Eat Starch to Lose Fat

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

White_RiceThis sounds slightly bogus at first, and against what the carbohydrate-fearing culture believes in.

However, in a new book, “The Starch Solution”, Dr. John McDougall and wife, Mary McDougall, describe how eating specific starches will help to promote optimal wellness and a healthy body weight.

Even Broccoli Contains Carbs

The title of the book is a little misleading.

When the authors say “starches”, they mean plant-based carbohydrates. Don’t forget that every single plant food out there contains some form of carbohydrate.

Those carbohydrates, or starches, may be very small amounts in some plants, but they still exist. The focus is on eating more of a plant-based diet.

No, the McDougall’s do not recommend eating processed carbohydrate products like chips, crackers, or cookies. But, they do allow rice, pancakes, and corn!

Starch Solution Highlights

the starch solution

  • Starches to include on the plan: barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, rice, rye, sorghum, wheat, wild rice, beans, lentils, peas, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, potatoes, salsify (a root vegetable), sweet potatoes, winter squashes, and yams.
  • No meat, eggs, dairy: vegan
  • Anti-western diet: All of the principles of the book go against the stereotypical Western diet of half a plate (or more) of animal meat, high fat, and small portion of carbohydrates and vegetables.
  • Claim this is the “real” Paleolithic diet: The McDougall’s discuss that all major populations were based on starches, and those populations stayed relatively thin and healthy. But, the problem is that these populations were not 100% vegan either.
Click here to purchase this book for a discounted price (Amazon).

Just Another Vegan Diet?

The Starch Solution recommends no vegetable oils, even olive oil. No oils should be used for cooking, flavoring, etc.. Other vegan diets do allow plant-based oils.

Portions of meat have grown out of control in about the last 50 years. There is a definite need to reduce meat intake across the world—especially, in the Western world.

A focus on a plant-based diet would help to heal many populations. Therefore, this Starch Solution Diet could help many improve their health. This is mostly due to the focus on high-quality starches and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

What do you think; would you eat a diet based on high-quality starches?

The Starch Solution is available for a discounted price on Amazon.

29 Comments

  1. Izzy

    I’m actually loosing a lot of weight from eating starchy foods, like oats, rice, whole wheat bagels and adding healthy fats like cheese, bio yogurts only, tuna, some other fish and lots of vegetables, I tend to eat fruit for desert or in my morning smoothie, I do have chocolate and some sweet foods and I add spices to everything, such as my tea, or just to add some flavour, I even add tomato ketchup sometimes. Guys dieting is not hard just be a bit smart about it and FYI you can actually have as much starchy foods and veg as you want, just don’t go over board on all the other stuff, cut back on fizzy drinks (I said cut back, not completely toss them out if you wish throw them out completely, do what you feel is right for you) and starchy foods don’t make you fat, honestly they don’t it’s a massive media hyped myth, it’s all the other added crap that imbalances your diet that makes you fat. Also walk everyday or every other day. It’s not hard even if your a full time parent (unless your a new mummy or daddy, but I’ve seen people in the news do it under full on jobs and parenting your no different you just avoid it because you think your not worth, let me tell you, you are worth all that Health and fitness, if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your child or significant other) I’m not bashing this article in anyway shape or form it’s a brilliant article but everything in moderation, as long as you are smart about it.

    Reply
  2. William

    Personal experience is the best teacher. Having been a vegetarian for 2 decades (age 29-51), I was an avid follower of the McDougall plan. When I tried to share my experiences with the McDougall plan on the McDougall blog, I was banned immediately.

    I am athletic and in fact, a world elite masters athlete and 3x USATF National Masters Champion 400m sprinter, most recently in the 55-59 age group. My diet is part of a lifestyle that requires athletic performance, low body fat, and maximum strength / weight ratio. I can tell you straight out that for my needs, the McDougall plan is close to the worst possible diet for building strength and low body fat. There is NOTHING that will put fat on your body faster than starchy carbs like bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc… even beans. I am 5’7″ and normally weigh about 147. When competing, I like to be 142-143 lbs. Where the McDougall diet may be good for an endurance athlete, sprinting is a whole body power sport requires strength and muscle maintenance. The protein needs for power sports and muscle development can not be met efficiently through vegetarian protein sources because they contain at least 50% (and usually much more) carb calories. Tuna, for example, is packed with protein and is virtually fat and carb free. When I changed my diet, started eating tuna and fish, and began supplementing with branch chain amino acids, I saw a boost in athletic performance. I am sprinting faster at age 55 than I was at age 51, have more strength and the fitness of a college athlete. I still race in college track meets. The only meat I eat is seafood, you simply can not get carb-free protein from plants. Period. Also, it is recognized that sprinting and high intensity interval training is far better for fitness, especially over age 50, because of the strength and hormone stimulating effects (testosterone and hgh).

    Look, I ate the McDougall way for 20 years, was soft and over weight – up to 20 lbs heavier than I am now. Most of my vegan friends who eat this way are soft and overweight, if not obese. Doesn’t work for everyone, unless 1) you’re an endurance athlete, an ectomorph, and burn a lot of calories or 2) you restrict calories very judiciously. It’s simply bad science. The link between dietary cholesterol and heart disease is nebulous.

