on July 12, 2011
There are so very many in depth and all inclusive reviews I see no reason to parrot what they have all said, but I'll say that I agree enthusiastically. Jimmy Moore's review in particular is a gem!
As a person who is fascinated with this subject and who eagerly devoured both of Gary Taubes' books, this one offers yet a deeper and more clinical examination of the science of low carbohydrate eating from two doctors who have been immersed in this field for 30 years. This is most definitely NOT a book for the casual reader interested in following a low carb diet. Rather, this is a book that will be understood and appreciated by someone who has a great deal of personal interest in learning more about this subject and who enjoys the deeply scientific explanations and discussion, and additionally, a person who has already done a fair bit of reading on this subject. This book is most definitely targeted at someone with a scientific and medical background, specifically doctors, and there are things that I had to read a few times to fully comprehend and absorb, but if you have the inclination and interest, this is a very rewarding and enlightening discussion that is quite unique in the current low carb literature. One would be hard pressed to deny the absolutely overwhelming and glaring evidence arguing for low carb diets when the vast body of proof is presented as compellingly and clearly is it is here. Low carb's undeniable superiority as a way of eating is nothing short of amazing to read about in all its historic and fascinating glory. My own personal observation and experience (also success) with eating low carb left me with vaguely formed ideas and I was self-identified as perhaps a "carb sensitive" person, and yet I couldn't put it all together in terms of how it ultimately affected me until I read this book, which discusses this subject at great length. Carb sensitivity is apparently a matter of degree within each individual, and I now understand the hows and whys of its effects on me as related to my own independent observations over the years. It's now clear why a low carb diet works so superbly and easily for me (when nothing else works) and why it has so vastly improved my health in myriad ways.
Another important discussion was that of individual variability, which explains why not every diet works for everyone equally, why some don't gain weight on a high carb diet and why some can lose weight equally well on various types of diets. One shoe obviously does not fit all, and for some, only one shoe fits!
Despite my own success with weight loss and good health eating low carb, I still had this nagging worry about fats in particular, especially in light of the deafening chorus of low carb detractors out there who railed endlessly about the dangers of fat. My insecurity about this aspect of low carb eating has now been entirely put to rest because of how fully the authors explain the body's use of fat in all its aspects. This alone make this book a valuable asset.
As it was when I was reading the two Taubes books, I continue to be dismayed and disgusted by the narrow mindedness and yes, dishonesty of the general scientific/nutrition community. The word "sheeple" comes to mind, but it's even more than that. It's about politics, money, influence peddling as well. It is nothing short of amazing how so many of us lay folks out in the trenches can quite clearly see all the evidence for what it is and relate it to our own experiences, and as a result we draw such a different conclusion from the so-called "experts" with regard to the merits of low carb eating. Many, maybe even most of the diet gurus continue to march down that same old highway chanting their tired mantra of low fat/high carb/grains are great, all while totally ignoring or at least remaining oblivious to decades of increasing obesity rates that are the result of their recommendations. Do they never connect any dots or examine the evidence? In the popular media, it is a continual frustration to hear them continue to hawk diets full of the very foods that keep their patients overweight, increasingly diabetic and unhealthy. Virtually everything I come across that is not written within the low carb framework is jam packed with misinformation and downright untruths, proclaiming as desirable, healthy and effective the very approaches and strategies that were long ago shown to be just the opposite. Old habits and beliefs die hard, apparently.
So if you have already done a fair bit of reading on this subject and thirst for a deeper, more thorough knowledge and understanding of the history and actual body mechanics of low carb nutrition, then this is definitely a book you will want to read and enjoy. In addition, it provides you with a huge new database of ammunition with which to make your own case and defense of low carb nutrition! Overall a very fascinating, enlightening, comprehensive and well presented discussion that delves deeper than anything I have yet to come across in this field. Despite the rather high cost of this book, it is well worth owning.
What do you get when you bring together two of most brilliant minds examining the science supporting carbohydrate restriction and its beneficial impact on weight and health? It's a dream team collaboration like nothing else that's ever been seen in the low-carb community and something that has been sorely needed to cut through the continued nonsense that still persists in our culture regarding low-carb diets despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. For Dr. Jeff Volek from The University of Connecticut and the legendary Dr. Stephen Phinney, this has actually been a personal passion of theirs for many years to share what they've seen first-hand in the study participants they have observed as well as in their own personal experimentations using a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb diet. They are both already co-authors of the New York Times bestselling book The New Atkins For A New You released in 2010 which was geared more specifically to the general public updating the Atkins Nutritional Approach to fit more within the 21st Century.
