Diet Detective’s 2011 Diet, Fitness and Healthy Cookbooks

by Charles Platkin, PhD

Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It! by Kris Carr (Skirt, 2010)

I have to say that I’m always skeptical about diet books written by people who are not experts. However, that said, you can learn something from everyone, especially someone who is inspirational. Kris Carr is a best–selling author, motivational speaker and wellness coach. She was also responsible for an inspirational documentary for TLC that chronicled her journey from cancer diagnosis to healthy living. The essence of her program is low–glycemic, vegetarian–based and geared to balancing the pH of the body. She is down on the population’s sugar, meat and dairy habits — and believes they can be toxic. She also is an advocate of cleansing the body. The book is colorful, doesn’t have to be read in order from beginning to end, and again, while many of her arguments are not supported by research, many of her ideas are worth a good hard look.

Bring It! The Revolutionary Fitness Plan for All Levels That Burns Fat, Builds Muscle, and Shreds Inches by Tony Horton (Rodale, 2010)

Tony Horton is the creator of the best–selling P90X DVDs. I’m sure you’ve seen one of those infomercials, they air more than 500 times a week in 210 national cable markets — wow, that’s a lot of exposure. And I must say, P90X DVD is not some pie–in–the–sky workout. It’s reasonably well thought through, and it can work (along with diet, of course). In this book, which has loads of photos, Horton demonstrates how readers can build their own diet and fitness plan — it’s not a one–program–fits–all plan.

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes (Knopf, 2010)

Looking for compelling information and a real story about why you might be having trouble losing weight for good? Mr. Taubes has answers. I just did a very interesting interview with him that you can read here. Taubes is a science journalist and claims that “we’ve got it all wrong when it comes to carbohydrates and fats.” His persuasive argument is that carbs are really the main culprit.

Cinch!: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches by Cynthia Sass (HarperOne, 2010)

Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian who understands how to write for her audience. She gets that people on diets want a formula, something simple they can follow. Her 30–day plan is divided into two parts. The first part is a five–day “Fast Forward option” where you eat four meals a day, composed of just five foods: spinach, almonds, raspberries, eggs and yogurt. The second part is a 25–day plan that also calls for four meals a day, but includes a wider variety of foods. There are also a few rules. Rule #1: Eat Like Clockwork. When you eat is important. Rule #2: Think 5 Pieces 4 Times a Day. Pick produce, a whole grain, lean protein, plant–based fat and specific seasonings. Rule #3: Use seasonings such as vinegar, citrus juice or zest, hot peppers, tea and herbs and spices. The book has many recipes. They’re not very detailed, but they’re also pretty simple. If you like books with lots of photos and less writing, this is not for you. Many books that offer good advice will go unread simply because there’s too much text. But if you’re a reader, this might be good for you.

The Men’s Health Big Book of Food & Nutrition: Your completely delicious guide to eating well, looking great, and staying lean for life! by Joel Weber and Mike Zimmerman (Rodale, 2010)

I loved The Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises, which came out last year, and this is another in the same series. With large full–color photos on every page, it’s easy to look at and makes great “relaxing” reading for those interested in food and nutrition. The book even includes 100 recipes.

400 Calorie Fix: The Easy New Rule for Permanent Weight Loss! by Liz Vaccariello, Mindy Hermann, and the Editors of Prevention (Rodale, 2010)

This is a very simple concept. You eat three to four 400–calorie meals per day. The book is filled with beautiful color photos and not too much text — in fact, it is similar in style to another Rodale book: Eat This, Not That. I like the way the publisher describes the book: “The 400 Calorie Fix provides the necessary tools to see food through the ‘400 Calorie lens’ and navigate meals and snacks ranging from Chinese takeout to salad bar selections, vending machines and concession stands, and even party platters and bar beverages.” Just by browsing through this book you will learn something about making good food choices. Also, if you’re limited to 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day, you will almost certainly lose weight. I love the layout and design. It’s simple to read and understand this diet.

The 4–Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat–Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss (Crown, 2010)

This book is by the best–selling author of The 4–Hour Workweek, and is interesting to say the least. How can I describe it? Well, I found it fascinating but not incredibly scientific or reliable. Ferriss created a brand and simply applies it to everything. But, to be honest, I’ve been reading snippets ever since the book arrived. It’s like candy — it may not be good for you, but it’s tasty and quick to read.

Other notables:

Poser: My Life in Twenty–three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010) . Wow! What a well–written book. Don’t buy it if your goal is to become a yoga expert — it’s not that kind of book. There aren’t even any illustrations. It’s more about the author’s life and experiences; she merely uses yoga as a backdrop. Nonetheless, if you want inspiration to start doing yoga, this could be the very book that gets you there.

The editors of Weight Watchers know a thing or two about food, and they’ve released the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook (Wiley, 2010). There are 500 recipes, each tagged for skill level, and the book includes using slow cookers, loads of healthy cooking tips and more than 60 photographs (wish there were more).

The editors at EatingWell magazine have a wonderful new offering with more than 400 recipes called The Simple Art of EatingWell (Countryman Press, 2010). The step–by–step techniques show you healthier ways to cook, including how to oven–fry normally deep–fried foods such as onion rings; how to make a lighter, healthier pie crust; make–at–home tacos, freezer pops and fat–free cookies.

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