Grain Brain…Wheat Belly…Atkins: Dr. McDougall Takes a Stand Against Them & Why!

low carb

Are you on a “Low Carb-High Protein” Diet?

Have you tried or are thinking about these popular eating plans?

•  “Grain Brain” by Dr. David Perlmutter 

•  “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis 

•  The Atkins Diet

If you answered YES, then keep reading….

UnknownThe famed Dr. John McDougall, pillar of the health and plant-based nutrition community, is taking solid and direct aim at the enormously popular Grain Brain” Diet by Dr. David Perlmutter, “Wheat Belly” Diet by Dr. William Davis and the Atkins Diet—all heavily-animal derived protein, low carb diets!

In his article titled, The Smoke and Mirror Behind Wheat Belly and Grain Brain, Dr. McDougall refutes the claims that form the basis of these diets-–to dramatically cut almost all carbs and load up on animal-based high-fat foods! The assertions of the benefits of these diets flies right in the face of the plant-based nutrition health plan that Dr. McDougall and many, many physicians in the nutritional field have staked not only their reputations on, but also their own health and the health of their patients and followers on!

Quoting numerous medical studies and citing the conclusions drawn from the widely-acclaimed research, Dr. McDougall answers many of the questions I actually had after seeing Dr. Perlmutter of “Grain Brain” fame on an episode of Dr. Oz. If you’re interested in these low carb-high animal protein diets, (or maybe you’re on one right now!), you may also be wondering how healthy are they? How can these doctors all claim that their plans are the healthiest?

How? In Dr. McDougall’s own words:

In order for the authors of these two books (“Wheat Belly” and “Grain Brain”) to pull off the monumental task of luring otherwise intelligent people into inherently dangerous diet plans, they have had to:

(1) Ignore the bulk of the science

(2) Exaggerate the truth

(3) Make false associations

These are pretty daring statements and naturally, I wanted to learn specifically how he supported them in his article. Dr. McDougall methodically breaks down each of the above statements into sections of research-backed conclusions, citing findings published in the most respected sources such as, the Annals of Internal Medicine, the British Medical Journal, the Public Library of Science, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and many more.


The facts show that:

 • low carbohydrate diets based on animal sources increase the risk of sickness and death

• the claim that inflammation is caused by carbohydrates and is at the heart of every disorder and disease is convoluted, theoretical and largely limited only to an uncommon condition, Celiac disease, which affects fewer than 1 in 100 people

• the source of injury leading to chronic inflammation is animal foods

• studies show that those consuming 3-5 servings of whole grains have a 26% reduction in the risk of Type 2 diabetes and 21% reduction in the risk of heart disease

Unfortunately, people are desperate for ways to lose weight and solve their health issues—understandably so. They also love to hear that eating large quantities of the least healthy foods will actually solve their problems—human nature!  Of course, who wouldn’t? “Especially when told that prime rib and cheddar cheese are good for them—people love to hear good news about their bad habits.” According to Dr. McDougall, “smoke and mirror” doctors are deceiving millions of vulnerable believers and leading them down the wrong path.

If Dr. McDougall’s assertions and the underlying research makes a world of sense to you, and they certainly do to me, then read his article, which goes into more details and you will be convinced! Whether it inspires you to make small changes in your diet or sweeping changes, at least you will be well-informed! Even if today is not the day you adopt a more plant-based diet, (hopefully it is, though), at least you will know the facts about these low-carb-high-animal protein diets and you won’t fooled anymore!

thai-tacosopti2How about easing into to something delicious from Dr. McDougall’s website —try Thai Tacos—low-calorie, low fat, all-veggie, soy-free, could even be gluten free…I’m going to make them tonight!!

Thai Tacos

by Lindsay Nixon, the Happy Herbivore

Ingredients:1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
chili powder
4 c shredded cabbage (green, red, or a combination)
1 tbsp Vegan Mayo or plain vegan yogurt
2–3 tbsp sweet red chili sauce, divided
lime zest
juice of 1 small lime
sea salt (optional)
1–2 green onions, sliced Asian hot sauce (e.g., Sriracha; optional)
6 corn tortillas
cilantro (optional)Method:

1) Mash chickpeas with a fork in a small bowl until they crumble. Sprinkle with chili powder as desired, stir, and sprinkle again to taste, then set aside.

2) In another bowl, combine cabbage with mayo, 2 tbsp chili sauce, 1 tsp lime zest (about 1⁄2 of the small lime), and juice from 1 lime slice, and stir to combine.

3) Taste, adding more chili sauce, lime juice, or zest as desired. I also like to add a pinch of sea salt. Stir in green onion, reserving some for garnish. (For a spicier dish, you can also add an Asian hot sauce like Sriracha to taste.)

