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How Not to Diet

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Dr. Greger hones in on the optimal criteria to enable weight loss, while considering how these foods actually affect our health and longevity. He lays out the key ingredients of the ideal weight-loss diet—factors such as calorie density, the insulin index, and the impact of foods on our gut microbiome—showing how plant-based eating is crucial to our success.

But HOW NOT TO DIET goes beyond food to identify twenty-one weight-loss accelerators available to our bodies, incorporating the latest discoveries in cutting-edge areas like chronobiology to reveal the factors that maximize our natural fat-burning capabilities. Dr. Greger builds the ultimate weight loss guide from the ground up, taking a timeless, proactive approach that can stand up to any new trend.

608 pages, Kindle Edition

First published December 10, 2019

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About the author

Michael Greger

97 books1,614 followers
A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, MD, is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. He has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in the defense of Oprah Winfrey in the infamous "meat defamation" trial. He is a graduate of Cornell University School of Agriculture and Tufts University School of Medicine. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. Hundreds of his nutrition videos are freely available at NutritionFacts.org, with new videos and articles uploaded every day.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 719 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
797 reviews3,629 followers
February 2, 2020
The book unites much that has already been written about intermittent fasting, real long time and permanent weight loss, how to eat healthily and, as the ultimate goal, die later.

It´s the perfect companion to Gregers´ first, groundbreaking work How not to die that showed how certain illnesses can be prevented and what foods boost the possibility of longevity, but didn´t explain in detail how to endure the path to the perfect weight and blood levels.

Let´s say that many weight-losing methods might be effective in short-term periods, but many know this critter named jojo effect who sometimes even adds the one or other pound after the motivation got lost and fatigue set in again, but at least the beauty and weight-loss industry was happy.

So instead of taking pills, overexercising, fasting without a real concept, plan, method, dietary change and not stopping craving for unhealthy foods, one could try to go for a long-term perspective. And here come two immense problems: willpower and temptation. Probably cousins of the mentioned jojo effect, they love to go hand in hand, because the strength of self-discipline enables one to consume one small piece of cake, one beer or just 15 potato chips. (That´s the reason why I always drink just 6 beer or more.) Go with the last one, because these crispy killers are a prime example of the problem how freaking delicious those murderous delectations are, damn, what I would do for a potato chip and a sixpack right now…I mean, a second one of course.

It is highly individual how someone deals with this problem, be it avoiding anything, binge eating from time to time or staying somewhere in the middle, using it as a motivation or reward. Even then it stays still similar to smoking just one cigarette, taking just one drug,... de facto giving just a little illness, lesser cancer, and the immense pain to control the brain's dark impulses for more and more and far too much.

Gregor shows the pitfalls and cures that don´t work in the first chapter "The problem", provides us the "ingredients for the ideal weight loss diet" in chapter two, which includes many aspects of his first book "How not do die.", gives a short introduction to the coming lifelong challenge in chapter 3 and gets really heavy-duty in chapter 4, where the awful truth is revealed in all its details. One has to, gosh, eat clean, work out, starve,... consequentially, hard and forever (stupid science, develop immortality, now!) to life long.

That chapter blew me away, it united many facts I already knew from books, articles, and news sites and added some other amazing tricks to reach 100, still able to run faster and debate down much younger 70 to 80-year-old rugrats.

People might be unsure if it´s worth it, because I have become pretty extreme in avoiding helping to give unnecessary illnesses exponential growth boosters and I don´t have to lie (anymore ;))regarding the happiness that comes with the reduction to the necessary and optimum. It´s brutal, it´s ugly and it makes no fun for the first few months or one or two years, but I like to compare it with consumerism or an unwary, not mindful ego.

Consumerism: If one is hooked on buying and accumulates tens of thousands of consumer products instead of just acquiring what she/he needs to live, the person is pushed, driven and manipulated by trivial hunter-gatherer instincts, impossible to find true happiness. Unhealthy nom-noms are consumer products.
No mindfulness: Just as living self-made commercials, the monkeys jumping around in one´s brain do whatever they want, make it impossible to have longer, coherent, deeper thoughts and let one jump nervously and neurotic from trigger to impulse to emotion to hangry. Mind over body, total easy dude.

Not being able to control food intake combines the consumerism in the form of vast amounts of deadly junk trash garbage called food and the missing realization of how one is harming the only body given to her/him. Reducing the food intake to the healthiest and most natural optimum is not just prolonging the life, it is saving real-time that is instead used to choose the weapons of self-destruction by buying newer, shinier, chemicalier highly processed industrial trash. If one has the luck to get old with such a diet, what should the reminiscence look like? „Do you remember, when those new beef patties with many varieties for home cooking came out? We stood in the kitchen for days, trying all new recipes and the one time you ate 7, wasn´t that funny?“ „I nearly had my third heart attack.“ „You see, totally worth it!“

A short look on how I eat, because people tend to ask this question before asking why I am macerating myself until a level close to torture (I don´t feel so(anymore ;)) with this sick ascetic overkill. I´ve put the same list in my review of Gregers´ "How not to die" and Mosley Michaels´ great book about intermittent fasting.
The Fast Diet: The Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, Live Longer
How Not to Diet: The Groundbreaking Science of Healthy, Permanent Weight Loss

Before this epiphany I had 3 meals a day and let´s say, I didn´t really care about what I ate. Silent whispering in the background: "You were fat!" "Shut the heck up!" That changed too, but to describe my eating habits in detail, why and how they evolved would go too far and Goodreads has this limit on how long reviews can be and I am already talking far too much about myself.
I changed to this schedule:
6 am: carbohydrates, protein, milk products, nuts, dried fruits, seeds, wholemeal cereal. No bread, rolls,...
12 pm: carbohydrates, vegetables, less protein (cause I want a break between the 6 am and until 4 pm intake). No empty carbohydrates like noodles, pure flour,... just the fresh, natural form as rice, potatoes, durum,...
until 4 pm: just fruits, whey, natural sport dietary supplements, hemp protein, soja protein, etc.