But both Dr. Volek and Dr. Phinney realize in order for a patient to be successful at implementing a healthy low-carbohydrate lifestyle change into their own daily routine, they first need a competent and educated healthcare professional who is willing to learn, understand and embrace the basic principles that make this incredible way of eating so amazingly effective as a therapeutic means for treating obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and a whole myriad of diseases. That's why they decided to write a brand new book about it in 2011 that does just that. It's called The Art And Science Of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide To Making The Life-Saving Benefits Of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable And Enjoyable and is arguably the most important low-carb book releasing this year!
The purpose of this book is really about three main things: giving the reader the proper historical perspective about low-carb diets, explaining why low-carb diets work the way they do in the body, and then showing actual clinical application of how low-carb diets can be used to treat patients. For the healthcare professional, the information contained within the pages of this invaluable 300-page book could radically revolutionize and transform the way they interact with patients transitioning from a pharmaceutically-based to a nutritionally-based mindset for treating chronic health issues such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and more. For the educated layperson, learning more about high-fat, low-carb diets from these top research investigators will bring about changes in their own weight and health that will then have a positive impact on their friends, family, and even their physicians. Then this book can become an outstanding book to be given to the interested healthcare professional who wants to learn more about why people get better eating a diet that includes saturated fat and is devoid of starchy and sugary carbohydrates. It's a life cycle that I'm sure both Dr. Volek and Dr. Phinney would love to see happen as this book is read, re-read, passed along, and highly recommended for people who are frustrated by the failure of the low-fat diet, something they address right away in the Introduction in their "Five Discords" section.
While obesity and diabetes has gotten increasingly worse and worse with the strong recommendations of a high-carb, low-fat diet, the evidence coming out in the world of science in recent years reveals there is no longer any controversy about low-carb diets-they "have now been resolved" as the authors put it. Now the grunt work of taking the proven science to the masses is the tricky part. It is all predicated on convincing the public that a low-fat diet is not healthy because it is too high in carbohydrate, educating why controlling the hormone insulin by restricting carbohydrates will eliminate hunger and burn stored body fat, revealing the fact that there is no scientific evidence tying saturated fat in the diet to heart disease risk, sharing the truth about what really raises saturated fat in the body (carbohydrates!), and reminding people that there is no such thing as a "one-size-fits all message" when it comes to a healthy lifestyle as the government, media and all the so-called health "experts" would have us believe. Dr. Volek and Dr. Phinney are using this book to "speak up" by releasing The Art And Science Of Low Carbohydrate Living.
The authors have taken every measure possible to insure the low-carb principles they share in this book will stand the test of time. It's why a low carbohydrate approach is considered a lifestyle change that's permanent and lasting-not just a diet. They have done this by examining three primary keys to making that happen: Safety, Individual Specificity, and Sustainability.
Dr. Volek and Dr. Phinney have over a half-century of research/clinical experience with low-carb diets using them on a variety of study participants/patients and they are "confident that a well-formulated low carbohydrate diet offers improved low-term health and well-being" for people who struggle on high-carb diets. Therefore, the safety question hasn't really been an issue because it's just not a relevant factor. Plus, the whole idea of "carbohydrate intolerance" is something that's rarely if ever discussed by mainstream conventional wisdom but it is arguably the biggest reason why people turn to low-carb diets to help them when everything else they've ever tried has failed. If there was a genuine problem over the safety of low-carb diets, wouldn't we be hearing about people experiencing these complications? That ain't happening.
Another concept that rarely gets any attention is the fact we are not robotic machines that operate in the same way. Humans are indeed unique, especially when it comes to how they respond to the foods they consume. The authors point out that anyone with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and/or diabetes already have carbohydrate intolerance and would be best fitted for a low-carb diet change. Otherwise, doing a low-fat diet is like "forcing a square peg into a round hole." Even more interesting is the observation that even if a low-fat diet is working for you now, your tolerance level for carbohydrates will inevitably get worse and worse as you age-so eventually pretty much everyone will need to start livin' la vida low-carb! This is why Dr. Volek and Dr. Phinney state that the Dietary Guidelines from the USDA need to have "a separate path from the `high-carb, low-fat' mantra."
