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Diet Recovery: Restoring Hormonal Health, Metabolism, Mood, and Your Relationship with Food Paperback – November 1, 2013
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About the Author
Matt Stone is the founder of 180DegreeHealth. He is an independent health researcher and author of more than 10 books, including multiple titles that have made it to #1 in their respective categories on Amazon. Most of his research has drawn him towards metabolic rate and how many basic functions (digestion, reproduction, aging, immunity, inflammation, mood, circulation, sleep) perform better when metabolic rate is optimized. He is most notable for his criticisms of extreme diets and exposing many false diet industry claims, as well as his works on raising metabolic rate through simple changes in diet and lifestyle. His views and findings are discussed exhaustively on the site and cataloged in many of Stone's books available for sale through Amazon.
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Top Customer Reviews
First, there are a lot of tall tales in this book starting with Matt’s autobiographical comments regarding his own lifestyle. On page 32, he indicated that for a long time, he biked 140 miles and hiked 15 miles per day, 7 days a week. The key here is the “and” word stating that he combined both activities on the same day every day. It just does not make sense. With voluntary and involuntary stops, if you cover 18 miles per hour in average on a bike that is pretty fast. So, the biking already takes close to 8 hours a day. When you hike, covering 3 miles per hour is actually pretty fast. That’s another 5 hours of exercise. So, Matt supposedly managed to do 13 hours of exercise per day, 7 days a week! I don’t think Lance Armstrong at his peak of steroidal enhanced performance could have done that. I don’t think anyone can do that.
Another tall tale (that seems benign by comparison) is his walking 10,000 miles over the past 14 years. That’s 2 miles in average per day. Let’s say because you actually have a life, you don’t walk every day but only a day out of two that would be an average of 4 miles per day in average for 14 years straight!
When you move away from the tall tales, Matt has a total disregard for the scientific method. Given that you have to take whatever he says with a grain of salt. On page 21 he states: ”I don’t rely on “cheap” tactics like using scientific studies to prove a pre-asserted hypothesis. Instead, I incorporate reasoning, logic, history, observation, and more.” But, that’s exactly how doctors using blood letting as a universal cure thought just a few centuries ago. That is utter madness. Granted many health studies are flawed, or the data is misinterpreted, etc. Critical thinking entails evaluating the quality of the studies, uncovering the biases, revealing the underlying data, etc. An outstanding example of that is Uffe Ravnskov in “The Cholesterol Myths” ‘Exposing the fallacy that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease’. Ravnskov studied the studies in detail and uncovered all their omissions and misinterpretations of the results. By doing so, you can confirm the results of good studies and reject the ones of not so good studies. That’s completely different than what Matt does where he rejects arbitrarily all scientific studies as “cheap tactics.”
Matt’s lack of acceptance and understanding of the scientific method is really problematic. Occasionally, he will state shocking contrarian stuff just to appeal to the gullible reader only too willing to accept his seductive message. For instance, he states on pg. 111: “In fact, in the U.S. at age 70 and above, those with Level 1 obesity (BMI 30 -35) have the lowest rates of degenerative disease and greatest longevity statistics.” And, he does not provide any scientific reference for this assertion. So, I researched it. And, predictably I found that Matt’s statement was plain wrong. An authoritative meta analysis study of 1.46 million adults in the U.S. (the meta analysis entailed a statistical aggregation of 19 separate studies) published in the New England Journal of Medicine conveys very different hard facts. The 70 year old and over with a BMI 30-34.9 have a mortality risk that is 24% greater than the ones with a BMI under 25. If you consider for this same age group BMI of 35 to 39.9, the mortality risk jumps by 59% over the risk of the ones with a BMI under 25. Yet, this study was published in 2010 a full three years before Matt published this book in 2013. In other words, he should have known the relevant facts from a reliable source.
Continuing on the bad to not so good stuff, there are many things among his recommendations that do not seem to make any sense. Just to mention a few, the concept that you should force yourself to not do any exercise for a month at the same time that you should force yourself to overeat during that period (pg. 74) seems ludicrous. Additionally, during that same time you should sleep at least 8 hours a night (that is fine). But, that people who got the best results slept 12 to 14 hours a day (pg. 76) also does not make sense. In summary, Matt suggests the reader trusts his own logic in the absence of any supporting scientific evidence (yes that is what “cheap” scientific studies represent). Yet, Matt will defy anyone’s common sense over and over.