In general, I am some calories below the daily intake I should have with exercise, ergo and bodyweight training and am hungry at morning, short before lunch and from 7 pm until I go to sleep and sometimes I am completely nuts or, better said, even more than usual, and eat close to nothing for one or two days. Jay, doesn´t that sound funny? But the thing is, the rare times I eat more than usual or substandard junk, probably accompanied by those two demons alcohol and social contac..., I mean conventions, I feel dumber and sicker than after a day of just veggie, fruits, tea, and water.

The greatest advantage is the saving of time that comes with clean and lesser eating, because all that chewing around is reduced to the necessary minimum and one can choose from a few hundred fresh ingredients that can be eaten cold, or cooked, or prepared and portioned for cooking and frozen, or cooked and frozen. Trying out new recipes, searching for new, interesting herbs, veggies, seeds,... and combining them is the alternative to keep searching for the latest poison in the supermarket, those assortment has become mostly uninteresting, which saves enormous amounts of time, because just the fresh, mostly organic stuff is bought there and the rest online, automated and (hidden commercial alert) subscribed. You see, just as with general shopaholism, there is hardly any stuff in a megafoodstore that one really needs, except for wasting time, money, and losing a few years of life by the way.

A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this, yuck, ugh, boo, completely overrated real-life outside books:
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,114 reviews2,805 followers
March 24, 2020
I'd been following Dr Greger's work from his website and his blogs, before his book How Not To Die, came out in 2015. My husband and I shared both the book and the information with others and use the info as a game plan for staying healthy. Now Greger has written How Not to Die and it's a great one, too.

It's full of information that can change your life, change your health, change you way of living, but teaching WHY you need to choose certain foods to allow your body to work the best way possible, why you should ditch all the processed, sugary products, designed to make you crave them the more you eat them. I love the science of it all, explained in easily understandable ways, and if you want to dig deeper, you can go to the source of the information because the data is all backed up with footnotes to take you to the source.

I have the hardbound issue and then bought the digital version, which came with a free audio version. This way my husband could use the hardbound version at our old house, until we sell it, and I can read the digital version and use the audio version when I'm on my treadmill. After all these years following Dr Greger and watching his videos, I love the audio version because I can just see his animated manner, in my mind, as I listen to him read his book. But my favorite version of this book is the hardback version because there is so much information to absorb and I like to go forward and backwards in the book, checking things out, looking at the charts and lists, just flipping through the book, over and over, even though I've already read it now.
Profile Image for Janet.
856 reviews54 followers
December 31, 2019
This is my last review of 2019. Alas, I didn't reach my reading goal this year....although I could have if I had propped myself up with a few shorter books. But I like to think that focusing on quality rather than quantity was its own reward.

As usual I changed my reading plans repeatedly based on whatever bright shiny new books caught my eye and this last read of the year was no exception. As soon as I learned Dr. Greger had a new book coming out I pre-ordered it from Audible. Then I dropped all my prize list reading so that I could read this.

I don't know what it is about this skinny, quirky, funny, vegan doctor that makes me want to follow him to the ends of the earth but he does have a certain charisma. I especially like to watch his videos. I respect that he is probably the most scientific of any of the physicians that are currently writing about nutrition. In 2016 I read his groundbreaking book How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease and promptly determined to become a vegan for health reasons. I failed miserably. Blame my crazy schedule, blame my stressful job, blame cheese, blame me but whatever you do you'd better not blame my beloved Dr. Greger.

Fast forward almost 2020, I'm going to try again. I KNOW this way of eating is good for me. I KNOW this way of eating is ethical for the planet. I KNOW this way of eating is difficult in our society that touts more sugar, more fat, more salt and super-sizing everything and we have a government that actively lies to us about what is healthy because they are controlled by corporate lobbyists from Big Meat and Big Dairy and Big SoftDrink and Big Sugar Coated Cereal companies. But this time around I have a secret weapon....I have Time because I am retired. I have time to cook the plant based foods that I know are good for me. (I also have a food processor AND a Vitamix....I am armed for this battle I tell you!) And unlike last time, (when I dropped 12 points off my cholesterol in a very short amount of time eating vegan), I have the knowledge that I don't have to be perfect. If I slip up, I slip up and it's right back on the plant based train. The world has come far since 2016 and there is a lot more social media support in the form of blogs and Facebook groups and videos and recipes. I am NOT alone.

So there you have it. I find it somewhat appropriate that my last book of 2019 is also my New Year's Resolution for 2020. I wish you ALL health in the New Year because without your health it doesn't matter what else life brings your way.
Profile Image for Charlie White.
Author 1 book29 followers
December 13, 2022
UPDATE: I got AI software to write a haiku version of this audiobook review, in case my original was TL;DR (too long, didn't read):

dr. greger speaks
with much enthusiasm
but no true answers

When I found out the Audible version of this book was read by the author, Michael Greger, M.D., I was eager to give it a good long listen — nearly 24 hours’ worth.

I often find it especially rewarding to hear a book’s author enthusiastically reading his own writing. Not this time. This was the most obnoxious audiobook I’ve ever listened to. Dr. Greger was over-enthusiastic at any speed, trying to make dull material stand out with his pseudo-comical delivery.

That was only a fraction of the trouble I had with this unfortunate book. At least the doctor was straightforward about the limitations of all nutrition research. It has one big inherent problem: It's, in a word, guesswork.

The catch is, almost every suggestion and “fact“ he cherry-picked from the hundreds of studies he cited was found to be correlated with positive weight-loss outcomes. That’s the problem with nutrition research circa 2020: You can’t take thousands of people, confine them to a lab for years and feed them exactly what you want to study, especially if it’s going to hurt them. It’s not ethical.

