- The 7 Most Inspiring Books About Weight Loss
- 11 Books That Shine a Light on Weight Loss
- Mini Habits for Weight Loss: Stop Dieting. Form New Habits. Change Your Lifestyle Without Suffering.
- The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom
- The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss
- The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
- Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health
- Always Hungry? Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently
- Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution: Turn Off the Genes That Are Killing You and Your Waistline
- Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think
- Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster — in Just Two Weeks
- The Adrenal Reset Diet: Strategically Cycle Carbs and Proteins to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, and Move from Stressed to Thriving
- The New Fat Flush Plan
- 1. The Plant-Based Solution
- 2. Dirty Genes
- 3. Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.
- 4. The Rainbow Diet
- 5. Integrative Nutrition
- 6. The Pescatarian Cookbook
- 7. The Low FODMAP Diet, Step By Step
- 8. Smart Meal Prep For Beginners
- 9. The Bloated Belly Whisperer
- The problem with diet books written by doctors
- 10 Inspirational Beach Reads To Help You Lose Weight And Get Fit
- 12 Diet Books That Are Actually Worth Reading
- 1. Weight Watchers: The Ultimate Starter’s Guide to Losing Weight Rapidly the Smart Way
- 2. The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet: Smart, Simple, Science-Based Strategies for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off
- 3. Wheat Belly: 10-Day Grain Detox: Reprogram Your Body for Rapid Weight Loss and Amazing Health
- 4. The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom
- 5. Daily Dash for Weight Loss: A Day-By-Day Dash Diet Weight Loss Plan
- 6. The Lose Your Belly Diet: Change Your Gut, Change Your Life
- 7. Atkins: Eat Right, Not Less: Your Guidebook for Living a Low-Carb and Low-Sugar Lifestyle
- 8. The Cheese Trap: How Breaking a Surprising Addiction Will Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Get Healthy
- 9. Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss
- 10. The Biggest Loser: 6 Weeks to a Healthier You: Lose Weight and Get Healthy for Life!
- 11. The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: Your Essential Guide to Living the Keto Lifestyle
- 12. The Fast Metabolism Diet: Eat More Food and Lose More Weight
- Nutrition Books That Fueled My 50lb Weight Loss Journey
- More Great Reading – Fitness & Nutrition Magazines
- PSA for All Moms!
The 7 Most Inspiring Books About Weight Loss
Losing weight can be a roller coaster of emotions. There are days when your pants fit a little looser and you feel like celebrating, and then others when you feel defeated after you step on the scale and see the number hasn’t budged.
“Losing weight is hard, plain and simple,” says Amy Cirbus, a licensed therapist at Talkspace who is based in the New York City area. “The elation of success, when we reach a point we’re proud of achieving, is a powerful high. The sting of disappointment, shame, anger, and doubt creep in when expectations aren’t met.”
Generally, this comes when life gets in the way of your best-laid weight loss plans. Cirbus says things can start out great — you establish an eating and exercise plan and commit to letting go of problematic old habits in favor of forming positive new ones. And then something happens that throws you off course — maybe you can’t resist a slice of cake at a friend’s birthday party, or work interferes with your gym time. “We’re left to work through the disappointment and frustrations of falling off the wagon in order to get back on,” Cirbus says. “It becomes a mental game as much as a physical one.”
RELATED: 14 Diet and Weight Loss Mistakes — and How to Avoid Them
It’s completely normal to take these setbacks personally. “When we cheat on a diet, we mistake the behavior with the person and absorb the failure,” Cirbus says. “The day we decided to eat all the cake at the party becomes a hangover of sugar and regret, and can make us feel horrible about ourselves.”
It helps to know that setbacks are part of the process. “Losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint,” Cirbus says. She says to picture your weight loss journey as a graph, where the individual day may not have been so great, but overall your progress is trending in the right direction.
If you need help along the way, pick up one of these seven inspiring books that depict what the weight loss journey is really like.
11 Books That Shine a Light on Weight Loss
If you’ve ever tried dieting, you know how hard losing weight can be. But it’s definitely not a challenge you have to face alone — there are countless resources out there to help.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than two-thirds of U.S. adults are considered overweight or obese. At any given time, there’s a good chance many of them are trying to change that through diet and exercise. Eating less and moving around more is solid advice. But most people need more detailed guidance than that!
There’s an untold number of weight loss books on the market, some much more useful than others. In an attempt to cut through the clutter, we’ve collected 11 of the best.
