Contrary to what some may say, fruit and veg not great for filling us up

The food we eat can perform a range of functions including an ability to nourish us and bring us pleasure. However, I reckon a sometimes forgotten quality of food is to sustain us. I’m not sure what the precise definition of sustain is, but if I were to have a stab at it I’d say something like “the ability of food to satisfy us, energise us, and stop us needing or thinking about food for an extended period of time.”

So, generally speaking, I advise people to opt for meals and snacks that are both nourishing and sustaining. The sustaining effect of food is sometimes forgotten, and this can lead people to eat foods they perceive to be healthy and nourishing, that unfortunately don’t get them very far in terms of sustenance.

As an example, imagine a big pile of spinach. Eat just this, and there’s a real risk that more food is going to be required in short order. Some people could, I think, eat a roomful of spinach and, however full their stomach, still feel hungry. And even if it did put a dent in someone’s appetite, the effect will generally be short-lived.

OK, that’s an extreme example, but some of us will attempt to subsist on meals that are not too far off this. How about carrot and coriander soup? Imagine if I offered you lunch in the form of a couple of carrots, half an onion and some water (because that’s essentially what a bowl of carrot and coriander soup is). How far is that going to get you? When I ask this question to people in the real world the vast majority smile and say “not very far”. Intuitively, they know that some veggie soup is unlikely to really hit the spot.

It is this phenomenon that causes me to not be too enthusiastic about using fruit as a snack. The fact is, fruit does not do a generally very good job of sating and sustaining people. And I’d say that’s a problem seeing as a major reason for having the snack should be to sate the appetite properly and tide one over nicely to the next meal.

The failure of fruit and veg to sustain is also why my eyes roll upwards when I hear weight loss experts or health professionals recommend that people eat plenty of vegetables and fruit because “the fibre helps fill you up and keep you full for longer.” My experience, as I’ve said, is that this is largely bullshit.

And so I was interested to read about a recently published study in which both lean and overweight individuals were asked to emphasise fruit and vegetables in their diet, to see its effect on satiety and latency (the amount of time it takes before someone want to eat again) and overall food intake [1].

In short, what the study showed is that eating more fruit and veg did not lead to people eating less (in caloric terms) overall. Actually, the overall effect was for them to eat more and gain weight.

Part of the experiment involved getting people to consume fruit before a meal, either as solid fruit (fresh and dried fruit) or fruit juice. Neither approach seemed to lead to less food being consumed, and the effect of the fruit juice was worse than that of the solid fruit.

Let me be clear and state that I don’t think vegetables are unhealthy overall. I do think they’re relatively nutritious foods but the fact is they don’t do much to sustain on their own. Some solid fruit may be OK too, though its sugary nature means I don’t recommend it is particularly emphasised in the diet, particularly in individuals who may have sugar-related issues such as obesity or diabetes.

There is some science which points to protein as being the most sating and sustaining element of the diet (compared to carbohydrate and fat). I certainly see evidence of this in the real world. This is one of the reasons why when talking to non-vegetarians, I recommend meaty soups over vegetables ones, and that if someone is going to eat a salad “it helps if there some animal in it.” Leaving aside the nutritional attributes of protein and fats in animal foods, the end result of eating these sorts of meals (as opposed to their ‘lighter’ versions) is usually that people feel more satisfied after eating (so perhaps less tendency to eat something else like cake, chocolate or crisps/chips straight after), as well as a feeling that they can go for longer without hunger biting again.


1. Houchins JA, et al. Effects of fruit and vegetable, consumed in solid vs beverage forms, on acute and chronic appetitive responses in lean and obese adults. Int J Obes advance online publication, November 20, 2012

55 Responses to Contrary to what some may say, fruit and veg not great for filling us up

  1. Gary Conway 4 December 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    Totally agree. I try to make sure all meals contain a decent amount of animal and this keeps me going.

  2. Michael 4 December 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Hi Dr Briffa, OT: What do you think of the studies showing a large reduction in heart attacks and death due to flu shots (via some novel mechanism?)?
    This was linked to by Seth Roberts on his blog on Nov 29. I’m intrigued as to what you think since I know you’re a bit cool on flu shots.
    I myself haven’t bothered with flu shots for the same reasons you have mentioned before, but this might make me reconsider. Not sure what to make of it.
    Thanks for your great blog.

  3. tess 4 December 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    this article is a perfect example of why you’re on my blog list, Dr B! 🙂 so many doctors just repeat the dogma and ignore the fact that it’s faulty…. back in my low-fat days, i was ALWAYS hungry when working on weight loss, and you just explained why. now that i do LCHF, two moderate meals keep me satisfied around the clock.

  4. Lori 4 December 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    Hear, hear. A salad may be chick food, but it doesn’t do anything to quell my appetite. I like a little bit of veg, but a big pile of it just gives me a stomach ache.

