New Books For The New You

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In days of old before the internet, weight loss programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers thrived by offering two things that the internet did not yet exist to provide: Consumable Information and Community. 

It isn’t the days of old anymore. 

Information and community, today, comes in a variety of shapes, colors and formats…for a fee and otherwise. To that end, a commonly cited benefit of a low carb diet is the low cost of entry…you could conceivably lose 50+ pounds thanks to information gleaned from the high cost of exactly one book, or perhaps based solely on online blogs and discussion boards. Being an old soul myself I chose to pour over books with a pen and a highlighter in tow when I was starting out. If you’re like me and you prefer a book printed on, you know…paper, here’s a list of books to get your “New Year, New You” started off right. There are two categories here, I recommend at least one from each.

Category 1: The Procedurals 

The New Primal Blueprint, Mark Sisson

Much admired and beguiled, depending on who you ask, The New Primal Blueprint is probably the book most associated with low carb eating. I love this book because it is equally informative as it is approachable – this one is packed full of information, colorful charts, and practical advice while still being a plainly readable text. That said, this isn’t a book you’d carry with on the subway, maybe not even in your carry-on. The hardcover edition, weighing in at 3.2 pounds per  it’s Amazon description, clocks in at 568 pages and is printed on the type of thick, glossy paper you see in fancy catalogues. 

In ‘Blueprint’ Sisson introduces his 10 laws to guide us, the first two being “Eat Plants and Animals” and “Avoid Poisonous Things,” which sounds like universally sound logic to me. He goes on to describe philosophies on everything from exercise, to alcohol consumption, to how often you should “play,” be it basketball, or kayaking, or anything else.

The Obesity Code, Dr. Jason Fung

While ‘Blueprint’ is a treatise on overall healthy living, ‘The Obesity Code’ deals strictly with one theme: losing some damn weight. Fung, an endocrinologist, presents the weaknesses in the “Calories In/Calories Out” approach to weight loss and presents an alternative approach, namely a diet low in carbohydrates. 

The key takeaway, for me at least, is Fung’s assertion that we’ve spent decades asking “what” we should be eating but basically zero time asking “when.” Fung does this, primarily, by attacking the notion that a morning breakfast is “the most important meal of the day.” I never thought I’d be “that guy” that would switch to, even promote, intermittent fasting, this book made me a convert.

‘Blueprint,’ again, is Sisson’s complete guide to wellness. Fung’s ‘Code’ is more of a quick and nitty-gritty approach to eating-directed weight loss. For these reasons, if you can only read ONE, I recommend Fung’s ‘Code.’ That said, both are incredible resources…read both, starting with The Obesity Code.

Category 2: A “Brief” History of Low Carb Eating

Good Calories, Bad Calories,’ and ‘Why We Get Fat, And What To Do About It,’ Gary Taubes

I put these two together because, quite literally, they’re the same book. 

‘Calories,’ in my opinion, is Taubes seminal work and is highly regarded in the low carb community. The paperback edition that I have, similar to ‘Blueprint,’ clocks in north of 600 pages that are covered in fine print along side the occasional picture and graph. Taubes uses these pages to dive deep into the basis of the “Carbohydrate Hypothesis” and the effects of modern eating patterns on society and the so called “diseases of civilization.” The work expands on emerging opinions about cholesterol, it’s connection to heart disease, weight gain, and more. The science in this book is complicated and thorough, but Taubes…aided by the number of pages he has to work with…takes the time necessary to explain it to an audience NOT fresh out of medical school. 

‘Why We Get Fat,’ by Taubes own admission, is essentially an abridged version of ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories.’ This is the version of the book that you’d recommend to a casual reader or give as a gift…at least if you don’t want to look like a crazy person. All the major points and research from ‘Calories,” can be found here.

All that said, I have read both ‘Calories’ and ‘Why We Get Fat,’ maybe I’m the crazy person. I’m an avid – perhaps rabid – reader, though, I don’t suspect that most people would read both, or even need to. If you’re an average Joe with zero background in biology, dietetics, etc…I’d recommending sticking with ‘Why We Get Fat.” If you plan on being separated from friends, family, television, internet and electricity for a few…weeks…then I’d consider picking up the longer ‘Calories.” Whichever way you decide to go, they’re both great.

Which books are you reading right now? Which ones would you recommend? @ me on twitter, let’s strike up a conversation! 

Thirty Years And The Five Books That Defined Them

They See Me Reading’, They Hatin…

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get paid a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Want more info? Check out the Affiliate Disclosure on my About Page.

For all 30 years of my life I’ve been a pretty avid reader, a calling card in my social circles. I get asked for book recommendations fairly regularly, especially this time of year as the weather gets cooler and folks start taking a little time for R and R. 

Are these THE books that changed my life? As in, the only ones? Not really. Charting every single work that had an impact on my life seems like a pretty futile exercise, plus the time it would take to read an article that long is time better spent reading…well…a book. Anyway… in no particular order, here are the books that made the biggest impact on the first 30 years of my life… 

1) Why We Get Fat (And What To Do About It), Gary Taubes 

The majority of Americans, especially those my age, are prepared to accept the idea that government influence warps what we believe to be the “truth.” In this abbreviated version of “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” Taubes shines light on 50+ years of Federal influence in dietary theory and policy. This influence, he argues, has lead to a focus on fat and calories as the harbinger of obesity and heart disease…despite the evidence that these may not be the culprit at all. There’s lots of great detail in here and the book reads like a piece of long form, investigative journalism. If I had to pick a single book that changed my life, I couldn’t. I could pick two though, this one is the first. 

2) 1984, George Orwell

The second book to change my life is this Orwellian classic. I read it first in 2007…the themes were true then and truer now: government surveillance, federal attempts to modify “the narrative,” endless wars of flip-flopping alliances. The book has received renewed interest during the Trump administration but its staying power is proof that all administrations are guilty of similar sins against the truth, in some form or another. 

3) The Obesity Code, Dr. Jason Fung

While the yarn that Fung weaves is similar to that of Taubes in “Why We Get Fat,” this is still must-see reading for those interested in weight loss. This book lead me to intermittent fasting, a life changing shift that, though I was less than optimistic, was surprisingly easy to adopt. Fung argues that we’ve spent decades asking “what” we should eat forgoing the question of “when” we should eat. Fung, a doctor specializing in diabetes, packs this tome full of detail, but it’s a fairly easy read…for the better.

4) A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James

I stumbled upon this title in a Rolling Stone Magazine review and it’s just so…unique. Clocking in just south of 700 pages that flip and flop between characters, (some that speak traditional Jamaican Patois, some that are ghosts) locations, and years, “Seven Killings” is a marathon in the truest sense of the word. The book, which has a backdrop of a failed assassination attempt on Bob Marley, could very easily mean different things to different people. A challenging, long read, the narrative speaks to anyone familiar with trying to make something of themselves.

5) The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, Lawrence Wright

I came of age in the shadow of 9/11 and the, now, nearly two decade war on terror. “Tower” was an education, for me, in a myriad of history and issues I was too young to be well read on when the towers fell as a 6th grader. This book serves as an education, for everyone, on the straight line relationships between the origins of “muslim extremism” in the 1940’s all the way through to 9/11. Wright outlines, painfully, the steps…intentional and accidental alike…taken by the CIA and FBI that blundered attempts to prevent the attack. This isn’t conspiracy laden, “Loose Change” type stuff, “Tower” is the result of years of fact driven research. A Hulu Original miniseries by the same name covers about the last third of the book…it’s a good adaptation…but an adaptation all the same. This book is a must read.