The Lose Your Belly Diet

If you’re suspicious of books trying to convince you to eat better, I’d invite you to direct your attention this way. Dr. Travis Stork explains how what we eats affects the microbiome that lives within us and that a healthy microbiome leads to a healthy weight and less illness. Seems simple right?Belly

Well it is. He first begins by breaking down what our microbiomes are and how they relate to our overall health. Then, he explains how different foods affect these microbiomes. He rounds out the book by showing how to put healthy eating habits into practice which will result in a healthy microbiome.

I first noticed that the tone of this book was a lot less preachy than some of the diet books I’ve read have been. He doesn’t make me feel guilty for not already eating how he suggests nor does he present his own triumphs as examples for why we should eat this way. Instead, he uses science and nutrition facts to explain the what, hows, and whys.

I also feel there’s a lot of common sense in this book. He’s not asking readers to cut out specific food groups. He’s not asking readers to eat massive amounts of a certain food group. And he’s not asking readers to do anything other than what a lot of health professionals have been saying lately.

The most valuable part of this book is his guidelines for healthy eating and the suggestions for what these guidelines look like in real life. He helps me take the theory and put it into practice. There’s also a lot of ways I can adjust these guidelines to individualize my diet. To me, this means I have a higher chance at eating healthier and maintaining healthy eating habits.


The Bulletproof Diet

I first heard of The Bulletproof Diet on a podcast. Supposedly, it works with your body’s chemistry to help you think clearer and to jump start your metabolism.  It’s key foundation is to eat more fat. What intrigued me is that it was an actor (of course) who said he followed this diet and it seemed to help him think better and look good without having to spend hours in the gym.  I’ve not heard of a lot of actors talk about how eating fat can help them, and if I can avoid hours at the gym (which I already seem pretty good at avoiding) and still look good, then I’m intrigued.Bulletproof

Sadly, after reading The Bulletproof Diet, I’m not too impressed by Dave Asprey’s outline for a healthy diet. He advocates for more healthy fats, no nuts, limited fruits, certain veggies, lots of proteins, and no carbs. On the whole, I don’t disagree with him. I believe that everything in moderation is good. However, he cuts out a lot of foods making the diet very restrictive.  There’s just no way that I can actually make this a daily habit.  It’s so restrictive that you’d have to scrap all of your recipes and basically buy his cookbook.  I just don’t see how people sustain this type of diet.  Oh wait, I guess if you’re wealthy enough I supposed you could hire someone to cook these restrictive meals for you (I’m looking at you podcast actor).

The other piece that bothered me is that he’s not a big proponent of cooking things,
i.e. raw food. Sure, somethings may be better raw and eating raw from time to time is good, but it’s expensive to buy the organic foods Asprey advocates.  And frankly, an Illinois winter is not a great time to be eating cold soups.  It’s just not going to happen.

All in all, there’s nothing too crazy about what Asprey proposes. There’s several healthy principles he incorporates into his plan, but I just didn’t find it was anything new, revealing, or sustainable.

The Daniel Plan

I hardly read any non-fiction.  But when I do, it’s usually about food, health, fitness, or historical.  Lately I’ve noticed that my tastes have gone more towards fitness and health.  Previously I had read the books, Clean and Clean Gut, by Dr. Alejandro Junger.  These two books made me reflect on the relationship between what I eat and how it affects other systems in my body outside of digestion.  Since those two books, I’ve had my eye out for other books that are similar; relating the idea of what we eat to overall health.

The Daniel Plan, by Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hymen, furthers that idea Daniel Planbut also adds in important suggestions for fitness, faith, and friends.  I was skeptical about the potency of what would be suggested.  Many times, books that mix religion and diet tend to either be way too prescriptive or very vague.  Daniel Plan had a good mix of principle and prescription so I feel that there was a good balance.  Basically, the authors take a holistic look at the elements of what affect our diets: food, friends, fitness, faith, and focus.  Each one of those elements is spun off as a chapter.  The weakest one, in my opinion was focus.

Focus is the idea that we sometimes have a very negative view of our relationship with our food.  We tend to have negative self-talk about eating right or our ability to lose weight, begin a workout regimen, etc.  I agree with all that.  I just felt they took it a little too far and made it sound like I have to meditate before any meal to make sure I only have positive self-talk.  Sometimes I’m just hungry and want to eat.  I’m not looking to do yoga before every meal.

I felt the sections on fitness and food were science based, but also practical.  I do not think that you have to be wealthy to afford a bunch of supplements, nor be able to hire a person chef.  The authors were very balanced in their ideas for how to achieve success in choosing and preparing food as well as incorporating fitness into our lives.

One of the shocking sections was friends.  I had never analyzed the role my friends or family play in my health, but it makes sense that with whom we spend time tend to influence our habits.  If we hang out with people who constantly snack or wanting to go out to eat, we are going to adapt to that.  Or if you family is the meat and potatoes people, we will tend to eat that way.  The authors cautioned that it’s not that we have to abandon our family and friends who have negative impacts on our diet, but we have to be willing to stand up for our boundaries and eat right and work out regardless of the friends and family want to do.

I recommend this book if you want a practical guide to diet and fitness.  It’s not an exhaustive look at either, but it’s a good starting off point.