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Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It Hardcover – October 6, 2015
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“Exhaustively researched and fascinating.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A groundbreaking book from one of America’s leading physicians, Proteinaholic will revolutionize your understanding of your body and how to keep it healthy. Garth Davis, MD, is a medical visionary whose wisdom and wealth of experience have opened a powerful new pathway to the best of health. (Neal D. Barnard, MD, President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine, George Washington University Shchool of Medicine, Washington, DC)
“Dr. Davis is in the ’trenches’ applying science to patient care and a true expert. His experience and research is groundbreaking and Proteinaholic is a must read that will be the basis for reclaiming our health. This book will be in exam rooms in my clinic. (Joel Kahn MD, FACC – Clinical Professor of Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine and author of The Whole Heart Solution)
“Proteinaholic is a … book that will help you lose weight; keep it off; prevent lifestyle disease and even reverse it. A book every health-conscious person should own and every doctor should prescribe their patients. (Rich Roll, bestselling author of Finding Ultra and The Plantpower Way)
“Proteinaholic documents the simple and easy to understand truth that billions of people have died, and that life on Planet Earth faces extinction, as a direct consequence of product-promoting nutritional myths … Protein deficiency is unknown on any natural diet; protein poisoning is epidemic worldwide.” (John McDougall, MD, founder of the McDougall Program)
“Proteinaholic hits the nail on the head. Our over-consumption of animal protein has lead us down the path to nutritional suicide and this wake-up call from Dr. Davis is important to save lives.” (Joel Fuhrman M.D., author of the New York Times bestsellers Eat to Live, Eat to Live Cookbook, The End of Dieting, The End of Diabetes and Super Immunity)
“This is a book that will change lives. If you heed its wise and clear advice, your body will thank you for the rest of your life.” (John Robbins, President of the Food Revolution Network and author of Diet For A New America and The Food Revolution)
“Dr. Garth Davis has hit the nail on the head with this eye opening look at America’s most misunderstood macronutrient-protein. Read it and rescue yourself before it’s too late!” (Rip Esselstyn, health activist and bestselling author of The Engine 2 Diet)
“A brilliant tour de force of how and why our ‘addiction’ to animal protein is killing us. This book just may save your life and make all of your moments healthier.” (Robert Ostfeld, M.D., MSc. Director, Cardiac Wellness Program, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center)
“Through extensive analysis of popular protein-pushing diet plans and meticulous assessment of nutritional research, every claim and recommendation is fully annotated, making this reasoned and reasonable treatise a life changer in the truest sense of the word.” (Booklist)
From the Back Cover
Cut Through the Noise. Know the Research.
Protein Is Making Us Sick, Fat, and Tired.
Protein is not the key to weight loss. Animal protein is not the healthiest food we can eat. Carbs are not the enemy. In Proteinaholic, Dr. Garth Davis dispels the myths that have been perpetuated by our doctors, our weight loss experts, and the media; sets the record straight about contradictory studies and confusing headlines; and distills these findings into a straight-forward, plant-based solution that will change your life forever.
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Top Customer Reviews
The research is generally in three categories: epidemiological studies of thousands of people over years (and often decades) of time; studies of naturally-occurring populations with exceptional health and longevity (the Blue Zones) versus those without; and clinical experiments. Dr. Davis shows that, taken as a whole, the research overwhelmingly supports whole food, plant-based diets with small or no red and processed meat consumption and much lower intake of animal products than our nation of "Proteinaholics" is currently eating.
I like that Dr. Davis takes on common objections raised by people favoring animal product-heavy diets, and I really like how he explains how to look at research studies so as to be a smart consumer of the research. He tells readers to ask what is being compared, how large is the sample population, and how long are the people studied. Short-term studies showing that low carbohydrate or “Paleo” diets improve weight or biomarkers after a few months exist. Dr. Davis explains that the famous Twinkie diet also improved biomarkers and weight. But if you cut through media hype, industry-funded research, and short-term studies to look at what matters most—all cause mortality over decades of time in large populations (i.e., what people who live longest eat)—then the medical literature casts no doubt on Dr. Davis’ conclusion that excess animal protein is killing us, and plant-based whole food diets are most healthful and lead to greater longevity. In fact, thousand of studies confirm it, as evidenced in part by the World Health Organization’s post-publication announcement on red and processed meats and cancer.
And if you don’t like epidemiological research, Dr. Davis takes you on a trip through the other major research as well (population studies and clinical studies) so you can form your own conclusions about the healthiest dietary pattern. Unless you go step-by-step through the overwhelming evidence yourself, its hard to believe so much exists and yet we continue to be so confused as a nation.
Another thing I like about this book is that even though Dr. Davis is personally vegan, he doesn’t cherry pick what he presents or overstate the case. I can say this with confidence because I’ve been following the research myself. Where the research findings are mixed and/or muddled by industry-funded research, e.g., on eggs and dairy, Davis presents an excellent and objective overview. His basic point is that whereas the preponderance of evidence points to a plant-based whole food diet—and we know animal products are unnecessary—we can’t say a purely vegan diet is the only healthful path if the overall diet is whole food and plant-based.
