What is Calorie Density?

Calorie density is the simplest approach to healthful eating and lifelong weight management. This common sense approach to sound nutrition allows for lifelong weight management without hunger; more food for fewer calories, and is easy to understand and follow. In addition, by following the principles of calorie density, you will also increase the overall nutrient density of your diet. Nutrient dense foods give you the most nutrients for the fewest amount of calories. In other words, nutrient dense foods give you the “biggest bang for the buck.” You get lots of nutrients, and it doesn’t cost you much in terms of calories. The basic principles of calorie density are really quite simple.

Definition: Calorie density is simply a measure of how much energy (calories) is provided per unit measure of food. Usually expressed as calories per pound.

1 lb. of vegetables = 100 calories (approx.)
1 lb. of ground beef = 1000 calories (approx.) – regular ground not lean

Calorie dense foods, (high in calorie density) such as beef, chicken, refined sugars, provide many calories in a small amount of food and provide less nutrients than whole plant foods.

Foods with low calorie density — fruits, vegetables — provide fewer total calories and greater nutrition in a larger volume of food. Therefore, by following a diet lower in calorie density, one also automatically consumes a diet higher in nutrient density.

All Calories Are Not Equal !

The image below gives an excellent picture of what calorie density looks like and why when consuming foods high in calories density (on right side) i.e., the Standard American Diet (SAD)–which is mostly based on animal-based products and processed foods including vegetable oils–many Americans consume too many calories and are vitamin and mineral deficient.
Calorie Density Image 2

As you can see foods low in calorie density fill the stomach (satiety) and the foods high in calorie density don’t fill the stomach. Just imagine how a person could consume many more calories in just one meal, easily adding hundreds more calories in just one meal because your stomach is not full. As you can see with the potatoes it is even overflowing because the stomach is full and when that happens your brain is sent a signal, via stomach stretch receptors, that you are full and you can’t eat anymore. With foods high in calorie density it is easier to overeat.

Calorie density really is a common-sense approach to sound nutrition and is the cornerstone of good health. It is the simplest way to lose and/or manage your weight for life; more food for fewer calories, and is easy to understand and follow. By following a few simple principles, you will increase the amount of food on your plate while decreasing your overall caloric intake, all without ever having to go hungry. At the same time, you will be optimizing your overall nutrient intake (vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, essential fats, etc.).

Studies have shown that diets based on low calorie density foods tend to be more healthy and effective for weight management. So, eat freely of unrefined, unprocessed fruits, veggies, starchy veggies, intact whole grains and legumes without the addition of salt, sugar and/or fat/oil and you will reap the benefits of a healthy nutrient-dense diet.

Are Meat and Dairy the New Tabacco?

A new study published by the USC School of Gerontology analyzed 6,318 middle-aged adults for 2 decades and found that those consuming high amounts of animal protein were twice as likely to die of all causes and 4 times more likely to die from cancer than those eating low amounts of protein. Vegetable sources of protein did not have the same effect. Moderate protein intake also had detrimental effects. In contrast, the researchers found that plant-based proteins, such as those from beans, did not seem to have the same mortality effects as animal proteins.

While high protein diets are have been all the rage over the last few years for their waist-whittling goodness, a new study says they could be as bad for you as smoking.

Read the articles:


What are Starches? And why it is an important food to have in your diet!

Today, a misunderstood food and often maligned are starches or carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are our primary source of energy (your body prefers glucose (sugars), from carbohydrate digestion). They’re the main source of calories in virtually every diet worldwide.

Starch is valuable to us because we can break it down into simple sugars that provide us with sustained energy and keep us feeling full and satisfied. Starchy foods are plants that are high in long-chain digestible carbohydrates—commonly referred to as complex-carbohydrates. Think of endurance athletes who “carb load” before an event. Examples of starch include grains like wheat, barley, rye, corn, and oats; starchy vegetables like winter squash, potatoes, and sweet potatoes; and legumes like brown lentils, green peas, and red kidney beans. Nonstarchy green, yellow, and orange vegetables are good for you to eat, but on their own do not give you enough calories to sustain your daily activities and keep you feeling satisfied.

The science shows after eating, the complex carbohydrates found in starches, such as rice or beans, are digested into simple sugars in the intestine and then absorbed into the bloodstream where they are transported to the cells in the body in order to provide for energy. These long chains of glucose or sugar must be broken down inside your intestine before they can be used as fuel. The process of digesting these complex sugars is slow and methodical, providing a steady stream of fuel pumped into your bloodstream as long-lasting energy. This is what keeps your energy levels high through-out the day.