Mini Habits for Weight Loss: Stop Dieting. Form New Habits. Change Your Lifestyle Without Suffering.
What if weight loss success isn’t found in a complicated diet plan or fitness regimen, but in a series of small habit changes? That’s the premise behind “Mini Habits for Weight Loss.” Author Stephen Guise explains why dieting can fail and how to achieve your weight loss and health goals. The secret, he says, is making small, maintainable adjustments to your everyday life.
The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom
Whole30 is a popular approach to weight loss and overall health, written by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. This book is a follow-up to “It Starts with Food,” which began the wildly popular healthy lifestyle brand. “The Whole30” includes step-by-step instructions for lasting weight loss and includes numerous recipes. The authors state their approach will not only help you lose weight, but regulate digestion, improve mood, and boost immune function, too.
The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss
Hormones can play a major role in weight regulation. In “The Obesity Code,” author Dr. Jason Fung says your hormones hold the key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight for life. According to Fung, regulating your hormones automatically regulates your weight. He educates readers about insulin resistance and offers five concrete steps for achieving ultimate health.
The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman
Tim Ferriss achieved notoriety with his breakout volume “The 4-Hour Workweek.” Now, he’s back to share how he maintains his physique and stamina. “The 4-Hour Body” is a guide that promises to help you reach the pinnacle of health in just six months. You’ll be able to sleep less, eat more, get stronger, and heal faster. There’s no single solution, he says, but secrets from around the world that can give you superhuman health.
Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health
What if ultimate health and weight loss success could be yours by simply cutting a few things from your diet? Cardiologist William Davis says this is possible in “Wheat Belly.” His book was a number one New York Times best seller and has spawned countless social media groups. The book is based on the premise that wheat is the main culprit behind obesity, high blood sugar, and many other adverse health effects. In it, you’ll learn all about how wheat may be affecting your health and how to regain control.
Always Hungry? Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently
“Obesity warrior” Dr. David Ludwig wrote “Always Hungry?” to dispel modern myths about dieting and deliver solid evidence for lasting weight management and health. He proposes that the process of getting fat makes us overeat, not the other way around. Ludwig says you cause an even slower metabolism and dreaded cravings when you deprive your body of dietary fat. So, if you’re tired of abstaining from nuts, dairy, and meats for weight loss, you’ll surely enjoy this advice.
Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution: Turn Off the Genes That Are Killing You and Your Waistline
Dr. Steven Gundry is a thoracic surgeon specializing in heart disease. He knows a thing or two about how your diet affects your overall health. In “Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution,” he tells readers that it’s normal to find dieting and weight loss difficult. Your genes are working against you at every turn. The book features well-sourced research and advice, along with 70 recipes, a meal planner, and easy-to-implement lifestyle changes.
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think
What if food makers were out to make you fat? They just might be. And in “Mindless Eating,” Brian Wansink, PhD, the director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, gives you a taste of their tricks. He delves into how branding and marketing affect our food decisions, what determines how fast and how much we eat (it may not be hunger!), and how we can learn to recognize these cues and behaviors to stop them in their tracks.
Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster — in Just Two Weeks
In addition to making millions of dollars in Silicon Valley, Dave Asprey was successful at losing well over 100 pounds. In “Head Strong”, Asprey focuses on how to work smarter and faster. His advice can be applied to everything, from your career and interpersonal relationships to weight loss and health.
The Adrenal Reset Diet: Strategically Cycle Carbs and Proteins to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, and Move from Stressed to Thriving
Your environment, food choices, and stress levels all play a role in your hormones and weight. In “The Adrenal Reset Diet,” you can learn to manipulate your adrenal system to achieve weight loss success. Using carb and protein cycling, Dr. Alan Christenson coaches readers in achieving ultimate adrenal health, something he says can lead to dramatic weight loss, improved energy, and better overall health.
The New Fat Flush Plan
“The New Fat Flush Plan” is an updated version of a quarter-century old book known as “Fat Flush.” In this volume, you’ll learn how to eat for fat loss and lifelong health. Written by Ann Louise Gittleman, the book is centered on the healing properties of foods for detox and diet advice. There are meal and menu plans, shopping lists, stress relief tips, research, and more.
We pick these items based on the quality of the products, and list the pros and cons of each to help you determine which will work best for you. We partner with some of the companies that sell these products, which means Healthline may receive a portion of the revenues when you buy something using the links above.