  5. George @ the High Fat hep C Diet 5 December 2012 at 5:37 am #

    You could totally eat enough fibre to get stomach cramps, and that might stop you from eating for a while. Fibre is supposed to be satiating, but because the effect happens after it’s been fermented, in the lower colon, it’s too delayed and unreliable to be used to control appetite at meals. Fibre in the lower gut may be satiating (may be), fibre in the stomach or upper gut isn’t, though it may be a nuisance.

  6. Janknitz 5 December 2012 at 6:57 am #

    Fruit, especially citrus, almost always resulted in hypoglycemia for me, along with increased hunger and cravings. Berries and melon did not cause this response, especially when I had cream with my berries. ;o )

  7. mezzo 5 December 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    I agree. Man does not live on fruit and veges alone. Nor does woman even though we have all seen women dieters chomping on salads at lunch. Usually with a virtuous expression on their faces. Next thing you see them doing is raiding the cookie jar mid-afternoon. Joke aside: I like my veges but only in the company of some meat and lots of good fat. I almost never eat fruit on its own – makes me hungry, so I prefer to eat it after a meal.

  8. Peggy Holloway 5 December 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    I would amend the above to say that fat is the most satiating nutrient class. I usually have 2 egg yolks scramble with a bit of cream and a slice of bacon for breakfast and rarely eat again until evening. I am never hungry, never snack, and at age almost-60, have amazing energy and I am very physically fit and active. (Example – I concluded a summer of cycling with a century-ride that was not even a challenge – I could have biked another 100 miles with no problem).

  9. Paul N 6 December 2012 at 2:31 am #

    I know several women who think that plain fruit or low fat salads are great because they can “feel it being digested so quickly” whereas a protein/fat snack “takes too long to digest”.
    They then have to eat again sooner – thus showing the exact opposite of satiety.

    Before discovering paleo, I was a porridge for breakfast guy – would fill me up, but 2-3 hrs later I was ravenous. Tried things like adding butter and eggs into the porridge to make it more satiating (it did), and eventually decided to have the eggs and butter without the porridge – even more satiating!

    Now I normally skip breakfast (just have bulletproof coffee), but when I do have a breakfast, it is mostly fat and protein – eggs, cheese, mushrooms, some kale and maybe a potato. And that will keep me working all day long.

    I don’t mind an apple as a snack, but I don’t really need it.
    Still, I’ll take the apple over any “protein bar” anyday….
    The carbfest that is modern breakfast cereals has to be the worst way possible to start a day

  10. Chris 6 December 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    It’s a shame, I think, that the vogue for retailers is to trim the fats from cuts of meat. I can see consumers might have been brainwashed into thinking fat is ‘bad’ (but the evidence doesn’t really support the myth) and prefer only lean cuts. But the tradition amongst hunters is to utilise the whole carcase. Offal and the fat that accompanies some cuts is cast aside for only lean muscle meat. Liver can be rich in B vitamins and offal in general is nutritious. I also side with Peggy that fat ‘lasts’. I think fats have been overlooked as the co-factor that would help self-regulate appetite without our conscious involvement.

  11. Tracey G 7 December 2012 at 3:15 am #

    I have ALWAYS felt hungry after a mainly veggie meal. Fruit ‘snacks’ and desserts just make me even more hungry. For many years I have been scoffed at, I’m fat so what do *I* know, it’s willpower, all in the mind…! I’m very glad that finally I’m being proved correct – and sane!

  12. Tracey G 7 December 2012 at 3:31 am #

    …further to my last comment, I wanted to say that I’ve always thought that one of the reasons that veg doesn’t fill us up is because of the amount of ‘water’ in the food. A good example is your bag of spinach mentioned – pop the whole lot in a steamer for 5 mins, give it a squeeze, and the result is less than a handful! It may be full of goodness, but it’s not going to fill you up.

  13. Yossi 7 December 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Peggy Holloway
    Why do you just eat the egg yolks? Just interested. I eat three whole eggs and a load of streaky bacon for lunch most days.

  14. Jo 7 December 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    I’m interested in finding good snacks to have in the evening. I have started taking medication that needs to be taken before bed with food, and my husband often gets hungry even after evening meal of protein and some veg. I usually eat just almonds but wanted some advice on other good evening snacks (instead of having chocolate bars or puddings or fruit). Is it advised to eat after evening dinner anyway? Thanks.

  15. Kay Lyne 7 December 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    I agree about fruit being largely impotent to fill the stomach, but some vegetables, especially pulses such as broad beans and peas, can be filling. I eat a lot of homemade vegetable curries, with a moderate amount of rice, and find them very sustaining, without being too high in calories. And just try boiling parsnips and mashing them with a little butter – I guarantee they will fill you up for hours.

  16. Rita 7 December 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    They shouldn’t be a primary source of protein in the diet, but nuts can be a good, filling “tide me over” snack because of their composition of fats and protein, with just a small amount of carbs. I avoid peanuts, which are legumes, not nuts. Instead I go with the nuts that have lower amounts of omega-6’s, like macadamias, walnuts and almonds. There’s some controversy as to whether this is even necessary. Mark Sisson has some interesting things to say about this:

    Care to weigh in, Dr. Briffa?

