Diet Review: The McDougall Program
© Joan Price. May not be reprinted without permission.
"The McDougall diet consists of the foods that most people who have walked this earth have consumed--those foods are starches, vegetables and fruits," explains John McDougall, M.D. "The result is effortless, permanent, weight loss, and excellent health." His loyal followers report tremendous health gains and weight loss by eating this vegan (vegetarian, no dairy) diet consisting mainly of complex carbohydrates, no meat or dairy products, and no added oil.
Your meals are built around entrees of whole grains (such as brown rice, oats, barley, wheat berries, and millet), legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), and starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, winter squash), with added vegetables and fruits. No fat is added, so the only fat you eat is what is naturally in the food. This makes the McDougall diet 5-10% fat, 0% saturated fat, 6-15% protein, and 75-87% carbohydrate.
You lose weight because your food choices are all very low in fat and high in fiber, so even though you eat enough to feel full, your calories are low.
McDougall makes the point that in our affluent society, we are eating like kings and queens: daily overeating rich foods that used to be available only to aristocrats and royalty (such as that fat lord you see in paintings with his gout-afflicted foot resting on a stool). As a result, we have the obesity and diseases that accompany such rich eating. The way to lose weight and regain health is to go back to the way healthy people of many cultures have eaten for centuries: starches, fruits, and vegetables. This eating plan also protects you against heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and bowel diseases, claims McDougall.
Science behind it: In The McDougall Program for Women, McDougall includes 82 pages of scientific references that support his views. He discusses studies of populations who don't get fat and don't get our lifestyle diseases by subsisting mainly on starches.
John A. McDougall, M.D., is the founder and director of the McDougall Program at St. Helena Hospital in the Napa Valley, CA.
- Improves heart health
- Lets you lose weight without hunger
- No restriction on quantity
- Very low in fat
- No cholesterol or saturated fat
- High in fiber and natural antioxidants
- If you're used to eating a lot of meat, fat, and dairy, you may find McDougall's recommendations restrictive and unsatisfying.
- Some people find it difficult to stick to this plan.
- Some experts question the restriction on all dietary fat.
Recommended if you want to get healthy and lose weight without restricting portions or calories, and if you're willing to make big changes.
Overall evalation: The health benefits far outweigh the challenges.
To learn more, read:
The McDougall Program: Twelve Days to Dynamic Health
The McDougall Program for a Healthy Heart : A Life-Saving Approach to Preventing and Treating Heart Disease
The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss
The McDougall Program for Women: What Every Woman Needs to Know to Be Healthy for Life