Raise your hand if you’ve downloaded a diet book (or three) only to abandon it after 20 pages.
Maybe you quit because you realized you’d never be able to give up carbs for that long, or because all the meal prep seemed like a total time suck.
Luckily, some diet books have more staying power than others—so you can hit your weight-loss goals and stop wasting so much money on Amazon. These are the best diet books out there right now, according to registered dietitians.
1. The Plant-Based Solution
amazon.com $22.95 $18.34 (20% off)
The author of this book, Joel Kahn, M.D., is a cardiologist who has been speaking out on the benefits of a plant-based diet for years. “This book makes a strong argument for plant-based living that is rooted in the research, and keeps the focus on the benefits of plant-based living rather than attacking meat-based living,” says Paul Salter, R.D., author of A Dietitian’s Dozen Fat-Loss Tips. Plus, plenty of research shows that going vegan (or vegan-ish) can totally help you lose weight.
2. Dirty Genes
This book focuses on epigenetics, the science of how your genes affect your health. What’s that got to do with weight loss, though? “Some of our genes have been negatively impacted by our lifestyles, like the food we eat, exercise we don’t do, stress we’re exposed to, the list goes on,” Salter says. This book will help you learn how to clean up your act so your genes are working for you—not against you. Do that and weight loss will follow.
3. Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.
amazon.com $24.99 $15.67 (37% off)
Love working out but struggle to keep your nutrition on track? Shalene Flanagan (former winner of the New York City marathon!) shows you exactly how she fuels her record-breaking runs in this book.
While Flanagan is not a nutritionist, she does provide plenty of quick-but-nutritious recipes that anyone can benefit from, Salter says. Keep your food habits dialed in, and those weight-loss results will show up soon after.
4. The Rainbow Diet
amazon.com $19.95 $14.65 (27% off)
The book is great for moving past the whole “fruit and vegetables are good for you” thing and really digging into the benefits of variety, Salter says. You’ll learn which foods you should be eating more (or less) of, and how to make up for any potential nutritional deficiencies while you’re cleaning up your diet.
5. Integrative Nutrition
amazon.com $24.95 $16.96 (32% off)
“This book takes a strong stand against fad diets—thankfully!—and instead focuses on a concept that everyone can apply to their nutrition behaviors: intuitive eating,” Salter says. It’s not a diet per se, but rather a guide to choosing what diet is right for you and your body.
6. The Pescatarian Cookbook
amazon.com $19.99 $14.77 (26% off)
Let’s be real: It’s hard to go full-on vegetarian—that’s likely why lots of people choose the pescatarian route (a.k.a. eating veggies and fish). This book “provides insights regarding potential health benefits of a pescatarian diet while also offering tips related to sustainability, food safety, and meal planning,” says Alyssa Lavy, R.D.
In addition to recipes and insight into the diet, the book also gives tips on what types of kitchen equipment to use, pantry staples to buy, and even advice on how to purchase quality fish and keep it fresh once you bring it home (which can be tricky and confusing AF, tbh).
7. The Low FODMAP Diet, Step By Step
amazon.com $23.99 $18.29 (24% off)
The Low FODMAP diet (it stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols, just so you know) is great for those with digestive issues, says Lavy—but it can be kind of tricky to follow.
“This diet book details the different phases of the diet while offering delicious low-FODMAP recipes to help you stick to the plan and enjoy the food,” says Lavy—an important part of any diet, really.
8. Smart Meal Prep For Beginners
amazon.com $15.99 $12.99 (19% off)
It’s true: Prepping your meals in advance can definitely help with your weight-loss goals. (You’re less likely to indulge when you already have dinner waiting for you at home.) But it’s often hard to know where to start—and what to make. This book aims to change that.
“This book provides a great introduction to planning and developing healthful meals and acts as a cookbook and guidebook in one,” says Lavy, who adds that the book also includes grocery shopping lists, meal-prep equipment, and basic food safety rules for storing pre-cooked meals.
9. The Bloated Belly Whisperer
amazon.com $28.99 $16.93 (42% off)
“If you suffer from digestive issues, this book is a must-read,” says Lavy, adding that it provides 50 recipes for people following gluten-free, lactose-free, and low-fructose diets. This book aims to help you feel your best, regardless of any symptoms you have—while still eating meals you can enjoy.
The problem with diet books written by doctors
One of the perks of being a journalist is that new books cross your desk weeks or months before they’re released.
