How John Goodman Lost 200 Pounds on a Plant-Forward Mediterranean Diet

Actor John Goodman is known best for his role as Dan Conner, husband to the title character of long-running ABC series Roseanne. Goodman’s career has spanned decades, with appearances in cult classic films such as The Big Lebowski, Raising Arizona, and The Flintstones; more than a dozen hosting spots on Saturday Night Live, and lending his voice to a handful of popular animated films such as Monsters, Inc.

What’s different about Goodman these days? According to a Rolling Stone interview published earlier this month, the actor has lost 200 pounds. 

Throughout his career, Goodman publicly struggled with an addiction to food, alcohol, and yo-yo dieting in an effort to lose weight. Goodman revealed to David Letterman that his weight was “pushing 400 pounds” at his heaviest. 

Goodman’s dramatic weight loss is a long, non-linear journey that started in 2007 when he stopped drinking and incorporated fitness into his lifestyle with the help of health coach Mackie Shilstone—who also worked with Serena Williams, who powered her historic tennis career with plant-based foods.

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By 2010, Goodman lost 100 pounds, which he attributed to portion control, ditching sugar, and regular exercise. In 2015, Shilstone introduced Goodman to a “Mediterranean-style eating plan,” to help him continue his weight loss journey. “This didn’t happen overnight—it’s been an ongoing process,” Shilstone told the New York Post at the time. 

Now 16 years into his lifestyle change, Goodman is 71 and continues to add to his portfolio of projects. Currently, the actor plays Eli Gemstone on HBO’s The Righteous Gemstones, the third season of which premiered on June 18. He also stars in Roseanne sequel The Conners, which ABC recently picked up for a sixth season. 

One downside of staying busy with work is that Goodman has not found the time to go to the boxing gym to exercise but hopes to get back into it this summer. 

What is a plant-based Mediterranean diet?

Typically, a Mediterranean diet focuses on consuming mostly plant-based foods with some animal products such as fish and dairy. 

However, following a Mediterranean diet without animal products is feasible and offers numerous health benefits. This version of the diet focuses on plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. It also incorporates healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts. Here, legumes serve as a valuable protein source, while whole grains provide essential nutrients. 

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The key is to embrace a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits for their nutritional content, include plant-based protein sources such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame, and turn to fortified plant milk, tofu, almonds, and leafy greens for nutrients such as calcium. 

An added benefit to following a plant-forward Mediterranean diet that does not include animal products? It can potentially accelerate weight loss. 

One study published in 2021 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers compared the effects of a low-fat plant-based diet to that of a Mediterranean diet on weight loss and found the former delivered far better results. 

Participants who followed the plant-based diet lost an average of 7.5 pounds of fat mass, reduced their visceral fat, and lowered their total cholesterol while improving their LDL cholesterol. 

Why did an animal-free Mediterranean diet fare better? Researchers propose that the plant-based diet led to weight loss due to a reduction in calorie intake, an increase in fiber (a macronutrient not found in animal products) intake, a decrease in fat consumption, and a decrease in saturated fat consumption.

Celebs turn to plants to optimize health

In addition to Goodman, other celebrities have looked to plants to help them achieve their health and wellness goals. 

Director Kevin Smith nearly lost his life to what is known as a “widow-maker” heart attack back in 2018. Shaken by the near-death experience, Smith went plant-based with help from his daughter Harley Quinn. Within six months, Smith dropped more than 50 pounds—a milestone his doctor set to prevent further heart issues.

Similarly, actor Jacob Batalon is known for his long-standing role as sidekick Ned Leeds in the Spider-Man franchise, a role he reprised in the 2021 film Spider-Man: No Way Home. In 2020, the actor revealed that he regained his health during a tumultuous 2020 by adopting a plant-based diet which helped him lose 112 pounds. 

“I can feel the difference between eating a lot of meat and eating a lot of plant-based stuff and that’s really helped me,” Batalon told Men’s Health

While plants can aid in weight loss, a plant-based diet is also supportive of gaining and retaining muscle. Musician artist Lenny Kravitz has been vegan, consuming mostly raw foods, since 2016, and retains his muscular physique with regular workouts. And Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decades-long career relied heavily on his muscular physique. These days, the 75-year-old loves lentils, beans, and veggie burgers as hearty plant-based sources of protein.

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