4) Spoon chickpea mixture into tortillas. Top with slaw. Garnish with a few green onions and cilantro leaves if using. Drizzle with extra hot sauce if desired (a little goes a long way; it’s explosive!).

Per Taco
Calories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152
Fat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.4g
Carbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28.4g
Fiber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.8g
Sugars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.7g
Protein. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.1g
WW Points. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4


CLICK HERE to Read to Dr. John McDougall’s entire article

CLICK HERE to Read my original post about Dr. David Perlmutter’s appearance on the Dr. Oz show to discuss his book “Grain Brain”

CLICK HERE for more recipes on Dr. McDougall’s Website

CLICK HERE for Vegan No-Oil Salad Dressings, including Dr. McDougall’s recipes

CLICK HERE for review of McDougall’s Quick and Easy Cookbook, including a recipe for One Dish Baked Oatmeal Crisp

lindsaynixonl&lcoveroptiCLICK HERE  for a link to the Happy Herbivore website





xox Enjoy!





  1. I believe that you are the one who doesn’t know what you are talking about! I followed the “diet” that you promote for years. All I did was GAIN weight and get sicker! I started the WHEAT BELLY lifestyle 2 and 1/2 years ago and am now–after 40 years–63 pounds lighter!! I no longer take Celebrex for arthritis or Nexium for acid reflux. I got off both those meds one month into Wheat Belly–that’s 29 months ago! I’ve never had to take another one! I had been taking prescription meds for those two conditions for 13 YEARS!

    I was borderline diabetic with fasting blood sugars between 110 and 120. Soon after starting Wheat Belly, it was all back down to normal!

    Yes, I eat low carb, medium protein and high fat! I have never felt better in my life. I am 69 years old now. I started this way of life when I was 67. I wasted many, many years eating what you think is a healthy diet of high carbs and low fat/fat free.

    No, I will never go back! More and more people are realizing that fat is good for you and carbs are bad.

    Vegan may be your choice, but it’s not mine!!

    • Dear Janie,
      Thanks for taking the time to share your story! It’s great that you’ve lost so much weight and feel better. But I think you may have it all wrong about what we, at Vegan American Princess, are recommending. There are numerous scientific studies that show that eating a balance, whole plant-based diet with minimally unprocessed foods will not only help you live longer but live healthier! Millions of people have been eating this way for thousands of years—only in recent history have we been plagued with rampant diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s. When you say a “healthy diet of high carbs and low fat/fat free” was many of your years wasted, I would politely like to mention that all carbs are not created equal and neither are all fats. Being a healthy vegan is being very mindful of the choices we make in terms of carbs and fat. I am not a doctor and don’t dispense medical advice but my sharing the article written by Dr. McDougall is, I believe, sharing important information backed by much research.

    • georgie says:

      Janie, sound like you have autoimmune, celiac or at least gluten sensitivity since you had arthritis, and when you lose 63 lbs that alot of weight. CDC9Center for Disease Control) studies show if you lose 5% of weight that prevents the progression of prediabetes to diabetes. So for 5% of weight you must weigh 1200 lbs for 60 lbs loss,

  2. 12 months on the Wheat Belly plan I’ve gone from a size 52 jean to size 38. All my blood work returned to normal levels 6 weeks (eating bacon and eggs for breakfast every morning) in and remain normal. My calcium score in November was 32 and all on the left side, zero on the right side.

    I got to a size 52 jean eating the way you’re recommending.

    • Dear AP,
      Congratulations on losing so much weight–that’s no easy feat! I also really appreciate your input and response to my article—thanks for reading and caring enough to write to us! I think I need some clarification on what you to refer to as “eating the way you’re recommending.” We, at Vegan American Princess, do realize that people who are vegan or vegetarian can still be eating heavily fattening foods—it’s so important to mindfully eat a balanced diet whole, plant-based foods that are minimally processed to maintain health and to “eat the way we’re recommending.”

  3. Ellen, sometimes people from the Atkins world write stories like the above trying to prove themselves right. People that are exetremely overweight then finally do something will see results. Though long term they don’t usually see their 80th birthday. I know of a comunity of 70 and 80yo’s that are living well eating a plant based diet. Thriving! I wish I could say the same for atkins followers. Oh, atkins didn’t make it to 80 or 75 I don’t believe he even made it to 70. All the grain belly people I dare you to read Dr. McDougalls article and realize logically you are endangering your life longterm. The American diseases are your own option to die.