One of the pitfalls of being a health journalist is that far too many of these books promise to eliminate belly fat forever with their one true secret for weight loss.
Diet books are a multimillion-dollar industry, and it’s no surprise, since millions of people struggle with their weight and long for answers about what they can do to slim down. Books can provide valuable tips on healthful patterns of eating. Some are more outlandish than others. But the problem with all of them is what they promise when it comes to weight loss.
No doctor has ever uncovered the solution to weight loss. If someone had found the fix for this immensely vexing and complex problem, we wouldn’t be facing an obesity crisis.
But unfortunately, more and more respected doctors, despite their good intentions, are complicit with the publishing industry in confusing science and obscuring hard truths about obesity to sell diet books. It’s one thing when actress Gwyneth Paltrow tells people to avoid “nightshade vegetables” on an elimination diet, and quite another when a highly trained and credentialed physician makes overhyped weight loss claims.
Case study: Dr. David Ludwig’s Always Hungry
Recently, a book called Always Hungry?: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently landed on my desk. Like dozens of books I’ve seen before, it makes big promises.
But this book wasn’t authored by a woo-loving celebrity like Paltrow. The book came from Dr. David Ludwig, an esteemed endocrinologist and researcher affiliated with Harvard Medical School who has run dozens of clinical trials and seen thousands of patients in the 20 years he’s practiced medicine.
Unlike many other diet book authors, Ludwig offers a strong scientific theory for his diet: a model of obesity he’s developed based on his and others’ research. The “carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis,” which journalist Gary Taubes and others have also extensively promoted, contends that a diet heavy in carbohydrates (especially refined grains and sugars) can lead to obesity because they increase insulin in the body, and cause the body to hold on to fat.
The classic approach to dieting — in which calories in general are restricted — fails, Ludwig argues, because it doesn’t account for the effects calorie restriction and refined carbohydrates have on the body. As an alternative, Ludwig says dieters should forget about calories and focus on reducing carbohydrates and increasing fat intake to feel more satiated and lose more fat in the long run. His discussion of the science here is lucid and interesting.
But what readers may miss in the way this theory is presented in the book is that it’s still very much a work in progress, and the subject of heated debate among obesity scientists. Not everyone agrees that this approach to weight loss is superior, and there’s high-quality evidence that contradicts it.
The real problem with diet books is what comes next: the diet itself. Publishers are not interested in a book simply running through some interesting, if preliminary, theory on how to eat. They want a very specific plan. They want bold promises about results. And these plans, though sometimes based on promising science, are not rigorously tested among dieters. Worse, in proposing a singular plan, they suggest there is One Right Way for people to eat, which isn’t the case. The best diet, in truth, is the one you, personally, can stick to.
In this case, the closest thing Ludwig has to a test of his diet is a pilot study that followed 237 people, the results of which he references heavily throughout the book. “Most people in the pilot initially lost 1 to 2 pounds a week, a few lost even more, some a bit less,” he writes. “In addition to weight loss, participants consistently reported other benefits that predict long-term success, including: decreased hunger; longer-lasting satiety after eating; great satisfaction with food.”
In a subsequent email, Ludwig said, “The pilot test was never intended as proof. The higher-fat diet I recommend is based on dozens of studies from my research team and hundreds of studies by others. No diet ever recommended, including by the government, has been proven by a definitive randomized controlled trial. Consider, for example, American Heart Association No-Fad Diet: A Personal Plan for Healthy Weight Loss. That title doesn’t make clear that not everyone will lose weight or that the weight loss might be temporary. Further, no long-term trial proved that calorie restriction, the recommended approach, was healthy.”
Indeed, the book clearly states that the pilot is not scientific and was instead designed to generate feedback on the diet. And yet, Ludwig heavily draws on the weight loss “success stories” from pilot participants throughout the book to make very specific claims about the transformation his diet can confer to anyone who tries it: “I’m confident that Always Hungry? will help you achieve lasting weight loss, experience increased vitality, and enjoy a healthy life,” he writes.
I asked Ludwig why he published the book before he had tested the diet with a higher quality, longer-term study. Ludwig’s pilot study ran for only 16 weeks, and as every obesity researcher knows, many people following a new diet lose weight initially; the big question is what happens afterward. The data we have on this is sobering. Only a tiny percentage of people who try to lose weight on a diet succeed, and many more actually gain weight in the dieting process.