What food researchers are left with are human beings who simply cannot comply with dietary restrictions as ordered. Not coincidentally, this compliance problem is precisely why obesity is so widespread. The author himself mentioned hundreds of times that compliance was a problem. Yet, in the same breath, he doles out dietary advice as if it’s a complete certainty. It is not. Further, the restrictions he recommends will undoubtedly be impossible for almost all hungry dieters to follow and sustain for a lifetime.

It gets worse. Greger chuckles his way through countless facts and figures in every chapter, and then at the end of several of those chapters, he offers a contradictory disclaimer, saying that a lot of what he just told you might not even be true. That’s because of the classic problem with nutrition research that has become cliché: Correlation does not equal causation.

Along the way, the doctor unfortunately omits some of the most extensive studies done that completely disagree with the guesswork of the studies that he champions. The fact is, none of these studies can get to the truth. That's because the relationship between nutrition and obesity is impenetrably complicated. There are so many unknowns in the world of the diet and nutrition of the human body, today’s researchers have only scratched the surface.

This author, who obviously sees himself as a charismatic Pied Piper who can lead all his followers into the land of slim-bodied fitness and long life, does not have the answers to a sustainable way to lose weight, stay comfortable while doing it, and keep the weight off for the rest of a (longer) lifetime. For instance, his suggestion of exercising for 90 minutes each day is completely out of reach of most of the U.S. population.

I think Dr. Greger knows a viable solution to the obesity epidemic is still elusive, but wants to make it seem like he’s discovered the true path to sustainable weight loss for all. That's a great way to sell books, boost his website traffic and score more speaking gigs in front of his screaming, cult-like following. But reading the thousands of studies, all of which have found correlation with — but not causation of — obesity, there's a profound shortage of proof.

Today’s nutrition research projects raise thousands more questions than they set out to answer, revealing the open secret kept by every nutrition researcher and diet doctor: how sorely our society needs actual research that shows what causes obesity and finds proof of a method of permanent weight loss.

This riddle needs to be solved as soon as possible. If you’re looking for that solution in this book, you’ll be sorely disappointed. You can’t find a straight answer anywhere to the crucial question of mankind, “what should we eat?” and its vexing companion, “how can all the overweight people in our society lose weight and keep it off?”

In fact, this book is the perfect example of how not to find solid facts about how to diet. That’s because there aren’t any. It’s all guesswork.
Profile Image for Martina.
125 reviews13 followers
December 10, 2019
As a fan of Dr. Greger's previous book "How Not to Die," I expected a lot from his latest publication. And Dr. Greger delivers in spades: he delves deep into the latest science and presents it in an easy to digest (pun intended), painstaking and thorough manner. The Kindle version has the added benefit of providing links to the actual peer reviewed journals, so that nothing he says needs to be taken on faith. As Dr. Greger states: "I don't want to be your diet Guru." He gives us the tools to make up our own minds, based on the scientific evidence to date, rather than asking us to act on blind faith. Although I am fortunate that I don't need to lose or gain any weight (BMI 20), thanks to having read and followed "How Not to Die" for years, I am convinced that understanding the science of *how* things work make all the difference for me in being able to stick with a healthy eating regime in the long run. In his latest book, Dr. Greger gives me more knowledge and incentive to focus on what is good and nourishing, rather than on depriving myself and to love the foods that love me back. Thank you, Dr. Greger, for this valuable healthy eating bible to accompany me on my journey.
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,864 reviews370 followers
November 1, 2020
"The path to health is paved with good intestines."

Finally, I have found the book I was looking for, one that gives practical, scientific advice on how to improve the health of the microbiome! And it's pretty much one word, people: FIBER. You can't go wrong eating more fiber foods and weeding out the CRAP (calorie rich and processed) foods.
There is still so much that we don't know about the human body. There are all kinds of receptor cells all through our systems and we don't know what they are set to receive.

Two of the mystery receptors…were found heavily expressed in our gut, on our nerves, and in our immune, muscle, and fat cells. We knew they must be vital, but we didn't know what activated them until 2003…And the keys that fit into those important locks were short-chain-fatty-acids that our gut bacteria make when we feed them fiber. This may be how our gut bacteria communicate with us….[these receptors’] existence gives us crucial insight into how fiber could play such a critical role in so many of our chronic diseases.

The good news? You can eat large amounts of fruit, veg, and beans, enough to keep you nice & full, and still lose weight as well as make all your receptors happy. Happy receptors mean less inflammation and perhaps will mitigate allergic response. I need to read this book (or at least sections of it) as inspirational literature on a regular basis. I'm working on developing my own collection of appropriate recipes in order to make this lifestyle happen for me. Plus spending more time in the produce section of the grocery store.

If you're like me and you have tried upteen diet plans, Weight Watchers (2 or 3 times), and hypnosis, and you still struggle with weight, I think this book is a must read. I may not agree with the author 100% on every issue, but he has amassed an enormous amount of research here. Before trying yet another diet, I would recommend reading his assessment of it.

Now, this is not a critique of library cataloguers (because I used to be one and would have done the same) but the only subject headings in the library catalogue were Weight Loss and Nutrition. Those two headings do describe the contents, but if I wasn't interested in those, I would have missed the microbiome aspect entirely. I think microbiome research is some of the most important for health being done these days.

Dr. Greger has a cookbook of course, so I'm going to have a look at that, but I've upped my consumption of salads, raw vegetables , and fruit already. I’d let that slip during this whole pandemic situation. Perhaps it's the good old placebo effect, but I'm feeling more energetic and maybe a bit happier. I have no illusions that I'll be able to do all the things he recommends (or even want to), but I can improve my habits gradually.

