What is a WFPBNO diet?

Food, Research

Among the list of all sorts of diets, the WFPBNO diet is a name getting a lot of attention for its possible health benefits.

You may or may not have heard about this diet, but one thing is sure – it sounds pretty intriguing. Especially if you are into a plant-based lifestyle.

Although WFPBNO sounds like a code word straight out of some over-the-top scientific experiment, it is a relatively simple dietary practice. Chances are you have cooked a WFPBNO meal before.

By now, you may also have figured it has something to do with the Whole Food Plant-Based diet.

Without further ado, let’s start demystifying the WFPBNO diet.

What does WFPBNO stand for?

WFPBNO is the acronym for Whole Food Plant-Based No Oil.

It is a dietary practice a step ahead of Whole Food Plant-Based because it further eliminates oils consumption.

The WFPB diet focuses on:

  • Eating unprocessed plant-based food like vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, and nuts.
  • Giving up animal-based products, such as meat, eggs, dairy, and honey.
  • Restricting items like salt, sugar, and oils.

When it comes to the WFPBNO diet, instead of reducing, you completely stop using oils.

To simply put, when you cook your whole food and plant-based meals without oil, it counts as a Whole Food Plant-Based No Oil diet.

But, why no oil? Isn’t oil an essential nutrient for our body?

There are so many “unprocessed” plant-based oil options available. Are they all bad for your health?

whole food plant-based no oil


The health effects of culinary oils have long been in question.

Though plant-based, common oils like vegetable oil go through some heavy processing and are not beneficial for health. The way we use oil in cooking also poses a considerable health concern.

Here are some of the reasons why including oil in your diet is not the best idea.

Oil is very high in calories

Edible oils are fats extracted from plants and thus are one of the most calorically dense foods. A tablespoon of most of the common plant-based cooking oils provides more than 120 calories.

Calories are essential to maintaining your energy levels. But, overconsumption of calories is a breeding ground for problems like weight gain. Calories, other than what your body needs, get stored in as fat.

Even if you use less oil for cooking your meals, you’re adding many calories to your diet. If you regularly eat deep-fried food, you can imagine how many excess calories you’re taking in.

Oil consumption may bring health risks

The common edible oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, trans fats, and unsaturated fats that trigger inflammation in the body. Ultimately, this inflammation can lead to obesity, heart problems, diabetes, and other diseases.

Some oils (olive and coconut) are considered healthier, especially the cold-pressed/virgin ones, since they are low in omega-6 and high in unsaturated fats. However, there is still controversy surrounding their perceived health benefits.

Heating oil can be harmful

Frying, deep-frying, stir-frying – these are some of the standard cooking techniques we use almost every day. However, it can turn out to be hazardous for our bodies.

Over the decades, research findings suggest that heating and reheating oil produces harmful compounds that can cause cancer, heart diseases, intestine damage, and other ailments.

You may already be eating enough fat

Another reason to cut the oil in your diet is that you might already be eating enough fat. Many plant products (mainly seeds and beans) already contain some oil naturally.

Moreover, apart from some amount of essential fats (omega-3 and omega-6), our body can produce the fat and cholesterol it requires. Eating seeds and nuts (flax seeds, almonds, walnuts) is enough to meet the body’s essential fats requirements.

Weight loss on a WFPBNO diet

Weight gain is a prevalent issue worldwide since excess body weight is the root of many health problems.

A plant-based diet is the sustainable weight loss solution you’ve been looking for. It has shown to be able to help people lose weight in a matter of days but also gives long-lasting results.

Moreover, experts are of the opinion that a low-fat vegan diet is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. The results of the McDougall Program, a diet program by eminent nutritionist Dr McDougall, testifies the claim.

The participants of the McDougall Program, on average, lost 3 pounds within just 7 days. Their diet included:

  • Whole grains
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Legumes

Further, their diet was devoid of:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Animal fats
  • Vegetable or plant-based oils
  • Processed or packaged food

Here, the WFPBNO diet comes to steal the limelight. In essence, WFPBNO is the vegan low-fat diet for weight loss that Dr McDougall recommends.

Now you may wonder why a plant-based low-fat diet is effective for weight loss. Multiple studies have found that these diets, high in dietary fiber and low in calories, prevent overeating and boost metabolism. As a result, it contributes to weight loss.

Not only this, but these diets also work to improve your overall health by improving blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and other health parameters.

plant-based oil-free

Tips for oil-free cooking

If you are convinced of the benefits of oil-free living, you can get started on your oil-free diet.

But, if you are thinking oil-free cooking means you’ll have incidents of burnt dishes, or you’ll only be eating boiled food. Hold on!

Yes, cooking without oil can be challenging, but not if you know the tricks.

Here are some tips to make your oil-free journey easier and tastier.