“Science is always evolving,” Ludwig told me. “But in public health you can’t wait for the final answer before deciding how to proceed.”
In an email, he added, “The relevant question isn’t whether there’s proof, but rather how the evidence for alternative approaches compares to conventional recommendations. For 40 years, the public has been told that the best way to lose weight is to cut back on calories and fat. But this advice has failed miserably in practice. Is it fair to demand that new approaches be subject to far higher standards of evidence than has ever applied to existing recommendations?”
A recent review of the research on different types of diets in the Lancet (by Ludwig and others) finds low-carb diets outperform low-fat diets. But as a related commentary points out, the difference in weight loss among groups of dieters is tiny: “Participants prescribed low-carbohydrate diets lost only about 1 kg of additional weight after 1 year compared with those advised to consume low-fat diets.”
Diet books have a formula, and doctors use it all the time
When you read a lot of diet books, said Louise Foxcroft, author of Calories and Corsets: A History of Dieting Over 2,000 Years, a clear pattern emerges: “You need to be a doctor. You need to be patronizing. You want a four-phase plan.”
The typical book promises to reveal a secret about fat-busting that no one has been telling you. It then guarantees that with an easy-to-follow and painless plan, the fat will finally melt right off.
Often, we hear a story of the author’s personal struggle and transformation. “Out of that darkness comes light, the Eureka Moment, when the author explains how he stumbled on the radical truth that inspired his diet,” as Malcolm Gladwell writes.
Celebrity endorsements are prominent, as are anecdotes from average people who have allegedly had success following this great new program.
In evidence-based medicine, though, anecdotes are considered the lowest form of evidence, since they may be cherry-picked or otherwise unrepresentative of a broader experience. In the world of diet books, they are presented as definitive proof.
“Wrap that all up in punitive, quasi-religious language,” Foxcroft said, “and you’d be rich very quickly.”
Indeed, if you can come up with a diet that’s appealing enough, these books seem like viable get-rich-quick-schemes. According to Nielsen BookScan, about 5 million diet books are sold in the US alone every year — around half of the entire total health and fitness category in 2015. Gardening books, by contrast, sold about a million units in 2015.
It’s just one segment of the dieting industry, which is valued at $60 billion in the US, equal to the pet and cosmetics industries.
We’ve been suckers for diet books for centuries
People profiting off our weight woes is nothing new. As early as the 18th century, Foxcroft said, dieting was becoming a commercial enterprise. The public was already interested in celebrity diets, and doctors saw the potential to trade on people’s desire to be thin.
“Doctors gave diets the authority of science, and people gave their diets more validity, more credence,” she explained. And if diet gurus weren’t doctors, like 1920s Hollywood nutritionist to the stars Dr. Gayelord Hauser, they’d borrow the moniker anyway.
More than a century later, they’re still doing it. In 2015, the best-selling diet book was Dr. Phil’s 20/20 Diet. Note that he is not a doctor or even a licensed psychologist.
The formula remains largely the same, too. “Nobody ever comes up with anything new,” Foxcroft adds. “They just redress what’s gone on before and package it slightly differently.”
No one has the magic bullet for obesity, and there probably isn’t one
Diet book critic and author of The Gluten Lie Alan Jay Levinovitz argues that these books contribute to scientific illiteracy, obscuring simple truths about how to live a healthy lifestyle with advice about superfoods and complicated recipes. “They push through theories, hypotheses, plans that just haven’t passed scientific muster,” he added.
These diets have been the subject of thorough debunkings, but not all the science in diet books is wrong.
Some doctor’s diet books are more sensible than others, like Yoni Freedhoff’s The Diet Fix. He doesn’t prescribe a specific regimen but argues that the only diet that’s likely to work is actually more of a lifestyle change that’s sustainable over many, many years. (That’s what nearly every weight loss and obesity expert I’ve ever talked to has told me.)
Ludwig’s tome includes many reasonable recommendations. He contends that if people would just forget calories and follow a wholesome, low-carbohydrate, higher-fat diet, they could eventually shed weight. (Even Ludwig’s critics agree this plan would eventually lead to slimming.)
But here’s the thing: Most people know they shouldn’t eat a lot of doughnuts and cookies. They know they should eat more fruits and veggies instead. But many can’t stick to that pattern of eating for a host of social and environmental reasons that most diet books can’t and don’t address.
