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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book has become my Bible
I have NEVER read a book that has inspired me to become HEALTHY like this one has. I needed to diet and was in a major diet "rut!" The best thing about his plan is you really dont feel like you are on a diet. It is all about getting your body healthy. I am going on my third week of the plan and I have lost 6 pounds and my body feels much tighter. My whole outlook is...
Published on October 13, 2004 by Christina Schindler

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103 of 124 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad Science, Bad Advice
While there are some good things in this book, its overall message is based on some bad science and its recommendations may lead you to gain weight, not lose it.

The short version of this review is this: weight training + no calorie control = weight gain (both muscle and fat) for many (probably most) people. It's called "bulking" in the body building world, and...
Published on November 9, 2008 by P. Lester


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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book has become my Bible, October 13, 2004
I have NEVER read a book that has inspired me to become HEALTHY like this one has. I needed to diet and was in a major diet "rut!" The best thing about his plan is you really dont feel like you are on a diet. It is all about getting your body healthy. I am going on my third week of the plan and I have lost 6 pounds and my body feels much tighter. My whole outlook is better because I am not starving myself with some crazy diet or eating a bunch of crazy foods that other diets recommend. This is SO easy to follow that I will incorporate my entire eating lifestyle based on his plan. This is not just 6 weeks for me this is how I will live my life. If I can do this, please beleive me ANYONE can. Don't let the author being a Mens Health" editor deter any women from this plan, I am a woman who is enjoying this plan to its fullest extent and trying hard to get my husband to conform. All in all 6 STARS from me!
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61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Insight, September 18, 2007
I like the fact that the authors explain how things work in our bodies (how protein intake relates to the increased metabolism resulting from the workout, and to the muscle growth; which foods are good for metabolism; which of them aid in weight loss or lowering cholesterol levels). Although the idea of having six meals a day does not always fit my busy schedule, the one of snacking with fruits and/or nuts between main meals does seem to be effective in my case. What I like most about the book is the well balance diet that does not exclude any food groups. I am a great believer in the nourishment based on natural foods and The Abs Diet fully supports this belief. Dr. Tombak in the book "Can We Live 150 Year" farther explains proper food combination and its effect on our bodies. For that reason his book is a very good addition to The Abs Diet.
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67 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to turn your body into a metabolic dynamo (recommended for bodybuilders)., July 29, 2006
By 
OverTheMoon (overthemoonreview@hotmail.com) - See all my reviews
Calorie controlled diets are the most scientifically valid diets. Less calories in, plus cardio = weight loss. The problem with this is that we generally loose fat and muscle at the same time. However, very low-calorie diets are beaten by the body after two to three weeks. The body learns that you are starving down and so starts to conserve fat. You can even eat half the allotted calories per day and watch as you stay the same weight and look like you have the same fat (and you do). Combine cardio and you can loose it all eventually (fat and muscle) but at least you lost the fat. Hard, but it can be done. Although this backbone of dieting is important, actually very important, and works, you can't start eating bad again or else you will put it all back on. You can't stick with a very low-calorie diet forever either without repeating this process every time you put on fat. In general this isn't a bad way to go about getting fit, especially if you are obese and fed up with that fat. This traditional method will rip the fat off for at least 3 weeks and get you down a bit. Then the low-carbohydrate diet is the next obvious choice to get down even more, like the Atkins diet. Low-carb diets limit what you eat so that you find it hard to eat and what you do eat doesn't convert to fat quickly. Lots of foods with medium to high carbohydrate levels vanish from your menu and so if you don't eat fatty foods on this controlled diet your body will continue to loose more weight. Combine this with the traditional method of a very low-calorie intake with cardio and you have a diet on rocket fuel. The problem though is that low-carb diets are very limiting, remove healthy carbohydrate foods that your body needs, and may even be considered dangerous by some experts. Shopping for low-carb foods is not as fun, or as easy, as it sounds. Even health stores and low-carb sections do not have such a great range of foods for low-carb diets. Even food producers have tried to corner this market by adding hidden ingredients to the low-carb foods. You will tend to eat the same things over and over. You can't do it forever. If you want something you can do forever then the Abs Diet is the way to go.