Two Types of Carbohydrate:

Complex-Carbohydrates (starches) – Don’t Make You Fat!

Carbohydrates (sugars) consumed in excess of the body’s daily needs can be stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. The total storage capacity for glycogen is about two pounds. Carbohydrates consumed in excess of our need and beyond our limited storage capacity are not readily stored as body fat. Instead, these excess carbohydrate calories are burned off as heat (a process known as facultative dietary thermogenesis) or used in physical movements not associated with exercise. It does not turn into fat like some low-carb diet people claim because starch often travels in bad company. By that I mean, people slather sour cream or butter their baked potato or oils on their pasta. I don’t’ think 1.7 billion Asians who eat high-carbohydrate (starch-based) diet of mostly rice and vegetables (that are trim and healthy) are aware of that myth.
Simple-Carbohydrates = Empty Calories

Simple carbs are refined, processed carbohydrate foods that have had all or most of their natural nutrients and fiber removed in order to make them easier to transport and more ‘consumer friendly’. Pure sugars have been stripped of many of their nutrients, except for the simple carbohydrate—thus they are called “empty calories.” Most baked goods, white breads, snack foods, candies, soft drinks and non-diet soft drinks fit into this category. Bleached, enriched wheat flour and white sugar – along with an array of artificial flavorings, colorings, and preservatives are the most common ingredients used to make ‘bad carb’ foods.

Starch: The Traditional Diet of People

All large populations of trim, healthy people, throughout verifiable human history, have obtained the bulk of their calories from starch. Here are some examples:

Caloric Engines of Human Civilization

Barley – Middle East for 11,000 years
Corn (maize) – North, Central, and South America for 7,000 years
Legumes – Americas, Asia, and Europe for 6,000 years
Millet – Africa for 6,000 years
Oats – Middle East for 11,000 years
Potatoes – South America (Andes) for 13,000 years
Sweet Potatoes – South America and Caribbean for 5,000 years
Rice – Asia for more than 10,000 years
Rye – Asia for 5,000 years
Wheat – Near East for 10,000 years

Starches are Comfort Food

Just think of starches as comfort food, and everyone usually has a favorite comfort food. With a starched-based diet you can have these same comfort foods you like but made without the meat or dairy and still have the same great flavors. Such foods as: a spinach lasagna, minestrone soup, bean and rice burrito, a pot roast without the roast, mashed potatoes and gravy with roasted vegetables and corn, and homemade three bean chili and much, much more…

Starch is Clean Fuel
• Starches are very low in fat (1% to 8% of their calories)
• Contains no cholesterol
• Do no grow human pathogens (salmonella, E. Coli, etc. – come from animal sources)
• Do not store poisonous chemicals like DDT, methyl mercury

Starch is Complete Nutrition
• Starches are plentiful in protein ( 6% to 28% of their calories)
• Contains a proper array of vitamins and minerals
• Full of dietary fiber and high energy carbohydrates
• Very energy satisfying “comfort food”

Starch Solution Diet











1. The Starch Solution. John A. McDougall, MD and Mary McDougall. 2012;5,7,8.


Why Plant-Based Nutrition Heals the Whole Body

“Nutrition is a collective thing, a holistic idea that works in your body like symphony providing nutrients packaged by nature in a single food.” T. Colin Campbell, PhD, Author of The China Study and Whole – Rethinking the Science of Nutrition

The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts!

A whole food, plant-based diet is holistic in the sense of its basic nutritional composition of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) and vitamins and minerals (micronutrients), which include antioxidants and phytonutrients. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. Plant foods provide all nutrients the human body requires — carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, fiber, — and sufficient calories. All these nutrients acts like symphony in the body with each nutrient doing its specific job and working in concert together. So, consuming a diet of whole plant-based food is truly a holistic approach that nourishes the whole body with the vital balance of nutrients.

Eating a whole food plant-based diet supports and promotes, what is called, ‘Spontaneous Healing’ which is where the body starts to heal and repair damage done by damaging quantities of fat, protein, cholesterol, and chemicals are ingested from the beef, chicken, cheese, refined flours, and sugars which are sources of present day malnutrition—excesses and deficiencies of vital nutrients plague these foods.

Eating the right food is more effective for your health than any supplement or pill! The only two vitamins that are not produced by plants are vitamins D and B12. You can get vitamin D in some fortified cereals or from sunlight, and B12 you can get from a supplement. For vegan or plant-based diets it is recommended that pregnant and nursing women, and people following a plant-based diet strictly for more than 3 years, take five micrograms of vitamin B12 each day to ensure that they are getting an adequate supply of the vitamin. (Both vitamins are stored in your tissues for long periods of time.)