“All these books are always marketed as, ‘Here is the answer. We have now discovered the answer for obesity, and it’s this thing,'” said health policy researcher Tim Caulfield, who has studied celebrity diets for his books, including The Cure for Everything. “But that’s problematic, given what we know about how complex the obesity problem is. There are so many factors involved, and I don’t think any researcher would deny obesity is a biological and social phenomenon.”
Simply giving people a prescription for eating, which they know they probably should be following anyway, no matter how sensible, isn’t likely to change that.
Yet it’s clear unscientific diet books aren’t going away; they are a hugely lucrative enterprise. Nonfiction is a bigger book category than fiction, and lifestyle makes up about 80 percent of the nonfiction market. Diet books are part of that, and whether they are scientific or not isn’t really a concern of publishers and agents.
As one particularly cynical publisher told me, he looks for the following when considering a diet book pitch: “Is she a celebrity, is it trendy, is it new, will he get on Dr. Oz, has he written a New York Times best-seller, has she helped a celebrity lose weight, and (lastly) does he seem adequately credentialed for this. But that last one isn’t super-important: see Gwyneth Paltrow and The Bulletproof Diet.”
Vote with your dollars: Stop buying diet books
Given the potential gains here, and the entrenched traditions, doctors are unlikely to stop writing these books. And given how the medical profession works, it’s unlikely regulation will get in the way, despite the questionable ethics of diet books. (Only a doctor’s patient-physician interactions, and not his media speech, are governed by professional boards, which is why Dr. Oz has gotten away with his many outlandish claims over the past 10 years.)
We humans are particularly vulnerable to diet books. As Matt Fitzgerald, author of the book Diet Cults, explained to me, our beliefs about food are highly irrational, and when we struggle with weight, we long for neat solutions. “What people want is a pill,” he said. “But if you can’t have that, you want a diet that’s a functional equivalent of a pill: simple, tidy, neat, certain.”
Consumers need to be aware of this vulnerability. We need to think a little bit harder about what we’re participating in before buying into the diet book industrial complex. We need to think a little more about what’s really getting between us and a healthy lifestyle in the long term, instead of seeking out quick and unsustainable fixes. There’s probably a lot more going on there than whether we’ve consumed enough coconut water or too much gluten.
Before crashing on an extreme diet, maybe we consider incorporating one or two of the very basics of a healthy lifestyle — more fruits and vegetables, going on walks — which fewer than 3 percent of Americans manage today. But even that’s too simple: We must think about pushing policymakers to redesign our environments and social programs in ways that fight against rather than promote obesity — something the research evidence increasingly suggests might actually help.
“It’s remarkable people aren’t more skeptical, because these diets never pan out,” said Caulfield. “Can you point to one that over the long term has panned out? The answer is no.”
Let’s not repeat history. Let’s do things differently. Down with diet books.
Update, April 27: After an email exchange with Dr. David Ludwig, we have made significant changes to the section about his book to more accurately and fairly reflect his research program, his theory of weight loss, and the debates around it. We also amended the previous title of the story, “Diet books are full of lies. But they’re even worse when doctors write them,” to more accurately and fairly characterize the issues at stake.
Editor: Eliza Barclay
10 Inspirational Beach Reads To Help You Lose Weight And Get Fit
Dieting books can be off-putting, but these great titles could put you on the road to fitness whilst relaxing on holiday.
Dieting books can be off-putting, but these great titles could put you on the road to fitness whilst relaxing on holiday.
Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir – Jennette Fulda
Whereas most weight loss books take a dry fact-based and instructional approach, Jennette Fulda goes the opposite way. In her weight loss memoir she highlights the honest and human side of her story, in which she lost half of her weight after reaching a life threatening 169kg (372 pounds). Tears are shed, cakes are regretfully hidden, and arguments are had, but throughout her tale Jennette retains her positive tone and genuine personality. You’ll connect with her story on a level you never before thought possible, and soon transfer her weight loss philosophy to your own pound-shedding journey.
Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating – Mark Bittman
It turns out eating healthily is just as good for the environment as it is for your body.
Food journalist Mark Bittman explains how healthy eating and preserving the environment go hand in hand, with many unhealthy foods contributing highly to pollution. After that he outlines how you can counter that. Losing weight and saving the planet – what’s not to love? The second half of the book contains 75 recipes that are both weight and environment friendly, which highlight just how tasty this kind of conscientious eating can be.
