Wish you could be a whole lot slimmer and healthier in mere weeks? A new twist on plant-based eating makes it both possible and fun. The secret: From almonds and avocado to yams and zucchini, make a game of getting 30 different types of unprocessed plant foods each week. Even a squeeze of lemon or a sprinkle of fresh parsley counts. No need to cut carbs or shrink portions — just eat plants until you’re full. “It’s all about abundance,” says gastroenterologist and mega-selling Fiber Fueled author Will Bulsiewicz, MD, one of many experts who now swear by the 30-plant technique.
The strategy is gaining popularity with good reason. Among many exciting benefits, recent studies show the style of eating can lower cholesterol 10 times faster and burn flab an astonishing 30 times faster than typical diets!
Dr. B says trillions of microscopic bacteria naturally live in our gut, and they play a key role in making “30 plants” the magic goal. “These microbes have personalities,” says the doc. “Some of them are good guys that help us out with things like blood-sugar control and nutrient absorption, and some of them are troublemakers that cause the inflammation behind everything from IBS to heart disease.”
For optimal health, we want to “feed” the good guys and starve the bad guys. Turns out, ba guys love fatty meat, sugar and processed food, while good guys prefer plant f iber. And not just one kind of plant fiber, either. There are many types of fiber in food, and good bacteria like large quantities and a constant assortment of them. One massive study, called the American Gut Project, found that folks who regularly eat 30 different types of plant foods have far and away the most powerful mix of gut bacteria, a ticket to better digestion, energy, mood, immunity, sleep, longevity, and a very trim waistline…
When we eat lots of plants — and lots of different plants — “we’re rewarded with microbes that extract everything that we need from our food and nothing that we don’t, signal us when to stop eating so we don’t overdo it, and promote a natural metabolic balance that doesn’t require counting calories to maintain a healthy weight,” says Dr. B. “It all becomes effortless.”
Bonus: When we first make the switch from a so-so diet to menus built around a variety of whole plants, results can be dramatic. In fact, a new study found that when folks switch to plant-based fare, it causes microbes linked to effortless weight loss to surge by up to 2,847 percent. And a New Jersey clinic using a version of the 30-plant technique has seen patients drop up to 39 pounds in two weeks!
To help make this style of eating easy, Dr. B created a playful “Plant Points” system. The gist: You give yourself one point for each different type of unprocessed plant you eat in a day —each veggie, fresh herb, fruit, nut, seed, bean, pea, and whole grain. Coffee and tea even count for a point a piece. Multi-ingredient options like smoothies and chili easily drive up your score, speeding you to 30 points (often in just one day!) and crowding out less-healthy fare.
It’s also worth noting that fiber-rich plants come packed with a lot of other amazing nutrients that promote lean good health, another reason plant-based eating works so well and so quickly. Can’t get to 30 points? Just do your best. Says Dr. B, “If you’re making an effort to get healthier, you’re doing great!”
Earn ‘Plant Points’ to Get Lean
JACKPOT SMOOTHIE BOWL: Blitz 2 cups fresh and frozen fruit, 1 cup greens, 3 Tbs. nuts and seeds, 1⁄2 cup nut milk and spices to taste. Garnish and enjoy.
MORE-IS-MERRIER SALAD: Top 4 cups mixed greens with veggies, fruit, beans and seeds. Whisk 2 Tbs. tahini, 1 Tbs. water and 1⁄8 tsp. salt for dressing.
KITCHEN-SINK WRAP: Roll a variety of veggies, fruit, beans, peas, tofu, nuts, seeds, and herbs with guacamole in a whole-grain wrap.
*Weight loss in this story is based on experiences of individuals as reported to Woman’s World. Results will vary. Dr. Bulsiewicz’s emphasis is on steady progress and overall health.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.