  17. Marci 7 December 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    Agree with the information, however, if you’re going to stoop so low as to use profanity in your professional writing, I will stop reading it. Rise above it and take the high road!

  18. Jo 7 December 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    Another Jo here, not the same person who has already posted. I remember taking the nutritionist’s advice of having a small palm full of protein and fill the plate up with non starchy vegetables. I had trouble getting it down and yet was hungry an hour later.

    To the other Jo, although I don’t snack much at night, if I’m hungry I’ll have some cheese or a table spoon of peanut butter (with no additives) straight from the spoon.

  19. John Walker 8 December 2012 at 12:14 am #

    Yet again, the same dogma from ‘expert’ nutritionists.’Embarrassing “Fa” Bodies’. Doctor Christian and Co. featuring fitness and food gurus, extolling fruit and veg (Five a day). I just get sick of hearing this misinformation, but no one seems to do anything about it. It’s plain wrong, it’s misleading and if it was an advert, rather than a TV program, it would be in breach of the Advertising Standards Act. I shudder to think how soon it could be that the ‘Nannies’ in our society start an outright war on fat. Already they have attacked alcohol and tobacco, (with justification maybe.). How long before they demand fatty foods be given a ‘health’ warning and taxed? I think that is on the cards. In Denmark I believe, it is already law. How much longer will we be able to fend of this insanity?

  20. RadiantLux 8 December 2012 at 12:32 am #

    Back when I tried Weight Watchers and other diet programs, I used to bring lots of snacks to work. I never understood why the apple before my commute home made me ravenous. I have dieted for so long that I don’t listen to what my body is telling me. Once I switched to low carb, I understood.

  21. Mitsouko 8 December 2012 at 12:36 am #

    I eat two animal meals a day, never snack and no longer suffer low blood sugar ‘hangries’ (thanks Gnoll).

  22. Gerda Flöckinger C B E 8 December 2012 at 1:32 am #

    Dear Dr. Briffa,
    When you discuss the optimal foods for losing body weight, I have never seen any mention of the essential vitamins and minerals of any of the recommended foods, nor what may be important combinations for best health – only a method for losing weight as quickly as possible.
    For me – being old and having often too little appetite, I want to eat healthily when I do eat, and if possible without at the same time helping to generate in myself the sort of physical problems so many people more than twenty years younger than I seem to be suffering from all around me. My first thought for my eating is to think of the health qualities of what I do consume, extremely closely followed by the tastes, combinations and colours thereof.
    Obviously if people have specific intolerances to certain foods they would be wise to eliminate those from their diet, but I can’t see how weight loss should be the first and virtually only consideration when eating. In any case, I suspect that once a person has found healthy ways of eating (and my God what arguments there are currently about just that) they will lose their excess weight in reasonable time for the simple reason that a really healthy diet doesn’t (and probably can’t) create overweight. No other creatures on our planet waddle about with the unbelievable rolls of fat one sees now in the streets and in every supermarket all the time. The only animals which are pretty fat are the pigs specifically fattened by humans in their desperation to consume even more fat themselves.
    Boring reminder, but during most of WW2 the whole population of this country was the healthiest of any period of time, when the diet was extremely limited but must have been healthy. On our allocated rations there was very very little fat (and all of which was available to every single person of every class with additional special foods for pregnant women) extremely little sugar, very small quantities of meat (though a whole lot of cheese for the vegetarians) hardly any selection of fruit which I think was available in small quantities seasonally, not much selection of vegetables though always onions, potatoes, carrots and cabbage available unless grown personally on people’s allotments, no citrus nor tropical fruits at all. I suspect that without the fats the carbohydrates were less fattening than with. All of which is perhaps worth a little thought before jumping to hard and fast conclusions based on precisely what ?

    • Freja 12 June 2014 at 9:29 pm #

      I’d like to know where you found the info about that we were healthiest during WW2. I’m skeptical because that was around the time TV dinners became a thing. Food shortages as you described would of decreased caloric intake and therefore kept people thin, but thin doesn’t mean healthy, in fact, I know lots of thin people who are not healthy. This is mostly due to visceral fat (mostly caused by bad for you fats, trans, hydrogenated and such) which is marbling in the muscle, mostly in the abs. It’s not visable right away because it doesn’t deposit the same (at least from what I understand. Healthy fats are polyunsaturated (as long as they’re used cold, which an example is olive oil, however this has been debated a lot) monounsaturated (raises good cholesterol which is in nut oils. And saturated (you need and these get demonized a lot, because mixed with carbs it is a negative thing) which is butter, avocado and bacon fat.