The right foods you eat can heal faster and more profoundly than the most expensive prescription drugs, and more dramatically than the most extreme surgical interventions, with only positive side effects.

Low-Carb Diets

Low-Carb Low Point

Source: pcrm.org

Despite the overwhelming evidence that low-carbohydrate eating is not beneficial, low-carb diets manage to resurrect themselves under different names and on the pages of new books—some desperately declaring new benefits. Whether the scheme is to eat like a caveman, avoid wheat, or eat lots of meat as dictated by your blood type, chances are the unfortunate result is a diet touting high intakes of animal products.

Are you considering a low-carb diet to “even out” extra holiday calories or as a New Year’s resolution? Read this first and share with friends:

The Protein Myth

Where do get your protein?

Protein_GorillaI get asked this question all time when people find out I eat a plant-based diet just like the gorilla in the cartoon.

The Truth:  All plant foods contain all the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.  The essential amino acids are called ‘complete proteins’ and called essential because the body does not produce them and must be obtained from our diet. For example, broccoli contains 45% protein from its calories and beans contain 23% to 54% depending on the variety.

As long as one is eating a variety of plant foods in sufficient quantity to maintain one’s weight (enough calories), the body gets plenty of protein. Plants are the only foods eaten by elephants, horses, and hippos, and all three have no trouble growing all the muscle, bone, and tissue they need.

Humans Require Very Little Protein

Without sufficient protein from your diet, your body would be in trouble – but, aside from starvation, this never happens.   Yes, a little protein is good, but more is not better. Protein consumed beyond our needs is a health hazard that can be as devastating as excess dietary fat and cholesterol.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that men and women obtain 5% of their calories as protein.  This would mean 38 grams of protein for a man burning 3000 calories a day and 29 grams for a woman using 2300 calories a day.  This quantity of protein is impossible to avoid when daily calorie needs are met by unrefined starches and vegetables. For example, rice alone would provide 71 grams of highly useable protein and white potatoes would provide 64 grams of protein. The body only needs approximately 30-60 grams/day.

Our greatest time of growth—thus, the time of our greatest need for protein—is during our first 2 years of life—we double in size. At this vigorous developmental stage our ideal food is human milk, which is 5% protein.  Compare this need to food choices that should be made as adults—when we are not growing. Rice is 8% protein, corn 11%, oatmeal 15%, and beans 27%.8

Unlike fat, protein cannot be stored.  Consumption in excess of our needs overworks the liver and kidneys, and can cause accumulation of toxic protein byproducts. Once the body’s needs are met, then the excess must be removed.  The liver converts the excess protein into urea and other nitrogen-containing breakdown products, which are finally eliminated through the kidneys as part of the urine.  These unneeded amino acid wastes (proteins) can injure the structures of the kidneys, and over time diets high in protein may promote the development of kidney stones and other health issues such as bone loss, osteoporosis, kidney damage, immune dysfunction, arthritis, cancer promotion, and low-energy. In fact, the recommended diet by the medical community for chronic kidney diseases is a low-protein diet which can be met with whole food, plant-based diet.

Unfortunately, almost everyone on the typical Western diet is overburdened with protein. The public has almost no awareness of problems of protein overload, but scientists have known about the damaging effects of excess protein for more than a century.

Proteins Intake Varies Worldwide

The healthy active lives of hundreds of millions of people laboring in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America on diets with less than half the amount of protein eaten by Americans and Europeans prove that the popular understanding of our protein needs is seriously flawed.

Protein Intake Table

** The McDougall Program is the protocol I follow in my nutrition practice

1) J Pennington.  Bowes & Church’s Food Values of Portions Commonly Used.  17th Ed. Lippincott. Philadelphia- New York. 1998.
2) The December 2003 McDougall Newsletter: A Brief History of Protein: Passion, Social Bigotry, and Enlightenment.
3) The January 2004 McDougall Newsletter: Protein Overload


Things to Consider When Choosing Organic

by Dr. Carl Baird DC, MS

Organic Food‘Organic food’ is a term that has been around since the 1960’s but it wasn’t until the 1990’s when the TV show “60 Minutes” did an expose on apple growers use of a growth regulating chemical called Alar, a known carcinogen, that the ‘Panic for Organic’ movement began. Today, supermarkets all over the country offer organic alternatives to what seems like every type of food. Potato chips, TV dinners and even soda now have organic brands. As I encourage patients to begin to choose healthier food options the question that always comes up is, “should I buy organic?” The answer to this rather straightforward question turns out to be rather complicated with researchers and scientists on both sides of the fence. I’ve compiled what I’ve read into five points that I hope will help you answer this question for yourself.