Cross posted at my blog:

Profile Image for midnightfaerie.
1,947 reviews122 followers
July 5, 2021
I love, love, love this book. I've been trying to lose weight my whole life and I feel like finally I have a person, a doctor nonetheless, that will dive into the science and tell me the truth behind the food I eat. I have started on my journey of weight loss to lose 200 lbs and have done this many times before, but this is the first time that I will attempt a more plant based diet. I started about 2 months ago and am making a youtube channel for it:

The Fat Vegan (The girl who loves steak)

This is not a book to peruse. I read parts of it over and over again, to inspire me, to learn more, to understand. The science in this book isn't easy and can get tedious, but is well worth the read. I am disgusted by the meat industry, and the dairy industry, and FDA, and our government for allowing the ingredients that are banned in other countries to line our shelves. The meat practices have long been proven to be inhumane and gross and I reread this information and research information on it continually to learn more. That being said, I still love steak. I miss a talk glass of milk. But I am convinced of my doubt. Are we really meant to be ingesting these things? Do the chemicals that affect our body and remain in them cause disease and cancer? I'm starting to believe, yes.

There are many who dispute Dr. Greger's claims, and it's up to you to discover what you believe on your own, however, more and more people are choosing this lifestyle, including so many celebrities. I've been doing this for 55 days and already I feel different than any other diet I have ever tried. I don't know if I'll never eat meat or eggs again, but for now, I'm in it. Even if you're completely against a plant based diet or one of those people that get defensive when people try to tell you meat is bad, this book is worth reading. I've had meat eater friends read this and lower their meat intake, and have seen big changes already in their life. This whole book is a different way of life. For someone like me, who's been morbidly obese most of her life, learning what some of these foods are, is in and of itself a huge learning curve. Dates? Nutrional yeast? Quinoa? Liquid aminos? For a girl who ate out several times a week and ate her french onion dip with a spoon, these foods are foreign to me. But I'm learning.

Also, I can't even get all my foods in everyday that I'm supposed to eat. Dr. Greger calls it the daily dozen and I get so full just trying! It's crazy. I'm never hungry.

And can I just say, I've found a new love of tofu? It's not even popular anymore but I use it as a substitute for cheese in some of my dishes! Seriously, I love food, and this way of life is fun - discovering new foods and feeling better from the inside out. Wanna know more about what I'm doing and the foods I'm eating that isn't McDonald's? Check out my channel. At the very least, give this book a try. I know there are tons of different diet books out there, but this truly is a way "not to diet". It's so different than anything I've ever done, and I feel so different already. But hey, decide for yourself, don't let me tell you what to do.

Update as of 7/5/21 - I'm down over 100 lbs now and feel totally different. And it's not just because of the weight, it's because of the food. All my numbers (LDLs, blood sugar, etc.) are now completely fine and some almost too low. I'm about 95% plant based/vegan and splurge once in a while. Mostly on cheese and coke which are big weaknesses for me. Other than that, my life has changed a lot. I went down 3 sizes in clothes and don't like to wear anything. I don't feel comfortable in anything and everything fits weird. Skin is starting to hang, and that will only get worse. I look in the mirror and know I've changed but still see the fat me. If I don't look in the mirror, I feel amazing and have so much more energy. I walk 1-3 miles and bike 4-8 miles at a time whereas last year I couldn't walk 100 ft without being out of breath. Someone hacked my youtube channel and I just decided to end it because it was taking too much time and I already spend enough time in front of the computer. Life isn't perfect, I'm still getting used to this new body. And there are times when I go weeks without any changes and I feel like I'm failing. It's an ongoing struggle, but I'm pretty sure this is a permanent life change for me.
Profile Image for Katie.
1,322 reviews23 followers
February 21, 2020
4.5 stars for the actual content, but 2 for the delivery (both written and OH MY GOD, the audio.)

First, the content - awesome AWESOME information. Lots of great science in there, but there was some questionable content. I 1000% disagree with some of it. He says that eating late at night alters how your body processes food, making it more likely to store fat and this was proven FALSE in so many studies. That's just one example, but the first to raise my hackles.

Second, the writing was easy to understand but my god, this man needs an editor STAT. How many times can he say the same.exact.thing. He doesn't even change how he says it, just repeats it ad nauseum.

Last, DEAR GOD THIS MAN SHOULD NEVER READ AUDIOBOOKS EVER AGAIN EVER. NEVER EVER. I started this book a couple times but stopped because he is SO GODDAMN OBNOXIOUS. But I really wanted to see what it was about and fuck if I was about to read a 600+ page book that needs an editor. Sped up to 2x (how I listen to all my audiobooks), it was a mere....13 hours. THIRTEEN. Which means that at normal speed, it was TWENTY-SIX. That is far too much time to listen to a crazy person drone on and on and on about the same stuff.

It was good stuff though. (Mostly.) So there's that.
Profile Image for Dragos Pătraru.
51 reviews2,686 followers
May 17, 2020
E a doua carte pe care o recomand de la Greger și e proaspătă. Caldă, bună, fete și băieți, caldă, bună. A nu se confunda cu prima carte, How not to die, despre care am mai vorbit, inclusiv în podcastul Vocea nației și în rubrica Starea sănătății, proiectul educațional despre sănătate, început de Starea nației în vara anului trecut, proiect care își va încheia primul an de existență cu o carte, la care lucrez împreună cu Alexandra Corbu.
Foarte util este și nutritionfacts.org, proiectul lui Greger, un personaj interesant și cu un stil care te amuză. A colaborat inclusiv la documentarul the Gamechangers. How not to Diet este o carte bazată pe dovezi științifice, iar dacă ești în căutarea unei diete minune n-o vei găsi aici. Pentru că aici e vorba despre un stil de viață sănătos, bazat pe consumul de legume și fructe. E, stilul ăsta e chiar dieta pe care o cauți. Doar că nu are nimic minunat, e știință pură. Greger pleacă de la ideea că obezitatea este răspunsul normal al corpului la o situație anormală. Iar situația asta anormală este abundența hranei procesate, supraîncărcată cu calorii. De fapt, asta e problema: industria alimentară ne dă prea multe calorii. Apoi urmează sfaturile, pe care le cam știe toată lumea, dar nimeni nu vrea să le respecte. Mâncați alimente bogate în fibre, alimente cu un indice glicemic scăzut, alimente fără grăsimi nasoale, alimente fără zahăr adăugat și așa mai departe. Practic, a slăbi nu e doar despre a mânca mai puțin, ci despre a reduce densitatea caloriilor. Cum ar veni, poți să mănânci oricât broccoli vrei, dar nu te mai atinge de nenorocirea aia de băutură carbogazoasă! Destulă apă și destul somn sunt ingrediente importante. Desigur, nu trebuie să uităm de mișcare, de sport. Practic, soluția lui Greger e simplă: să consumăm alimentele pentru care corpul nostru este făcut. Adică ce se mânca înainte ca mâncarea să fie procesată în exces, cu scopul de a fi multă și la prețuri mici. Deci, o dietă bazată pe plante, fără junk-food, bogată în cereale integrale, legume, fructe și tot felul de verdețuri. Cu cât mai colorate, cu atât mai bine. Eu fac asta de peste opt luni, iar rezultatele sunt incredibile.
Profile Image for Tonya.
538 reviews108 followers
January 10, 2023
Really dived deep into this book, it has a ton of science based nutritional information. I honestly am considering buying my own copy to keep just so I can keep going through it. Tons of info and I do recommend this for anyone interested in supplements, healthy changes, weight loss, nutrition and science.
Profile Image for Nigeyb.
1,212 reviews265 followers
August 10, 2020
This stuff should be taught in schools