      We’re so incredibly fat today because the amount of carbs (sugar) we consume is so much over the amount our bodies evolved to handle. Think about it this way. When humans were hunter and gatherer, most of what they would find (depending on region of course) was animals (fat+protein) and small amounts of veggies and fruit, mostly greens, root fruits and berries as they grow in the wild (I’ve never once seen a wild apple tree. All of this induces a high fat, mixed high to moderate protein and low carb diet. In continents like Africa, my guess is even higher fat and protein and few sources of carbs.

      It’s honestly the advent of sugar harvesting and grains that have caused us to get steadily fatter

      Take one look at any tribal people anywhere in the world. They’re in shape, have a good amount of health fat (meaning fat that protects the organs and maybe a tiny bit extra if they over eat) and live quite long considering the lack of modern medicine. They also tend to have good teeth too.

      Western diet is the worst of all the world food diets. Asian and Mediterranean with a focus on healthy fats and a little less carbs is pretty much ideal for modern day.

      I’m currently doing something called Ketogenic diet. Which forces my body to use fat for energy instead of carbs. I do about 1400 cals per day 20g carbs 61g of protein and about 140g of fat. I’m much fuller much longer already. I’m doing this for health and weight reasons (My weight at 50 over causes issues with my knees, ankles, back and I’m tired a lot, as well as depressed) I can understand being upset with people who focus only on weight when it comes to food, but sometimes weight itself is a factor in health.

  23. Tracey G 8 December 2012 at 2:44 am #

    WIth regard to pulses and ‘beans’ mentioned above – these aren’t *just* a vegetable, if you are vegetarian (or – even more so – vegan) these are pretty much a staple protein source, hence why they are more ‘filling’ (aka: satisfying).

  24. Dawn Waldron 8 December 2012 at 2:57 am #

    How lovely to hear a sane voice in the wilderness. For me this highlights another issue: the general belief that if one portion of veg/fruit is good then 2 must be better. People consume huge quantities on that basis with no justification.

  25. Dr John Briffa 8 December 2012 at 12:25 pm #


    I think you’re being a bit disingenuous to suggest my dietary suggestions are all about weight loss (they are not). Some of my posts focus on this because I believe it’s a big issue for many, and also there is (I think) a lot of misinformation in the area.

    My dietary suggestions are based on the science (perhaps take a look at my last book Escape the Diet Trap for the science that supports my stance) as well as my experience with working individually with thousands of people.

    Now, from your side you quote hugely unreliable anecdotal/epidemiological evidence from World War II which is massively confounded by many other factors.

    Do you think that , in light of this, your apparent contention that my advice is perhaps as not evidence-based as it could be is somewhat ironic?

  26. Stuart Ward 8 December 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    As a personal trainer I get to see a lot of food diary’s. Its so common to see this trend. People trying to eat well with a meal which doesn’t satisfy and then snacking a few hours later. Low fat starvation diets such as weight watchers then sell snack bars to cash in on their ineffective diets. of course these snack bars often add the problem and continue to upset blood sugar levels hindering fat loss.

    For those who acknowledge the low carb weight loss benefits but criticize it for lack of healthy nutrition go and check out the nutrition profile of liver compared to an apple. There is a very miss understood reason for scurvy and that was the lack of meat sailors were able to take to sea.

    However, although this is a nutrition post you just cant ignore the social issue of low carb eating. It is expensive and can encourages people eat cheap hormone loaded meat. This fuels the animal factory’s and insane cruelty. I strongly encourage clients to buy meat responsibly from organic, grass fed animals and experiment with a variety of cuts including organ meat to avoid waste. I personally acknowledge that animals are part of the food chain but we should a least respect them and not exploit them as we do with everything else in this world.

    Jo you requested healthy snack ideas. Hears a good link

  27. John Walker 8 December 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    I am a product of WW2, All through, like thousands of others, I was on a diet restricted in fats and meat. My mother had to fill my belly with potatoes, bread, and other starches, most of which were also rationed. Maybe that is why I didn’t ever get obese. But as I grew older, and fell for the mantra of anti-fat. Carbs became much more available I began to eat more of them than was good for me. I put on weight. Since reading ‘Waist Disposal’, I have lost some three stones. My general health is good, apart from slight hypertension, and osteoarthritis, I am still somewhat overweight, but I continue to lose, easily and without hunger. Friends often take me to task about bread, and I am told that bread is a natural food; i.e, give us our daily bread. and all that rubbish. The fact is, if our distant ancestors didn’t have bread to eat, and if they ever ate wheat at all, it would have been the seeds, taken directly from the growing plant. And even that would only have been when it was in season. So as far as I am concerned bread is NOT a natural food. it’s processed rubbish, available all year round, due to modern farming, (definitely NOT natural) Modern bread is full of who knows what, making it even more suspect. So I don’t eat it any more. I changed my diet to lose weight. It’s working, and I am happy about that. Vitamins and minerals? I make sure I get enough green vegetables, onions, some fruit, and I keep an eye on what my body tells me. Thank you Dr. John.