The Abs Diet has the right ideas, and really that is the bottom line. It is quite humorous at times too and is easy to read. Modern medicine tells us that the human body can use food to burn fat if we eat the right foods in the right proportions. When we eat certain foods our body's metabolism increases. The very activity of our digestion can use more energy than what we are ingesting. This is the way our bodies where always supposed to act. By avoiding appetite suppressants (the type that stops you feeling full!) food additives (like HFSC) we can eat healthy and feel full like we should, not drinking 2 litres of soda containing appetite suppressants and then want to snack out on a candy bar containing the same appetite suppressants, an endless spiral of overeating. Trans-fats, which are coming under fire only now in the 21st century with the new "dangerous fats" label on the way in means that it should be easier for us to learn about and identify problem foods like trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, HFSC, high GI-foods. The Abs Diet does a good job of telling you the stuff that is really bad for you. What you then discover is that there are medium to high carbohydrate foods that do not have this stuff in them. Meaning a low-carb food with these danger ingredients is worse than a high-carb food without these danger ingredients. If we exclude these danger ingredients in with our low-carb diet then good luck in finding food that you can eat - but if you can do it you will loose weight... but you can't do low-carb forever. The Abs Diet uses the principle that there are foods that can increase metabolic rates and that these foods can also be medium-high carb and should also be included in a diet for health reasons. This inclusion of medium-high carb foods suddenly opens up a wave of food options for your diet. You can shop this stuff probably anywhere. Next, the Abs Diet tells you that you need to move to six meals a day. 8am breakfast, 11am snack, 1pm lunch, 4pm snack, 6pm dinner, 8pm snack. This is a major component of the metabolic diet that bodybuilder's will already know (the Abs Diet borrows heavily from the bodybuilding world). You can cheat on one day a week (wow). Most of the foods contain high protein (this is also borrowed from bodybuilding) and so nearly every meal has vitamins, high protein and some carbs. There are even some meals with good fats in them. It is all very healthy. Nuts and berries are high on the list, veg, whey protein, beans, poultry, skimmed milk and low-dairy, oats, eggs, peanut butter (yep, a little can combat fat), olive oil and wholegrain breads. The Abs Diet asks that you get a blender to make some `smoothies' that are like health drinks you can use throughout the day. These are great and tasty additions to your diet. You even have full lunches and dinners with steak and chicken and tortillas. In essence you haven't seen a diet that looks as tasty as the Abs Diet. The blender allows for unprecedented creation of all sorts of metabolic foods. Although protein concentration is very high, so what, the meals are great and that is what counts. Watch out that you actually calculate for servings (per person) as some of the smoothies are enough for 2 servings and the lunches/dinners can serve 4 people sometimes. Metabolic dieting of six meals a day, which are high in protein and low in danger foods, will make you loose fat. The Abs Diet is a pretty valuable cook book. Lots of very good recipes are in here (I had to copy the recipes onto my PC because my pages are already worn from cooking with it) and they allow for a lot of variation when you have worked with them. You get the general idea and can even advance on to making up your own. Once you get the idea you can continue it for life. In short, the Abs Diet works, but there are some major drawbacks that are more side issues than the diet itself, but you need to know about them. The Abs Diet talks you out of cardio saying that you only burn a couple of hundred calories for every 30 minutes to 1 hour doing it. Fine, this is true, but you also get cardio-vascular exercise which promotes a body that can produce a better metabolic system. Never walk away from cardio. The Abs Diet tells you to stop counting calories. This is also a bad idea. The basic traditional calorie counts are important because if you are consuming more than you can burn then you are going to get fat. However it would be better to see these calories in light of their metabolic effect so don't get too worried if you see some bigger figures. At the same time, they should not get too big or else, so will you! These food amounts advocated by the Abs Diet need to be cautioned against. If you are gaining weight then check to see what could be responsible for it. Next up is the biggest lie of them all - that you can gain muscle and loose fat. You can't build muscle and loose fat at the same time. As any bodybuilder will tell you, this is a strategic impossibility. In order to build muscle you need a bulk diet which gains muscle and some fat and then you move to a cut diet which looses a little muscle but lots of fat. Bulk and Cut. That is how it is done. The Abs Diet tries to tell you that you can cut fat and gain muscle together. You can't. The worst part is yet to come. Pages 200 to 300 are dedicated to a four day a week gym exercise. Do not even read this section. The book has ended at page 200. To ask people to train