Here is my outline of what you should do to lose weight following McDougall guidelines for maximum weight loss.
Dr. John McDougall wrote the book Mcdougall program for maximum weight loss in the year 1995. Since then, The Starch Solution book came out in 2012 and has been a great success. Many people have become normal weight by following the diet plan and regained their health in all aspects, also many from chronic diseases.
What you do not eat during the McDougall programs
Here is a general outline of what the starch solution and the maximum weight loss plan both exclude. You can read more about the starch solution diet in my more detailed post. Read about the "whys" to exclude these in The Starch Solution book. . (this is an affiliate link to bookshop.org)
- Eliminate All Animal Foods. You don't eat beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and turkey—also no seafood like fish or shellfish. You don't eat eggs either.
- Dairy products No dairy in any form like milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt. You don´t also consume butter.
- Eliminate All Oils. Instead of using oils, you saute your food in a little water or vegetable stock. You don't use oils as a salad dressing. Instead, you can make the dressing from vinegar or silken tofu.
- Processed foods. You don´t eat refined foods with white flour, like cakes, cookies, or packaged foods, because they are packed with salt and sugar.
Differences between the starch solution and the maximum weight loss
The maximum weight loss program eliminates nuts, seeds, avocado, flours (bread and pasta), and high-calorie soy products like tofu. You can eat these in moderation in the regular starch solution but concentrate on the starches and vegetables.
Things you can eat on the regular starch solution diet but that will slow down your success in weigt loss are;
- dried fruits
- flours, all kinds even whole grain
- fruit juices
- nuts, seeds, nut butters
- sugars, also maple syrup and other syrups and honey.
These ingredients are higher in calorie density, you can easily add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup to your porridge, but then you get 120 extra calories. Usually, if you exclude these, you don´t have to count calories.
In the maximum weight loss program you concentrate in eating less calorie density foods; starches meaning beans, potatoes, squashes and whole grains as cooked, not made to flour. You eat vegetables and some fruit. Eating this way you can bulk up your portion size and feel satiated.
Things you limit in the maximum weight loss program
1. All High Fat Plant Foods.
These foods have a lot of calories and will make you not lose weight. High fat plant foods include nuts, nut butter, seeds, seed butter, avocados, coconut and olives.
My recommendation though is to use 1 tablespoon of flax seeds in your smoothie to get omega 3 fatty acids. I also make some salad dressings with nuts like cashews. Do not snack with nuts, because you easily eat too many.
Something to remember not to use is coconut cream. This is commonly used in plant-based recipes in some lovely curries. Instead of coconut to get creaminess, use white beans or silken tofu.
If you are craving for nuts, you can use powdered peanut butter to make sauces and dressing. In this the fat is removed, but you still get the taste.
2 Eliminate All Flour Products
Some people can lose weight when eating bread and pasta made of whole grains, but this is not the case for many, since all grain products are also higher in calories and have more easily absorbed calories.
You can have some flour products as occasional treats if you want to, but make sure you eat them without the oil and fats.
What I have noticed is that often men can eat more flour products than women when losing weights since their calorie consumption is higher from the first place.
3. Restrict fresh fruit
You can eat fresh fruit but limit the serving to 1-2 portions a day. Eat fruit as dessert, snack, or condiment in foods. Eat your fruits as a whole because then you also get the fiber which slows down sugar absorption.
What about smoothies? Avoid if you can but I think it is ok to drink them if you make them green! You can eat your 1-2 portions of fruit in a smoothie instead. My favorite smoothies are made of spinach or kale, some fruit to give sweetness like apple, banana, pear, or mango. Add 1-2 tablespoons of flax- or chia seeds and water. Plant milk quickly add up calories. Silken tofu can be used in smoothies.
I recommend also eating berries, they are nutrient bombs, high in vitamins, fiber and quite low in calories. 1 cup of blueberries only has 93 calories. ½ cup berries is a great addition to smoothie.
4. Restrict sugar and sweet things
It is not that bad to eat some sauce like ketchup or bbq sauce with your foods, because the amount is quite small and maybe helps you, especially in the beginning to eat your veggies.
Sugar is though quite addictive and it is best to be avoided. Try not to eat maple syrup, agave syrup, molasses, coconut sugar or other sweeteners you might think are a bit healthier, they still have high calorie count and is absorbed rapidly in your blood stream, like also fruit juices.
