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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening, March 8, 2012
This review is from: Why Women Need Fat: How "Healthy" Food Makes Us Gain Excess Weight and the Surprising Solution to Losing It Forever (Hardcover)
This book tied together a lot of information about diet into a fascinating new theory. It was both entertaining, well-written, and intellectual.

Although it is pitched as a diet book, the authors' expertise is not in the area of nutrition. They are a psychological anthropologist and an epidemiologist. They address an aspect of weight gain that is unique to women, the normal weight gain that is related to fertility and child-bearing, which no other book I've read on diet or exercise discusses or explains.

This book grabbed me right from the start with a example of how a woman had gained weight during her lifetime because this theoretical everywoman gained weight exactly as I had! Their theories of why women are thin when they are young and why they gain weight as they age are not the same old tropes about diet but fascinating new research about why women's hips and waists are thin when they are young and expand as they age.

Their explanation of the different types of fatty acids (Omega 3s and 6s) is the clearest explanation I have ever read.

The diet recommendations portion was too conceptual. It seemed tacked on in order to turn this from a book that would languish on the Anthropology aisle to a best seller in the Diet section. The authors had not supervised anyone on this kind of diet nor could they document any results with women following their recommendations. Further research shows that the studies just don't back up what they advise. Even so, I felt the information helped me to evaluate some of the new diet research for myself.

I found the thread they follow throughout the book of looking back not to our caveman foremothers but simply back one generation to how our grandmothers ate be inspiring and do-able. I think they make an excellent case that processed foods should be avoided and non-processed fats of both animal and vegetable origin should be included.

Since reading the book I've avoided processed foods, started adding whole milk into my diet, and completely nixed the vegetable oils except for olive and coconut oil. I've been phasing the corn oil and shortening out anyway, but now I'm more conscientious about looking for these oils in processed foods, which I had not really thought about as a source of oil before. I don't think that I will lose weight necessarily, but I think it is a healthier and more satisfying way to eat and I'm seeing how it feels for me. I have to say that after so many years of eating low-fat, it's a little weird to have full-fat milk or a real pound cake with two sticks of butter. It's surprising how ingrained those diet habits have become.

I'm also taking fish oil supplements, which I have done before and is one of the few supplements I have felt makes a difference. The research they presented convinced me to stick with this.

The authors recommend canola oil, but despite the fat breakdown backing up their recommendation, I think they need to look at how this oil is so highly processed and their own recommendations to avoid oils that involve industrialized extraction techniques.

Every woman should read this book. I think we need to accept that weight gain over time is healthy for us and our children. I hope it helps us to stop being so obsessed with seeking to always look like 18 year-olds.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes sense, February 21, 2012
By 
Millie (Helotes, TX, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Why Women Need Fat: How "Healthy" Food Makes Us Gain Excess Weight and the Surprising Solution to Losing It Forever (Hardcover)
I have read many, many nutrition books in the last couple of years. I highly recommend this book, especially to women. The authors make an excellent case of the fact that women need fats in order to bring healthy children into the world. So, gradually gaining weight through a woman's life is normal and should be accepted (models are not normal). On the other hand, Americans in general are much heavier than we used to be in past decades and some are unnaturally obese. The excess weight leads to systemic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, inflammation, etc. For decades, we have been led to believe that saturated fats are to blame and we should turn to vegetable oils such as corn, soybean, sunflower, and others that are hydrogenated or partly hydrogenated in order to increase shelf life and enhance flavor. In this book, the authors explain that we humans evolved to be able to process saturated fats and those fats are not the cause of our predicament. The problem lies on the barrage of omega 6 rich vegetable fats we have incorporated into our diets in the past few decades due to the incorrect belief that saturated fats are bad for us.