    None of the longest lived world communities are vegetarian. (Ikaria, Sardinia, Okinawa, etc…)

    Here is an article that traces the dubious link between dietary cholesterol and heart disease… and how it became part of the nutritional culture.

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/07/the-sugar-conspiracy-robert-lustig-john-yudkin?

    Reply
  3. Stacey

    You have no credibility because you apparently have not read “The Starch Solution”. As other commenters have stated, no oils are allowed. I on the other hand have read the book, and have lost 8 pounds in 2 weeks following the advice of Dr. McDougall and have had no issues with hunger.

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  4. Evelyn

    I recently wrote a review of The Starch Solution and Dr. McDougall does not recommend any vegetable oils. He states why in the book.

    Yes, I would eat a diet based on quality starches. I tried this for a few meals and I noticed that I did not have issues with getting hungry and needing a snack.

    Take care,

    Evelyn

    Reply
  5. Nancy

    Evidently you DIDN’T really read “The Starch Solution!” Absolutely NO vegetable oils are permitted, nor is olive oil due to the fact they are all dangerous and can cause heart and related issues!!!!!

    Reply
    • Ted

      You are mistaken, Olive oil is not harmful to heart health. There are numerous studies that support this. Healthy fats are essential to a healthy diet.

      Reply
      • Fred

        No study has ever shown olive oil to be healthy (maybe it’s less unhealthy than other oils). All of these studies are flawed, and generally funded by olive oil companies.

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        • Ted

          That’s not true, there are numerous studies regarding the Mediterranean diet alone which is centered around the use of olive oil.

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          • Max

            People like you are so naive that it’s easy for the industries to fool you. Go ahead and drink gallons of oil. But before that, try and find out one study that’s not funded by the oil industry, and proves that oil (ANY oil) is good for health. Do it for your own benefit.

  6. jonathan farrelly

    i think you made a mistake at the end john mcdougall says to not add oil or fat to food and if you want to lose weight only eat high fat plant based whole foods like olives nuts seeds and avocado as seldom treats the bulk of the diet should be from potatoes rice and beans suplemented by veg and fruit

    Reply
  7. Brianna

    I have been looking for ways to help me lose weight. I never consider undergoing surgery to cut down my weight. It will be traumatic for me if I do the surgery. I have been scanning the net all the time to check for best ways to lose weight and then I saw testimonies about this product Roca Labs, it worked for them so I am hoping it will for me too. It has the same effect of having the surgery so I am trying this out.

    Reply
  8. Sam

    It’s so funny reading some of the ill-informed comments here, describing this as a “fad” diet. Every claim that McDougall – and other proponents of the diet like T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, Jeff Novick – makes is based on solid science. The wealth of scientific research has revealed that meat consumption (even a little bit) is harmful, this is beyond dispute now. I’ll keep this short by simply saying not to judge this diet based on what you’ve read here, as some of the information presented is incorrect. Either read the book or learn more about the program before casting judgment on it.

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  9. DJ

    Ridiculous statement by the author of the blog that ‘meat portions’ have gfrown out of control and that we definitely need to eat less meat. Complete BS. Where is the evidence of this? Read anything by Gary Taubes and you’ll see how wrong you are. Grains, starches, and sweets make you fat, not meat protein. A diet of meat and green vegetabes provides all necessary carbs and will keep you thin and healthy too. Ridiculous article.

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    • Dan

      I think a recent Harvard study actually disagrees with you AND him. It did say that eating meat did tend to make people heavier over time. It also stated that eating potatoes makes people heavy over time, even if they are not fried. Needless to say, McDougal didn’t like what they stated about potatoes. What might really be the case is that meat doesn’t make a person fat if they eat very few carbs- that is, they are on a ketogenic diet. Eating a lot of meat would make a person fat if they also ate a lot of starches. Also, a person who exercises a lot won’t gain weight easily either by eating meat or starches. I lost my weight by just counting calories and exercising everyday. I still exercise everyday and count my calories and I haven’t gained back an ounce of weight in two years. I don’t think meat will make a person fat if the calories are budgeted in. The same goes for starches. It might be possible that on a ketogenic diet, calories from fat don’t matter, but carb calories do. Personally, I count both calories equally. Exercising a lot as I do enables me to eat a lot more calories than I could if I was not exercising. I was still eating meat when I reached goal weight, but later gave it up for ethical reasons. It does seem a little easier to maintain my weight loss now that I don’t eat meat- but remember I lost all my 95 pounds while still eating meat- but I also was eating potato chips, but staying within my calorie budget.

      Reply
    • Jim

      Are you serious? The planet cannot sustain the growing levels of meat consumption – particularly where water is concerned. The amount of water required to produce one ton of beef is 16726 cubix meters of water!

      It does not mean we should all become vegetarians, but we all need to take a serious look at meat consumption levels.

