From just looking at the cover of “21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart” ($26, Grand Central), you’d have no clue what sort of diet the pages inside are advocating. So, readers will probably be pleasantly surprised when author Dr. Neal Barnard, an adjunct associate professor of medicine at GWU, writes that it’s OK to have alcohol and bread — and that you don’t even need to exercise.
But there’s a catch: You have to go vegan.
Rather than use the standard arguments for eschewing animal products, such as compassion and environmentalism, Barnard specifically targets people’s waistlines and health concerns.
The book is based on a year-old online program that’s already signed up more than 100,000 folks, who have been clamoring for more info about the science underpinning this strategy. It lets you eat all you want, so it’s hard to believe you could lose weight, Barnard acknowledges. But his research indicates that when people pile their plates with grains and vegetables, they’re satisfied with fewer calories.
With the Kickstart, there’s no fudging the rules and having a piece of salmon. “It’s basically a sponge soaked in grease,” says Barnard, who notes that those healthy omega-3s are just a fraction of the fish’s fat.
A bigger temptation is bound to be cheese, which Barnard admits is often the hardest foodstuff for his dieters to abandon. “They talk about their last piece of cheese the way an alcoholic talks about his last drink,” he says. “It’s specifically cheese, not milk, even though it smells like old socks.” That’s because, he explains, cheese produces chemicals that deliver an opiate effect on the body.
Not all plant-based foods get a pass, however. He recommends anyone watching his or her weight stay away from wheat bread, advocating instead for rye, which takes longer to digest. Excessive oil is also a no-no, and that can make eating out challenging. Otherwise, Barnard says, most restaurants can easily accommodate Kickstarters, who can opt for a range of meals from bean burritos to pasta to injera topped with veggies.
Do it for three weeks, he promises, and you’ll see results that will keep you on his diet for the rest of your life.
The Power of Plants
Dr. Neal Barnard will speak at a reception and five-course dinner for the book Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Elizabeth’s Gone Raw (1341 L St. NW; 202-347-8349, Elizabethsgoneraw.com). Registration, which includes a signed copy of the book, is $95. There’s an optional $30 organic wine pairing.
Recipe File: Costa Rican Rica and Beans (Gallo Pinto)
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
7/8 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup rice
3/4 cup black beans, cooked and rinsed
Hot sauce to taste
Makes Two Servings
Over medium heat, sauté the onion and bell pepper in a pot until the onion turns a light brown color. Add the garlic, and sauté for one more minute. Add the water and salt, and bring the water to a boil. Add the rice, bring the water back to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Cook the rice for about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the beans and dress the Gallo Pinto with hot sauce.
For a gourmet touch, you can serve Gallo Pinto topped with baked or sautéed slices of plantains dressed with lime juice. Also, look online for Salsa Lizano, the tangy traditional Costa Rican hot sauce for this dish. It tastes more like black pepper than chili pepper.
# 226 calories, 9 g protein, 44 g carbohydrate, 4 g sugar, 2 g total fat, 6 percent calories from fat, 9 g fiber, 290 mg sodium
— Developed by Jason Wyrick for “21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart”
Photos courtesy of PCRM