Maybe you’re looking to drop the five (or 10 or 15) pounds you packed on during pie season—er, the holidays. Maybe you’ve noticed some health problems getting worse as you’ve gained weight over the years. Today’s diets aren’t just about dropping pounds; they’re about investing in yourself and your health. Change what you eat to change your life—it all starts with finding the right book for your body.
PERFECT HEALTH DIET
Frustrated by years of chronic health problems, a husband and wife (both scientists) set out to determine whether their diet was making them sick and what they should eat to become healthy and stay that way. The result is a detailed and rigorous guide to eating an ideal diet—one that will help you avoid illness and reach your optimum weight.
WHY YOU’RE FAT: The standard American diet (SAD) is deficient in nutrients and filled with food toxins that can cause chronic disease and obesity.
HOW YOU FIX IT: Eat a low-to-moderate-carbohydrate, high-fat, moderate-protein diet.
FIRST STEP: Familiarize yourself with the Paleo-era diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
COMMITMENT: Readers are free to choose either a total commitment to the plan or to browse and find areas that interest them.
EAT THIS: A balance of plant and animal foods, including “safe” starches, fruits, low-calorie vegetables, meats, seafood, eggs and healthy oils.
DON’T EAT THIS: Grains, cereals, sugar, beans, peanuts and vegetable seed oils (such as soybean oil and corn oil).
STARTLING CLAIM: “Weight loss should be easy and hunger-free.”
Dr. Robert Lustig is on a crusade to end obesity. However, as he explains in Fat Chance, what he is actually fighting is the raft of chronic metabolic diseases that are correlated with obesity, including heart disease, diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver. A person can be overweight and still be perfectly fit and healthy, especially if they exercise regularly.
WHY YOU’RE FAT: A complex mix of reasons, but one main culprit is sugar, the “Darth Vader of the Empire, beckoning you to the Dark Side.”
HOW YOU FIX IT: Decrease your sugar intake, increase your fiber intake and make moderate exercise a regular habit. (Exercise may not make you thinner, but it will make you healthier.)
FIRST STEP: Begin reading labels to seek out sugar in the food you buy, and cook your own meals from fresh ingredients whenever you can.
COMMITMENT: Hardest for those who are in the soda-and-fast-food habit.
EAT THIS: Foods high in fiber (especially insoluble fiber) and low in sugar (especially fructose), such as whole grains, nuts, eggs, whole fruits and vegetables.
DON’T EAT THIS: Foods high in sugar and low in fiber—that includes both soda and fruit juice!
STARTLING CLAIM: Forty percent of “normal-weight” people (those with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9) are insulin resistant, which is a sign of chronic metabolic disease. Many people whose BMI is in the “normal” range actually have the visceral fat of an obese person—a condition called “thin on the outside, fat on the inside.”
THINNER THIS YEAR
Chris Crowley, co-author of Younger Next Year, offers a new guide that teaches you how to lose 25 pounds (and keep it off!) when in life’s “third act.” Jen Sacheck, a nutritionist and exercise physiologist, shares the science behind the importance of diet and exercise and offers a regimen to get healthier. Crowley puts her know-how to the test in chatty “day-in-the-life”-style essays.
WHY YOU’RE FAT: You eat too much “dead food” (food with little nutritional value) and you don’t exercise enough.
HOW YOU FIX IT: Eat approximately 20 percent less than you’re eating now (with vegetables and fruit making up 50 percent of your diet) and exercise six days a week for the rest of your life—including aerobic activities and strength training.
FIRST STEP: Make up your mind to change your lifestyle—then read this book!
COMMITMENT: High. For the program to work, you’ve got to exercise regularly and eat well—forever. This is no fad diet, but sound advice for taking care of your body.
EAT THIS: Vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains (think barley, quinoa and brown rice).
DON’T EAT THIS: Dead food (think processed foods, soda, refined white flour, sugar).
STARTLING CLAIM: “People who are in good shape and exercise regularly also burn fat much more effectively for much more of the time. . . . So they can run or swim or bike much longer,
because the whole process becomes so well-tuned.”
THE SUGAR BLOCKERS DIET
We’ve all heard that obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, but the reasons are rarely explained. Diabetic cardiologist Rob Thompson sheds light on the cause of type 2 diabetes among overweight people and reveals a plan to prevent and treat the disease while losing weight.
WHY YOU’RE FAT: The refined-starch-heavy diet of Americans is too rapidly digested as glucose, which causes loss of sensitivity to insulin leading to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
HOW YOU FIX IT: Avoid excessive starches. When you do eat starches, add certain types of foods called “sugar blockers” that slow the absorption of glucose.
FIRST STEP: Learn what foods are sugar blockers.
COMMITMENT: Easy. You don’t have to give up any food forever.
EAT THIS: Fibers such as bran and flax seeds; vegetables and fruits that are low in sugar; vinegar-based dressing with salad and small amounts of fatty snacks such as nuts or cheese before a meal.
DON’T EAT THIS: Refined carbs like white bread, unless eaten with a sugar blocker.
STARTLING CLAIM: Indulging in dessert only after you’ve finished the main course will help the digestive system absorb glucose slower, leading to weight loss.
You’re over age 35 and no matter what you do—lots of exercise, a measly diet of 800 calories a day—your weight refuses to budge. According to nutritionist Lyn-Genet Recitas and her team of naturopathic doctors, everything you know about being healthy is completely wrong.
WHY YOU’RE FAT: It’s not carbs, it’s not too much fat; it’s low-grade inflammation caused by so-called “healthy” foods.
HOW YOU FIX IT: Determine and stop eating the “reactive” foods that cause your inflammation, thus losing half a pound a day, reversing illness and improving digestive function and happiness.
FIRST STEP: Horror—mysterious “healthy” foods are making you fat. After you’ve calmed down, commence a three-day cleanse with a diet of universally non-reactive foods, then start testing the reactivity of every other food in the world.
COMMITMENT: Relatively high. You’re essentially training to be your own nutritionist, and your list of reactive foods changes as you age.
EAT THIS: Whatever works.
DON’T EAT THIS: One of the “Devil Foods” (oatmeal, salmon, asparagus, tomato sauce, tofu, black beans and turkey) might make you gain three pounds overnight.
STARTLING CLAIM: “There is no such thing as healthy. There is only what works for your body.”