People tell me that I’m lucky. I can eat what I want, when I want without putting on weight. It’s all down to my genes seemingly. Well, I’d like tell you a secret. It’s got nothing to do with my genes as my family has its fair share of people who are overweight.

WeightIt’s got everything to do with what I eat. I eat and I’ve eaten pretty much a vegetarian/vegan/whole food plant based diet for most of my life, so while my friends and family have put weight on and then struggled to take it off only to put it back on again I’ve stayed the same shape and weight for over 20 years.

I can still get into clothes that I wore as a teenager – not that I want to! :).

And here’s my secret. I eat lots of whole foods – starches, vegetables, fruits, legumes and flavour them with spices and herbs.

I can eat as much as I want whenever I want. It’s all down to not only my amazing body, but all of our amazing bodies. Our bodies choose how many calories to take in and what to do with them. They perform an incredible balancing act.

When we eat the right foods our body knows how to partition the calories away from body fat and into the more desirable functions like:

  • keeping our body warm
  • running our metabolism
  • supporting and encouraging physical activity
  • or just disposing of any extra that we don’t need

Our body uses a number of intricate mechanisms to decide how calories get used, stored or ‘burned off’. The good news is that if you eat low protein and low fat food these calories are ‘lost’ as body heat and your body doesn’t store them.

If you eat high protein and high fat food these calories are not ‘lost’ as body heat. Your body is super-efficient and it will store them away, but it will store them as fat on your bum, tum and thighs to name only three to use later.

Ideally you want your body to be inefficient not efficient in this particular situation so that our body converts calories into body heat rather than fat.

In experiment’s conducted by T. Colin Campbell he found that rats given low protein and low fat food remained trim and had a greater desire to exercise than those given high protein, high fat food.

Those on the low protein diet:

  • consumed more calories
  • gained body weight more slowly
  • blocked early[1],[2]and late[3],[4]cancer (liver) development
  • consumed more oxygen,[5]
  • produced more of a specialty tissue called brown fat (5) and
  • increased norepinephrine (adrenaline) turnover rates[6][7][8]

T. Colin Campbells human study in rural China supported this same interpretation[9][10]. “People consumed more calories, yet had lower serum cholesterol, less heart disease, less diabetes, less cancer, lower body weight and almost no obesity.”[11][12]

Eating a plant based diet that is lower in fat and protein can do this. Here are three food groups that you can eat as much as you want of without putting on excess amounts of weight.

  1. Whole starches – wholegrain rice, oats, quinoa, buckwheat,
  2. Whole vegetables – green and yellow, ideally kale, rocket, cabbage, spring greens and broccoli to name but a few
  3. Legumes – aduki (azuki), red kidney, mung, chick peas, pinto, limas, cannellini beans. Brown, red and green lentils.

So if you’d like to eat and not put on huge amounts of weight remember to always eat the whole food and try to steer clear of any type of processed food that you don’t know what’s in it. This includes all ready meals and anything that has a face or a mum.

Just drop me a line if you’d like to find out more or you’d like me to help you.

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[1] Appleton, B. S. & Campbell, T. C. Effect of high and low dietary protein on the dosing and postdosing periods of aflatoxin B1-induced hepatic preneoplastic lesion development in the rat. Cancer Res. 43, 2150-2154 (1983).

[2] Dunaif, G. E. & Campbell, T. C. Relative contribution of dietary protein level and Aflatoxin B1 dose in generation of presumptive preneoplastic foci in rat liver. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 78, 365-369 (1987).
[3] Youngman, L. D. & Campbell, T. C. Inhibition of aflatoxin B1-induced gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase positive (GGT+) hepatic preneoplastic foci and tumors by low protein diets: evidence that altered GGT+ foci indicate neoplastic potential. Carcinogenesis 13, 1607-1613 (1992).
[4] Madhavan, T. V. & Gopalan, C. The effect of dietary protein on carcinogenesis of aflatoxin. Arch. Path. 85, 133-137 (1968).
[5] Horio, F., Youngman, L. D., Bell, R. C. & Campbell, T. C. Thermogenesis, low-protein diets, and decreased development of AFB1-induced preneoplastic foci in rat liver. Nutr. Cancer 16, 31-41 (1991).
[6] Horio, F., Youngman, L. D., Bell, R. C. & Campbell, T. C. Thermogenesis, low-protein diets, and decreased development of AFB1-induced preneoplastic foci in rat liver. Nutr. Cancer 16, 31-41 (1991).
[7] Kevonian, A. V., Vander Tuig, J. G. & Romsos, D. R. Consumption of a low protein diet increasses norephriphine turnover in brown adipose tissue of adult rats. J. Nutr. 114, 543-549 (1983).
[8] Vander Tuig, J. G. & Romsos, D. R. Effects of dietary carbohydrate, fat, and protein on norepinephrine turnover in rats. Metabolism 33, 26-33 (1984).
[9] Campbell, T. C. & Chen, J. Diet and chronic degenerative diseases:perspectives from China. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 59 (Suppl.), 1153S-1161S (1994).
[10] Chen, J., Campbell, T. C., Li, J. & Peto, R. Diet, life-style and mortality in China. A study of the characteristics of 65 Chinese counties. (Oxford University Press; Cornell University Press; People’s Medical Publishing House, 1990).
[11] Campbell, T. C. Energy balance: interpretation of data from rural China. Toxicological Sciences 52, 87-94 (1999).
12] Campbell, T. C. & Chen, J. Energy balance: interpretation of data from rural China. Toxicol. Sci. 52(suppl), 87-94 (1999).