  28. david manovitch 8 December 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    Yes, fruit is not much good at inducing satiety and vegetables only slightly better except perhaps for the pulse family. For sure protein and fat are much better at this. However I wouldn’t wish for people to take from this message that they don’t need to eat much in the way of fruit or vegetables, as they are essential to good health. I find that snacking on nuts and seeds with the addition of a little dried fruit is excellent at staving off the pangs of hunger.

    A cautionary note for those who may eat a lot of protein and fat in their diet. Protein can trigger gout in those who are susceptible, and fat can contribute to oesophageal reflux. If you already have gallbladder disease than fat is likely to make you ill. If your kidneys are not working too well than high protein is not for you .

    As pointed out above processed meats are not the healthiest and are strongly linked to bowel cancer. There is a tentative link also between red meat in general and bowel cancer.

  29. Gerda Flöckinger C B E 9 December 2012 at 1:41 am #

    There is no irony whatsoever in what I wrote yesterday and if my text reads as if I have made the slightest suggestion that your ideas are not scientifically based, then I have expressed myself badly. It is precisely because so many people in this country have become so excessively overweight that I am concerned that when your readers find your dietary discoveries that – from what so many of them write on your blog – these are people who have themselves never looked at foods in any way scientifically nor healthwise and seem to me to be possibly in danger of misunderstanding how best to eat healthily once they have omitted the ‘undesirable’ substances. I really don’t think that exclusions are the only heathy way to get to a healthy weight and continue thus on a long-term way of eating.
    Of course I admire your ideas, and particularly your courage, very much, as well as the fact that your ideas do have scientific bases. But, having read some of the ideas on your blog, and particularly the text of John Walker in which he describes “potatoes, bread and other starches” merely as fillers I do see as dangerously ignorant.
    In any case during WW2 no vegetables were ever rationed, though some were either difficult or impossible to obtain. Bread was rationed only for a short period towards the end of that war though I don’t think flour ever was. Once bread rationing began, I made our bread at home because there was plenty of 85% flour available and plenty of yeast.
    To suggest that my very clear memory of the food situation in London – particularly from 1943 onwards when I came to live full-time in London at the age of 15 and from then on full-time, and when I did all our family shopping – seems like a not very nice way of calling me at best unreliable and at worst a dissimulating liar. I am neither. I have an excellent memory, that is all.
    I do remain concerned about the misinterpretations it is possible to make about the healthiest way of eating from reading only your book “Escape the Diet Trap”.
    Michel Montignac’s “Eat Yourself Slim” first published in 1987 is actually not a million miles away from your theories though it is not substantiated scientifically as your book is. (Apparently Montignac was the first to use the glycemic index for his theories on losing weight.)
    Montignac himself – using his own theories to lose his overweight – died at the age of 66 though his special foods are still marketed now albeit extremely expensively.
    PS I am entirely mystified by your statement that my “evidence” is “massively confounded by many other factors”. What factors ? What on earth do you mean by that ? I don’t want to quarrel with you – as I would hate it if you had not written your books, and particularly as this is your blog – I hope that I have amply explained my reason(s) for writing as I did.

  30. Fiona 9 December 2012 at 1:50 am #

    “Bullshit” may be rather inelegant and did surprise me a little, but it is not “profane” and nothing to do with religion.

    What little meat we were able to get during WW2 was much too precious to trim off all the fat (which caused mealtime fights with my brother to get him to eat it!). This meant that bread and dripping was a popular snack; the bread in those days, before we had wrapped, sliced, white stuff, was I believe more healthy than what most people eat today. I remember, when we were sent to do the shopping, always being told to ask the butcher “is there any offal today?”

  31. Cell Centric 9 December 2012 at 2:23 am #


    I wonder did you catch any of the recent BBC series ‘Wartime Farm’? The series would confirm some of what you say about rations and scarcity of meat during the conflict. But there are alternate ways to interpret the same set of remarks and observations.

    In the UK the rearing of livestock was discouraged during the conflict. It was felt the energy costs involved in rearing animals for consumption constituted inexpedient use of agricultural lands. With supplies of imported food severely compromised expedient use of land meant everything to the ministry of agriculture. Actually the wartime diet became extremely deficient in fats. In the light of this the War-Ag were keen for people to have access to milk (as a source of fats) and the dairy industry got a bit of a boost. The supplies that did get through were confined to the North Atlantic supply lines. War did a lot to promote the enterprise of processed foods (out of dire need) that could be shipped. Canned foods and powdered eggs were valuable supplements to a national diet of otherwise significant privation. The legacy of process innovation in wartime marked the entry point of processed and convenience foods rising in market appeal in the post-war revival. One sentence cannot support the assertion, but constraints in war constituted the beginnings of influences (and others followed later) favouring the trend to the low-fat / high-carb (LFHC) dietary model prevailing today.

