Most helpful critical review
376 of 402 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2012
My wife saw Bob Harper on morning television around the book launch and said she was ready to try it. She's lived the high carb, low protein, and low fat lifestyle and never struggled with her weight. But as we've gotten older, managing weight has gotten a little harder for her too, and she would like to drop a size or two. As an avid biggest loser fan (in the early seasons), I thought Bob would have a good plan for eating. Based on the few snippets my wife told me, I thought this might be a plan we could both use. It would increase my wife's protein (which I've always thought was not enough). So we decided to buy the book and give it a try.
I have struggled with my weight most of my adult life. Been 30-50 lbs overweight for most of it. I have been following a low carb Atkins-inspired diet for about 6 months. Not "no carbs", but carbs limited to veggies, nuts, low carb wraps, and recently select fruits. No bread or white potato. Almost no sugar or HFCS. Lots of protein and not worried about fat. I've lost 25 lbs, and 6 inches from my waist. I've been exercising and getting closer to my goals. But the hard part about Atkins is adding back more carbs. Its the point in the diet that people struggle the most, and the reason many regain the lost weight IMO. I have been trying to alter my diet into something "healthy" for the longer term, but with so many changes as to what healthy eating even means, I needed an expert to instruct me. With high hopes I bought the book. There are lots of positives but a few negatives too. I feel I am pretty objective, but you'll have to be the judge for yourself.
Here are my comments on the book and diet:
1 - This is very well researched book. Lots of good information. If you are interested in not just the whats, but the whys, this book is very good at taking you to a satisfying level of detail without being boring or turning into a text book. A+
2 - There are 20 rules in this book. Wow! Atkins had 1. This is a lot to take in.
3 - Some of the rules make a ton of sense and are easy to follow. Drink a full glass of water before every meal. (Bonks self on head). Very easy to remember and do. Great tip. Been doing it. But others are near impossible (no carbs after lunch). Huh? Who can really do that? Lots of advise for eating whole grains which requires planning and prep time, and lots of little baggies. Would I do all of that? Probably not. My wife? Maybe once or twice. After reading the book I was left feeling a little overwhelmed with preparation details and foods I've never heard of.
4 - Splurge meal sounds good, but few specifics. He hints this doesn't mean eating everything is sight. What are the rules? Can I go out and have chips and salsa, fajitas, and a couple of Margaritas or not?
5 - One thing that was sorely missing and disappointing is that there was absolutely no discussion of exercise, and how exercise impacts how and what we eat. I consider exercise the single most important ingredient in managing my weight. Not that I expect to exercise away every extra calorie I eat, but it limits my appetite, makes me feel good, gives me positive feedback as I reach exercise goals, makes positive impacts on my appearance that make me want to watch what I eat, as well as burning extra calories. Even Atkins advocates exercise, while Bob, the "fittest of the fit" completely ignores the topic? Wow. I think there should have been recommendations around exercise, and info about how exercise affects eating. He could have explained what to eat before and after heavy strength training, and before and after cardio. Would exercising in the evening affect the "no carbs after lunch" rule? A chapter on exercise would have made a big difference to me (easily taken me from 3 stars to 4)
6 - One tremendous appeal of Atkins is the ability to walk into almost any restaurant and get something to eat without cheating. Steak and salad, chicken and broccoli, eggs and bacon, hot wings and bunless burger. Much harder with the Skinny Rules IMO. I think the only way I'd feel I was with the program is to eat at home a lot more than the 10 times a week he suggests.
Bottom line. I think this book has a lot to offer to someone who is truly serious about not only losing weight, but eating healthy based on current diet research. Embracing the diet will have you eating more protein, eliminating refined carbs, exploring new foods, and learning food preparation techniques. It would be an investment of time and effort, but would definitely have you eating about as healthy as is possible without hiring a private nutritionist/chef to do all your cooking for you. But many will find fully embracing the diet impossible or at least impractical, but will still pick up valuable tips and recipes to improve their eating habits. I am in this group. I've found that several of the rules were relatively easy to implement and I've incorporated them into my eating habits. Many others I already do (increase protein, cutting refined carbs, cutting out high-carb drinks) based on low-carb lifestyle. But others like no artificial sweeteners, no carbs after lunch, and advice around grains are just too much for me.
I think reading this book would benefit most everyone that reads it, and help them make at least some positive changes in their eating habits. Definitely recommended.