Eating for Health AND Weight

The New York Times once published an opinion piece by Dr. Dean Ornish entitled “Eating for Health, Not Weight.”

Dr. Ornish stated, “Perhaps the biggest misconception is that as long as you lose weight, it doesn’t matter what you eat. But it does… Some diets that may help you lose weight may be harmful to your health over time.”

To illustrate his point, Dr. Ornish brought up a study that made news: the study compared three different diets all containing the same amount of calories: a low-fat, high-glycemic load diet, a moderate-glycemic load diet, and a very low-carbohydrate, low-glycemic load diet. The study aimed to figure out which type of diet would work best for maintenance of prior weight loss. A decrease in calorie expenditure (“slower metabolism”) is expected upon weight loss – when you weigh less, you require fewer calories. The researchers found that the very low carbohydrate diet produced the smallest decrease in calorie expenditure compared to pre-weight loss levels. The conclusion was that the low-carb diet may be preferable for maintaining weight loss, because the smaller decrease in calorie expenditure would theoretically make it possible to eat more calories than on the other diets and maintain the same weight.1

News like this sends a dangerous message to the American public, making low-carbohydrate diets seem very attractive: “as long as you lose weight, it doesn’t matter what you eat. Dr. Ornish adds, “never underestimate the power of telling people what they want to hear — like cheeseburgers and bacon are good for you.”

A faster metabolism does not mean better health; in fact, it likely means the opposite. Also, the number of calories burned daily on each of these diets is irrelevant because it is probable that none of the diets were healthful (the actual foods eaten on these diets were not reported, only details on carbohydrate, protein, and fat content). Weight, though important, is not the only measure of health. Based mainly on low-nutrient animal products, low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets are associated with impaired endothelial cell function, increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and greater incidence of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all causes.2-6  What good is weight loss if the weight loss diet brings on heart disease, diabetes, and/or cancer?

Dr. Ornish makes an excellent point in his article. The only thing is, we should also make the point that the diet-style most favorable for health is also the most favorable for weight loss. You don’t have to choose one or the other.

Putting the emphasis on health instead of weight takes one off the dieting merry-go-round, and into a healthful, sustainable eating style that produces effortless weight loss as a side effect. For weight loss and for health, macronutrient composition (low-carb, low-fat, high-protein, etc.) is not the important factor – maximizing micronutrient density by eating healthful foods and avoiding disease-causing foods is the key.

Our nation’s eating habits are beyond fattening – they are destructive to our physical and emotional health.

 The addictive nature of the unhealthy foods at the core of the Standard American Diet is not merely disease-causing and fattening; but also destructive to the intellect and emotional well-being; the SAD contributes not only to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, but also to depression, dementia, and even criminal behavior.  These eating practices are destructive to our own health and the health of our children, possibly even their children – the current American diet is likely fueling a future explosion in human suffering due to childhood cancers, autoimmune diseases, and further increases in rates of the lifestyle diseases that already plague Americans.

Dr. Ornish says “About 75 percent of the $2.8 trillion in annual health care costs in the United States is from chronic diseases that can often be reversed or prevented altogether by a healthy lifestyle.”

The only reason a nutritarian diet is not promoted by all as the answer to our nation’s health problems is that it is not favorable to the pharmaceutical industry, the high-tech medical procedure and medical industries, and the powerful food interests and chemical industry that heavily influence government.  Powerful economic forces favor the status quo.

The wide adoption of a nutritarian diet by the masses could have a major impact on global warming, save Medicare, booster our sickly economy burdened with massive health care costs, and increase American intelligence, productivity and competitiveness.

An overwhelming amount of evidence indicates that we can win the war on cancer in America with a nutritarian diet too.   We can donate billions to publicize almost worthless mammograms and pay drug companies to search for more chemotherapeutic agents, or we can practically wipe out breast cancer right now. If I was in a position of political influence and power it would be G-BOMBS in every pot. G-BOMBS are the super foods I recommend eating every day for excellent health – greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds.  While helping to bring our bodies to their ideal weight, these foods exert powerful anti-cancer, cardioprotective, and anti-diabetic effects, and they fuel our bodies’ natural healing, antioxidant, and detoxification systems. Read more about G-BOMBS.

If you want weight loss AND excellent health, eat your G-BOMBS (instead of counting your carbs).We all have some influence and the best place to start is the health revolution that begins with you.  



