How Not to Diet — Book Summary

How Not to Diet Book Cover

How Not to Diet: The Groundbreaking Science of Healthy, Permanent Weight Loss

by Michael Greger

Published: 2019 | 608 pages
Rating Amazon:  stars rating 4.7 
Rating by reviewer:  stars rating 4.7 
Author of the article: Baseerat Iqbal
Date of the summary: Jun 18, 2020

Tired of the old diet plans to lose weight? Probe into Dr. Greger’s book and uncover the habits and foods that may facilitate you to strip down the weight.

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How Not to Diet Book Cover

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In today’s world, many people are looking for ways and finding means upon how they can follow a diet and lose weight. Even so, the graph of obesity keeps rising daily along with a marked increase within the health problems and obesity derived disease. Let’s change the way we accommodate things and follow the guiltiness taught by Dr. Michael Greger. After understanding and researching the foods and the factors causing obesity, Dr. Greger has shared some valuable tips.

Interesting quotes from the book

Sleep deprivation tends to lead people to overeat by about 180–560 calories a day.

— Michael Greger, How Not to Diet

As a physician, my priority is getting (and keeping) people healthy, but when people are surveyed about their motivation for dieting, disturbingly, 'health' may come in last.

— Michael Greger, How Not to Diet

Starting a meal with foods containing fewer than one hundred calories per cup can result in fewer overall calories consumed. This includes many fruits, vegetables, soups, salads, or simply a tall glass of water.

— Michael Greger, How Not to Diet

Summary of the book How Not to Diet

Dr. Michael Greger has not only researched the foods that could help people get rid of obesity, but also looked into the problems, reasons, and factors associated with weight gain. He subdivided the book into five original sections, and each section addresses a singular topic. Digging deeper into the book, the author shares the magical secrets that will help people to say goodbye to extra weight.

Diagnose the problem

The first step to any problem is to inquire about the cause and site of the problem. About 100 genes are associated with weight gain and obesity according to the studies. But they create less than 3% difference in BMI. In 2013 everyone labeled obesity under the category of disease. Yet the author claims that our body is just doing its job. In olden times the food wasn’t available at all times so the body stored more excess calories to use it in times of famine. Although today we don’t face scarcity of food yet the body is in a habit of storing excess calories and encouraging us to eat high caloric food.

Evolution in the food industry

There came a time when food companies started preserving food and added preservatives and artificial colors. They made cheap processed food, which provided less nutrition and encouraged our body to demand more food.

Food industries are to be blamed for making the most out of our biology by preparing food high in calories and low in fiber, encouraging the body to remain dissatisfied and asking for more, which increases the sale of such products.

Food policies are believed to be the most important causes of obesity.

Health problems associated with obesity

Moving towards some severe consequences of being overweight, the author describes all the health conditions related to obesity.

Arthritis is one of the most common conditions that come with obesity. The cartilage wears out because the body cannot bear the weight and because of the present high level of fats in the blood. But they observed a decrease in the development of osteoarthritis among individuals who have lost excess weight.

Back pain is another terrible consequence of obesity and overweight individuals are more affected because the arteries at the back are blocked by the buildup of cholesterol preventing the circulation of oxygen and nutrients.

Obesity comes with higher blood pressure, which is another very dangerous condition.

The origin of cancer is more prevalent among obese individuals because an increase in the level of insulin causes an increase in the risk of cancer.

Obese individuals are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Overweight people who have around 33% chance of developing dementia and obese individuals are at a 90% risk.

According to the studies, overweight individuals perform poorly in the areas of memory, talking fluently, planning, and taking decisions.

Obesity decreases the level of fertility among overweight women and reduces the testosterone level in men.

Obesity increases the risk of the production of cholesterol gallstones by 7 times.

The chances of GERD are more in overweight people.

They associate deaths because of heart diseases more with overweight people.

Obese people have fewer killer cells in their bodies, which means they have less immunity.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is another common consequence of being overweight.

Obesity causes damage to the kidneys leading to kidney failure.

What waist size is appropriate?

The author proposes the rule of thumb, according to which the waist size should be less than half the height and we should measure it in inches.

Proper diet against other weight loss approaches

Diet modification is better than surgery

According to the author, surgeries to remove body fat are not of much importance as compared to the dietary modifications because the surgeries only reduce the amount of fat. But if obese people change the diet, they will also reduce the number of health issues that come with obesity.

Effects of diet drugs and supplements

According to Dr. Greger, the diet drugs may not work or their effects would be short-termed with their long-term side effects. Similar is the case with the supplements because they aren’t FDA approved and according to the studies, they also have health complications.

Increase in taxes

If there would be an increase in the taxes of foods that promote obesity, people may consider healthy alternatives.

Create awareness

They can create awareness by labeling foods that are not good, apply a ban on such goods, and by increasing their prices.

17 weight loss food characteristics

According to the author, the specific diet plan doesn’t exist rather the food we ate should have 17 characteristics that would aid in weight loss.

  1. Choose the ingredients rich in anti-inflammatory properties such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, and green tea.
  2. Avoid food labeled as obesogenic.
  3. Consume food rich in fiber.
  4. Consume food with high water content.
  5. Eat food with less glycemic in it.
  6. Consume food that has less added fat
  7. Eat food with less added sugar
  8. Say no to food additives
  9. Consume food low in calorie density
  10. Go for plant-based food
  11. Consume food that has a lower quantity of refined grains.
  12. Cut down the salt
  13. Decrease the insulin index
  14. Eat microbiome friendly food
  15. Eat more fruits and vegetables
  16. Eat more legumes
  17. Stop eating when you know you have eaten enough.

In addition to the above, consider:

  • Add the food containing vitamin B12 in your diet
  • Remember to eat food that encourages weight loss
  • Enjoy foods that provide all the essential nutrients for the body.

Factors that can motivate weight loss

  • Be accountable for your weight yourself
  • Activate AMPK enzyme in the body by fasting and performing exercise
  • suppresses the appetite with the help of foods that make you feel full
  • Eat the heaviest at the start of the day and have dinner 2.5 hours before going to sleep
  • Eat slowly
  • Maintain a balance between eating and exercise
  • Eat foods rich in fat blockers
  • Become best friends with foods that help to burn fats
  • Discipline your eating habits
  • Eat anti-inflammatory food as mentioned earlier
  • Control the frequency of your meals
  • Drink at least 2 cups of cool water a few times a day, especially on an empty stomach
  • Practice a little Trendelenburg
  • Start your meal with food low in calories
  • Acquire proper sleep
  • Relieve yourself of stress
  • Eat whole-grain kernels
  • Consume cumin
  • Incorporate vinegar in your diet

Review of the book How Not to Diet

How not to diet is an informative book not only regarding what foods help lose weight, but also to understand the reasons, consequences, and solutions for obesity. It’s a must-read for all the health-conscious people and all those who are looking for tips on how to lose weight.


If you are looking for a complete guide on how to manage your diet and stay fit and healthy, reading this book is the right choice because it guides the reader about obesity and also pinpoints what people should do and what shouldn't if they want to lose weight.

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