What To Eat On A Plant-Based Diet (McDougall Starch Version)

For a few years now, I’ve been posting evidence that describes the benefits of eating a whole-food, plant based diet. Dr. John McDougall, in his book The Starch Solution, describes his version of that diet. I think it’s a great version. Below is the diet in a nutshell.

From Chapter 13: Practicing The Starch Solution:

  • The core of the diet focuses on eating starches complemented with nonstarchy vegetables and fruit.
  • The diet excludes all animal foods (meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs) and all isolated fats and oils, including olive oil.
  • It does not restrict calories or limit eating. You eat until you are satisfied. If you are hungry an hour later, you eat again.
  • Foods can be combined in any way, with any preparation.

Starches are grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables:

  • Grains include barley, rice, whole or bulgar wheat, farro, corn, millet, oats, rye, spelt, triticale, amaranth, quinoa. You can eat the grain or products made from the grain.
  • Legumes include all beans (adzuki, black, navy, pinto, kidney, cannellini, chickpeas, great northern, lima, mung, soybeans), peas (black-eyed peas, split green and yellow peas), lentils (green, red, brown). Although peanuts are a legume, they “should be minimized or avoided altogether, especially if you are trying to lose weight.”
  • Starchy vegetables include potatoes, root vegetables, and winter squashes (baking and boiling potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, burdock, cassava, taro, acorn squash, kabocha, butternut, kuri, Hubbard, pumpkin).

Nonstarchy vegetables are summer squashes (zucchini, patty pan, yellow), root vegetables (carrots, beets, jicama, radishes, onions, garlic, fennel, ginger, turmeric), beans (green beans, snap peas, snow peas), mushrooms, and other plants (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, celery, rhubarb, lettuce, kale, collards, spinach, eggplant, tomato, cucumber).

Fruit. You name it, but avocados, olives, and dried fruits, should be minimized or avoided altogether especially if you are trying to lose weight.

In the above description of what to eat, I named three foods that McDougall flags – peanuts, avocados, and olives. Here is his full flagged list along with his reasoning:

There are a few foods that won’t spoil your success with the Starch Solution, but will slow your progress. If you seek to accelerate your weight loss, or if you suffer from a chronic disease or are on the cusp of developing one, I recommend avoiding these foods altogether. If, on the other hand, you are already happy with your weight or not in a hurry to lose, and you do not suffer from chronic illness, you might wish to consider including small quantities of these higher calorie foods in your starch-based meals:

  • Avocados
  • Dried fruits
  • Flours (whole grain, white, all-purpose)
  • Fruits and vegetable juices
  • Nuts
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Seeds
  • Simple sugars (table sugar, maple syrup, molasses, agave)

In my experience, it seems the last thing to go for people eating this diet is oil. They continue to use oil to cook with and as a dressing. There is evidence that a combination of carbohydrates and fat is worse (puts weight on faster, raises blood glucose) than eating carbohydrate or fat alone.

10 thoughts on “What To Eat On A Plant-Based Diet (McDougall Starch Version)

  1. Pingback: Published Results: Low-Fat, Plant-Based Diet Significantly Reduces CVD Risk Markers In 7 Days | Fanatic Cook

  2. Pingback: A Plant-Based Diet Does Not Mean Eating Broccoli All The Time | Fanatic Cook

  3. Pingback: Want To Lower Your Cholesterol Without Drugs? Stop Eating Animal Food. | Fanatic Cook

  4. Tony lee

    I have been eating no animal products for three months my dr makes me go in for A1C testing I am on Medford in my last A1C before I started the no animal products was 7.8 I just took my A1C test last week and it’s at 8.8 should I cut fruits what’s wrong? But I feel great eating oatmeal grits some veggies a lot of potatoes some beans whole weat bread rice


  5. mrsorellana2014

    Oil is fat. There is nothing healthy about oil. It is not a whole food.

    In 1 tbsp of olive oil there is about 40 olives. So if you even consume 1 tbsp a week that’s 40 olives a week, that’s a lot of fat.


  6. Pingback: Another McDougall Success Story | Fanatic Cook

  7. Pingback: What Is The Fate Of Excess Carbohydrate? Does It Turn Into Fat? | Fanatic Cook

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s