Joe Jacob had been overweight since his mid-twenties, but after ditching his high-fat diet for whole plant foods, he lost 38 pounds with a plant-based diet. By the time he was 43 year-old, 5′ 9′ Joe Jacob weighed 200 pounds. He had long been aware that the extra weight and cholesterol in his body were not in the best interest of his health, but he struggled to change. His doctor simply recommended eating smaller portions and when Joe inquired about a low-fat, plant-based diet, he says he doctor discouraged it.
In an interview with Corinne Nijjer, Joe says,
“Even when I was aware of the wonderful options that were out there, I just couldn’t seem to get a handle on it. In 2002 I learned about Dr. John McDougall and his program. I lost a lot of weight. My health got great.”
How Joe Lost 38 Pounds with a Plant-Based Diet
Before learning about Dr. McDougall’s plant-based program, Joe’s cholesterol, triglycerides, and thyroid hormone levels were in dangerous territory. He was on statins and thyroid medications. His alarming test results prompted him to take action and he ordered the 12-day McDougall whole-food, plant-based plan with instant meal cups . For the first twelve days he followed the program religiously using the meal cups with the recommended vegetables and grains. On day 8 of the program he went to the doctor for some tests and saw dramatic improvements. In just 8 days he had lost 12 pounds, his cholesterol dropped from 224 to 170, and his triglycerides dropped from 274 to 160. After the 12-days, he continued on the low-fat plant-based diet relying on a few McDougall cook books. Two and a half weeks after his previous tests, he went in for testing again and had lost another 8 pounds and his cholesterol was down to 157. After the first 3 months on a whole-food, plant-based diet, Joe had lost 30 pounds. Sharing his story with Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center, he writes,
“Initially, I was very concerned that I would miss or at least crave my old foods, but this worry was all for nothing. Once in awhile, I’ve had an ever so slight ‘twinge’ of doubt when I get a whiff, of all things, the cooking from a fast food restaurant. That was unexpected, but easy to overcome. This is because, of course, the McDougall Program is not one of scarcity – it’s abundance.”(Joe Jacob)
Joe wrote that both him and his wife loved the diet and that they feel great. His aches and pains disappeared and if anything came up that made him feel less-than-great, it would disappear quickly. Joe writes,
“I’ve also noticed that I can breathe easier and I have much more energy — in the past, I attributed my energy to exercise, and, er . . . caffeine. Now my energy sources are all eating habits and exercise. I also do not have — nor desire — the occasional glass of wine to ‘relax.’ Wow. I’ve lost, as of today, 38 pounds, which is about 20% of my previous weight of 200 pounds. There’s so much more I can say about this, and I’m amazed that this all has happened in such a short time.”(Joe Jacob)
Dr. John McDougall shares Joe’s story as a testament to the power and speed by which changing your diet can impact your health. He writes,
“If a pill were developed that allowed you to eat all you wanted of delicious foods, lose 38 pounds, lower cholesterol 67 mg/dl and triglycerides 66 mg/dl (while on Lovastatin), and remove all your daily aches and pains in less than 3 months, it would be purchased by most adults in Western society and be the most profitable medication ever to come on the market. Joe has discovered such a pill; it is non-prescription, free of side effects, and cuts his food bill by 40%. Unfortunately, he and only a few of you are among the buyers. This pill is one to five pounds of the right food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and daily use of walking shoes. Admittedly, this takes more effort than swallowing a few capsules and has no profit margin to promote mass marketing. But, the results are miraculous (yet not perfect).”Dr. John McDougall
Despite his apparent rapid success, Joe’s journey to health through nutrition has had its share of challenges and setbacks. After stopping some of his medication, his triglyceride and cholesterol levels spiked. Dr. McDougall explains this saying that after stopping the medication Joe’s cholesterol would return to its true value. Even with a no-cholesterol diet, 42 years of packing cholesterol into his tissues with fork and spoon would take some time to reverse.
Relapsing to Old Diet Habits
After experiencing great results on his new plant-based diet, Joe eventually found himself relapsing to his old harmful food habits. In a 2020 interview with Corinne Nijjer he explains,
“I didn’t do the right things to prepare my mind for doing this. I was getting healthy. The reward was seeing my health improve so much. I lost a lot of weight and got down close to my ideal weight, but that wasn’t enough. I fell off of the program after about six months or so.(Nijjer, 2020)
Joe was on opioids for pain and he says this contributed to his fall back into his old habits of eating poorly. Even though his health declined again, he never lost touch of the plant-based diet blogs, groups, and resources he’d once found. Yet, Joe says that food addiction prevented him from fully committing to the diet he knew would help him achieve wellness. Then, a couple years ago he heard about Andrew Taylor’s Spudfit Challenge. The challenge is simple, eat nothing but potatoes for 30 days and make food something easy that you hardly have to think about.
Joe Takes the Spudfit Challenge
The Spudfit challenge addresses the mental part of making a lifestyle change and why people succeed or fail when making a diet change. The program addresses food addiction by focusing on one whole plant food item, spuds. Regular spuds and sweet potatoes are the only foods included in the diet initially, taking the thinking and decision-making out of eating. The challenge is advertised as a way to, “quiet the cravings, defeat decision fatigue, and stop overthinking every mouthful.”
The approach resonated with Joe and addressed the mental component of changing an unhealthy habit. He signed up for the challenge and says he started losing weight immediately.
Eating Plenty of Potatoes and Losing Weight
After beginning his new spud-only diet, Joe saw immediate improvements to his health. He says,
“The weight dropped almost right away.”(Nijjer, 2020)
Joe noticed his energy level improving right away as well. After that, he says his mind became clearer. His wife noticed other positive changes in Joe’s mood and wellbeing that even he didn’t notice. She was very positive and supportive of his new diet and she has now switched to a whole-food, plant-based diet too. Joe says,
“The results have been wonderful…. I see a permanence to this and I see where it’s going Not of course eating potatoes or sweet potatoes only for the rest of my life, of course not, but where this is going.”(Nijjer, 2020)
Before the challenge Joe says that his typical daily diet contained a lot of high-fat fast food and junk food. After 30 days of spuds-only, Joe had lost 24 pounds, 10% of his body weight. He says he’s happy with the results but still going with another 35 pounds to get to his ideal body weight.
Committing to Plant-Based Eating, Committing to Life
Joe admits there may be more challenges for him up ahead, but feels more positive about his ability to stick with the diet that’s improving his health for the better. He’s adopted new strategies such as always having food prepared ahead of time (easy to do with baked potatoes) and bringing food with him wherever he goes so he never gets caught hungry and away from healthy options. While Joe’s story is a powerful testimony to the healing power of a plant-based diet, his is also a realistic look at the complexity that often comes along with transforming ones diet and lifestyle. Today, Joe’s motivated by feeling great and losing weight. He says,
“This is a life or death issue. It might be a slow death, but it is a life or death issue.”(Nijjer, 2020)
Choosing whole plant-foods supports healing chronic disease, healthy weight, everyday wellness, and life, as Joe and his story confirms.
REFERENCES: 1 Jacob, Joe. "Joe Jacob: Overweight, Cholesterol." Dr. McDougall's Health and Medical Center. accessed April 30, 2021. 2. Nijjer, Corinne. "Episode 129 Joe Shares His Incredible Results After Completing The Spudfit Challenge" The Corinne Nijjer Podcast. March 2, 2020. 3. Spudfit.com.