Dr Michael Greger is one of a coterie of experts who do not receive funding from industry bodies and who highlight scientific studies which identify how to achieve and maintain a long and healthy life.

His previous book How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease is one I've owned for years and still refer to regularly

In How Not to Diet: The Groundbreaking Science of Healthy, Permanent Weight Loss, Dr G turns his attentions to weight loss. It's essentially the same advice (spoiler alert - a diet rich in wholefood and which includes fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds etc and low in meat, dairy and processed foods)

How Not To Diet also contains Dr G's scientific evaluations of numerous famous and fashionable diets (eg Atkins, 5:2, Keto) and the pros and cons of each

Everything he espouses is backed by relevant scientific studies. It's exhaustive but remarkably insightful and interesting

For smart phone users there's a free App called "Daily Dozen" which gives a checklist based on the advice contained in both of Dr G's books, and now updated with hacks from this book for those who are specifically interested in losing weight. If you're only interested in the how, and not the why, just download this free app and start following the advice. That said, you'd be missing out on another wonderful education on exactly why this stuff should be uppermost in your mind when deciding what to eat


Profile Image for Tony Rogers  Jr..
Author 4 books101 followers
March 16, 2020
A goldmine for nerds like me about fitness & nutrition. I learned a ton and took copious notes throughout. I will say though, I don’t think this book is necessary to read for most people if you eat the way the author laid out in his first phenomenal book “how not to die”. (Dr Greger actually admits to this at the very end of this book) If you only read one book of the two, make it that one.

That being said, this one is well worth the read, I thoroughly enjoyed it(especially the second half of the book).
4 reviews1 follower
December 14, 2019
More than I'd hoped

Having already read How Not to Die and being very familiar with the WFPB world, I didn't hold out much hope that there would be more than reminders of what I already knew to be the healthiest diet.
I was wrong. Not only was there new information, but I have been given renewed hope that weight loss is possible and many new tools to make that happen. Also, in a funny sort of way, permission. The WFPB world can brush off weight loss rather dismissively...just eat plants, all you want! Dr. Greger tackles the problem with all the dedication it deserves, recognizing and validating the great difficulty many face.
Profile Image for Tami Bussing.
49 reviews4 followers
December 27, 2019
Wishing I was equipped with this knowledge 40 years ago. Why don't they teach science-backed lifestyle eating habits in school?
Profile Image for 7jane.
678 reviews256 followers
April 1, 2021
Although I feel I didn’t *really* need to know about dieting (that is, put in permanent changes in my eating habits), I also feel this was very worth of reading, no matter what a brick the book is. (The references come to nearly 5000, and so are available elsewhere; making sure much of the information is evidence-based is also partly why this book is so thick.) It took some while to finish, but I learned new things that I could add to what I’ve already learned in his book “How Not To Die”, which was excellent. There is some America-centeredness, but not much (I think the food industry pressure is greater in America than what I see in my country, though I don’t believe it’s completely nonexistent).

This book is in five parts, of which 2 and 4 are the largest. First part introduces the problems and some solutions that have been tried as ways of losing weight. Second part explores seventeen things that might be used in creating ideal weight-loss (with author’s thoughts at the end of each), third compares existing diets with what the author would prefer, and the fourth gives a large number of tweaks to use (though only some are good for everyone, which are presented in the concluding fifth part – but one can make notes as one reads to find what are omitted in this part).

There are some fun facts included: a Dr Spock quote in the third part, where the ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day comes from’ (and it’s a good time to eat the biggest meal then, if you can), first energy drink in 1949 (Dr. Enuf), that 33 senses have so far been found in humans.
Also some things that were new to me: how risky surgery really is (yikes), how risky some sex toys can be, that stevia is not the answer, that salt *is* involved in fat-gain, that you better get your probiotics from real food not pills, that FODMAP has its downside (in fourth part), and that HIIT is not the best answer in exercise, risks of lead in Chinese tea, the depths of how bad and ineffective ketogenic diets really really are.
And some that I already could guess: that diet matters more than exercise, that ‘the genes’ play only a small part in being fat, how good fibre is for you, that less sleep means less fat-burn (only 20%), how severe stress damage can be (incl. weight discrimination, even if just watching it from screen or dressing in a fat suit for a day).

