Because there are so many diet and health books that continue to come out on a regular basis, I’d like to begin a new regular feature on the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog to help you wade through all the muckity muck and gobbledygook that comes out from the publishing world. Books galore have been written and promoted sharing this, that, and everything else as it relates to the connection between nutrition, fitness, and a healthy way to lose weight forever. If you tried to read ALL of the books on this subject, then your head would probably start to spin with all the conflicting advice and ideas that are put out there by seemingly intelligent and experienced “experts” in the field. Unfortunately, this will always be true no matter what which is why I thought it would be important for me to dedicate a series of book review posts each month to cut through the hype and get right to the heart of the matter. Some months like September 2010 will feature some truly amazing new books for you to check out while other months may feature books that you may have heard about but don’t quite hit the mark of excellence according to the standards we come to expect from those espousing health principles. As always, my opinions are just that–exactly what I think about these books, good and bad. You are welcome to disagree, but hopefully what I share will help you make an informed decision about what books you’d like to add to your personal library! And if you like books, be sure to check out my brand new Low-Carb Book Reviews” blog for my personal take on all the new and popular releases in the world of health!
When Professor Loren Cordain released The Paleo Diet in December 2002 introducing Paleolithic low-carb nutrition and fitness concepts in a way that seemed to make sense to a lot of people for the first time in their lives, it was the proverbial first step forward in bringing about the necessary changes to effectively deal with the very real health problems of obesity and chronic disease. Little did Dr. Cordain know back then when his “caveman diet” (as the media dubbed it) was getting so much attention as a revolutionary concept taking us back to the days of our hunter-gatherer ancestors that he would be grooming a whole new generation of primal living enthusiasts who would take the baton from him and run with it like sprinter Michael Johnson did in his golden shoes during the Summer Olympics in the 1990s! But that’s exactly what we’re seeing happen from up-and-coming voices of reason like Cordain disciple Robb Wolf who has been doing his part both writing and podcasting about Paleo nutrition over the past few years and now he’s ready to take up the mantle that Dr. Cordain started and take it to a whole new audience of people who are ready to change their lives with the highly-awaited release of The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet.
Wolf is a very well-respected and knowledgeable research-biochemist-turned-strength-trainer who has a real knack for making complex nutritional and fitness principles palatable for us common folks. There are no frills with Robb Wolf because he allows the results he has seen in his clients speak for themselves. He speaks authoritatively because he knows the truths of what he is sharing and is unwavering in his application of those basic principles. You’d never know he used to be a vegetarian in his former life that nearly ruined his health all in the name of being healthy the “right” way. All of that changed when Robb became exposed to the work of Art DeVany and then eventually Dr. Cordain and Drs. Mike & Mary Dan Eades who all made ancestral eating sound…well, normal. And despite a less-than-enthusiastic response from his doctor about Paleolithic eating (describing it as “pseudo science”), Wolf gave it a go and saw some pretty spectacular results–lower blood pressure, improved lipids, and a whole new perspective on what living healthy is really all about. The fire inside of Robb Wolf was lit and nothing was going to extinguish it!
That enthusiasm for this way of living has been shared with client after client for most of the past decade with equally impressive results. You get to meet some of these “success stories” throughout The Paleo Solution to show you that literally anyone and everyone can benefit from a Paleo lifestyle change. All it takes is a willingness to give it a go for at least 30 days to see how you do. And while it may be an easy transition for some and the most brutally difficult thing for others to do, Wolf provides all the necessary tools for you to be successful and thrive on what he calls “the original human diet.” I love it when he shares that his only motivation for writing this book is this: “I’m trying to save your life.” With integrity and sincerity in page after page of this book, you can tell he takes this mission seriously and has the right motivation for sharing with others all the information he has gathered over the years.
