Plant Based Weight Loss
What is the Best Diet for Humans?
There is a lot of confusion over what is good for humans to eat. But most experts agree that natural whole foods high in fiber, including lots of veggies and some fruit, is the best diet for us humans.
Most healthy diets have a lot of leafy greens and other veggies when the season allows for them. Healthy diets don’t have a lot of packaged foods or refined foods. At first, this can seem challenging to prepare or find the right foods. But with the right knowledge, you can easily transform your diet and your health.
Why a plant-based diet?
Eating an unprocessed diet high in fiber and nutrients is a sustainable long-term strategy that can keep you thin and healthy without having to struggle, fight your appetite or go hungry.
This is a way of eating you can do for your whole life, not just another diet.
When I first thought about going off processed foods I was afraid to even try.
I thought I would be miserable and hungry all the time and miss all those processed treats. Because every time I have gone on a diet I have felt deprived and had monster strong cravings and eventually failed.
The first secret to plant-based eating: taste perception
But the truth is that real foods taste delicious. I am actually more satisfied eating real food than I was eating processed foods.
Now it may not taste great at first because you might be used to highly salted processed foods.
It might even taste kind of bland and boring at first.
The secret is that you taste buds turn over to fresh new buds every 3 weeks! So all you have to do is preserver for a few weeks to have a whole new experience of food.
The second secret: never feeling hungry because of volume
Whole grains, non-starchy veggies, fruits, beans, and starchy veggies are much lower in calories than processed foods so you get to eat as much as you like and feel satisfied.
Once you know what foods to eat and how to prepare them you will be amazed at how satisfied you feel and how effortlessly you lose weight.
The third secret: you never have to fight your natural appetite again!
Humans are naturally designed to eat 3 to 5 pounds of food per day. When we don’t do this we feel hungry and our bodies keep looking for more food to feel satisfied.
Isn’t it a relief to realize you are not broken?
If you have the urge to eat big plates of food every day three times a day, that means you are normal!
Have you ever had trouble with late night snacking after being “good” all day long?
(I sure have!)
This is because your normal natural urge is to eat until you are physically full, not to eat tiny weight-watcher-sized-portions of processed low-fiber, low-nutrient foods.
It isn’t possible to eat normal amounts of the processed foods we grew up on without becoming fat and sick eventually.
No matter how you measure it and weight it and ration it you can’t stay healthy and slim on refined crap.
No matter when you eat it or how long you fast between meals or how much you chew those fatty,sugary processed foods, it just doesn’t work.
No wonder most of us have a hard time with our weight!
Most foods on the Standard American Diet (SAD) like meat, dairy, and bread are 1000 to 2400 calories per pound! So we would need to eat about 6000 calories per day to feel normal on that high calorie processed carbohydrate and high-fat food.
Many plant foods are under 600 calories per pound so as long as you eat the right foods you can be satisfied at every meal!
When you eat most of your calories from low-calorie, high starch and high fiber plants you don’t have to count calories or limit yourself. And your metabolism can get back to normal because plants take energy to digest.
Blue Zone Studies of Longevity Point to Plant-Based Diets
Blue Zones are places where people routinely live to be 100 or older. They eat a plant-based diet with very small amounts of animal products. Everything they eat is fresh, local, natural, and pesticide free. The majority of their calories come from starchy, filling carbohydrate plant-foods like potatoes, yams, or a staple grain like rice, wheat or corn.
Blue Zone people eat seasonal whole foods grown and prepared locally and eat very little, if any processed foods.
They only eat animal products about 4 to 6 times a month. Meat is used for flavoring like a condiment on top of their regular plant foods. They wouldn’t think of eating a big slab of meat 3 times a day.
The Eskimos eat a high-fat animal diet and they are not one of the blue zone groups.
Although humans can live on just about any diet they can only really thrive if they are eating their optimal diet.
Blue Zone people tend to have cleaner air and water conditions than the average person, and soil that is still fairly rich in minerals so they rarely need supplements or medications.
Blue zone people don’t need to go to doctors or rush to the gym to exercise because they are moderately physically active throughout their day, gardening or herding animals or strolling long distances.
They have stresses just like we do but they also have tight-knit, long-term relationships with groups of friends and family that all live locally.
They are connected to a place and to their ancestral land. They are pretty content and know what to expect out of life and what their role is in the community.
