By December 6, 2011

The McDougall Diet

A scientifically-backed, heart-healthy weight loss program, the McDougall Diet stresses the importance of consuming whole, unprocessed starchy plant foods in lieu of the typical modern fare of fatty, high cholesterol animal products. The diet is based on research showing that a vegetarian diet encourages lower calorie consumption and less fat intake, in addition to improving overall health.

In his medical practice, Dr. John McDougall made a connection between many of the illnesses of his patients and their fatty, processed-food ridden diets. Dr. McDougall believes that with a healthy, vegan-based diet and lifestyle, even those who are seriously ill can regain their health. According to Dr. McDougall’s research, the modern diet, high in fat, cholesterol, processed foods and animal protein, clogs our arteries, organs and immune system with an overload of fat. As our diet is also low in fiber and plant-based nutrients, there is nothing to protect our cells from this unhealthy onslaught, leading to the prevalence of such health problems as obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

A standout among the diets that work for weight loss while also promoting increased energy and vitality, the McDougall program is one that stresses following eating habits similar to those of our ancestors, rich in such plant-based foods as grains, fresh or frozen vegetables, fruits and beans. Not all vegetables are considered equally beneficial, and principal veggies in the McDougall program include high starch staples such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams and winter squash. Favored whole grains are oats, barley, wheat berries and brown rice. A vegan-based plan, the sources of protein include tofu and seeds, while sufficient calcium can be obtained by eating such calcium-rich vegetables as collard greens and kale.

Foods to be avoided include many of the mainstays of today’s typical diet; specifically beef, ham, chicken, fish, dairy products and eggs. Also considered poisonous to the body are processed foods high in fat, salt, sugar and artificial ingredients. Fats and oils are strongly discouraged, as are nuts and refined grains and pastas.

One of the best ways to lose weight because of its well-balanced, nutritious foundation, the McDougall diet works for several reasons. The starchy foods in the diet are low in fat and high in fiber, promoting a feeling of fullness on a low amount of calories, making it easier to adhere to the program. There are no restrictions on quantity, so dieters do not suffer from feelings of deprivation and are less likely to be tempted by unhealthy eating alternatives. Increased energy leads to higher activity levels, helping dieters shed even more pounds.

Not only does the McDougall diet work in terms of losing unhealthy excess pounds, but its low fat, low cholesterol premise makes it a heart-healthy weight loss choice. Individuals who have faithfully followed McDougall’s plan have found that benefits beyond weight loss include lowered blood pressure, headache relief, increased energy, and better control of blood sugars. Cardiovascular exercise is also strongly encouraged, whether tennis, walking, swimming, biking or running. A complete and comprehensive plan, the McDougall Diet also includes guidelines for shopping and eating out while pursuing a vegan lifestyle.

Extensive information is available on Dr. McDougall’s website and in the seven books he has published detailing the plan’s features and benefits. A residential program is also available at the McDougall Health and Medical Center in Santa Rosa, California. This luxurious clinic offers ten-day, five-day or weekend programs aimed at weight loss, education on health problems, and reduction of the need for certain prescription medications. Average weight loss at the clinic is four pounds over seven days, giving a good idea of possible pounds shed with strick adherence to the diet.