As for the sustainability of a low-carb lifestyle change, the authors note that this is a "complex" issue that serves as the basis for why they wrote this book to begin with. The "casual approach" (as they describe it) to eating low-carb is what gets most people who try to do it in trouble and puts them on the inevitable if not predictable pathway to failure. You can't just cut your carbohydrates and expect to be eating what Dr. Volek and Dr. Phinney would define as a low-carb diet. They detail all that is involved with creating a "well-formulated low carbohydrate diet" that will last for a lifetime within the pages of this book. As they put it, "This topic is clearly more deserving of a book than a sound bite."
Some would say that a book about low-carb diets from a couple of low-carb researchers seems self-serving since they obviously have a vested interest in promoting a nutritional plan they've committed their careers to. But the authors address this by asking a simple yet poignant question:
"What is the proper response when three decades of debate about carbohydrate restriction have been largely one-sided and driven more by cultural bias than science?"
Indeed. And that's precisely what Dr. Volek and Dr. Phinney have done with The Art And Science Of Low Carbohydrate Living making a solid case for low-carb diets just as a defense attorney would argue a case before a judge and jury. The evidence is presented with appropriate citations of key scientific studies. Plus, the authors call on three key witnesses for special guest chapters to further embolden their arguments: Dr. Eric Kossoff to share how ketogenic diets are used in controlling seizures and other brain health issues, Jacqueline Eberstein who has experience working with patients using carbohydrate-restriction alongside the late, great Dr. Robert C. Atkins in his complementary medicine clinic in New York City for three decades, and me (Jimmy Moore) providing the unique perspective as a patient who discovered and thrived (losing 180 pounds and coming off of three prescription medications) on a low-carb diet despite the objections of those in the healthcare profession. By the time you make your way through this informative and practical book, you'll realize as the authors so succinctly state in their closing argument that "it just feels right" to be eating low-carb. The verdict? NOT GUILTY!
on May 28, 2011
This is a rigorous, detailed, technical, practical, and at the same time, often surprisingly witty book. The chapter on paleolithic diets persuasively argues that fat was a bigger part of them than most anthropologists realize. The section on how saturated fats track with overall health is intriguing, and the theories and observations provided about how low carb, high fat diets reduce inflammation and the stress of free radicals and oxidation is fascinating. So is the explanation for why someone on a low-carb diet may want to increase their intake of sodium and magnesium. Note that this book WILL be controversial. As the authors write, "If you want clear, unabridged, and hard-hitting nutrition science, buy this book. If you want the mainstream consensus view, put it down gently and tip-toe quietly away.
on June 3, 2011
(Full disclosure: one of the authors [Stephen Phinney] gave my wife and I a copy of this book at a dinner meeting prior to a presentation by Dr. Phinney at Zombie Runners in Palo Alto, CA. It was, however, our first meeting.)
The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living is a self-published follow-on book intended to provide more solid scientific backup for the more practical advice given in the authors' recently published The New Atkins for a New You (which was further coauthored by Eric Westman). They elected to self-publish when they found that publishers they approached did not want them to include as much real science content as they wished to write. They did not want to write for an eighth-grade level, but rather wanted to write a book that would be of real value to both scientists and clinicians while still being accessible to more general audiences who might not catch all of the subtleties. On balance, I believe that this was the right decision in that I approve wholeheartedly with the sort of detail that they chose to include. At the same time, the editor in me finds that the book would have benefited from a little polishing by a real editor--just to fix minor issues of punctuation, style, and layout that don't really detract from the content, but which are there all the same. That said, I found the book a compelling and easy read.
I've been a low-carb lifestyle convert for a few years now myself, and I'm fairly well-read both with respect to popular literature on the subject and the scientific literature. As such, I was very familiar with much, but certainly not all, of the subject matter. What I find particularly interesting in this book is that it represents at least the beginnings of a transition from early literature that has, of necessity, focused on a sort of sales pitch for the merits and benefits of low-carb nutrition to a slightly more mature phase where there is more emphasis on studying and analyzing the hows and whys. The authors have been studying low-carb nutrition in the lab for decades now, and they clearly don't think there's any question about whether low-carb nutrition is safe and effective anymore (nor do I). They do, however, recognize and devote some significant discussion to the ongoing lack of acceptance by "mainstream" political and professional institutions despite the now overwhelming scientific evidence. The slow progress continues to be a serious indictment of our current peer review, public policy making, and quality control processes for scientific research. The current status quo is such that many readers will still consider a lot of the positions taken by the authors to be downright heretical or at least controversial, but the authors (and I) are confident that it is now only a matter of time (if still a few more years) until their ideas and analyses finally become mainstream and displace recommendations that simply have not withstood the test of time and experiment.