1. Get hands-on with oil-free cooking methods

While cooking without oil sounds unimaginable, you might already be using many oil-free cooking methods if you look closely. Some of the common ones are:

  • Baking: It is one of the most convenient ways of cooking oil-free. Foods like potato, sweet potato and pumpkin are quickly baked in an oven or microwave. You can also go for breads, cookies, muffins, cupcakes, and other WFPBNO recipes.  
  • Roasting: It is a method you may fall in love with on your oil-free adventure. You can simply roast vegetables like aubergine, tomato, sweet potato, pumpkin, tofu and more over a stove fire. Roasting adds incredible flavor to your dishes. You can mash the roasted vegetables and further add spices and condiments to enhance the flavor.
  • Sauteing: Though this method is usually done with oil, it can be used with water too. Instead of oil, you need to sprinkle water to prevent sticking the food to the bottom of the pan. Vegetables caramelize just the way they do with oil and turn out to be equally delicious.
  • Pressure cooking: It is another handy method when you’re into plant-based oil-free cooking. Ingredients like rice, rye, beans, and lentils cook quickly with a pressure cooker.
  • Simmering: It is a method of cooking slowly in liquid (water or broth). The slow and gentle cooking technique works great for dishes like soups and stews.
  • Steaming: An excellent cooking technique, especially for soft vegetables or lentils and grain dishes. You can simply put these in a steamer, and the steam cooks the dish to perfection.

2. Invest in oil-free-friendly cookware and kitchen equipment

Cooking is an extensive process much beyond cooking techniques. From prepping equipment to the utensils, each plays a significant role in making a delicious meal.

For WFPBNO cooking, it becomes more critical. The following things will help you ease the entire cooking process:

  • Non-stick pots and pans to avoid sticking food while you cook
  • Silicone ovenware for pleasant baking
  • Parchment paper to prevent food from sticking during baking 
  • Pressure cooker to quickly cook hard ingredients 
  • Hand blender for pureeing fruits, cooked vegetables, boiled beans, etc.
  • Steamer/steamer baskets to steam or blanch your veggies.
  • Air fryer to fry your dishes without oil.

Remember, while these are great tools to try, you don’t have to own them all. Depending on your budget, convenience, and utility, you can pick those that suit you the most.

3. Experiment with ingredients to substitute oil

Replacing oil is another challenge that you’ll frequently face when you cook a dish that you previously cooked with oil or butter. There are many ways to do so:

  • Use fruit or vegetable purees to make batters or doughs.
  • To make a dish creamy, use plant-based milk, nutritional yeast, or pureed beans.
  • Add some peanut butter or almond butter to add a bit of grease.
  • For salad dressings, mix herbs, soy sauce and vinegar with fruit juice.
  • To get a deep-fried crust, dip the ingredient in arrowroot powder or cornstarch, coat with breadcrumbs, and bake in the oven.
  • Mix ground flax seeds with water and add to a dish to get a gelatinous texture and avoid potential sticking to cookware.

As you dive into plant-based oil-free cooking, you will discover new ways to make your cooking more efficient, healthier, and tastier.

The more rice, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beans we eat, the trimmer, more energetic, and healthier we become.

— Dr McDougall (The Starch Solution)
oil-free cooking

How to get started on a WFPBNO diet?

Feeling overwhelmed with what Whole Food Plant-Based No Oil has in store for you?

Don’t worry!

Starting on a WFPBNO diet is not much different from a WFPB diet. Apart from giving up oil entirely, everything else remains the same.

Here are a few things that’ll get you started and ease your way into the WFPBNO lifestyle.

1. Pick a few recipes that you can cook over and over

As you step into the WFPBNO journey, knowing about recipes that you can cook is vital. However, you don’t have to try a new recipe every other day.

The best way to save yourself from overwhelm is by picking a few recipes that you can do time and again. It will help you stay mentally prepared when you go to the kitchen to cook. You’ll know what ingredients you need and how to cook them.

2. Include starchy vegetables and whole grains

Starchy vegetables and whole grains are a crucial part of the WFPBNO diet. This helps you feel full while fulfilling your body’s nutritional requirements. It is especially essential if you’re trying to lose weight.

3. Plan your meals

Planning is your best bet if you want a stress-free, plant-based and oil-free experience. You should plan meals and accordingly grocery shopping. It will help you stay organized; avoid any last-minute shopping rush, and even keep your groceries within budget.

4. Create mini habits

We are creatures of habits. Building a new habit is equally tricky as breaking an old habit (especially a dietary habit). Instead of trying to overturn your dietary habits within a day, it is better to gradually build them.

You can start by giving up one thing a week (say dairy) followed by adopting something new. You may also practice cooking a new oil-free dish every week.

5. Find people who are on the same boat

Support can take us a long way. The WFPBNO lifestyle is no exception. There’s nothing better than interacting with people who are on the same journey as you. You will get an opportunity to find accountability partners, exchange ideas, get motivation, and so much more.

You can find such people online through GingerKale and other social media groups and forums, or offline at local community meetups.

6. Learn more about WFPBNO

What makes anything seemingly difficult is often the lack of knowledge. As you learn more about something, you get comfortable with it. The same goes for WFPBNO.

There is a wealth of information available on the internet. Take some time to read articles, books, or watch videos to discover new recipes, tips, hacks, or whatever you may want to know.

7. Don’t rush yourself

Lastly, you need to keep in mind that you’re in no race. So, don’t rush yourself into anything. Don’t compare yourself to others – whether they lose weight faster than you or know more recipes.

WFPBNO is a journey that requires patience and may involve some trial and error. Just take things slow and steady, and you shall achieve your goals of a healthier you. 

Learn how to live Whole Food Plant-Based

Are you ready to to make the dietary change?

Share This