It is no secret that obesity rates in America are rising, but why? According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, this is a direct correlation to the amount of carbohydrates we consume. He believes eating grains, starches, and sweets are the real culprits for the obesity epidemic. ‘Our cells are programmed to give us cravings for grains, so it’s no wonder over 175 million Americans are overweight.’ But if you are trying to lose weight there is a simple solution to getting skinny and staying skinny. By eliminating all grains, starches, and sugars for a limited period of time, your cells can be reprogrammed to burn fat. Although this book is called The No-Grain Diet, when Dr. Mercola refers to grains, he is actually referring to all grains, starches, and sugars that promote weight gain and carbohydrate addiction.
Is this diet new? I mean this is basically the Adkins diet, right? The No-Grain Diet improves upon the Adkins diet by adding sustainability to the diet, which if you have ever been on the Adkins diet you know it isn’t something you can do long-term. By incorporating carbohydrates from vegetables, your body never enters ketosis, making the No-Grain Diet healthier and safer than the Adkins diet. All other diets are likely to fail because of the cravings we have for grains and sugar. However, the No-Grain Diet treats the symptoms of grain addiction which causes your cravings to disappear.
By switching to the No-Grain Diet, you will not only lose weight, but this, in turn, will help eliminate disease. Eating grains causes a metabolic slowdown, weight gain, and subsequently diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke. According to Loren Cordain, Ph.D., our genetic makeup is still that of a hunter-gatherer and we are adapted to eat wild meats, fruits, and vegetables. Our bodies are not adapted to eat grains, which is why they cause disease. Grain consumption causes elevated blood glucose levels which trigger cravings, and a larger number of fat-producing enzymes. This is why low-calorie diets don’t work, they don’t break the cycle of insulin rise, fat storage, and cravings.
The core idea of the No-Grain Diet is simple, eliminate all grains, starches, and sweets. None are allowed, not even a bread crumb. The tiniest bit of grains or sweets will trigger cravings, making your diet significantly harder or even impossible. This doesn’t mean carbohydrates are off limits, quite the contrary. Complex carbohydrates found in non-starchy vegetables and fruits should be the core of foods you eat. Simple carbohydrates are what you want to avoid, including potatoes, corn, grain products such as bread, baked goods, pasta, sugar (unless it’s from fruit), and most sweeteners. Meanwhile, increasing your vegetable intake will help balance your pH and keep your bones strong.
On top of losing weight, getting healthier, and feeling better about yourself, going on the No-Grain Diet has also shown to improve and possibly cure certain autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, MS, underactive thyroid, and skin rashes.
Before you begin this diet, it’s good to recognize whether or not you have a grain addiction. If you have one, the No-Grain diet can help you break that addiction, but you must be able to recognize you have one. Here is a list of symptoms for a grain addiction: you eat grains, starches, and/or sweets with every meal, a meal feels incomplete without bread or a dessert, you feel hungry within 2 hours after eating grains, there are certain grains or sweets you “cannot give up”, you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you have a family history of diabetes or you have diabetes yourself, you are more that 15 pounds overweight, you don’t feel satisfied after eating a meal, you keep eating after you are already full, you become tired after a meal, you eat because of some outside factor such as stress, you turn to sugar for comfort, you use food as a reward, and you use food to change your mood. If you find that you have about 3 or more of these symptoms, you may have a grain addiction and should attempt the No-Grain Diet.
This diet is broken into two categories, the core plan, and the booster plan. If you just want to lose a few pounds, the booster plan should be good enough for you. If you want to lose 10% or more of your body weight, or if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, you will need to use the core plan. The booster plan is a more relaxed version of the core plan that focuses on the elimination of grains without the strictness of the core plan. The core plan is broken into 3 phases: the start-up phase (the first 3 days), the stabilize phase (the next 50+ days), and the sustain phase (lifelong).
- Start-Up Phase: Stock your kitchen with approved foods and create a meal plan for the week to ensure you always are eating the correct foods. Eat every 2 hours to stabilize your blood sugar and minimize food cravings. Break this into 3 main meals and 4 snacks. Eliminate all grains, grain products, sweeteners, starchy vegetables, and foods made from them. If you are low on energy, experiment with what allowable foods give you the most energy. For some people eating more meat will give them more energy, others will thrive on a vegetarian diet.