My recommendation for sweetener is real stevia leaves, the stevia plant is super sweet and some stores sell dried powdered green stevia leaves. This is almost 0 calorie. Also if you are craving for something sweet, eat a couple of dates, but limit the consumption of those also.
When you limit your sugar intake, your bod gets used to not getting sugar and after a couple of weeks it does not crave for sugar anymore. I recommend fruits and berries as dessert, and you can make lovely nicecreams from them.
What do you eat to achieve maximum weight loss?
To achieve maximum weight loss, eat 50/50 plates. Half the plate is a salad or nonstarchy vegetables, and the other half is starches. You don't need to count calories. If you take seconds, always follow the same 50/50 rule.
If you would participate in a McDougall program you would be encouraged to eat a big salad first, the some soup and as last a starchy meal. Salad, veggie soup or a fruit before a meal fills up your tummy with fiber and low calories and makes you not to eat so much of the more calorie dense foods
1. Whole Grains and Potatoes
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are delicious, you can cook them, bake them in the oven. Make soup, stew, or eat as no oil fries. Hash browns is also a simple meal.
My tip on eating potatoes s to eat them cooked and cold. When you eat your potatoes cold, the starch has become resistant starch with the same qualities as fiber. Resistant starch is good for your gut bacteria, and also, fewer calories are released from the food.
Winter squashes are also starches, acorn, butternut, buttercup, hubbard and pumpkin are starchy vegetables. They have less calories than grains. Winter squashes are great to include in your diet to achieve max weight loss.
Grains are best eaten as whole and cooked. My tip is to make sprouted cooked grains. This removes phytic acid from the grains and reduces the cooking time.
As grains you can eat whole wheat berries, whole barley, oat groats, quinoa, buckwheat, corn, millet, rice and rye berries.
Some people with IBS(irritable bowel syndrome) can get discomfort from grains, not necessarily from the gluten but from fructans that grains have, especially wheat and rye has fructans. Also spelt and barley have fructans. Also onions are high in fructans.
Beans are also starches. Beans are high in protein and fiber. They give you satiation when you eat. It is easy to buy ready cooked canned beans, but learn to cook your own. This becomes much cheaper. Vary the beans ort you eat 1-2 times a week at minimum and your gut will love you.
Some people do get digestive problems from beans, like cramps and flatulence. It helps to eat smaller amounts in the beginning and increase the amount with time. It can also be good to prepare the beans yourself, soak them overnight and change the boiling water 1-2 times and cook for a bit longer time, this makes them easier to digest.
For me it took 6 months to get used to beans and to get rid of the unwanted side affects, but nowadays I can eat a lot of beans!
There is a great variety of bean sorts. Eat also lentils and peas.
Vegetables give you additional nutrients and fiber to your diet and bulk up the portions so you can eat a lot of food with low calories. Eat as much veggies you want to.
Some lower starch veggies are carrots and beets.
Non starchy veggies are for example summer squashes like zucchini. Onions, green beans, sugar peas, mushrooms, cauliflower, artichocke, brussel sprouts, asparagus, eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber.
4. Bulk up with leafy greens.
Leafy greens are so healthy and you should eat a big heap of them every day. Leafy greens are high in fiber and Some people's bodies are good at turning the ALA in leafy greens to DHA and EPA, necessary fats for your body. But maybe an algae supplement is good to take also.
Leafy greens contain for example:
- Swiss chard
- Bok choy
- Romaine lettuce
This is why I do enjoy occasional smoothies because, in them, I can hide additional leafy greens.
Here is a great video on these tips. Wellyourworld has nice ready sauces that are oil- and sugar-free. Try them on your salads and potatoes if you don't want to make your own.
Can you eat all you want?
You can eat all you want of non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens. You can eat ½-2/3 of you plate of starches like beans, potatoes and cooked grains. Many people can eat limitless fruits and berries, but some do need to limit intake to 1-3 servings a day.
Some people think the starch solution and McDougall weight loss programs are "eat all you want" programs. This is, though, not the case. You can not eat all you want of pasta, bread, sweet potatoes or beans. They are on the "yes" list, but you still need to have some moderation. The same goes with sweet treats like black bean brownies or such. Eat such baked goods just on rare occasions.