    It comes down to several factors and attributes of foods included in the diet aside from the concept of the macro-nutrient balance, but a balance too LFHC is one that may be more ‘self-centric’ than ‘cell centric’. There may be a perception that peoples health improved in wartime UK, and, calorie restriction may have had a part in this, but there exist many reasons to contemplate that a diet of high privation is necessarily healthy in the long term. People and ministries had to be very innovative in the war in order to avoid complications of vitamin, fat, and mineral deficiencies. People were hungry. It was a miserable time. By virtue of being kept so occupied simply surviving people didn’t feel so miserable as they might.

  32. Craig 9 December 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    I would agree with Fiona that it did surprise me a little (double-take moment), but we’re all adults… It’s not profane or offensive, and I actually found it quite a funny way of emphasizing the point.

    @Stuart Ward
    If you’re talking about meat from the United States and Canada, then yes… The meat is pumped full of hormones and most animal meat is produced in, what you call, “animal factories” (what you’re actually referring to when you say this is Concentrated Animal Feed Operations (CAFOs)).

    And for residents of those nations – Yes, it is a valid consideration. However, for people of the United Kingdom and most of Europe, hormones simply aren’t used. Most animals are fed on grass or silage, especially in Ireland where there is a rich tradition of all beef being grass fed.

    Don’t get me wrong, there is some bad quality meat out there… But consider the context and you’ll find that British and Irish beef especially is not the CAFO-built meat that you read about as produced in the states (FYI, Europe has banned the import of American and Canadian beef for YEARS due to the hormone content…)

  33. Marina Donald 9 December 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    I can’t understand the anti-vegetable blogs at all. If I don’t get a lot of vegetables, cooked and raw, daily I don’t feel right. I don’t find I get hungry quickly. That happens if I have too much sugar. Fibre — there are different types — soluble fibre available in oat bran is much better for you than insoluble. To be effective you do need to drink plenty of liquid. On the subject of bread — do not confuse modern Chorleywood process bread with the real artisanal bread. On late night snacks I have blogged before on the subject of dried bananas — sticky Vietnamese ones, high in tryptophan, as a sleep-inducing snack. I find they are rather sweet, so I cut this with a handful of nuts. The rationed WWII diet meant the UK was better fed during the War than at any time before or since. As we were refugees from the Red Army when I was little our diet was restricted even more drastically — try rotten cornmeal and dried turnips!!

  34. Margaret Buhagiar 10 December 2012 at 11:03 am #

    I have read your book the diet trap twice and am following your advise tot he full i must say I am never hungry as I use to be before my bloating has gone and I feel much much better as a whole . Unfortunately I have not lost any weight at all in 6 weeks my scales is still crying for help !!! But funnily enough i am getting into some cloths i have not worn in ages. I must say that socializing is a bit difficult here in Malta as a lot of food is based on wheat and grains but it is not killing me as long as I feel better. Honestly I am a bit disappointed as I expected a bit of weight loss . I still suggest to every one to read the book and follow your advise. Margaret from Malta!!!

  35. Dr. Georgia Ede 10 December 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    What an interesting study. Vegetables, which are by definition the non-reproductive parts of plants (and therefore exclude seeds, flowers and fruits), are not only poor sources of nutrients, but also contain fascinating natural defense compounds to which some people may be quite sensitive.

    When I look at the science, I find some evidence that vegetables may be harmful, and no evidence that they are necessary or beneficial to health. Vegetables do not want to be eaten and go to great lengths to protect their vulnerable bodies by producing chemical weapons to ward off tiny hungry creatures such as bacteria, worms, and insects. These same compounds are naturally bitter and aversive to many animals, except perhaps to us unsuspecting human animals who are told that these foods are supposed to be good for us. One reason dieters love these foods is precisely because they are so poor in nutritional value–i.e. they value them for what they do not contain.

    I am not saying that all people need to avoid veggies to be healthy, because we likely have adapted mechanims to handle their natural toxins, given how long we have been eating them. However, some of us have compromised defenses–gastrointestinal barrier disruption, immune system compromise, and whatever else may contribute to individual chemical sensitivities–and therefore some of us may need to experiment with removing certain vegetables from the diet in order to feel our best.

  36. Dr. Bill Wilson 10 December 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    I agree that in general, vegetables and fruit are not very filling. Personally I find that fat is more satisfying and filling than pure protein, that is as long as the fat is a healthy fat like coconut oil, olive oil, omega 3 fatty acids or avocados. Recent research has suggested that a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat diet may be the healthiest way to eat but we will need more research before we can say this for certain. This morning I had scrambled eggs covered in olive oil and bacon for breakfast. It’s late afternoon and I’m still not hungry.

    I often make a salad with a few greens and tomatoes and lots of avocado with the salad drenched in olive oil. One of my favorite snacks is a large spoon full of virgin coconut oil.

    The reason that the influence of fat on satiety has been largely ignored is because even if does suppress hunger for a significant period of time, people are concerned that fat is “energy dense” and eating too much fat will make you fat. Recent research has suggested this is true when you combine fat with sugar, HFCS or high glycemic carbohydrates–typical junk or processed food, but when you eat healthy fat alone or with protein, it tends to be used more for energy production rather than fat storage.