Does Dr. Davis review some studies suggesting it might, in fact, be the case that a vegan whole food diet is best? Yes, but he is very clear that at this point in time at least, while we can reasonably suggest it may be the case, we cannot say that with anything near the certainty with which we can say plant-based whole food diets are the most healthful. I like to think of it this way: If two objective people followed just the peer-reviewed research published in scientific journals over the past twenty years, they’d both agree on about 95% of what to eat—they might bicker over whether the remaining 5% should include some eggs, poultry, dairy and fish or not. That’s an extremely small amount of diet to be uncertain about—far less than most Americans think science is in disagreement about—and would include vastly fewer animal products than most Americans eat. So whether you go vegan whole food plant-based like Dr. Davis or just eat 95% whole food plant-based, by listening to Dr. Davis, you’re going to lower your chance of disease by leaps and bounds compared to the overwhelming majority of Americans.
Several adults in my family, including me, have transitioned to whole food plant-based diets over the past 5 years and experiences myriad health benefits. The benefits to my family members include: resolving IBS (which was probably lactose intolerance all along), reversing metabolic syndrome, lowering overall cholesterol levels and dramatically improving ratios, resolving adult acne, resolving PMS, effortless weight loss and maintenance (I weigh just 3 lbs more than I did the day I got married after months of dieting on Jenny Craig—two kids and 15 years ago!), eliminating the need for blood pressure medication, and improved mood.
I have some criticisms of this book that are mostly just additional points that I think should have been mentioned. First, the bibliography lists Noto et al.’s 2013 systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies of low carb diets (of which Paleo is one), which found significantly higher all-cause mortality. However, I do not recall Dr. Davis discussing it in the text, which would have been especially useful in the Adkins and Paleo sections. Maybe he did and I missed it? It would be easy enough to check … if the book had an index. Yes, there is no index in this book! How in the world did a reputable publishing company like HarperOne release a book without creating an index?! This makes the book less useful to readers, as those who want to return to specific subjects and references later on in the text and will have to comb through the book to find them.
A second point I’d have like to have seen Dr. Davis make is that processed meats include products people generally think of as healthier than pork bacon and beef pastrami—like turkey bacon, deli chicken and turkey slices, and turkey bacon. Granted, the doctor is correctly encouraging people to drastically reduce their meat intake, relative to the US average, but I think helping people realize that processed poultry was part of those higher mortality findings in many studies would have been helpful. If readers are going to continue to consume animal protein, albeit in small amounts, it would be helpful to tell them they can’t replace pork bacon with turkey bacon and think the research shows it’s cutting their mortality risk. Processed poultry is processed meat. Once again, before criticizing a book of this length in a public forum, I’d normally consult an index to ensure I didn’t miss something — but there’s none to check!
Third, I think it would have been useful for Dr. Davis to further debunk the Paleo “grains and legumes are unhealthy” myths a bit more specifically. He alludes to the fact that the research supports eating these foods, and how much they are consumed in the Blue Zones, but he doesn’t even mention nor source articles like Wu et al.’s 2015 “Association between dietary whole grain intake and risk of mortality: two large prospective studies in US men and women” published in JAMA Internal Medicine, or Johnson et al.’s 2015 “Whole-grain products and whole-grain types are associated with lower all-cause and cause-specific mortality in the Scandinavian HELGA cohort,” published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Having never written a book myself, I am guessing that these studies came out after the main draft went to editing, but I still feel room should have been made for their mention. I’d have also liked to see more of the published research linking legumes and longevity discussed. Contrary to Paleo claims, studies show legumes and whole grains are associated with better health and longevity. I am very concerned that a nation of largely unhealthy and overweight people are acting on misinformation to cut out these demonstratedly health-promoting foods.
The bottom line is that my criticisms of this book are that it wasn’t long enough, in that it could have fleshed out in more detail the information behind the key points and included an index. However, this is coming from someone who searches the medical journals for new studies on diet and nutrition in her free time, just for enjoyment because it’s so incredibly interesting to me. And if that’s the biggest criticism I can muster for this book, it’s truly an excellent one! I am so grateful Dr. Davis laid out the research for a general audience and that he did it in such a clear and highly engaging way.
I put my money where my mouth is on this, folks! I’ve already purchased 7 copies and will probably pick up a few more. If you’re on my holiday shopping list, this is what you’re getting. :)
[Edit November 23, 2015: Due to popular demand, an index has been made available by the author on the Proteinaholic website.]
As full disclosure, I stopped eating any animal products (no meat, fish, poultry, dairy or eggs) over 3 years ago. I didn't do it to lose weight but I had high hopes. Although I had a good start, it stalled and has stayed stalled. After reading this book, I realized how I have sabotaged my own efforts to an extent by trying to make sure there was ALWAYS a "protein" in the meal. Sure, sometimes it was beans or tofu, but that gets boring and a lot of the time it was processed meat substitutes. After reading this book, I realized that I was often just adding calories (mostly fat calories) to meals that were already complete on their own. I've now been using only whole foods and not sweating over making sure I'm adding a large portion of a protein specific item to each and every meal, although I still incorporate a variety of nuts, seeds, beans, soy, etc. on a daily basis. Sure enough, the scale is finally moving in my favor after months of near complete stall. And I don't feel weaker, in fact, I have a lot more energy and am even waking up earlier.