Humans need a balance of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in order to maintain a healthy weight. The brain constantly monitors this balance in the blood and when it finds we are deficient in one of these fatty acids, it instructs the body to retain more fat in order to fix the imbalance and regain equilibrium. Partly hydrogenated oils such as corn and soybean oil are super rich in omega 6 and very deficient in omega 3. Since our diets contain such an abnormal amount of omega 6 (try to find something in the supermarket that does not contain these oils), our brain must regain the balance by telling the body to retain fat. The problem is there are now very few sources of omega 3 available in our diets (wild caught salmon, walnuts, flaxseed are some). Meats and poultry used to be good sources until we replaced the animal's normal diet with corn which is very low on omega 3. The solution? Balance the amount of omega 6 and omega 3 by drastically lowering the omega 6 and increasing your intake of omega 3. This is easier said than done since almost every prepackaged, processes item in the grocery store lists vegetable oil as an ingredient. Salad dressings (even the low fat kinds) are loaded! So are crackers, cookies, breads, coffee creamers, etc. Personally, I have decided to go back to real foods, including butter, cream, milk, etc. and follow Michael Pollan's advice: if your grandmother would recognize it as food, eat it, otherwise, don't.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a diet book that has the "Secret" to losing weight, May 14, 2012
This review is from: Why Women Need Fat: How "Healthy" Food Makes Us Gain Excess Weight and the Surprising Solution to Losing It Forever (Hardcover)
Okay ladies. I have read a lot of diet and nutrition books, but this one finally explains soooo much that no other diet book ever has. It describes my own body evolution. I have no children, have always been slim, until about age 34...Since then my weight has slowly risen 1 pound a year, despite eating what I thought was clean and healthy meals, despite staying active. Although my "girls" have grown to a nice welcome size...it's the tummy underneath them that I wish would melt away. I am going to give this "secret" my best shot. I'll report back in a few months to see how it's going. Cheers!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thorough and complete review of dieting, March 16, 2012
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This review is from: Why Women Need Fat: How "Healthy" Food Makes Us Gain Excess Weight and the Surprising Solution to Losing It Forever (Hardcover)
This book is a complete overview or diets, why they work and don't. It has nutritional information based on research. If one has studied nutrition then there is little that is not known with the exception of the omega 6 impact on our health and how to avoid it. If one has not studied nutrition then this is the only book you will need. The only down side is it is completely based on research, there is no clinical information and lets face it everyone is different and clinical trials used a selected audience that may not meet an individuals constitution or specific issues.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book I Keep Reading, February 21, 2012
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This review is from: Why Women Need Fat: How "Healthy" Food Makes Us Gain Excess Weight and the Surprising Solution to Losing It Forever (Hardcover)
This book changed my outlook on eating and diets. I know that slow weight loss works best for me. He gives the evolutionary reasons why. I finally understand why my parents who eat lots of saturated fats (butter, lard) and organic foods are healthy and happy in their 80's. His research dovetails with other trusted food books on my shelves (e.g., Michael Pollan). It's a great book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect but contains some essential pieces of the nutrition/diet puzzle for women, October 18, 2012
This review is from: Why Women Need Fat: How "Healthy" Food Makes Us Gain Excess Weight and the Surprising Solution to Losing It Forever (Hardcover)
This is one of the most useful books I've read on weight and nutrition in recent years (and I've read a lot). It's not the whole story but provides a really important (essential) piece of the puzzle that is not covered in any other book. Note that it is solely focused on women.

Pros:
--Pulls together a lot of research on why women are the shape we are, how fats of various types are related to our shape and size, how this has changed over time and across cultures.
--Your body's natural or expected weight--a few different methods to work this out.
--Reasons not to lose weight, what is a "reasonable" weight.
--Why it is so hard to lose weight and why most female dieters repeat a cycle of losing and regaining weight, ender up a bit bigger each time
--The only effective way to lose weight if that's what you want
--Specifically about women's bodies--most books are about men's bodies but don't acknowledge the fact (most authors aren't even aware that there are crucial differences and that most research is on men's bodies).

Cons:
--The authors confuse correlation with causation in some sections, even though they make a point of not doing so in others. e.g. Surveys have found that women who are thin eat x,y, or z, therefore it's OK to eat x, y, or z.
--In spite of the emphasis on the importance of Omega 3 fatty acids, there is no discussion of how fragile these fats are, especially the effects of oxygen and heat (including cooking, processing, etc.) The authors recommend Canola Oil--which, due to the amount and type of processing used to make it palatable, makes it a very unhealthy fat (plenty of thorough research on this, see e.g. Weston A Price website). A very important omission.

I would recommend this book to any woman who wants to really understand their weight and shape, and influence it. Also a vital read for parents of daughters.

If you follow The Gabriel Method or any of the primal/paleo, this book will expand on what you already know and provide some really important keys.

It's not the only book you'll need, but it is a really important one, therefore 5 stars.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Nutrition Is Good Health, April 1, 2013
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This review is from: Why Women Need Fat: How "Healthy" Food Makes Us Gain Excess Weight and the Surprising Solution to Losing It Forever (Hardcover)
After reading this book I knew I would never go on another diet. This one book opened my eyes to how low in nutrition the normal U.S. diet is, particularly if people frequent fast foot places and consume processed food. Our food supply is high in calories but to get proper nutrition requires knowledge that goes beyond what we receive from the advertising industry. Why Women Need Fat explains the bio chemistry of the human body in understandable terms and makes the case that when the body receives the proper nutrition in the right balance the urge to over eat will stop and weight will normalize. The authors give clear guidelines as to what foods are healthy and which are not and what to look for when buying food from the grocery store. I have given away about 10 copies of this book and everyone who has read it has thanked me and improved their health. It is definitely not just for women either.
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