    The bottom line is that if you eat the right fat in the right way, it can be very filling without adding to your waistline.

  37. Lauren Maslin 11 December 2012 at 2:41 am #

    Has no one ever heard of eating nuts with fruit?! And it also depends on the suger content of the fruit as well (Bananas have a very high GL) It seams nearly everyone who has answered are dedicated meat lovers! You can live perfectly well with-out meat, I do nearly everyday (I’m cutting out meat) and eat plenty of seeds,nuts and whole grains. I also take very high doses of Vitamin D (5,000 IU) each morning and grow my own vegetables. It’s just that balance.

  38. John Walker 11 December 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    You can live without meat. But I wouldn’t say you can live perfectly well that way. Sorry Lauren, but we are no different physiologically, than our ancestors. To find any major differences you would have to go much further back than the last 15,000 years or so; which is about the time we have been seriously farming and baking. If you want to see what damage farming does to the planet, due to deforestation, watch ‘Supersized Earth.’ That should open your eyes; and if it doesn’t then you are beyond convincing. By comparison, the amount of land used for animal husbandry is minimal. The fact is, our forebears just didn’t have all these grains or flour at their disposal. They had just meat fish eggs and certain vegetation, including nuts and berries; I’d wager the only other sugar they had was from honey; when they could get it. Maybe another factor in the obesity epidemic, is the year-round easy availability of starches and sugars. Yuchh!

  39. Dan 13 December 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    That was my experience too. I used to eat the way the medical establishment recommended and suffered from insatiable cravings. Whole grain cereal and skim milk left me hungry within an hour or less.

    They also claim that fiber helps control blood sugar. Through blood sugar testing, I found that is only true if fiber is around 40-50% or more of carbs. The fiber in whole grains doesn’t help one bit.

  40. John Walker 14 December 2012 at 12:24 pm #


    My father was an expert amateur gardener. We had a fairly large plot too, so growing vegetables was no problem. (We also kept hens btw). Veggies though were always eaten ‘in season’. As for baking, I can never remember my mother making bread. Why she didn’t I have no idea. Perhaps she wasn’t a good baker. But I repeat what I have said elsewhere. If our pre-farming ancestors ever ate wheat, it must have been straight from the growing plant, as seeds. They might have crushed them, and ate them with water, like a ‘porridge’. Whatever way they chose to eat them, they could only have done so when the wheat was’ in season’; I.e. when it was growing. These days wheat products and other starch laden foods are available at ALL times of the year. All one needs is the money to buy them. ‘Our Daily Bread’ is truly 24/7. So I am merely pointing out that we probably eat too much wheat/starch, considering that starches are fattening. This as much as anything, is partly to blame for the epidemic of obesity. I am surprised the ‘experts’ haven’t made the connection. Well, not really surprised. Many of them have agendas causing them to ignore the connection. The fact is eating so much of a fattening food can have only one result, unless we exercise to exhaustion. That is not natural surely? I am sorry to go on about this but bread is a processed food, and its consumption should be carefully monitored. I think it should carry a health warning to be honest, and the advertisements that extol its ‘virtues’ over fats, should be banned. Finally, I am not calling you a liar Gerda. You clearly recall more about WW11 than do I. I was born in 1939, but I do remember certain things, and I suffered rationing long into my youth and even my teens. So I do know what a half-empty belly is like. I’ve read both sides of the argument, and now that’s all I have to say about starch.

  41. Gerda Flöckinger C B E 14 December 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    John Walker,
    I have no idea how you came to put me in the position of defending wheat. I had mentioned bread rationing during WW2 with reference to what was rationed and what was not. I don’t want to discuss wheat or breads at all (personally I don’t eat any gluten), quite apart from the fact that there is considerable variety of grains in bread currently and all bread is not confined to wheat. I don’t really want to discuss foods in terms of morality. Though if you do, then it probably behoves all of us to suffer a few huger pains from time to time and think of the millions of humans who never get enough to eat, let alone bicker about what ought to be eaten and what not.
    You have found a wonderful way to lose weight which is what you wanted to do. Most of the points I make are really to do with maintaining health, particularly after a weight loss programme, by making sure of getting enough vitamins, minerals, enzymes and all the other basic necessities for health.
    It was Dr. Briffa who had criticised my references to WW2 and I was replying to what he had written.

  42. John Walker 14 December 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    Well them’s my ideas. If you don’t like ’em I have others.
    Nudge, nudge. 🙂 Thanks Chris.

  43. Chris 14 December 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    @ John Walker,

    There are some freely available PDFs that can be found on the web that would serve your enthusiasm in buckets.

    Loren Cordain has authored several papers and so have the Boyd Eatons. ‘Cereal Grains: Humanitys’ Double Edged Sword’ (Cordain) is an excellent review that fires the grey matter. More names turn up as you surf.