four days a week is horrible overtraining advice and the exercise examples are horrible form. Only steroid users train this way four times a week or more and some of the examples will injure you. Forget about all the weight lifting information in here and concern yourself with cardio, like an exercise bike or biking. I suggest you look for better weight lifting exercises through manuals that are dedicated to natural bodybuilding that is responsibly taught. Search around. Now with that out of the way, if you have gym experience then the Abs Diet works super wonders but for the average person, who doesn't lift weights, don't waste time learning weights yet, and instead get your cardio in order first. The other thing this book lacks is sources. It really needs to cite its sources. The exercise and cardio claims are wrong for the above reasons. The writer knows nothing about weight training properly. I would be suspect of lots of the claims he makes but the general ideas are good and most importantly, the metabolic diet works... and it works really well, for as long as you want. Overall this is a great book because of its core message - Metabolic dieting on foods you can live with forever and that is why it is highly recommended. This could be the best diet book you could own.
*Updates*
- Always eat at those 6 times in a day. Even if you break the diet with a bad meal keep to the plan. Cardio always help if you mess up.
- Try not to snack between snacks. Keep the meals to 6 per day.
- The calorie calculations for the recipes are far from accurate.
- Turns out when you add up the meals that this is a pretty low calory diet for men but maybe high for women.
- The meals have massive variations in the calorie differences. One dinner recipe is 700kcal while another is 300kcal.
- You need to add about 3 tsp of olive oil to the non-stick pan if you dont want to burn your food.
- Drink plenty of water.
- I think the meals run a little too late for me. Better is 12pm lunch, 3pm snack, 4:30-5pm dinner, 7pm snack. I try to have the last sizable meal before 7pm. I eat something small with protein before I go to bed to prevent catabolism.
- Don't worry if the diet doesn't work right away. You need to get rid of the all the metabolism inhibiting chemicals that you have in your system. It can take awhile for the diet to kick in because of that.
- If you find that the diet is not working after all of the above then have a higher calory dinner for lunch and a lower calory lunch for dinner. That way you eat bigger midday and less in the evening. Two lower calory lunches for lunch and dinner are more extreme but if that is what you need to do then that is what you need to do.
- Get a digital weighing scales. You will drop down and go up and drop down and go up. The key here is to create a decline of dropping down and going up.
**I have gone from 220lbs to 207lbs in 1 month on this diet.**
*** I am now 181lbs** 8th May 2007 *** Slow, but getting there! Cardio is a must!!!!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick and Effective Results, June 2, 2005
I usually am not the type to buy a diet book. As a matter of fact, I have only followed one diet closely for a number of years, and that has always been to eat everything in moderation. However, two years after my second child was born, I am fighting a layer of fat around my middle that will not budge - or, should I say, did not budge until these past 2 weeks. I have always been active...I run, I do martial arts, and I rarely ever sit down! However, my middle has been a challenge to keep lean. Upon reading this book I immediately employed several of the power foods into my diet. I began to eat flax, oatmeal, soy products, fresh veggies, fresh fruit, non-trans fat foods, and I have practically eliminated anything that comes in a box. I have honestly been much more satisfied. I actually am eating more than I was, I have more energy, I am losing weight in my middle (4 pounds in 2 weeks). I have NOT made any fruit smoothies, however. I actually do not like yogurt or milk so I have to get my calcium from other sources. I'm happy to say that the absence of these blender meals has not impeded my weight loss efforts. I think this is a very good book if you're looking to reduce your waistline. I also would recommend this book to all people, no matter how fit they may be. The foods are just way too good for you to only eat as "diet" foods. They should be a part of all of our lives. I don't believe you even have to follow the recipes. Frankly, I do not - I don't think the recipes are that good, and I love to cook so I am more creative than the author is with these foods. And, if you can be creative, you won't get bored and you'll remain successful! If you purchase this book, good luck and enjoy your results!
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, food plan needs work, September 12, 2005
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I am a 38 year old woman who is looking to lose about 20 lbs and tone up a bit. My middle area has expanded a bit in the past year and it is my mission to trim it back before I hit 40. The thing that attracted me to the health lifestyle outlined in Mr. Zinczenko's book was the stress on increasing one's metabolism. The food plan also was appealing as it incorporated many of the foods I already eat. I just needed to get some "organization" in how to eat them in order to achieve the results I was looking for.

