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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!