      Reply
  10. Linda

    What do I think about the starch diet? There are so many diets out there that I think it’s a bit ridiculous. I get it, there’s probably a lot of money to make. People want to lose weight but not give up the foods they love. I think if people can learn some healthy habits from some of these “fad”diets then that’s great. Its better than the junk they usually eat.

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  11. Dan

    My diet is mostly Vegan, although I don’t strictly avoid dairy and eggs. I just don’t eat these regularly. I would tend to eat more plant based fats than he would allow, such as from nuts and seeds. I eat about 4 ounces of these everyday. I also eat oats virtually everyday, with an occasional potato. I do eat a lot of fruit- although this has simple sugars and not starches. In other words, I am not as heavy into the starch and am heavier into whole plant based sources of fat than he would be. I agree about oils. I rarely use them- for instance, I eat ground flaxseed, instead of flaxseed oil. I think his version of a low fat diet is much healthier than a processed version. I disagree with those who say that whole grains are unhealthy. However, I don’t eat quite as much as he might say to eat- although I eat far more grains than a person would on an Atkins diet. I heard Joel Fuhrman say on YouTube to McDougal something to the effect that whole plant based fats such as from nuts and seeds are healthy, but not whole grains as much. Whole grains are not unhealthy, but are not among the most nutrient dense foods. I do believe the germ and the bran of most whole grains are very nutrient dense.

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  12. Spectra

    I think we can file this one under the “no duh” heading. Of course processed starches aren’t good for you. I hate books like this because people who love pasta, white rice, sugar, etc. are going to see it and think “Oh good! I can lose weight and still eat the crappy carbs I always eat!” Only to find out that the starches they can eat are healthy starches like vegetable fiber, whole grains, and legumes.

    Reply
  13. Cara

    Whoops! Nicole (the author of this article) must have misread some information! She said: “The Starch Solution recommends Vegetable oils like soybean, corn, and safflower oil.” This is not correct, in fact, the book specifically urges us to AVOID ALL OILS, and to get our fat through nutrient-dense whole foods (like tofu, beans and occasionally nuts and avocado).

    Reply
    • Jim F.

      This was a mistake, and has been rectified. Thanks for your input!

      Reply
  14. maria

    If you are eating correct portions of healthy starches such as rice, barley, potatoes etc you will not get fat. Its the processed foods we need to avoid like chips and pasta. Im italian and I love my pasta and bread but ive learned to excchange these carbs for something healthier but i do have my plate of pasta at least 2x a week. You cant deny an italian pasta just like how you cant deny a hispanic their beans. Its our staple.

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  15. Jay

    It is interesting that the US government has advocated Americans to eat 5-7 servings of grains per day, yet we are the fattest people in the world. I found that cutting grains, such as rice, bread, and anything process from my diet has helped me to lose lots of weight. The verdict is STARCHES MAKE YOU FAT.

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    • Jim F.

      Which goes to show that one size does NOT fit all. I believe we all tolerate foods differently, and I’m not sure about the whole paleolithic concept that is so popular right now.

      If anything history shows us that until industrialized food production appeared – people didn’t really get much of a choice on what they were eating. It was necessity that dictated their size and weight.

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      • Zach

        Bottom line humans thrive on animal protein. Regardless of how you feel about the paleolithic diet (diet we were evolutionarily designed to eat), prehistoric humans were far fitter and disease free than us and have been proven to eat a diet high in animal products, as well as vegetables and nuts. The problem with McDougals approach is that he cites CIVILIZATIONS that ate starch based diets. Civilizations are a result of the Agricultural Revolution, which is exactly when humans began experiencing diseases of civilization. MD’s should stick to making pharmaceutical companies rich, and quit preaching nutritional dogma aka fad diets

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        • Zach

          Also I’m going to provide anecdotal evidence by saying that I’ve been paleo for a year and a half, and I’ve never felt or looked better. I haven’t even gotten sick since I started. My sinuses have cleared up and I have much more energy. Not only this, but people around me have noticed and I’ve effectively gotten several of my friends and family go paleo. They’ve also all achieved massive results, aesthetically and otherwise. You may not know what to think about paleolithic nutrition that’s so popular right now, but remember it was popular long before you and I were around, and for several million years. Try it for 30 days. I promise it won’t kill you.

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          • Gabriele

            Zach, YES!! I posted your exact comment on the McDougall website a few months ago. I asked why the good doctor ignores millions of years of evolution and keeps bringing up the Romans as examples of good health. It makes no sense. All of our civilizations were grain eaters and got sick as a result. The result of my comment? I was banned.

          • Jim

            Wow awesome results. So what’s the basics of your diet?

      • LatinainSC

        I’d read as far back as 1982 that starches eaten with fats become fattening, also other combinations were not good and after decades of seeing countless different diets claim they have the answer, some being the exact opposite of others, yet ALL of them helping different people but not everyone, I now believe it’s very foolish to make any generalized claims. Not only we’re all different but some people’s digestive systems obviously handle some combinations better than others, moreover, what may work for us at a certain stage of life may not work later on as I myself have experienced, so do yourselves a favor and DON’T take anything as dogma, you may feel very foolish years later.

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