This is not a typical "high protein" diet. He stresses the importance (it's imperative, really) of eating whole grains instead of white flour and trans-fats. Fiber is essential to the mechanics of the body as it was designed. Caloric intake is not an issue in this book but I really disagree with that. Maybe he is saying that at first, one shouldn't count calories, instead, eat 3 smaller meals a day and at least two snacks, timed so that one never gets "hungry". Maybe this works when your metabolism is already jump-started, but for me, I can't eat snacks when I'm not hungry. I am the type of person who really doesn't like eating that much anyway so I guess I tend to eat more at a meal so that I "get it over with". This is proving to be the biggest struggle for me with this diet. I don't want to have to think too hard about "when it's time to eat" or "Oh gosh, I forgot my afternoon snack, there goes my metabolism".

The book HAS taught me a lot though about foods I didn't know and the effect on the human body. The whole "eat fat, get fat" thing has always been confusing so it's nice to see the breakdown of "good fat, vs. bad fat". Also, I learned a lot about the nasty High Fructose Corn Syrup additive that is in EVERYTHING! After learning about it I went through my cupboards and refrigerator and was amazed at the amount of products that contains HFCS. I tossed everything that contains it. Even the 100% whole wheat english muffins I bought contained it. Why??? So, I made my own.

The recipes in the book are so easy, even a guy could make them (but of course, the book was written by a guy!). They are almost a little "too simple" but are good basics so if you cook and you want to jazz them up with spices or healthy ingredients, they are extremely adaptable for that.

I did find some inconsistencies with some of the food recommendations. He does a lot of comparisons like: Instead of crackers, Pick: Wheatables original reduced-fat crackers because they don't contain any Trans-Fat. Well, that's true, however, when I went to the store I found that that product contains High Fructose Corn Syrup! So, I checked all the labels and found that Triscuits Garden Herb variety crackers had whole wheat, no transfats and no HFCS. So, one learns from the book but then needs to become their own food investigator really to make the best choices overall.

The entire last third of the book is all about the workout. One might get a little overwhelmed by the workouts and decide it's "too much" however, the overall point is to just get moving on a regular basis and incorporate the strength training into your daily routine in SOME way. The strength training really is Key to getting your metabolism going and keeping it going. That is what allows you to burn calories when you are simply sitting still.

Some reviewers stated that the way Mr. Zinczenko writes is geared toward men. I didn't find that to be the case at all. The writing is light and humorous while maintaining a serious tone when relating the importance of taking care of your body.

I purchased this book along with The Abs Diet Eat Right Every Time Guide. I recommend you spend the extra few dollars for this guide, especially if you eat out at times. There are recipes in The Abs Diet book but there are a LOT more in the companion guide. I think I counted at least 25 different ways to make breakfast smoothies and 20 different ways to fix oatmeal in the Eat Right Every Time Guide.