Finances and weather and crop-yield may be unpredictable but family and community are not.
Blue Zone people have a sense of place, a connection to the land and ancestors and a close community of people ready to help out is also part of their healthy lifestyle.
But you can still get the support you need even if you didn’t grow up in a perfect idyllic, happy, healthy community.
How much Fat, protein and carbohydrate is good for humans?
In “first world” culture there are debates over whether humans should eat meat, fish, grains, dairy, starches, fruits, sugars, fats, or proteins, and how much of each type of nutrient we should have.
Paleo or Ancestral diet experts insist that it is natural and healthy to eat lots of red meat, eggs and some fish 3 times a day plus a nice high-fat high protein snack or two between all those meals.
The Paleo crowd tends to use lots of eggs, bacon, olive oil and high cholesterol animal fats, and very few starchy veggies or grains. They are probably trying to avoid leaky gut problems caused by grains. But tubers can be filling and satisfying and full of nutrients without causing irritation to the gut lining.
I find these high-meat and high protein diets baffling because studies have shown that blue-zone optimal diets have meat as a condiment and only on special occasions a few times per month. They are getting most of their protein from plants like legumes along with leafy greens and starchy roots.
Don’t Fear Whole High-Fiber Natural Carbs
Starch is the foundation of the healthiest human diet according to long-term studies. We have been misled to fear all carbs when really we should be concerned only with staying away from refined carbohydrates which are indeed poison to all living beings!
I am deadly serious. flour and sugar cause more heart disease, diabetes and related death than anything else we are doing.
We have evolved to eat raw and cooked whole, high fiber starches. think potatoes, whole grains, not ground up refined white powdered carbs that predominate our diet in western culture.
We have a predominance of ptyalin in our saliva for breaking down starchy foods. Other primates rely on leafy greens for their main source of calories.
Should we be Vegan?
Vegan diet experts say that no animal products at all should ever be eaten and that we should take a B12 supplement instead because of the difficulty in finding sources of animal products that are truly untainted. They often also recommend taking an algae-based EFA supplement instead of fish oil because it is hard to get truly untainted fish oil and the environmental factor for all animal foods is way too costly.
Evidence from long term studies show us that eating more than a tiny amount of animal products, eggs, meat, and dairy, lead to health problems in humans. Dr. McDougall and T. Collin Campbell who wrote The China Study, suggest a high starch vegan diet or close to a vegan diet, low in fats and oils.
So what is the best diet for humans?
It is going to be individual but a predominantly plant-based diet will work best for most humans. You may base your diet on starchy plants with greens and beans and some meats.
Or you may find you can tolerate some whole grains. Or you may decide not to eat any animal products at all and choose to supplement Vitamin D, B12, and an EPA-DHA supplement, all of which can be found in vegan versions.
Or you might find that a higher portion of fat works well for you, or that some dairy is fine for you. Find out what food intolerances you have and then put together the optimal whole foods diet for yourself.
It is so worth the transition
Once you get used to eating whole foods they begin to taste great and you forget you ever liked processed foods. But at first, the new foods may not taste great.
It could take a month or two or even longer for your taste buds and gut flora to get with the program and stop craving the old junk foods. But you will be so glad you went through the rough times to get to feeling more vibrant and happy than you ever knew was possible!
As Michael Pollen says; “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.” I would add, try to get pesticide-free food when you can, and eat food in as close to its whole form as is possible. For instance,
- Eat olives instead of olive oil
- Eat nuts instead of nut oils and nut butters
- Eat steel cut oats instead of rolled instant oats.
- Try going without salt and see how amazing food tastes
- Stay away from flour sugar and other refined foods as much as possible
Supplementation pros and cons
Dr. Joel Fuhrman suggests B12, EPA and DHA and vitamin D, especially for vegans. This doesn’t mean we should overdo it with supplements. More isn’t always better.
Omega 3 supplements from a contaminant-free algae source may be necessary for vegans.
According to Nutrition Facts, no one should take fish oil because of the contamination of ocean fish.
Supplements are not regulated at all in the US, so you don’t know what is really in them. Often it is a guessing game and you can be doing yourself more harm than good. After seeing the movie Vitamania I stopped taking everything except B12, an algae-based Omega 3 supplement, and Ayurvedic herbs.
Using real medicinal herbs from a trusted source, that are high quality and come from real plants may be a better option than supplements if you are transitioning to a healthy diet.