Four Conclusions on Organic Food

1) If money is not an issue, choose organic. Studies have shown that switching to an organic diet can significantly lower the level of toxins in our blood and urine. Whether these toxins have contributed to the increased cancer rates in our society has not been determined, but I believe it is safe to say that the less toxins in your body, the better.

2) If money is an issue, still eat more fruits and vegetables. Don’t let the fear of pesticides used in conventional produce scare you away from consuming more fruits and vegetables. Every study done to date on the consumption of food and its relation to cancer has shown that the more fruits and vegetables people eat, the less cancer and heart disease they have. The body has ways to naturally break down natural and artificial toxins and these foods contain the micronutrients needed to help the process.

3) Organic does not necessarily mean healthy. The regulations regarding what can be labeled organic are loose. Organic products do not contain many of the pesticides and antibiotics found in conventional foods but they can contain many of the harmful oils and synthetic additives that don’t promote good health.

4) If you are not a Vegan, limit the amount of conventionally raised animal and dairy products you consume. Those truly concerned about the carcinogens present in our food should keep in mind that conventionally grown meat and dairy products furnish over 90% of our exposure to known contaminants. Chemicals like dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyl’s (PCB’s) have been linked to several types of cancers and are primarily found in fatty meats and dairy products.

Choose ‘grass fed’ or ‘pasture raised’ meat and dairy products over ones labeled organic. While ‘organic’ animal products are not fed chemicals and antibiotics, they are still raised on corn, soybean and wheat which produce the pro-inflammatory omega – 6 fatty acids that lead to chronic inflammation and tissue damage.

Dr. Carl Baird DC, MS is owner and head chiropractor at Evolve Chiropractic & Wellness. His clinic is dedicated to giving his patients the tools they need to take care of themselves. For more information on Dr. Carl and Evolve Chiropractic and Wellness check out his webpage at www.evolve-chiropractic.com or follow Evolve of facebook.

How a Plant-based Diet Save Me

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. The most common type is coronary artery disease. Risk factors include high cholesterol, being overweight, and high blood pressure. Heart disease is also can be a contributing factor to many other diseases like type-2 diabetes and cancer.

I have experienced how changing to a plant-based diet and lifestyle can affect your overall health. I attended the McDougall 10-day Live-In Program at the McDougall Health and Medical Center in Santa Rosa, CA (in June 2007) to find an alternative to standard medical practices for the treatment of high cholesterol and blood pressure with medications. I discovered that a low-fat plant-based diet was my answer. I experienced the results of thousands of others who follow a whole food, plant-based diet: medication free and achieving optimal health, vitality and a feeling of well-being. In the 10 days, I was educated by Dr. John McDougall about basic nutrition, plant-based nutrition, chronic diseases, and current medical research; while receiving medical advice/diagnosis of Dr. McDougall. By changing to a low-fat plant-based diet it saved me from taking costly medications and perhaps avoided some standard medical procedures for heart disease.

Also, during this program I saw other attendees health improve, type-2 diabetics’ blood sugar levels were normal within a few days and some were completely off medications, arthritis patients were pain free, the average reduction in blood cholesterol was 15% in one week and everyone experienced average weight loss of 3-5 pounds, the results were remarkable in just ten days. It’s the FOOD! We all eat the same deliciously prepared foods of starches, green and yellow vegetables. Meals like spinach lasagna, bean burritos, wonderful soups and salads.

These results are backed by decades of scientific research such as the one study by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. of the Cleveland Clinic, and author the book ‘Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease’, found that a low-fat whole food, plant-based diet, with 10% or less of total fat intake, does prevent and reverse heart disease. He published his benchmark long-term nutritional research on arresting and reversing coronary artery disease in severely ill patients—some with heart disease so advanced that standard intervention techniques such as bypass and angioplasty were no longer an option—have had the progression of their disease stopped or reversed after adopting the diet.

Jerry Casados, NTP

Food and Alzheimer’s Discussion with Dr. Neal Barnard

As we see the increase in Alzheimer’s  disease and other forms of dementia they are expected to drastically increase by the year 2030 as life expectancy also increases, according to a statement issued by the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI). In a recent article in Forbes magazine, Michael Tobias interviews Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), about the relationship certain food plays in Alzheimer’s, such as saturated fat and a low-fat plant-based diet including a study done by the Chicago Health and Aging Project.

Read the article….