If it were just me using these books I might have just given them 3 stars but since this is the first diet book my husband has actually picked up and READ, I gave it 4 stars.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good honest information, August 23, 2004
By 
S. Schindler (Louisville, Kentucky) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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I think I have read every diet book written and I doubted that this book had anything more to add to my knowledge. Alas, I was wrong. This is a good book but if you are looking for instant magic, then this book or any other, will not help you. Covered here are basics that can help anyone, even someone that is not seeking to loose weight. Your food intake is composed of a balance of foods that are all good for you. Only the traditional junk is left out. There is an emphasis on fiber and protein that will keep you filled up without overeating. Sorry no bacon! I have religiously charted my progress in terms of calories, and clearly on the days that I follow the diet, I always consume less calories than I utilize, which equals weight loss. (and I do this without any agony) On the days that I stray, I tend to overeat! Duh!! Exercise is focused on the mid area (abs) but includes aerobic as well. You abs show by reducing fat (everywhere including the abs area) and building muscle. Basically adding muscle increases caloric demand. As we age we loose muscle etc. Additionally, the book has a great series of illustrated exercises, that can be done in a gym or at home. Too many books expect you to have access to a gym or have $5K worth of equipment in your home. Not required here. A worthwhile read for sure!! Oh by the way, I have actually read this book cover to cover several times, unlike some of the reviews posted here. It works, what more can be said.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goldilocks finally find her bed (diet)., January 14, 2006
By 
P. Brown "Music Maniac" (Bronx, New York United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Just like Goldilocks from the "Three Bears" children's tale, I finally found the perfect eating routine. My first diet (bed) was the Atkins' Diet. This diet was okay, but I got tired of the greasy food, and started missing carbs and vegetables. When I got off that diet I gained all the weight back with interest. My second diet (bed) was the "South Beach Diet" which was better than Atkins', but it was missing something but shared similar methods to the Abs diet. My third diet (bed) was the Abs Diet and it was the perfect fit for me! You are not deprived of anything and everything in the book makes perfect sense. The key to my success is what the author calls the "12 Powerfoods" which consist of high proteins, fiber, and "good" carbs. As a carb addict it's important for me to have carbs incorporated in my diet. This way I don't have to worry about carb binges and regaining weight.

Another factor that works for me are the recipes that are really good, I even enjoy eating ground turkey now. The books maps out how to combine flavors to what is perceive my some as bland food into cuisines that you could serve to your guest. My favorite recipes are:

Strawberry Field Marshall Smoothie (Life saver when you want something sweet)

Banana Split Smoothie

Yo Soup for you

Mas Macho Meatballs (FAVORITE!)

Chili Con Turkey (Great for those cold winter nights)

Even though the books states six weeks, for me it took six months to lose 25 pounds. I overindulged in both snacks and meals, didn't exercise much, and around the holiday ate like it was going out of style. With that being said, I still did well and went from a size 16 to a size 12. I still have 35 pounds to go, but now I'm exercise frequently, and eating less. Within two weeks, I noticed my skirts are fitting looser which encourages me to continue with exercising which will give me the results that I'm looking for sooner. The only thing I would change is the title of the book; I would change it to the "The Abs Lifestyle". I have changed everything about how I eat and carve the "Powerfoods" instead of junk food which is loaded with fat, dangerous carbs, and empty calories. I know I will become healthy and maintain the weight, this is truly my perfect bed (diet) and I hope it will be the same for you.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a very simple review., February 5, 2006
By 
A. Childs (South Carolina) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I'm 6'3", 17 yrs old, and busy. I weighed 235 lbs before. I now weigh 185 lbs. I lost 50 sustainable lbs on this diet. I lost 5 lbs in the first week and a half, then proceeded to lose 20 lbs in the first six weeks, then from November to May, I lost the full 50 lbs.

This is the first diet... no, fitness plan that I've tried, and will be the last. It was shocking to me to see the weight melt off. It's all about motivation. I started out at 235, and when a week and a half later I stepped on the scale, and it said 230, I about died of joy. I could actually lose weight; it was possible, and I kept up with it.

If you're unhappy with your current health level, seriously consider this one.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy and it works, June 19, 2005
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I'll keep this quick--the eating guidelines in the book and the rationales behind them not only make sense, but they work in the real world as well. The book made me a smarter and savvier shopper at the grocery store (no more high fructose corn syrup EVER), and slowly but surely I came to really enjoy the "power foods" (especially almonds, oatmeal, and **natural** peanut butter) that you should snack on to get you through your daily "munchie times" (mine is between 3 and 6 in the afternoon). It's easy to follow, affordable (you won't be buying tons of meat, Atkins people), will knock out some of your more unhealthy cravings, and will probably show in your waistline and on the scale after a week or so.

The exercise circuit is pretty basic--you can do the whole thing quickly at home with 4 free weights (two "medium" and 2 "heavy") and in a very small space. I'm docking it half a star because the writer doesn't give enough props to a good cardio workout (seriously--we all know it's the only way to start dropping BIG pounds) and another half star because the writing style is a bit too cutesy and "wink wink nudge nudge" for my taste. Not every reader is going to be an ex-frat boy determined to advertise his uber-heterosexual charms at the drop of a hat.

