Eight Books to Help You Get in Shape

The Paleo Chef

There was a time when we lost weight by counting calories. Then came watching your fat intake. The latest diet books, with catchy names like Wheat Belly and Grain Brain, focus almost entirely on carbohydrates. These books tell us that our modern reliance on processed wheat (bread, pasta, cereal, etc.) is the primary source of our unhealthy lifestyles. As the gyms fill up with folks doing holiday penance, it seems like the perfect time to consider new strategies to help us cut the carbs.

For example, what if you’re trying to avoid gluten products? One way is to eat what our distant ancestors ate. The so-called Paleo diet is based on our Paleolithic forebears’ diet from hunting (meat) and gathering (fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds). In The Paleo Chef, Australian TV star and cookbook author Pete Evans banishes all grains and meanwhile makes it look easy. Gone are the days of waiting for the pasta water to boil!

But why do some people easily stay thin while others struggle? In Zero Belly Diet, author and nutrition expert David Zinczenko attacks this question at the genetic level by focusing on foods that “turn off” our fat genes. As Zinczenko demonstrates in his week-by-week menus, success also depends on avoiding the foods that turn those genes on.

Great, so we get started, then uh-oh, we hit a plateau and our metabolism slows down just when we need it to go into overdrive. The Burn addresses this very problem. Best-selling author Haylie Pomroy has put together three short-term eating programs that function much like those ever-popular juice cleanses—except with real food. Specifically, Pomroy focuses on meals rich in what she calls “macronutrients,” which can help fine-tune your metabolism and reduce digestive issues like heartburn and even hormonal imbalances.

Our own attitudes and behaviors can be another threat to weight loss, not to be all Dr. Phil about it. But actually, in The 20/20 Diet Dr. Phil McGraw makes it his mission to help us visualize and achieve our goals by addressing the psychology of dieting, as well as its pitfalls like boredom and craving delicious french fries.

Oh, and don’t forget exercise! A few minutes a day does wonders, but for faster results, maybe head back to boot camp? As in, the same boot camp from The Biggest Loser. With luck, you’ll be able to keep off the pounds longer than the show’s contestants!

If all this sounds too complicated, there’s always the Cliff’s Notes version: Grant Petersen’s Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog. Rejecting conventional wisdom and nutritionist platitudes, but still hating on carbs, Petersen applies his patented no-bullshit approach to wholesome living, all in bite-size chunks.

So best of luck, and remember to take all dieting advice with a healthy grain of salt! Well, not too much salt.