 1. Ebbeling CB, Swain JF, Feldman HA, et al. Effects of dietary composition on energy expenditure during weight-loss maintenance. JAMA 2012;307:2627-2634.
2. Wycherley TP, Brinkworth GD, Keogh JB, et al. Long-term effects of weight loss with a very low carbohydrate and low fat diet on vascular function in overweight and obese patients. J Intern Med 2010;267:452-461.
3. de Koning L, Fung TT, Liao X, et al. Low-carbohydrate diet scores and risk of type 2 diabetes in men. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;93:844-850.
4. Fung TT vDR, Hankinson SE,Stampfer M, Willett WC, Hu FB. Low-Carbohydrate Diets and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality: Two Cohort Studies. Ann Intern Med 2010;153:289-298.
5. Trichopoulou A, Psaltopoulou T, Orfanos P, et al. Low-carbohydrate-high-protein diet and long-term survival in a general population cohort. Eur J Clin Nutr 2007;61:575-581.
6. Lagiou P, Sandin S, Lof M, et al. Low carbohydrate-high protein diet and incidence of cardiovascular diseases in Swedish women: prospective cohort study. BMJ 2012;344:e4026.


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Comments (11) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
mike rubino - September 28, 2012 4:01 PM

Great post. Go get them Dr F !!!

caroline israel - September 28, 2012 5:13 PM

This post is so important! Most Americans still don't realize how bad SAD food is. Few parents would give their child a cigarette, but they happily feed them cookies and hot dogs.

Jerry Amos - September 28, 2012 7:39 PM

We do vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, some nuts, B12 in about that order. In our 70's, no meds, exercise just did a 2 day 100 mile bike ride along the NH & Maine coast no problem (well, sore bottoms). The "Diseases of Affluence" heart, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's directly follow the "Diet of Affluence" for scientific analysis and evidence based studies see "The China Study" by Cornell nutritional biochemist prof. T. Colin Campbell, prof. Jane Plant CBE "The No-Dairy Breast Cancer Prevention Program" in bookstores, Amazon, etc. Oh, yes, visit the doctors regularly. We're pro-active as are many at the fitness center - but look at the shoppers everywhere.

Renay Coyne - September 29, 2012 8:45 AM

I want to know if boullion cubes are OK to use on Dr Fuhrman's diet?

Erica - September 29, 2012 9:05 AM

Thank you! I am so tired of friends telling me about their Paleo weight loss diet.

Carolyn - September 29, 2012 10:37 AM

Dr. Fuhrman has changed the way our family eats. It has made all the difference that it has been our educated choice, our investment. Had it been a government forcing it down our throats we would not have been so open to it. Thank you, Dr. Fuhrman for doing what you do and doing it in the private sector.

Babby - September 29, 2012 7:51 PM

I am reading Dr. Fuhrman's book "Super Immunity!" This week I began adapting to a new way of eating and living. I have such hope that my health condition, "lupus", will be reversed! I'm so motivated about this new life change! Thank you Dr. Fuhrman and Dr. Oz. You're a blessing!

Sara - September 30, 2012 10:11 AM

Renay- Most boullion cubes are mostly salt. So no. If you use a product with very low salt and healthy ingredients it should be ok. Dr Fuhrman has vegezest and matazest which are powders.

Laura - October 1, 2012 7:37 PM

Good for you Dr. Fuhrman for standing up & speaking up! I get so frustrated thinking about how food is produced & marketed in the US; what Americans are told is a "healthy" diet; how the US pharmaceutical industry has fooled Americans into believing that prescription drugs will save them when these drugs are only adding to our bodies' toxic loads; conventional medicine's seeming inability to treat the human body holistically or to get to the root cause of illness; American's health illiteracy & refusal to take responsibility for their own health. Health care in American is almost completely dysfunctional! Thank God for people like Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Oz, Dr. Ornish, Dr. Esselstyn, T. Colin Campbell and their peers. Thank you for sharing what you've learned with all of us!

carfree - October 2, 2012 12:22 PM

For those praising Dr. Fuhrman and Dr. oz, I would agree with the Fuhrman praise, but Dr. Oz? Come on! Yesterday's show had psychics talking to the dead! I didn't see the show, just the preview was enough to confirm my low opinion of the showbiz doctor. He's become the Jerry Springer of TV doctors now.

John B. - October 19, 2012 6:30 AM

Very good article indeed. You are absolutely right about the low-carbohydrate diet. The main concept is bad and they are selling it to the public as something good.
Being a vegan myself, I still pay attention to what I eat. It is important to have as varied menu as possible. My wife says the best way how to control it is to use fruits and vegetables of different colors, because the color itself indicates what is healthy on the food.

To anyone who wants to loose weight, I would recommend to stop eating red meat at all and reduce cheese and other dairy products to minimum. I understand many people are opposed to vegetarianism or veganism, but there is not a single illness you could name that affects us. If you live in some of the metro areas, I think you should be able to get raw and healthy food from Fresh City Farms or some similar project.

Don´t forget that healthy lifestyle, ecology and delicious food are interconnected and stop believing the stupid propaganda which forces you to buy chemically created products from big companies. Be eating healthy raw food, you support local businesses.

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