor said he’s never seen anything like it.

Here are the results. Normal ranges are in parentheses.

Total cholesterol 133 (120-219) – great
Change from 124 on 12/20/2018

HDL 38 (35-80) – great
Change from 36 on 12/20/2018

LDL bad cholesterol 72 (70-139) – great
Change from 67 on 12/20/2018

Triglycerides 114 (30-150) – normal
Change from 100 on 12/20/2018

I guess the changes above are just normal fluctuations.

HbA1c 5.9 (4.7-6.2) In normal range! Yay!

HbA1c change is from 6.5 on 12/20/2018, 8.2 the time before, and down from 10.8 at peak. This value does not fluctuate over the short term. It’s a 2-3 month average. So it’s definitely in normal range at last. And has been consistently getting lower.

All my blood values are in normal range.

Weight loss is also going well. Since September when I recommitted to WFPB my weight is down 14 kg = 31 lb. That’s 1.4 lb/week, which is reasonable. Some patience is needed.

My total weight loss following WFPB is down 31.6 kg = 69.5 lb since my peak back in 2012.

My MyFitnessPal Streak Day is 2489. 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.

The nutritionist, who I also met today, is worried that I am eating at least three fruits a day, which goes against her guidelines for people with high blood sugar. Yet my blood sugar has consistently dropped, and is now finally in the normal range. She insists I’m eating twice as much fruit as I should and said I should cut down. We left that vague since I promised I would eat more tofu for protein. 🙂

As far as medication goes, I asked my doctor if I can stop taking it, and he recommended being cautious and seeing how it goes for the rest of the year. Since he’s my doctor, I will stick with his advice for now.

I do not do intermittent fasting. It’s not necessary and I’m not interested in that.

My mantra if I ever feel tempted by anything I know is bad is, “Stay the course.”


One more note on nuts (I promise it’s the last one)

Finally I decided to test it. I’ve been going by Dr. Greger’s advice that 1 tablespoon of nuts added to my salads would have no bad effect on weight. But I had stalled. And, to be honest, it never made sense to me. I’d seen his video and read his info about nuts in HNTD, but the calories from nuts just couldn’t magically disappear, could they?

Well I tried it and after losing weight my weight loss really stagnated for the past few weeks. I admit I was getting a bit frustrated – but I was staying the course!

Then I decided to just drop nuts altogether a few days ago and see what happens. I still add 1 teaspoon of flaxseed to each salad, usually 3 times a day.

The day after I completely stopped nuts my weight dropped 1.3 lb, The next day it dropped 0.9 lb. The next day it dropped another 0.4 lb. The day after that it dropped another 0.4 lb. Anyway, my weight today is 3 lb less than it was 1 week ago.

And all I changed was eliminating nuts from my diet.

So nuts to nuts for me.

And we now return you to your normal programming…