If you think a book about Paleo dieting is gonna be drab, dry, and completely boring, then you haven’t encountered Robb Wolf yet. This guy could be a stand-up comedian if he wanted to be and that acerbic wit shines brightly throughout this book. You’ll appreciate that he doesn’t blame you for failing on your high-carb, low-fat diet either. The re-education process may take some time, but it will be well worth the effort when you are finished. Unfortunately, lipophobia still reigns supreme amongst the so-called health “experts” of our day but it’s 100% dead wrong as a culprit in the obesity and disease crisis we now face in the 21st Century. And citations of the research that has been conducted on the nutrient-dense diet of HGs (hunter-gatherers) has proved as much and more–these people not only survived, but their health thrived on way of eating that is routinely mocked and scorned as “unhealthy” nowadays. How much more bassackwards nutritionally can we get pushing grains as “healthy” and scaring people half to death of eating a steak? If you believe that mumbo-jumbo from your “trusted” doctor, dietitian, or other health nincompoop, then you absolutely need to read The Paleo Solution!
The brilliance of Robb Wolf is in how he strips everything down to easy-to-understand chunks while still maintaining the context of the greater concepts. You can tell he takes great pains to keep from going over your head and yet he delves into this all-important information because it’s stuff you need to know about. From defining commonly-used diet terms like protein, carbohydrates, and fats to explaining the purpose of hormones like insulin, glucagon, leptin, cortisol, and ghrelin, you’ll feel like you earned a graduate degree in nutritional health without sitting through a semester of boring lectures and spending umpteen thousands of dollars on your education. You’ll get it all in this book that costs about the same as a cheap-o meal for two at Ruby Tuesday! But the lasting impact it will make on your life will endure much longer than those Baby Back Ribs will!
My favorite chapter is Chapter 4 on “Digestion” because it shows you exactly what happens when you consume food. From the “Big Picture” which gives you a quick synopsis to what specifically happens to the protein, carbs, and fat consumed, this was a really cool word illustration for people who haven’t got a clue about what that food is doing inside of them once it is swallowed. You get to follow a meal of salmon, avocado, and fruit salad as it travels from the mouth down to the stomach through the small intestines and then to poop. Yummy! Additionally, Wolf illuminates the differences between “Normal Eating,” a “Fasted State,” and an “Overfed State” so you can see the biochemical uniqueness of each situation on the body. And everyone likes a good rant every once in a while–don’t miss the one about “essential carbohydrates” on page 66!
Various health issues like high cholesterol, heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer, infertility, and more are talked about candidly and the underlying issue that is driving these (again, it ain’t the dietary fat people as you’ll clearly find out in Chapter 7!). The anatomy of a grain and the toxicity of consuming them is explained as only Robb Wolf can. Discover why sleep is so important for regulating cortisol and the essential exercise you need to be doing (with illustrations in this book!) to be successful at this. In case you didn’t quite understand everything through the first nine chapters, he shows you how to implement The Paleo Solution principles in Chapter 10 with practical advice for shopping for the highest-quality foods that are grass-fed, pastured, and the like and he answers your most pressing issues about switching to Paleo. You are encouraged to track your progress with specific measurements and blood tests to see exactly what kind of changes will happen to you when you do this. And in case you’re wondering, there are some delicious meal plans and simple recipes to get you going in Chapter 12. Although he’s not a big fan of taking supplements, Robb does believe there are benefits to targeting specific ones which he discusses in Chapter 13. Lest you think all of this Paleo stuff is just sugar-free pie in the sky, you’ll see this book is well-referenced in the back with studies and papers from some of the top medical journals and researchers in the business.
The Paleo Solution ain’t no fluff diet book that will promise you more than it can deliver. It’s an honest-to-goodness lifestyle change that can make a real difference in your weight and health if you are willing to give it a chance to work for you. It took a while for Robb Wolf to make his foray into the publishing world, but I for one am glad he did because, like Dr. Cordain before him, he is now influencing a new generation of Paleo believers who will take the baton from him someday to carry on the message. But something tells me we’re gonna be hearing a lot more from Robb Wolf in the years to come!