Foods That Cause You to Lose Weight: The Negative Calorie Effect - Neal D. Barnard (2016)

Part III. Moving into High Gear




A Step-by-Step Program

Now you have dramatically cut the fat content of your diet, and boosted the carbohydrate and fiber content. This encourages a steady and permanent weight loss, which is improved with exercise. In effect, if your fat stores were a huge bag of water, you just poked a small hole in it. Slowly and surely it will drain out.

In this chapter we will move beyond the simple meals we discussed in Part II, and have a look at how to bring an essentially limitless variety of foods and new food ideas into your life. We will also deal with some of the pitfalls that can sometimes get in our way.

•Slow and steady means permanent weight loss



First, let’s open the doors to new kinds of foods. The variety of healthful foods is enormous, thanks to the many countries that have had culinary traditions very different from our own and to the ever-growing interest in nutrition.

Eating Out

When choosing restaurants, the best ones for low-fat, vegetarian foods are Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian cuisines, Middle-Eastern, Indian, Mexican, and Italian. Traveling is a time of challenges to those trying to eat in a healthful way, but many fast-food restaurants have responded to the demand with baked potatoes and salad bars. Taco restaurants feature bean burritos, and the turnpikes of the East Coast even feature spaghetti restaurants in their travel plazas. In your car, bring some fresh fruit or sandwiches along. When you book a flight request a vegetarian meal or fruit plate; all airlines now have them.

Collecting New Recipes

The next time you get a chance, browse through the cookbook section of your local bookstore. There is an astounding wealth of new cookbooks, particularly those offering vegetarian cuisine. They are a goldmine of food ideas. Look at the wonderful pastas, Middle-Eastern foods, Asian foods, and on and on. Some use dairy products or more than minimal amounts of oil, but these recipes can often be modified. If you have not already seen my earlier book, The Power of Your Plate, I would strongly recommend it as a source of in-depth information on a broad range of nutrition issues, as well as many of my own favorite recipes.

New Food Products

Exploring new food products can be delightful as well. Take a look at the health food store. There is a wonderful range of new products, from soups of every variety, dips, and sandwich fillings to exotic entrees that are a snap to prepare. New brands of tortilla chips are baked rather than fried and, so, are oil-free. Many varieties of rice and other grains produced without chemical treatments are there. Delightful beverages are now available ranging from flavored waters to juices and teas.

There is also a huge range of non-meat “transition foods”—foods that take the place of ice cream, mayonnaise, hot dogs, hamburgers, and most other fatty, cholesterol-packed foods. These substitutes are not always good for everyday use, however. While better than the items they imitate, they are often still rather high in fat.

Resource Groups

If there is a vegetarian society in your area, get in touch with them. They have been exploring healthful eating for years, and can be a great source of information.



In the last chapter, we brought high-fiber, high-carbohydrate foods to the center of the plate. Now, let’s fine tune things a bit.

Whole grains

Let whole grains (as opposed to processed grains) play a greater role in your diet. “Processed” grains are ground (e.g., flour) or have some of the fiber removed (e.g., white rice). Evidence indicates that whole grains release a bit fewer of their calories. So rice, rolled oats, or corn may release even fewer calories than flour made from whole grains. Let rice replace bread.

Raw foods

Be increasingly generous with raw vegetables and fruits. Many people report remarkable weight reductions when they include large amounts of raw fruits and vegetables in their diets. This is partly because these foods are extremely low in fat and high in fiber and carbohydrate, but there may be other contributors that science has not yet unraveled. People with even stubborn weight problems have benefited greatly by eating more raw vegetables and fruits.

When you select raw vegetables, skip the iceberg lettuce; it’s mostly water. For a salad, try fresh spinach and the other delightful greens in the produce department. Add peppers, broccoli, celery, carrots, cauliflower, cooked chickpeas, or whatever else you might like. Happily, it is now easier to find vegetables produced without pesticides.

Again, skip dressings that include oil. Enjoy the taste of vegetables without added flavorings.