Matt’s recommendations can include some contradictions. Throughout the book, he pretty much tells you can eat anything and in abundance as long as it is of good quality (not processed) and it is not high in Omega 6 polyunsaturated fats. He also rails against vegetarians. However, out of the blue on page 82, he pretty much contradicts his entire book message by now recommending you eat only a pretty small quantity of animal-source protein (dairy, egg, meat) because the latter have anti-thyroid amino acids. On the very next page 83, he again strongly recommends those same animal-source protein as rich protein source (a good thing). That type of dissonance just can’t make for a coherent and authoritative book on nutrition.
Moving on to the cool stuff, Matt throws out there a lot of very interesting counterintuitive concepts. Many of them seem to make good sense.
Any dieting, caloric restriction efforts do not work and are not healthy. They just contribute to impairing your thyroid function, lowering your metabolism, increasing your fat % mix within your body tissue, weakening your immune system, etc.
Cholesterol is not the health problem we think it is. That is actually very well supported by Ravnskov, mentioned above. As long as you have a healthy thyroid function and have an adequate ingestion of Vit. B6, you will healthy convert cholesterol into health enhancing hormones. In other words, cholesterol is actually essential to a healthy life. And, a healthy thyroid function is one of the many positive side effect of having a high metabolism. It is only when the thyroid function is impaired that cholesterol accumulates in the arteries.
Carbohydrates and saturated fats are not problematic. As long as they are of good quality, they enhance your health. Among carbohydrates, he especially recommends resistant starches (legumes, beans, whole grains, root vegetables, and bananas. Those resistant starches are rich in butyric acid that contributes to rapid fat digestion, gain control, and high metabolic rate.
He even advances that salt is really good for you, and is also not the problem we think it is (pg. 82). And, he states that you can read all about the health benefits of salt in his bestselling book “Eat for Heat.” Given the erratic quality of this one book, I am just fine relying on several studies from the New England Journal of Medicine that confirms that current low-salt intake recommendations are ill founded.
His focus on reducing our intake of Omega 6 polyunsaturated fat is good. His related Appendix II at the end of the book detailing the amount of such fats that various foods have makes for an excellent reference on the subject.
His all take on metabolism is very interesting. And, I don’t think is controversial. His tying metabolism to the thyroid function that is such a critical element of overall health function (including the conversion of cholesterol into healthy hormones).
His chapter on exercise is fascinating (MAXercise chapter). I do practice the type of fairly moderate pace, long duration endurance exercise he strongly recommends against. And, he makes some interesting points that make me rethink my sport activities to some degree. Strangely enough, fairly recently a study compared the cardiovascular risk reduction of various sports and long distance running had no benefit. Meanwhile, playing tennis had the best risk reduction. Matt recommends doing very intense cardio (on a gym bike or elliptical machine) for just 5 minutes (not counting the recovery time) just every other day or at least twice a week and you are good. Is that too good to be true (just 10 minutes of intense exercise a week)? Or maybe he is on to something.
I have been on numerous diets for almost 20 years, and no matter how scientific those diets sounded like at first, in the end, my health always suffered. During my teenage years, I went on diets to lose weight, but no matter how strong my will power was, always, in the end, I broke down, started binge-eating, or even in the rare cases when I kept up the “discipline,” by just eating half a bowl of rice more, or just an extra tomato, the pounds came back again. Then, it became years of yo-yo dieting. It was much worse than just having a fluctuating weight, this made my body much weaker than a normal woman of my age would be.
If you have thyroid problems, never ever follow a low-carb diet. I found that out too late. My hormones acted weirdly, my hands and feet were constantly cold, I was tired most of the time no matter how many hours I slept at night, and I became prone to depression. But, there is good news: these things can be reversed. We can heal ourselves by healing our eating habits, our relationship with food, and recovering both physically and emotionally.
It may sound deceptively simple, but it makes sense. Our bodies are resilient in nature, let it rest and it will recuperate. As long as there is plenty of fuel (food), our bodies will learn to relax and heal itself. Metabolic rate is much more than just the ability to burn fat. A low metabolism means a low general rate of your body functioning as it should. Any kinds of problems can arise from this. Take it seriously.
This book is more than just a recovery guidebook for someone who followed any kind of restrictive diet, this helps you heal your relationship with eating and food. Let’s eat, be healthy, and enjoy the pleasure of eating.