    • Dear pm,
      Thank you for writing such a supportive and heartfelt comment. It is reported that Dr. Atkins actually died at age 72 from complications of slipping and falling on an icy sidewalk—nothing to do with his diet. But there is some controversy over his physical condition when he died. At that time there were some reports that said he had myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure and hypertension and weighed 258 pounds, but Dr. Atkin’s representative at the time refuted this information saying that he was not obese but bloated from fluid retention and his heart condition was caused by a viral infection. Dr. Atkins stood by his diet and we stand by ours! Thanks again for writing and reading!

  4. Erick Victor Munoz says:

    It is unfortunate that well meaning people are reduced to making straw men attacks against other well meaning people instead of the corporate food structure that is making it harder every day for people to get healthy natural food.
    The fact is the Gran Brain diet does not recommend “large amounts of prime rib and cheese”. It is clear neither you, nor the author you cite, has read the book. A central thesis of which is that low caloric intake is a cornerstone of any diet. A Texas sized plate of ribs and cheddar cheese fries might take you beyond the recommended intake for a day.
    Dr. Perlmutter endorses vegan and vegetarian eating both in his book and in several interviews and comments. To lump him in with the Atkins diet is intellectually dishonest and/or lazy. Even when recommending animal products he only recommends organically sourced products whether it be grass fed free range cattle or natural butter from same.
    Thank you for sharing the great information on your site but please endeavor to focus on the positive instead of attacking alternative ideas, especially when you are clearly uninformed on what those ideas really are.

    Prime example, Gluten is a real toxin. The idea that only Celiac’s should worry about it is like saying only diabetics should worry about sugar. We should all be careful not to eat too much sugar because it is unnatural and negatively affects our body, likewise with Gluten. It is not a “natural product” so I am confused as to why a Vegan site is so staunchly defending it. What is worse, a simple test any Doctor can do will show whether people are sensitive to it and discouraging people form investigating their Gluten sensitivity is plain irresponsible. Legions of folks have learned about Gluten sensitivity and avoiding it has changed their lives–even though they are not Celiac’s.

    At day’s end, adopting a consistent way of eating and having it improve your life is the best “study” there is.

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself! Both, Dr. Perlmutter’s recent works recommend diminishing meat to a side dish if not a condiment. He fully endorses a vegetarian lifestyle and warns against conventional commercial meats.
      I have very little regard for the “Science” of people who can’t even be bothered to read the books they choose to lambaste.

      • Dear Jason,
        We’d like to think that a whole plant-based diet free of processed foods and refined carbohydrates is the best! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. Muslim Kapasi says:

    Ellen, I am a diabetic type 1 and on insulin since over 24 years, my current age is 45. I think that Dr. John McDougall has got it all wrong because he needs to at least have checked the Glycemic Indexes of various foods before even writing what he has written here.

    I am a walking talking proof since I live on insulin and by simply eliminating the Gluten Grains but not cutting on anything else (in fact added more fats & cholesterol to my intake) has not only brought my insulin requirements down by 40% but also made me wake up more fresher, thinking sharper and have lost some visceral fat too in the process.

    I live in India and vegetables is an integral part of our diets and so is most preparations contaminated with grains- but I have to the best of my ability following a high fat no grain diet since November 2014 and the least I can say is that you try it too!

  6. Since 2002, I’ve been losing an up hill battle with diabetes. My doctor kept increasing, changing, adding medication to get my blood sugar under control. When I introduced intermittent fasting into my program in October 2015, I’ve dropped 45 pounds, all of my diabetes medication, and my old “fat” clothes.

    Insulin was the culprit. Insulin resistance cannot be fought with grains. That is the same as saying that heroin addiction can be treated with more heroin. We know that grains produce a spike in insulin. This is not debatable. We know that fats have little impact on insulin. And for those of us who are insulin resistant, more of the “hair of the dog” doesn’t make any sense.

    I’m sure that you all mean well, but the science is not in your corner. Just like those who saw the earth as flat, or that boats that sailed to sea would “fall off the face of the earth,” it is clear that you have an agenda to push something that is medically unsound for those who are insulin resistant.

    It would be nice if you would, at the very least, be honest about the politicization of the vegan, progressive, or as some may think of it, socialistic lifestyle in trying to outlaw meat, chicken, pork, and sea food.

    Finally, the Asian v. American anecdotes fail to take into account the sedentary lifestyle Americans enjoy versus their Asian counterparts. If we were all like Michael Phelps and swam hours every day, sure, your carb-rich diet would be great. But we aren’t like that. We sit in offices for the most part.

    I’ve watched Dr. McDougall, and with all due respect, I don’t believe his theory. Like the Scarsdale Doctor before, or Dr. Pritikin, what is “old” is new again.

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