15 Weeks on “Starch Solution” vs 10 weeks on “Always Hungry?” – weight and blood value changes

I have now finished 15 weeks on Dr. John McDougall’s “Starch Solution” and have a new set of weight changes and blood tests to report.

The contrast with Dr. David Ludwig’s “Always Hungry?” low-carb diet could not be more dramatic.

To summarize in one sentence: “Starch Solution” works with weight loss and all important blood values, and “Always Hungry?” does not.

After 15 weeks on “Starch Solution” I’ve now lost exactly 18 kg = 39.6 lb. This is actually up slightly from last week, where I had lost exactly 40 lb, but these things have some fluctuation day-by-day and week-by-week.

Today was also my regular visit to the hospital for blood tests. After 15 weeks on “Starch Solution” I am very impressed.

The way the schedule worked was this. I went on Dr. David Ludwig’s “Always Hungry?” low-carb diet starting 2/8/2016. On that date I also had blood tests. I stayed on that diet for exactly 10 weeks and had blood tests at the end, on 4/18/2016. So I know exactly what happened on Ludwig’s diet, and it wasn’t good, including gaining weight, increased cholesterol, no blood sugar improvement, and never solving my hunger problems.

Between 4/19/2016 and 5/22/2016 I wasn’t on any particular diet. My weight stayed pretty much the same during this period, but I was definitely not vegan/no-oil and I would sometimes overeat. I don’t have any blood test data for those in-between 5 weeks.

On 5/23/2016 – exactly 15 weeks ago – I started Dr. McDougall’s “Starch Solution” diet.

While on the Ludwig low-carb diet I gained weight over 10 weeks and my blood tests were not improved at all. In many ways they got worse.

On Dr. McDougall’s diet I have lost a large amount of weight in 15 weeks and all my blood test values greatly improved.

These are the results of the blood values I’m most concerned with:

(1) HbA1c (blood sugar)

2/8 (start of “Always Hungry?”) – 7.9
4/18 (after 10 weeks on “Always Hungry?”) – 8.0
9/5 (after 15 weeks on “Starch Solution”) – 6.4

My doctor was amazed at the incredible improvement in my blood sugar values over these last 15 weeks. This is almost in the normal range for HbA1c now, which is 4.7-6.2%.

Also my glucose level (which I usually don’t pay much attention to because it fluctuates more than does HbA1c) went down from 142 mg/dl on “Always Hungry?” to 99 mg/dl on “Starch Solution”, which is well within the normal range of 70-110 mg/dl.


I think this is quite amazing considering my diet is mostly carbs, and I don’t avoid refined carbs all the time (e.g. Dr. McDougall says white rice is ok), and I don’t completely avoid sugar either.

(2) Total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol)

These results were also dramatic. As I mentioned 10 weeks ago, I was surprised by this because I thought, according to recent research, that the cholesterol you eat doesn’t really directly affect blood cholesterol. That obviously is not true in my case at all as you can see from these numbers:

2/8 (start of “Always Hungry?”) – Total cholesterol 175, LDL 95
4/18 (after 10 weeks on “Always Hungry?”) – Total 177, LDL 101
9/5 (after 15 weeks on “Starch Solution”) – Total 127, LDL 67

That’s a dramatic drop in both total and bad cholesterol, accomplished by giving up animal products.

(3) Triglycerides (TG)

The normal range for this is 30-150 mg/dl.

2/8 (start of “Always Hungry?) – 113
4/18 (after 10 weeks on “Always Hungry?”) – 159, way up
9/5 (after 15 weeks on “Starch Solution”) – 146, slowly came back to the normal range

(4) Weight

4/18 (after 10 weeks on “Always Hungry?”) – gained 1.6 kg = 3.5 lb.
9/5 (after 15 weeks on “Starch Solution”) – lost 18 kg = 39.6 lb.

The weight change is very dramatic. Also it indicates that one diet simply doesn’t work, and the other does.

Everything else is normal. My blood pressure remains fine. Today it was 112 / 67, which is about my usual range.

To summarize what I’m eating, I’m keeping it simple. Lots of baked potatoes, moistened with a bit of soy milk. Salads topped with garbanzo beans or red kidney beans. Brown rice. Sometimes white rice. Some sweet potatoes. Some frozen veggies (corn, peas, carrot mix or a lower starch broccoli, cauliflower and green bean mix), sometimes some soba, sometimes some udon (even though it is refined wheat), sometimes some edamame, sometimes tofu – though Dr. McDougall deprecates that because of fat content. But I find tofu helps when I sometimes don’t have an appetite and am worried that I’m not getting enough protein. I’m not really eating much fruit. Sometimes I will have some watermelon, but mostly I’ve been staying away from fruit. I’m not particularly avoiding sugar though; when I had some throat problems this summer I would suck on honey/lemon drops and things like that, and did not go for the sugarless kind.

My total calorie input has gone down quite a lot compared to “Always Hungry?” because unlike that diet, on “Starch Solution” I really am usually not hungry between meals. At the end of the day, calories do count of course. Starch Solution concentrates on foods which are lower in “caloric density” and that is key to being satisfied and losing weight. For example, the caloric density of potatoes is about 391 calories/lb. There are 506 calories/lb in brown rice – not as good as potatoes, but ok if you’re careful. On the other hand there is 1187 calories/lb in hamburger and 1,655 calories per lb of buttered popcorn. And if you start talking butter or olive oil – forget it.

I’ve continued my exercise, so I am cycling along the nearby river most days.

My next checkup will be on 11/21, so I will report again then!


Trying another diet – the Starch Solution

It’s worth looking at Dr. John McDougall’s “Starch Solution.” You can find groups on Facebook, and also his book on Amazon.

It’s completely the opposite of Dr. David Ludwig’s “Always Hungry?” in that (1) It’s starch-centric and (2) it actually does seem to work – at least so far.

By that I mean even though I just started it this week it completely controls my hunger. And even though I’m just in my 5th day so far I’ve already lost 3.0 kg (6.6 lb). That is certainly a motivation to continue.

It’s quite interesting. A vegan + non-oil approach I never tried before. After all this time it’s hard finding a diet approach I never tried before!

I realize everybody is different, and low-carb may work for some people. I also realize, living in Japan, that the diet here has been rice-centric for thousands of years and the obesity rate is just a small fraction of what it is in the U.S. How can I ignore that?

So I’m going to try this for a while. It might be worth looking at if you are not succeeding in losing weight with “Always Hungry?” or other low-carb or strict calorie-counting solutions. There are also interesting chapters in the book on the benefits of such a diet not only for obesity and heart disease, but also for all manner of health problems, including immune disorders.

The diet is quite simple to follow. I’ve been concentrating on starches like sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, starchy vegetables (corn, peas, carrots) and some other non-starchy vegetables, like tomato and cucumber salads, with some legumes sometimes thrown in. It’s not a “strict” diet, in that he is very reasonable about such things as white rice (brown rice is better, white rice is ok if that’s what you have) and even sugars. In other words, it’s easy to prepare meals – especially for somebody like me who is not “handy” in the kitchen. He even likes Sizzler’s!

There is a very friendly support group (not run by me) here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/StarchSolution/.

Dr. McDougall himself is quite approachable, and answers email quickly.

Anyway, another day another diet. I hope this one works out and turns into a permanent solution. It’s certainly a good start. And frankly, I feel better being back to vegan. Not just for me and my health, but also for environmental reasons.