I do think, though, that I prefer minimizing, not eliminating, added fats, sugar, and salt, and still eating peanut butter, and bread (though not the whitest of it). And while I think brown rice is healthy, I do like white a bit more. But in the end, while this book isn’t as highly-rated for me as “How Not To Die”, it did bring me more information to add to how to live a healthy life, and lose some weight still lingering. It’s a thick book, but worth the work of reading.
Profile Image for Kevin.
1,367 reviews61 followers
March 30, 2020
This book along with “How Not to Die” are game changers for me! Dr. Michael Greger explains with scientific research to the moon and back how the FDA and big food business have helped ruin the average American diet.
He scientifically backs up how pretty much all diets where you pay money for food and meetings don’t work long term. He explains why most health supplements aren’t even giving you what you’re paying for.

Summary of suggestions:

Eat more vegetables, more fruit, more whole grains and more beans. Move more, walk more. Drink the right drinks. Focus on anti-oxidants in natural form. Live more healthily and live longer.

For more info go to Nutritionfacts.org, Dr Greger’s NONPROFIT foundation. He donates all money from his books and speaking to charity. I would also recommend his free app called The Daily Dozen.

Since I’ve been reading his two books I’ve lost weight and feel better than I have in years.
Profile Image for debbicat *made of stardust*.
732 reviews108 followers
May 19, 2020
Dr. Greger is the best! It took me a long time to get thru this one. It is a lot of information. I am glad I own the big hardback so I can refer to it. I do believe this is the way to eat and live for optimal health. I can't always do it. I like junk food and am not very rigid with my eating plan. I have hopes to improve each day. If you love facts, this book is for you! Lot's of research. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Lindsay Nixon.
Author 22 books709 followers
March 29, 2020
The information is great, but this book is not well organized imho.

Gregor also tends to go off on a lot of tangents and the tangent info is great, but instead of million side tracks that divert heavily from the original topic and main point, I think these “tangents”’could serve the reader better had they been organized into other chapters. The chapter are too long, overwhelmed with information that blurs together.

The average person reading may struggle to tease out the take-away and miss the point Gregor is making. To his credit, he does try to summarize and recap but they often seem diluted and not a true summary.

The paper back was far too dry for me (and I read research papers for fun) so I switched to the audio. To his credit, Gregor tries to keep it lively, but at times his over performance becomes tiring. Perhaps it’s better to only read a little bit at a time and not do multi hour stretches, although being 23 hours, it would take a long time at a bite-size pace.

My other issue was Gregor insists he’s not a vegan, pushing a vegan diet or agenda; he claims he’s only about evidence but the “go vegan” and “vegan is best” tone is VERY strong. I’ve been vegan / plant based since 2006 and found myself put off at times.

It also doesn’t read objectively. For example, Gregor spends a great deal of time (at least 40% of the book) talking of about how terrible meat and dairy are, with studies to support his position.

That’s one way to tell readers not to eat meat, but personally, I would much prefer positive studies on vegetables, which naturally lend the reader to choose them more. To be fair “positive veggie” studies are included but not tensely as much and they don’t seem to be a focal point.

The book also tends to paint this picture that every study on the planet shows eating meat or dairy is death, but that isn’t true. Again, I am vegan. I do not think we should eat animals. For many reason. Yet I also know there are studies out there that exist that say otherwise and I feel it’s important to provide the reader with ALL the information objectively, allowing them to draw their own conclusions... which is what you should do when your supposed position is “evidenced based” and not “peta”
Profile Image for Diana.
548 reviews
December 22, 2019
Can we take a moment to celebrate the gift that is Dr Greger? What a fab book! And all proceeds donated to charity! As a long time podcast listener, I knew he was super informed and fun at the same time, but this book took it to the next level. He is quirky, funny, smart as hell, and always backs up his claims by telling how they have been "put to the test". I learned so much about weight loss, maintenance, and nutrition by reading this book. It gave me so many cool ideas to implement that make me feel hopeful. Thank you Dr Greger 💖.
Profile Image for Max.
750 reviews19 followers
March 22, 2020
Phew, after eighteen hours of grinding it out with this audiobook I'm finally done. Let me begin first by saying : I love Dr. Greger and I think what he does is amazing. He reads the audiobook himself and I love his way of telling the story. But still I advice against listening to the audiobook. Eighteen hours is long, and this is a book that has a LOT of information. This book works well if you can reread certain chapters or skip chapters that aren't of interest for you.

The information is clear and well researched. There are so many useful tips in this book, it's hard to remember them all after listening to the audiobook. I must say while there is a lot of new information in this book, also the premise is basically the same as Dr. Greger's first book, How not to Die. A lot of this one overlaps with the other book.

So in short: if you want to get into the science of weight loss real deep, get this book. Do get the hardcopy/ebook so you can add sticky notes/bookmarks and revisit certain parts. If you just want the useful tips, get How not to Die, which also has a chapter about weight loss and the basic information has a lot of overlap. How not to Die is more complete on healthy living.

If you just want the short pointers, here it is: eat whole foods, mostly plants, add spices and eat like a king in the morning and like a peasant for dinner. 🤣
Profile Image for Brad L.
1 review
December 11, 2019
I read the book and learned a lot! It is very accessible and full of actionable ways to lose or maintain weight. It is very different from a regular diet book in that you can work on losing weight from many directions including the timing of when you eat, the combination of things you eat and the quantities of what you eat. What it all amounts to is lifestyle changes and not calorie counting. Highly recommended.
November 20, 2019
All these people who rate a book that isn't released without a review - phooey!
Profile Image for Doug.
1,989 reviews704 followers
May 24, 2022
FINALLY! I don't think it has EVER taken me as long to read a book as it did this one. I started reading it like a 'normal' book, but after the first few hundred pages, it was just getting to be a slog of too much info - so I would read just a few pages a day as my breakfast reading - which made it much more palatable.