Modifying recipes

Recipes that are high in fat can often be easily modified to lower fat content. You will note that often the amounts of oil added to recipes are quite arbitrary. Once you have “reset” your taste for fat, you will automatically want to leave the grease out of the foods you prepare.

For Fat-Free Frying

If you are sautéing in oil, here’s a helpful tip. Let’s say your recipe for spaghetti sauce calls for sautéing onions and garlic in olive oil. How many calories are there in three tablespoons of olive oil? Would you believe 360? Instead, try this: put a half-cup of water in a sauce pan and sauté your onions and garlic in simmering water. You get no extra calories and a pleasant, lighter taste.

The new non-stick pans work remarkably well with this method.

Health food stores sell egg replacer that does exactly that, drastically cutting down the fat content of baked goods. An egg-sized piece of tofu will also accomplish much the same thing in a baking recipe. TVP (texturized vegetable protein), a defatted soy product sold at health food stores, replaces ground beef so well that many pizza companies and other ground beef users have already made the switch.



Increase physical activity naturally. If you are comfortable with your current level of physical activity, let the time you give it increase naturally. Do not force it, or it will become a chore. But let yourself enjoy an extra night out dancing or bowling, a day on the golf course, or walking in the park. The keys, again, are fun and frequency.

Get plenty of sleep. People need rest. Chronically tired people have no energy to exercise. Often they feel so out of sorts that they are tempted to prop up their flagging spirits with food or alcohol. There is no substitute for adequate sleep.



If you have had insufficient results so far, be patient; slow weight loss is more likely to be permanent than rapid weight loss.

But if you did not lose weight at all, then let’s review the basics.

•Were you using any oily foods, such as salad dressings, peanut butter, or margarine?

•Were you buying fatty products, such as tofu hot dogs?

•Were there any animal products in your foods?

•How about alcohol?

•Did you miss out on regular physical activity?

If you had problems in any of these areas, now is the time to address the problem squarely. There are always solutions to these problems, and tremendous rewards when you do.

Are you having trouble sticking to healthful foods with friends? It may be that you are looking to others for approval, and afraid that they will not sympathize with your new and healthful way of eating. If so, I have noticed a remarkable thing in the past few years. Every time the subject of vegetarian foods comes up in conversation, or I ask a waiter for a vegetarian entree, such as a vegetable plate or spaghetti when there was not one on the menu, I always find that they already know that this is a very healthful way to eat. Many are already vegetarians themselves, or at least recognize that they should be. So stop worrying.

When eating out with friends, suggest Italian, Chinese, or Mexican restaurants. At American-style restaurants, do not hesitate to ask for a vegetable plate. If you don’t see it on the menu, by all means ask. When I am invited to a party, I always say something along the lines of “I am eating vegetarian foods right now, and I don’t want to put you to any trouble. How about if I bring along something like a meatless spaghetti sauce or hummus?” Invariably, my offer is declined, because they planned to have a meatless dish or two. Often, they say that their son or husband is a vegetarian, and it is no problem at all.

Some people have digestive troubles. Any major change in diet can be a temporary challenge for the digestive tract. A meat-eater who becomes a vegetarian suddenly has to adapt to a high-fiber diet. If a vegetarian were to become a meat-eater, a similar problem would occur due to the enormous change in the dietary contents. Any change can lead to temporary indigestion or gas. If this happens to you, be aware that the effect is a temporary price you are paying for your past indiscretions.

Some plant foods—certain varieties of beans, in particular—do tend to cause gas. Try to pin down which is the problem food. Pinto beans, for example, may be a problem, while black beans are not. Include more grains in the diet, such as rice, and deemphasize beans.



This program is so elegantly simple, yet it is the most effective way to control your weight permanently. The great part is that there is no need to count calories, skip meals, or eat small portions. You can enjoy food in reasonable quantities, and enjoy it in a slimmer, healthier body.

PCRM can keep you posted on the latest in nutrition through our website:

Let me wish you the very best of health and success in your new venture.