The real meat (pun intended) of the book is in Sections 3 and 4 covering physiology and clinical applications as we now understand them. There is a clear bias toward reporting results of the authors' own experiments--not necessarily a bad thing in that they have personally done a lot of important work in the field. The human body is a remarkable machine with complexities that we are only just beginning to unravel, and any fair review (such as this book) leaves one with more unresolved questions than definite answers, but it is clear that we already know a lot more than most critics are willing to admit. There has been real and steady progress in recent years in developing a better understanding of the important nutritional and biochemical pathways, and the next few years should continue to be exciting as we learn more.
Key to both scientific understanding and clinical practice is finding the right "bio-markers" to measure and study. There are some serious flaws in how most standard clinical labs measure and use certain quantities today. The authors discuss some up-and-coming developments that will be of particular value in better monitoring quantities relevant to the effects of carbohydrate sensitivity and carbohydrate restriction. They also make it clear that we should no longer be trying to use a one-diet-fits-all model of human dietary recommendations. And they state quite emphatically that carbohydrate restriction is not for everyone, just that there are very large populations for whom it is a much better choice. Humans are omnivores and are capable of adapting to some extent to a wide variety of food choices. We are, however, learning that a sizable majority appear to thrive better (with fewer undesirable side effects) with very little (or at least much less) carbohydrate in their normal diet.
The major interest in low-carb diets in recent years has come primarily from their effectiveness for weight loss, though there are important benefits for other applications as well. Low-carb diets are very effective for treating (or preventing) metabolic syndrome (it worked for me!), diabetes, seizures and other neurological conditions, heart disease, and probably a host of specific cancers and other so-called "diseases of civilization." There is also growing interest in the value of low-carb nutrition for athletic performance (also works for me!). These are touched on in varying detail in this book, though the book would have needed to be three times as long to really do justice to every application. This book emphasizes weight loss, metabolic syndrome, and type II diabetes, together with a guest chapter on treatment of seizures; it would have been nice to have a similar guest chapter on heart disease which is also of great importance right now--perhaps in the next edition. I have every hope and expectation that this book will be obsolete in a few years, but in the meantime, I highly recommend it as a way to bring yourself up to date on the current state of knowledge about carbohydrates in human nutrition.
on June 5, 2011
I absolutely love this book. I am a huge fan of Gary Taubes and have read both of his books and still highly recommend them, as do Phinney and Volek in this book. These two well-credentialed scientists have created an easy to read, clear, and well-organized book that answers all the questions about the low-carb lifestyle. I appreciate the simple, understandable explanations of the physiology behind glucose, fat, and fructose metabolism. Because I am a long-distance cyclist, I especially enjoy the fact that Dr. Phinney has done so much of his research with elite cyclists. Although I am certainly not in that class, Phinney's research results completely validate what I have experienced as an extremely insulin-resistant, 58-year-old woman who has discovered that she can cycle for 50+ miles on back-to-back days on virtually zero carbs. My retired physician partner, who got me into cycling, is showing signs of becoming a convert to the idea of fueling with ketones and has significantly cut back on his own carbohydrate intake. It is my fervent desire that this book becomes required reading in every medical school in this country (and around the world). It is only when the medical establishment embraces the truth embodied in this small but powerful volume that we can hope to reverse the epidemic of insulin-resistance-related conditions that is plaguing developed and developing nations, and is bankrupting our health care system.
on July 2, 2011
Along with Gary Taubes (author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat), Jeff and Steve, in my mind, have clearly laid out the case implicating carbohydrates as a root cause of Western morbidity and mortality. Certainly one must at least contemplate the following questions, following the reading of this book, and the work of Taubes:
1. What if virtually everything we've been taught about the interaction of health and nutrition is wrong?
2. What if, even accepting the idea that "sugar is bad", moderation or balance in food consumption leads to modest health, at best, but not optimal health?
3. What if the unprecedented rise Western societies have seen in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease has been caused by what we eat, though in compliance with the "best" recommendations of the government and medical community?
If you are serious about improving your health, reducing the body fat you carry, having more energy, being mentally sharper, and being a more efficient aerobic athlete - you need to consider this book.