Other things you should adjust in your eating habits
- Chew your food thoroughly. Chewing is important for proper digestion. When you are chewing your food, enzymes are released in your saliva, and food processing starts. If you have digestion problems, just not chewing your food properly and eating too fast can be the problem. Especially if you get issues with salad and raw food, try to really chew every bite of salad long; this will help the digestion.
- Eat until you’re satisfied. Don´t eat so you feel too full, meaning it almost hurts. Eat until you are like 70-80 percent full. It takes some time for the stretch receptors, and satiety receptors to notify your just got food in your system.
- Allow time for digestion. It is good to have a rest after eating or not to do any physical activities right after.
- Restrict the variety. This might sound funny since I recommend eating a variety of foods. But the thing is, our mind is craving for new things and tastes. This is why most people always have room for the dessert because it is new tastes. So you can keep your portions to a good size, eat one type of food, do not have a buffet selection with entrees, main dishes, and desserts; this will lead you to overeat. It is okay to have a salad, soup, and starch since all of these are very low in calories if made no oil-plant-based.
What about exercize?
Exercise is important! Get the habit of moving your body every day. If you have difficulties, start by doing 20-30 minute walks and increase the time when you have the stamina to walk more. HIIT(high-intensity interval training) is very powerful and good for your heart health to get that pulse up.
You should exercise because it burns calories, and it also makes your body to burn calories even after exersice. Exercise can suppress appetite, reduce insulin levels and protect your muscle mass.
Muscles burn more calories in your body than fat, so it is important to keep your muscle mass in good shape. Weight training is very beneficial. You get a stronger body, improve your bone density and elevate your metabolism. All in your life is built around strength, just for merely walking and standing you need strength in your body.
The Maximum weight loss book by McDougall also has an exercise plan on page 109. It has simple practical tips and tricks to get exercise to your daily routine.
My extra tips for weight loss on a plant-based diet
- Be Goal-Oriented. You need some achievable goals. Make up a reward for yourself when you have achieved your goal.
- Educate yourself. When you understand the reasons why you need to make changes in your diet it is easier to achieve your goal.
- Ensure that your environment supports you. It is very important to get support from your family. If they want to eat unhealthily, you can tell them to eat unhealthy stuff so you don´t see it and get temptations.
- Clean your cupboards. You do need to throw away all the unhealthy foods from your home. Even nuts can be too tempting and suddenly you notice you have eaten a whole bag of cashews.
- Join a support group. It can be easier to lose weight if you have someone to support you. This can be a friend, a chat group with some individuals, a Facebook group, or a live group you have paid for.
- Top your diet with some metabolism-boosting spices. Dr. Greger has some tips in his How Not to Diet book and recommends for example apple cider vinegar, nigella seeds, and turmeric.
- Add in fasting. It does good for your body to get some rest from digesting food. Try to have the night fast for at least 12 hours. Stop eating at 19 pm to get better results with weight loss.
Other plant-based diets to get maximum weight loss
If you cannot live without nuts, seeds, and avocados, then the Mcdougall approach to plant-based eating might not be the right for you. Read about the Nutritarian diet on Dr. Fuhrman's website. This diet does not concentrate mainly on starches but on the G-Bombs; greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds.
The Nutritarian diet is also very effective for weight loss. It also excludes salt sugar and oil and is a so-called SOS diet. Thehellonutritarian website is great for those recipes.
My advise is that when you want to eat nuts, seeds, avocados and olives, don´t combine them with starches. Then you get too caloric dense meals. Combine fatty plant based foods with non starchy veggies in a meal, and this should not affect your weight.
Also, it is important to keep track that you get all essential nutrients from your diet by eating a variety of different foods. You can read this plant-based diet guide to know what all added vitamins you should eat on a vegan diet.
Questions in a nutshell
You can lose up to 7 pound a week on The starch solution Diet if you eat 50/50 plates and folllow other maximum weight loss guidelines.
The McDougall Diet focuses around eating starches; potatoes, beans, legumes, rice, sweet potatoes and grains like quinoa. Emphasis is in unrefines foods. The diet is very rich also in vegetables of all kinds. Fruits are served as dessert or snack.
Alcohol consumption is not advised, when you drink your body stops burning fat. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum if you want to lose weight.