Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book Recommendations

I finally finished my post (it took a while) about good health and nutrition books. As promised, here are a few that I'd recommend checking out. I'd also like to hear your thoughts on texts that have inspired you, so leave anything I missed in the comments. I've added my own descriptions of each book to help you decide which one to start with and which ones might interest you the most...

1) The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet [Robb Wolf]
Robb Wolf studied under Loren Cordain (#6 The Paleo Diet) so they have very similar views on health and nutrition, but differ in a couple key areas. Originally, Cordain was against all saturated fats and recommended limiting their intake while Wolf has always pushed for consumption of good saturated fats. Cordain has since changed his stance, and recommends some sat. fats (olive oil, avocados and coconut oil). The reason I put this book first is because it's so easy to read. Wolf mixes humor with stories and even adds in his own life experiences to help the reader understand how our food directly affects our health and body. I also liked the detailed discussion of all the nutrients and the step by step walk through of how inflammation in our system ultimately leads to many of the problems of modern society. All in all, I think this is a good first book to read... It's a good intro to all the topics covered in the other books, and goes into enough detail for most people (check the reference list at the end of the book) while not loosing everyone else with too much scientific language.

2) Nutrition and Physical Degeneration [Weston A. Price]
This book is old (originally written in the 1930's) but the research still stands as one of the best sources of information on "hunter gatherer" type diets we have today. This research can never be duplicated, as many of the societies studied have been westernized and their traditional ways of living forgotten. Price's detailed investigations into these traditional diets, and the striking pictures he took of the natives before and after Westernization leave no doubt about what causes the "diseases of civilization". Refined grains, sugars and oils were the cause of all manner of physical degeneration in these primitive societies. I think this book had the greatest impact on me because these were studies done on living people at the time, not scientific "guesses" on what our ancestors ate. For me, this made it much more real, and the pictures just drive the point home even further. If you're interested in a historical background on healthy diets and a very well researched book with many nutritional suggestions I would strongly suggest picking up this book, you won't be disappointed and it may be one of the most important books you ever read...

3) Starting Strength (2nd edition) [Mark Rippetoe]
This is like the weight lifting bible to me. Everything I learned about proper form I got from this book.There are only 5 exercises explained in the book (dead lift, squat, overhead press, power clean and bench press), which doesn't seem like nearly enough to fill a 320 page book, but you would be surprised at the amount of detail that goes into each move. There's proper breathing, body position and body travel to consider (to name just a few), and each metric is different for each person. The authors do a great job describing each exercise and if you're serious about lifting (which you should be) you should get a copy of this book. It will help you gain strength, avoid injuries and build a balanced body. There's also a DVD if you'd rather watch each of the training sessions instead of reading. I've never watched it, but the reviews sound good if that's what you're looking for.

This book is very similar to the Paleo Solution, but I think it has a more mature tone that might appeal more to an older crowd. Wolf is more in your face, like a personal trainer whipping you into shape, while Sisson is a little more laid back. Both books have very similar ideas, and I really like how Sisson lays out the book with his "10 Primal Blueprint Laws". Programing your genes for optimal expression is an interesting idea, and I like his approach a lot. Sisson also has an amazing (actually 2 now) cook book called The Primal Blueprint Cookbook (imagine that, right). Full color photos and easy to follow directions on all the recipes make this one of my favorite cookbooks. He also has a great website called Marksdailyapple that I check almost every day. It's one of the best blogs out there and I learn something new all the time. If I'm as fit as Sisson at 55 I'll be a happy man...

4) The New Evolution Diet: What Our Paleolithic Ancestors Can Teach Us about Weight Loss, Fitness, and Aging [Arthur De Vany]
This book just came out and I actually haven't had time to read all the way through it, but I did get to listen to a podcast with De Vany and I agreed with pretty much everything he said. I think he's a very well spoken guy, and at 73 he's in better shape than 90% of the US population (probably more). De Vany is known as the "Grandfather of the Paleo Diet", he's been doing it for more than 3 decades! I don't think there's anyone that illustrates the health benefits of a primal diet better than him... 8% body fat, dead lifts 400 lbs and hasn't been sick in 30 years! At 73 years old!!! Amazing... Simply amazing. This book is kind of a combination of The Paleo Solution and The Primal Blueprint, a good mix of the two. There's a little bit about inflammation, a little bit about optimal gene expression and a little bit about intermittent fasting (IF) all mixed together. I like his style, I like his message, and I like his book.

6) The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat [Loren Cordain]
This was the first book I ever read on the Paleo Diet. I have to say, at first I thought it was complete bull. There was no way I could possibly give up my morning cereal and oatmeal... and what would I do without my bread, my pasta, my pancakes...? So, I actually didn't read much past the first couple chapters and then put it away... for probably 2 years! I just picked it up this year and finally finished it. The book is really  good and lays the foundation for how to live primally. The revised edition includes updated research on saturated fats and a few other things, and includes a useful section on Paleo foods, kind of a mini cookbook. I wouldn't recommend starting with this book, but check it out if you are looking for more information.


  1. just a few quick notes...

    the amazon image things of the books is blocked by AdBlock Plus, as such I didn't have any idea what books you were talking about until I decided to temporarily turn off the blocker...

    Mark Sisson's cookbook is called "The Primal Blueprint Cookbook" ... not the Paleo Blueprint cookbook (typo I'm sure :-P )...

    and your RSS doesn't seem to be working right?... when I subscribe it sends me to which doesn't work...?...

    other than that... keep up the good work!..

    books I'd recommend (in addition to those...)

    Convict Conditioning
    Good Calories, Bad Calories

    hrm... I think that is all for now..

    Grok on!

  2. Alright, I updated the post to include the book name and author in a link as well as the picture, let me know if Adblock Plus takes this out as well...

    I fixed The Primal Blueprint Cookbook reference, must have had Paleo on the brain, haha.

    I re-posted the RSS gadget, hopefully this fixes the problem with it linking to my old site. Let me know if it works.

    I'll have to check out Convict Conditioning, looks really interesting. In addition to Good Calories, Bad Calories Gary Taubes also has his new book out now called Why We Get Fat that I hear is really good as well.