- Stabilize Phase: Continue to eliminate grains, starches, and sweets. You no longer need to eat every 2 hours, it is now encouraged you eat 3 moderate meals and 3 small snacks per day. Add exercise five times per week, and introduce supplements as needed. If the diet isn’t successful, go back to the start-up phase, restrict your calorie consumption to 1000 calories per day eating plenty of fats, and increase your exercise intensity. Once you have attained all of the benefits from total grain elimination you can move on to sustain. If you have a medical condition such as diabetes or hypertension, it is recommended that you stay in stabilize until that medical condition has been resolved.
- Sustain: You can ease back into eating minimal amounts of healthy grains in a way that never jeopardizes your weight loss goals. If you start craving grains again or if you begin gaining weight, go back to completely eliminating grains. Allowable grains include quinoa, oats, rice, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, and teff.
There are a few additional rules to this diet:
- Eat the allowed foods and only the allowed foods. Allowed food include non-starchy vegetables, fruits, eggs, nuts, beans, dairy, organic meat (buffalo, venison, lamb, ostrich, chicken, turkey, and grass fed beef). Seafood is okay in small amounts, but swordfish, shark, tuna, sea bass, oysters, halibut, pike, walleye, and marlin should be avoided due to contamination.
- Eliminate trans-fats, sugar, sweeteners, all grain products, all desserts, soda, colas, diet soft drinks, fruit juices, artificial preservatives, alcohol, pickles, and sweetened condiments such as ketchup and BBQ sauce.
- When you feel cravings for food that is not on this plan, use EFT (described later in this summary) to erase them.
- Feel free to adjust your food combinations until you are satisfied with your diet.
There are also a few tips you can use to get the most out of this diet:
- Try to make half of what you eat organic in order to eliminate the consumption of pesticides and to consume additional vitamins and minerals.
- Ensure you are exercising 5 times per week for 30 minutes to an hour. Focus on doing weight bearing exercises. Avoid swimming in pools because chlorine is absorbed through the skin.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Drink plenty of water but don’t drink tap water! Chlorine is added to tap water and can be harmful to us. Try using a reverse osmosis filter on your tap at home.
- Get one hour of bright sunlight per day to balance melatonin levels and to stimulate vitamin D production.
- Avoid electromagnetic fields such as those in heated blankets, microwaves, and electric razors.
- Stop smoking. However, if you are just starting the No-Grain Diet, wait until you are solidly in stabilize before you quit.
During your time on the No-Grain Diet, you may find it difficult to overcome cravings. To help overcome these cravings or to address the underlying emotions with that craving, you can use the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT utilized acupuncture points on your face and upper body to reprogram the nervous system by releasing blockages and optimizing energy flow. This technique will also help you reprogram the way you think and instill positive feelings, intentions, and goals.
Each acupuncture point you will solidly but gently tap five to seven times for the duration of one full breath. Once you tap one location, move to the next location. The locations are:
- Top of the head along the sagittal suture (from the front to back of the head)
- Along your eyebrow from the outside to the inside area near your nose
- Straight across the bone bordering the outside corner of your eyes
- The area under both eyes as close as possible to your eye without touching it
- Between the bottom of your nose and the top of your upper lip
- Midway between your lower lip and the point of your chin
- The junction where your sternum, collarbone, and the first rib meet
- On the side of the body, about four inches below the armpit
- The inside of each wrist
As your tap these acupuncture points, you want to focus on deleting any undesirable cravings and feelings from your memory. To do this, you can say a phrase out loud that capture the essence of what you want to remove. Try using the phrase “even though _________, I deeply and completely accept myself.” For example, if you are craving chocolate, while you are tapping the acupuncture points, say out loud “even though I crave chocolate, I deeply and completely accept myself.” Use this EFT method any time you experience cravings for grains, starches, or sweets. If this sounds difficult to do, then don’t worry about doing EFT wrong, because you can’t! EFT is a flexible exercise and the goal is to adapt it to work for you.
At the end of The No-Grain Diet, there are dozens of recipes that you are allowed to use while on the No-Grain Diet. Some foods that are almost exclusively made out of grains can be replicated using other ingredients, so you can still enjoy them, just in a different form. For example, there is a recipe for no-grain bread that is made with flaxseeds, a no-grain lasagna made from zucchini squash, and a southwestern chili. There are plenty of recipes in this book that will get you through the no-grain diet.
We hope you enjoyed this summary for The No-Grain Diet by Dr. Joseph Mercola.