    In books there’s Ungar & Teaford and also The Quest For Food. This last book may be hard to source as the author has (or had) possession of the print run. He keeps a website ‘pastworld’ or some such from where you could obtain the book directly.

  44. John Walker 14 December 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    These posts are out of ‘sync’! My last one was in response to Chris.

    Sorry Gerda, I could have sworn you were defending bread! My mistook. But subject closed really for me. I can’t say much more anyhow, I mustn’t bore anyone.
    Toodle-oo. Take care.

  45. Alexandra 9 February 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    I can’t remember where I first read the words “starving at the cellular level” but it really hit home with me that it is not the volume of food in your stomach that makes you feel satiated, it’s your cells. I would fill my stomach with all the so called healthy foods, oatmeal, wheat, veggies, fruits and still feel hungry and want to continue eating even though I was also feeling stuffed. I suspect a lot of people, maybe more women, attribute this wanting to eat despite having a full stomach to some sort of emotional problem when it is simply that she is eating the wrong sorts of foods. I know that the moment that I stopped eating most carbs and all grains, my “emotional problems” with foods and overeating vanished. Coincidence?

  46. Rita 18 March 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    I do love vegetables, and feel bereft when they’re not on the plate alongside my substantial portion of animal protein with fat included. Veggies have antioxidant properties and of course make a meal more appetizing because of their delicious variety of flavors and colors. But a meal comprised of nothing but vegetables? Or a snack of veggies and nothing else? I think of my overweight and in some cases obese vegetarian friends and realize they got that way by consuming large amounts of bread, potatoes and pasta because they’re STARVING!

    Now that I eat paleolithically, my cravings are gone, my weight is stable and ironically I eat more vegetables than before, because I’m thinking consciously about what I put on my plate, not just cramming rice into my mouth because I’m hungry hungry hungry. Organic kale alongside my grass-fed beef is a heavenly combination.

  47. John Walker 20 March 2013 at 6:46 am #

    I eat mostly green vegetables with my meat and fish. I haven’t had a potato or a slice of bread for four months, and just one bowl of porridge. I seem to be addicted to broccoli and cauliflower. I mix the two, mash them, and use them as I would potatoes, to make a ‘cottage pie’, smothered in grated cheese, or a fish pie in the same way. In the end those dishes are just meat and two veg, but it makes a change! But the weight is coming off, and touch wood, so far I am not noticing any saggy wrinkles around my ‘apron’. So maybe I’ll be lucky! I recently failed a ‘BMI’ test, to get into hospital for a knee-replacement; despite the fact I had lost two stones in the preceding two months. Well now I have lost yet another stone (14 lbs) and still not eating starch or sugar. I drink pure orange juice once or twice a week, and I love my raspberries and double cream. and that is about it for ingested sugars. Oh what a lovely ‘diet’ this is! I am losing weight and eating as much as I want, of everything I like. Maybe next week they will let me go into the dock for this operation, and I shall be able to do more walking, and move around my garden and workshop a little bit smarter!

  48. Rayca 1 November 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    Oh, boy. Here we go on the HF stuff again. I do just fine on plenty of fruit/veg. Very little animal but I do get some. Not everyday, though. I understand (depending on lifetstyle) people eat different amounts of their macros. And we are all certainly different, but to say that fruit/veg doesn’ fill you up is just, well to quote you, bullshit. Fiber IS filling. Maybe you’re just eating boring, bland vegs./fruits. I can see where you would get sick of that and not feel satisfied. My veg. dishes are menus made into meals. They are tasty and gourmet. Try looking online for some really tasty options for raw/cooked veg./fruit dishes. There are many.

  49. John Walker 2 November 2013 at 7:53 am #

    I rarely think about high fibre when I think about my diet. Mainly, because I don’t go out of my way to eat masses of fibre. If I was chewing a matchstick, (As I did when I first gave up smoking) I wouldn’t purposefully swallow it, and I treat the roughage type fibre the same way. Most of it is indigestible material, it’s ‘scouring’, and could damage the lining of my innards. Ergo, it shouldn’t be ingested. Period.

  50. Gerda Flöckinger 27 June 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    Probably the very best eating advice of the last many years has been the idea to be guided by the GL index coupled with learning about the best balancing of our essential foods. However, it’s now become an enormous theme which attracts more bullshit than I think I’ve ever heard in my whole life?

    And why is there so much talk about whether vegetables and fruit are fillers ? Obviously they are not. And why do people have to be full-up to the gills at all times of the day and night ? And don’t people have anything more interesting and weighty to think about ?

  51. Reality 6 July 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    While I do agree that fruits and vegetables are not “filling” foods aka heavy.. What the authors doesn’t understand is that most people have become accustomed to over eating. The body is fueld most by fruits and vegetables with a little protein.. If people fasted and got a handle on their food obsessions and addictions then they would realize our bodies prefer these lighter foods. And that they can and DO keep you full.


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