Anyway, I meant this to be a shorter review, but it all boils down to my review title. Give it a try and see for yourself.
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103 of 124 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad Science, Bad Advice, November 9, 2008
This review is from: The Abs Diet: The Six-Week Plan to Flatten Your Stomach and Keep You Lean for Life (Paperback)
While there are some good things in this book, its overall message is based on some bad science and its recommendations may lead you to gain weight, not lose it.

The short version of this review is this: weight training + no calorie control = weight gain (both muscle and fat) for many (probably most) people. It's called "bulking" in the body building world, and for good reason.

People buying a book called "The Abs Diet" probably want to lose fat, but for lots of them following the recommendations in this book will accomplish the exact opposite, and in fact you see that play out in some of the other one-star reviews of this book. For more on the science behind all this and some recommendations on better books for fat loss, read on ...

(A) EXERCISE: The central thesis of this book is that you can lose fat through weight training. Build those muscles (like your abs) and watch the fat melt off. That explains the title ("The Abs Diet").

This theory is fundamentally flawed. The primary basis for the author's argument is a claim that muscle tissue consumes 50 calories per pound of muscle per day (actually he says "up to," but that is easy to miss). According to this theory, if you add on a mere 10 pounds of muscle your metabolism will skyrocket by 500 calories per day and chew up all those unwanted fat pounds. The only problem with this is that, in reality, muscle tissue only consumes about 6 calories per pound per day. Fat tissue, meanwhile, also consumes about 2 calories per pound per day, so as you add muscle and lose fat, you will actually only make tiny changes in your daily calorie usage. And that daily calorie usage may very well drop, not increase, if you are losing a lot of fat.

Second, he neglects to tell you how difficult it is to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. It requires almost perfectly timed protein and carb boosts before and immediately after weight training, and even then, simply focusing on either muscle building or fat loss at one time, and switching back and forth (called bulking and cutting by body builders), may get you there faster. More generally, successful muscle building requires a calorie surplus, while fat loss requires a calorie deficit.

Overall, research suggests that the track record of exercise as a fat-loss strategy is actually pretty mixed, and minimal for many (its track record is better when it comes to preventing fat regain, though). Any contribution to fat loss is most likely to occur in a calorie-restricted environment, where the primary value is in the calories burned during and after exercise and the resulting avoidance of muscle loss, rather than muscle building. But while this strategy may work in theory, in practice it makes many people hungrier, making them eat more and thereby negating much or all of the benefit. For lots of people, exercise actually correlates more with muscle gain and increased (not lower) body fat, which is reflected in the bulking and cutting strategy mentioned earlier.

At best, this boils down to "your mileage may vary." If nothing else, it suggests that people who use exercise as a fat loss strategy should monitor their results to see if it is working as expected, preferably with measuring tape not a scale, since adding muscle will add pounds. My personal view is that exercise can contribute to fat loss when combined with calorie control, but this contribution is easily negated by poor dietary choices, which are far more important.

(B) DIET: This brings us to the primary determinant of fat loss, getting your diet right. Simply put, you can exercise all you want, but if you don't get your diet right then don't bother. The author acknowledges the importance of diet and includes a lot of dietary advice in the book. Unfortunately, a lot of that advice is off the mark.

First, the author completely glosses over the importance of controlling calories. Instead, he encourages you to ignore calories and just focus on eating certain "power foods", which he thinks will get you to consume fewer calories overall. Well, that may be true for some people but not for others. If you check the other one star reviews of this book, you will find plenty of people who gained weight following his recommendations. This probably isn't too surprising given the inclusion of peanut butter, nuts, and some other questionable items on his power food list. It is generally accepted that you need to reduce your net calorie consumption by 3,500 calories to lose a pound of body fat. How you accomplish this, though, matters a lot.

The best diet is one that human beings evolved to eat. The bulk of this evolution happened before agriculture, and well before the more recent disaster known as the modern Western Diet. Our ideal diet is lots and lots of vegetables supplemented with some fish or meat as a source of protein (or some vegetarian equivalent if you prefer that, though as a species we are omnivores and thus meat eaters), with some whole fruit (not juice or dried fruit) thrown in occasionally. Everything else should either be eaten in moderation or not at all, and even meat and fish should be eaten in moderation. Generally speaking, you only need about 50-150 grams of protein per day, depending on your size and exercise habits. Anything more than that will slow fat loss without adding appreciably to muscle gain.