Jeff and Steve have devoted their lives to doing the sort of research that is sorely missing from mainstream "nutrition". While this book only captures a subset of that work (presumably due to space limitations), it gives both the expert and neophyte an ultra-refreshing glimpse into the kind of robust work that is hopefully going to be the foundation of turning over our nutritional "dark ages" - the last 40 years of American nutritional "wisdom".
on October 5, 2012
I have written this review several times and not posted it because I wasn't happy with the result of my effort. This is one of the most important books on the subject available anywhere. These two doctors/scientists have taken the time to explain in detail the science behind the diet or lifestyle we should all be eating. The nation is in a health crisis. Clearly 40% of the population is obese and many are diabetic. Many have one or a combination of auto immune diseases that are entirely preventable with just a little effort.
I bought this book 6 Months ago as I was beginning to eat a low carbohydrate diet on a Paleo diet. I was 315 lbs, type 2 diabetic, my blood pressure was 180/80 with medication and I had psoriasis. I had been sedentary for many years following removal of a brain tumor 16 years ago and loss of nerves in one leg. I had edema in both legs.
Today, having followed the recommendation of Drs Phinney and Volek, and others, I have lost 55 lbs (and counting), my blood pressure at last check was 115/55, A1C was 5.2, the edema in my legs has dissipated and the psoriasis is fading away. There are no other lifestyle changes I have made that would account for these remarkable improvements in my health.
My PCP has started lowering the dosage of my medications as I ween myself off the diabetes and BP drugs. He commented he had never before seen a patient so completely change his health profile without medical intervention. My blood labs are stellar.
So, I heartily recommend this book. The authors have taken a stand for health in a sea of conventional wisdom that is controlled by the pharmaceutical industry. This book will show the curious reader how to cure your diabetes or other auto immune diseases through a carefully crafted low carbohydrate diet. It won't require starving yourself and isn't difficult to do or stay on. As I said above, this is one of the most important books written on health. While the concepts may seem controversial at first, I assure you they are solidly based in science and most people will be able to positively affect their health, lose weight and become more fit remarkably easily. I have now purchased 3 copies of this book. I gifted one to my primary care physician who was so taken back by my improvements in health. The second I have loaned to various friends and family who are now also employing these strategies. The third copy I have for reference.
on August 24, 2011
There is a lot of great information in this book, and I recommended it to my doctor. One thing I discussed with him from the book turned out to be something I really needed to know about. Magnesium deficiency. I had that. The book tells some of the symptoms and how to take a supplement to clear them up. It worked perfectly! I am definitely keeping this book on hand! (My doctor can buy his own!)
on June 13, 2011
In the domain of modern scientific research on low-carb ketogenic diets this is the "dream team".
Dr Steve Phinney has been researching low-carb diets since the late 70's. He is an internal medicine specialist with a PhD in nutritional biochemistry from MIT. He did his thesis on low-carb diets and exercise and his published results which showed that, after a period of adaptation, exercise tolerance on a low-carb/high-fat diet is similar to that of conventional diets refuted the conventional wisdom of the day and has withstood the test of time. In the ensuing decades he has published numerous articles and, in semi-retirement, remains active in low-carb research. He has been a mentor to me and to countless others and in many ways is the "dean" of this area of scientific inquiry.
Jeff Volek is the most prodigous of the current crop of low-carb researchers. Based at UConn, he has about 20 grad students working on various aspects of low-carb metabolism. His recent articles have carefully and clearly elucidated the benefits of a properly administered low-carb diet and there are many. His are the sorely needed efficacy studies that provide a counterpoint to the oft cited, poorly executed effectiveness studies commonly used to denigrate the use of carb restriction for the management of the myriad conditions associated with insulin resistance.
The combination of Volek and Phinney, writing primarily to their physician colleagues but in a format that is accessible to the lay reader presents us with an important and exciting new resource for anyone interested in carbohydrate restricted diets. I highly recommend it and will be promoting it to my friends and colleagues at every opportunity.
on September 4, 2013
I liked this book, but also found it frustrating. After having read Gary Taubes two books on this subject, I was hoping for an update of research and clinical pearls. The book goes from folksy stories to dense technical details in a frustrating way. AThey ahve done some interesting research on this subject, and that made the book worth a read. I said in my title, I am not sure who the intended target is. Parts of it are too simplistic, others are a bit over my head--and I am a physician who treats people with insulin resistance and am trained in anti-aging medicine.