Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

First let me describe what my new book How Not to Diet is not about. If you want to be regaled with success stories and testimonials and before-and-after pictures, you have come to the wrong place. See, you don’t need anecdotes when you have evidence. I wrote this book for those who want the facts, not filler, fantasy, or fluff.

I’m not interested in offering dueling anecdotes, and the last thing we need is more dietary dogma. What I am interested in is the science. When it comes to making life-and-death decisions as important as what to feed yourself and your family, as far as I’m concerned there’s only one question: What does the best available balance of evidence say right now? My goal was to create the oxymoron: an evidence-based diet book.

The problem is that even just sticking to peer-reviewed medical literature is not enough, as concluded a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine: “False and scientifically unsupported beliefs about obesity are pervasive” even in scientific journals. The only way to get at the truth, then, is to dive deep into the primary literature, and read all the original studies. Who’s got time for that, though? There are more than half a million scientific papers on the subject, with a hundred new ones published every day. Even researchers in the field might not be able to keep track of what’s going on beyond their narrow domain. But that’s what we do at We comb through tens of thousands of studies a year so you…don’t have to.

Whether you are morbidly obese, just overweight like the average American, or at your ideal weight and just want to keep it that way, my goal was to give you every possible tweak and technique we could find to build the optimal weight-control solution from the ground up. To that end, we identified 17 key ingredients to the ideal weight-loss diet, with a chapter on each. Ideally, foods, meals, and entire dietary patters should be anti-inflammatory; clean from industrial pollutants; high in fiber and water; low in high-glycemic and addictive foods, added fat and sugar, calorie density, meat, refined grains, and salt; low insulin index; friendly to our friendly flora; rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and particularly satiating.

No wonder a whole food, plant-based diet is the single most successful weight loss intervention without calorie restriction or exercise ever published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, and proven in a randomized controlled trial.

Start packing your diet with real food that grows out of the ground, and the pounds should come off naturally, taking you down towards your ideal weight.

Okay, so that’s what I spend the first half of the book doing, laying out the optimal weight-loss diet. Then I spend the second half on all the tools I unearthed to drive further weight loss for any stubborn pounds that remain. In the first half, we learn that a calorie is not necessarily a calorie. A hundred calories of chickpeas has a different impact than a hundred calories of chicken or Chiclets, based on their different effects on factors such absorption, appetite, or our microbiome. In the second half, I go a step further and show how even the exact same foods eaten differently can have different effects. It’s not only what we eat, but how and when.

There are specific foods shown in interventional trials to cause you to burn more fat, suppress your appetite, rev up your metabolism, block the absorption of calories, and effectively take away even more calories than they provide. What’s more, the context in which we eat matters, too. The same number of calories eaten at a different time of the day, in a different meal distribution, or after different amounts of sleep can translate into different amounts of body fat. Distinct forms of the exact same foods can be distinctly fattening. And did you know combining certain foods together can have a different effect than eating them apart? There’s even a food that can prevent the metabolic slowing that your body uses to frustrate your weight-loss attempts. 

Skeptical? You should be! I was, too.

I went into this thinking I would just end up railing against all the gimmicky snake-oil nonsense out there, and put out the same standard advice on trimming calories and hitting the gym. I imagined what would set this work apart would be its comprehensiveness and strict grounding in science. I figured this book would distinguish itself—but more as a book of reference than revolution. I certainly never thought I’d stumble across some novel weight-loss strategy.

I went into this project with the goal of creating a distillation of all the best science, but, to my delight, I discovered all sorts of exciting new tools and tricks along the way, a treasure trove of buried data, like simple spices proven in randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies to accelerate weight loss for pennies a day. With so little profit potential, it’s no wonder those studies never saw the light of day. And I was even able to traverse beyond the existing evidence base to propose a new method to eliminate body fat. It can’t be monetized either, but the only profiting I care about is your health. That’s why I donate 100 percent of the proceeds I get from my books—including this one—to charity. I don’t get a single penny from my books, but I get something better—the satisfaction of serving and helping, learning, and sharing. Contact your local library or order it for yourself or for anyone you love.

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