Yes, there is a HUGE amount of info here, most of it of at least marginal interest -but there are just so many case studies you can read before your eyes cross. Greger TRIES to lighten the mood with a few wry quips here and there, but let's say he shouldn't give up his day job to become a comedian. Well worth reading, and I DO think some of his tweaks have helped me on my own weight loss journey. But no one could ever really incorporate ALL Of his suggestions - and some of them smack of quackery (black cumin seed? really?).
Profile Image for Willy Xiao.
34 reviews4 followers
December 30, 2020
Overall, I thought this book was comprehensive, evidence-based, and actionable. It provides a comprehensive review of weight-loss science and generally dismisses both long-standing programs like Atkins and Weight Watchers to modern fads like Keto and IF.

The book is long, so I picked and chose the parts that I've tried before (IF/calorie counting) and skipped the topics I wouldn't really ever consider (Fasting, taking 2 teaspoons of vinegar with every meal...).

I'm just coming off of a successful 1.5 month calorie-counting diet, and my goals are to maintain this weight while not having to measure everything on a food scale. Here are a couple of takeaways for me:

1. It's hard to calorie count or go on a diet for a long time. While you can lose weight, keeping it off is nearly impossible - the vast majority of people regain it. Diet studies generally go for a few months to a few years post-diet, but rarely look out further to long-term health.
2. Historically, the entire world basically got fat at around the same time (70s/80s). It's most likely because of marketing and eating, not because of increased sedentary lifestyles (if it were, then it’s unlikely to be so well-correlated across the world). Plus, basic calorie math suggests that calories-in is much more important than the calories-out portion of movement, the majority of calories burned is just driven by your BMR.
3. While our ancestors did eat meat in the last ~2mm years, we probably have around 20mm years of eating fiber and our bodies are better tuned for plant-based foods. I don't really care for this argument on its own for plant-based diets (I would imagine Dr. Greger wouldn't either), but it is a response to Atkins/Keto style claims of our bodies being biologically tuned to eat meat, which I've heard before.
4. To eat healthier and lose weight, focus on these actionable foods: Eat more fiber, eat water trapped/air-trapped foods, eat a plant-based diet. Eating "at your leisure" (like literally however much you want) a plant-based diet is effective for long-term sustainable eating. There's a bunch of other foods like anti-inflammatory/low-glycemic load, which I feel I couldn't identify or action on as well day to day. Using Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen’s app with 21 tweaks specifically for weight loss seems reasonable.
5. He suggests a number of other hacks that definitely have diminishing returns and get wonkier (e.g. chronobiology, flaxseeds, turmeric, cumin, drinking vinegar with meals, mild trendelenburg). It's much more actionable to focus on eating a plant-based diet.

I do have concerns about this book. There are parts that annoyed me about his reasoning, some of which seemed reductionist. For example Dr. Greger dismisses concerns against an "unhealthy foods tax" by analogizing it to cigarettes: "cancer disproportionately burdens the poor, so these types of taxes would be expected to affect the greatest health gains for the least well-off." This just blindly ignores the difference between long-term health v. short-term hunger for "the poor." Especially if your concern is just to put food on the table, this tax likely does have real consequences. There are a few other points like the aforementioned, which, along with the increasingly wonky suggestions like "mild trendelenburg / teaspoons of vinegar at every meal / articles titled on his website like 'A Half Teaspoon of Dried Rosemary May Improve Cognitive Function'" seemed more and more Eastern-Medicine-like, give me some pause. My quick google search didn't turn up many direct critiques of his book; while it may be a matter of time before some counter-evidence arises, I'm curious to see what other experts think.

While he meticulously cites sources and studies, I also don't think he was able to break out of the standard dieting narrative: "all of these other diets are silly and wrong, I have just one simple trick that is more natural healthy and effective than anything else, here's all this evidence to back it up, try it!" To someone like my parents (who I have been trying to convince to eat healthier), I fear its hard to distinguish why Dr. Greger's opinions are different than any others.

Still, I think the core thesis of eating a plant-based diet stands, is well-supported and established by other literature which he cites in numerous chapters, and adds yet another point to eating a largely vegetarian diet.

We'll see if I can keep this weight off with his daily dozen!
Profile Image for Jonathan Mckay.
586 reviews52 followers
October 11, 2022
Not Empty Calories

Mother says to eat more vegetables, Chinese mother says to eat more gojiberries, and those in the gym tell me to eat more protein. Who should I believe? As Greger says throughout the book: You don't know... until you put it to the test. This book is heftier than the typical American waistline, but covers enough ground to make it worth the girth.

1. There's something in the air
While not strictly about dieting, Greger gives his diagnosis on why Americans have gained so much weight in the last 30 years. He is skeptical of mainstream ideas like 'Americans are lazier' and instead thinks that what we eat (and how that has changed) is the biggest contributor to the problem. What I appreciate about this section is that he points out there are no big villains. There are just companies doing what companies were founded to do: make money. Selling cheap food that hits the all the right flavor notes we have been conditioned to crave is a great way to make money. I, for one, love sour cream and cheddar ruffles potato chips. This part of the book reminded me of attention merchants, and presented a compelling thesis of where we as a country went wrong in our diet.

2. How can eating food so wrong make me feel so right?
The bulk of the book talks about things that are known to make people obese. Perhaps the most important part of what Greger talks about is calorie density: our bodies use volume as a proxy for calories, the denser our meals, the more likely we are to overeat. Processed foods, oils, sugars etc. are all obvious, tested culprits. 90% of the advice you already knew: leave out the oil, eat more fruits and veggies, make sure that you eat whole grains, beans are good for you etc. The difference is the studies that back it up, and the reasons that each of these elements will help you lose weight. Greger casually destroys many fad diets in this section, showing the failed hypotheses of atkins, most fasting, and diet foods such as artificial sweeteners. Greger also explains how much diet matters vs. exercise, with diet responsible for 90% of the change. Don't think that trip to the gym is going to save you.

3. Thinking (about eating), Fast and Slow
A tome of studies supporting most of the things my parents told me is useful (and convincing) bet the real gems are around the science surrounding diet psychology. This is one of the most practical books I've read when it comes to goal-setting, probably because dieting is a well-studied area with strong natural counter-incentives.