Vegetables are the real stars in this diet. They feature both low calorie density and high fiber content. The first fills you up at a low calorie price and the second can slow down digestion (depending on whether it is soluble or insoluble fiber), thereby keeping you full longer. Coupled with a little protein, which has its own satiety properties, vegetables are anti-hunger dynamos.

Let's pause to think about hunger for a moment. It is the bane of most diets, and yet it is a wholly natural feeling - nature's way of making sure we don't starve. Other animals seem to deal successfully with it, eating what they need to without getting fat. When confronted with an abundant food supply, most animals multiply and thrive. They don't get fat and slothful, features that would tend to get you eaten by a predator. Humans are the only animal for whom hunger is a problem. The reason is we aren't eating human food -- the plant and animal diets we evolved to eat.

Once you realize this, it becomes pretty obvious what you need to avoid - any processed, manufactured food that does not exist in nature. This probably includes the grain and rice-based carbs that low-carb practitioners dislike so much (principally because they heighten insulin and promote fat storage). Indeed, there is a lot of evidence that our dietary problems began with the adoption of agricultural practices that produced bread, cereals, pasta, rice and similar foods. You should probably also reduce or eliminate dairy. The only milk humans probably should consume is mother's milk when we are babies (there is a reason many people are lactose intolerant, and our Paleolithic ancestors were probably not milking a lot of wild cows).

But much more than the above foods, you truly need to avoid the manufactured techno-foods invented in the past few decades that are so packed with sugar, fat, salt, and calories. This includes most packaged foods in the supermarket and most food in most restaurants, particularly chains. Beyond the unusually high calorie density (well beyond that of the meat and vegetables we should be eating), many of these foods have been engineered to be so palatable that they actually trigger chemical reactions in our brains that are not terribly different from drugs. Sugar is particularly bad here, triggering dopamine and a variety of other chemicals associated with pleasure, which render it quite literally the crack cocaine of foods. There is a reason that food manufacturers add high fructose corn syrup to virtually everything, even foods you don't think of as sweet. You will be doing yourself a lot of good if you stop viewing these manufactured techno foods as food, and instead view them as the drugs they truly are.

A lot of people have noted the explosion in obesity that has occurred in the U.S. since the early 1980s. Once you realize the effects that the foods we eat have on the brain, and couple that with their associated calorie density, it is pretty easy to see why this is true. A lot of the arguments between low-carb and low-fat diet enthusiasts miss this. Is eliminating donuts, ice cream, potato chips, French fries, and pizza from your diet low carb or low fat? It's both.

In fairness, the dietary advice in this book doesn't take you that far astray from these principles (though, again the nuts and peanut butter recommendations are questionable, and low-carb enthusiasts probably won't like the whole grain and oatmeal recommendations). My more fundamental criticism is the earlier focus on weight training as an oversold dietary strategy, particularly when coupled with advice to ignore calories consumed. Muscle and fitness are good things, don't get me wrong, and if you are a sports enthusiast looking to get stronger or bulk up, it's good advice. But if you are looking to lose fat, this advice may be counter-productive. It's called the Abs-Diet, after all. This book is being marketed to people looking to lose fat. People in that category need to focus first and foremost on fixing their diets.

Toward that end, here are some other books you should consider, instead of or in addition to this book:

* The Paleo Diet, by Loren Cordain: This is the best set of dietary recommendations I have come across, and it is consistent with the recommendations found above.

* The End of Overeating, by David Kessler: This book describes some of the brain chemistry issues associated with processed food.

Also worth reading:

* Time magazine, "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin" (August 9, 2009): You should be able to find this article via Google. I don't necessarily agree with everything in it, but it does at least question the value of exercise as a primary fat loss strategy for everyone. A better article would have been "Why Exercise (Alone) Won't Make You Thin," and stressed that while exercise can help, your diet is far more important. Either way, my advice is monitor and measure, and figure out what works for you.
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The Abs Diet: The Six-Week Plan to Flatten Your Stomach and Keep You Lean for Life
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