Key concepts:
-Self Licensing: When you do something good (i.e. eat some gojiberries) there is a propensity to the allow yourself to do something bad (i.e. eat a hamburger). In fact, just seeing healthy items on a menu might cause you to order more.
-What the Hell Effect: When a goal is missed, we tend to give up entirely, and can end up eating more than if there was no goal in the first place.
-Positive v. Negative goals: It's easier to achieve things that you should *do* rather than things you should *not do*. (Hence his advice around the daily dozen)
-Implementation Intentions: If you make a goal, that won't necessarily help you achieve it. If you come up with specifics around how you will achieve that goal, then you are more likely to achieve it.
-Exercising before meals is better for fat burning.
-Music leads to +5% performance, mainly through decreased exertion perception.

Most of this you already know. You could just follow ancient Chinese medicine and get mostly the same advice. But as Greiger says: "ancient Chinese medicine also recommends mercury, which is why we have... science."

9th book of 2019.
Profile Image for Amara.
1,491 reviews
February 2, 2020
This is a whole book that is basically recounting results from scientific studies. So. Much. Information!! The audiobook was almost 24 hours long. I can't remember when the last time was I had a book that long. Also? you couldn't zone out for a minute or you missed the set up of an experiment or the results, both of which are equally important to me. I do think I need to get the kindle version, which I heard has live links to the studies. These aren't Mickey Mouse studies he references. We are talking peer reviewed published in scientific journal studies. He links to over 5,000 in here.
Some studies stood out more than others to me (I was so surprised by how fascinated I stayed with this book --never bored), most particularly? While on a calorie restricted diet, upping the level of protein in your diet was NOT found to preserve lean body mass. Exercise and resistance training was. Another was the insulin sensitivity of muscle tissue was dropped more with animal protein and saturated fat than it did with carbohydrates. There is more insulin released with meat or saturated fat than with carbohydrates, it isn't as fast a release, but there is more. So interesting when so many people turn to a ketogenic diet to help with diabetes. You may be able to go off medication, but your ability to metabolize carbohydrates isn't "fixed". Your insulin sensitivity goes down, and inflammation goes up with meat and saturated fat.
I know this may sound bonkers to some people, because there is so much hype, and unsubstantiated claims are made with these diets. But there are a lot of powerful reasons (lots and lots of money to be made and powerful political lobbyists) that these "hypers" go unchecked. But the best way to get at the truth is through peer reviewed scientific studies. Not through a best selling book (this author by the way is all non-profit --even his website is a ".org"), not what's fashionable, not what "this new private research" has shown. Even a doctor doesn't get a free pass. Doctors get one class on nutrition (maybe) throughout the course of their medical training. They aren't experts either unless they are quoting from the peer reviewed scientific literature.

So, at times I really wanted this guy to go away. I really didn't want to hear what he was saying. I love butter on my toast. I love a good plate of barbecue on a special occasion. You know what? maybe a special occasion is fine still. But day to day I've got some changes to make. This review is preaching to myself.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
555 reviews2 followers
August 13, 2020
Our diets consist of fast food and processed food, so it may be wise to take a step back and examine what we eat. This book is so well documented and details changes that can be made to improve our diets and our health. Most are obvious, we all know what we should do-eat more plant based foods, eat water-rich fruits and vegetables, incorporate beans and legumes into our meals, exercise. Dr Greger does not just repeat what we already know, he explains the "why". He illustrates how these foods affect our bodies. There are also minor tweaks like adding vinegar and consuming water and drinking more tea. How Not To Diet also looks at current popular diets, with both good and bad outcomes which were unbiased and very interesting. Dr Greger offers a logical point of view of improving and maintaining our health.
Profile Image for Lilys.Buchwelt.
236 reviews82 followers
November 16, 2020
Grandios!!!! Absolute Leseempfehlung für alle, die sich mit ihrer Gesundheit und Ernährung auseinandersetzen wollen. Außerdem sollten Menschen, die sich in einer Diät-Spirale befinden, dieses Buch lesen.
Profile Image for Laura.
95 reviews29 followers
February 25, 2021
How Not to Diet is a close-second to my favorite nutrition book, How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. I appreciate Dr. Greger’s accessible tone—he breaks down dry, complex studies into digestible chunks. Weight loss is a multibillion-dollar industry riddled with misinformation, and preconceived notions sneak into our brains through marketing and other unreliable and/or biased sources. It’s worth noting that Dr. Greger makes no profit on any of his books, website, or diet recommendations—100% of proceeds go to charity.

HNTDiet is dense and thorough. Dr. Greger provides a list of all studies cited: nearly 5,000 studies (which the nutrition nerd in me loves; you better bet I bookmarked this page). If you don’t enjoy being knee deep in research, you won’t enjoy the bulk of this book. That said, like the “Daily Dozen” from How Not to Die, How Not to Diet comes with a checklist of “21 Tweaks” to add to your daily routine to boost weight loss (Google them if you want the practical SparkNotes version of HNTDiet). Some of these recommendations have stronger scientific backing than others, as you’ll learn.

I hate to say it: Dr. Greger’s writing style (and especially audiobook delivery) are obnoxious. He repeats himself frequently and his humor is just SO dorky, I cringe. More importantly, the editing is confusing—he discusses the positive aspects of a diet trend (e.g. extended fasting) at length, but then concludes the chapter with a warning to fast only under medical supervision due to the potential risk of kidney failure or death. A big part of the problem (as Dr. Greger acknowledges) is that nutrition studies—like psychological studies—can suffer replication crisis, where results are not repeatable or conflicting results are found. I appreciate the dedication to unbiased study selection, sharing benefits and risks so we the people can make educated choices about our diets, but the structure could be more clear. HNTDiet had too much commentary in places and not enough in others.

My complaints pale in comparison to how helpful this book is. I’ll reread, buy the cookbook, buy the next book, revisit the citations, etc. etc. It’s a nutrition nerd’s research fantasy.
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