The No Diet Diet: Do Something Different – Ben Fletcher
A diet that doesn’t actually require any dieting sounds too good to be true, but Professor Ben Fletcher uses countless case studies and facts to prove it really is. Instead of restrictive eating habits and fad diets, the book highlights the power of behavioural change when it comes to weight loss. In a 28-day programme the book lays out various behaviour changes that will break your bad eating habits in a way that’s so fun you won’t even notice it’s happening! It’ll even benefit other aspects of your life as well – if this doesn’t inspire you to change, nothing will.
Thin for Life: 10 Keys to Success from People Who Have Lost Weight and Kept it Off – Anne Fletcher
Ignore the cheesy image of a woman randomly waving her arms around on a beach on the cover – this book is not your stereotypical diet book, and will encourage you to change your life. The key to this book’s effectiveness is its variety. Anne Fletcher studies 160 ‘masters of weight loss’ who have all lost significant amounts of weight through various methods. She details how they did it, and why it was so effective. You have the luxury of choosing the solution that works best for you, and it’s almost guaranteed that at least one of the 160 weight loss stories will inspire you.
Our Lady of Weight Loss: Miraculous and Motivational Musings from the Patron Saint of Permanent Fat Removal – Janice Taylor
Don’t worry; we aren’t signing you up for some sort of dieting religion. Weight loss is tough, so the more you can stay positive and even laugh about it the better. ‘Our Lady’ (Janice) is a dieting companion that’ll be there for you through the good times and the bad, with lighthearted tips on learning to love healthy food, and taking up creative hobbies to keep you away from the junk food. It even lets you enjoy the odd indulgence in return for a confession about it afterwards, and provides you with ‘righteous recipes’ that can be enjoyed guilt free.
The Long Run: A New York City Firefighter’s Triumphant Comeback from Crash Victim to Elite Athlete – Matt Long
Before you even open this book, prepare yourself for one of the most tear-jerking inspirational stories ever told. After being hit by a bus, avid amateur athlete Matt Long was told his chances of survival were slim, and even then he would likely be paralysed. Not one to go down without a fight, Matt attacked his rehabilitation head on, eventually battling through excruciating pain to finish the 2008 New York Marathon. But that wasn’t enough. As soon as you read the unbelievable conclusion to the book, which includes an Ironman challenge, you’ll take on your own fitness challenges with a newfound determination to succeed, just like Matt.
LEAN & MEAN: Fat Burning Secrets of the World’s Best Personal Trainer – Billy Beck III
Reading these inspirational books is all well and good, but what’s the point if you never actually do anything about it? With Lean & Mean, you’ll have no excuse. Written by Billy Beck III, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s best personal trainers, the book takes a no nonsense approach to fitness and nutrition by providing tips and techniques that have been proven to work time and time again. It’s not all healthy eating and working out though. Billy also goes into detail about the powers of visualisation and mental motivation, and includes inspirational quotes to help you on your way.
Slow Fat Triathlete: Live Your Athletic Dreams in the Body You Have Now – Jayne Williams
If you’re new to exercise and weight loss you probably view triathlons as super tough events reserved for ultra fit people. This book will prove you wrong. Jayne Williams was just your everyday slightly overweight person when she decided to take on the challenge, dubbing herself the ‘Slow Fat Triathlete’. However, through months of dedication and determination, she found out it was more enjoyable than she ever thought possible. She’ll tell you how you can gradually build yourself up to triathlon standard, or even just build up your overall fitness no matter what your starting point.
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – Christopher McDougall
This book has a simple message – we were born to run, and it should not be a boring activity. Chris McDougall visited the famous Tarahumara Indian tribe, who run hundreds of miles every week barefoot through canyons without a care in the world. For them, running is as natural as breathing. This results in a fascinating insight into what running really means for us as humans, and will make you see the sport in a completely different light. Its climax sees the Tarahumara pitted against the world’s best ultra runners, in a page turning account that will no doubt end with you putting on your kit and heading for a run as soon as possible.
Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection – AJ Jacobs
What would happen if a perfectly ordinary man dedicated two years of his life to achieving the perfect body? AJ Jacobs was determined to find out. In this chronicle of his journey he lays out exactly what he tried, what worked for him, and what didn’t. When things go wrong his quirky tone makes it undeniably hilarious, but there are more serious undertones to the book, notably in AJ’s account of his dying grandfather who was once extremely athletic. Amongst the laughter you’ll find genuine fitness and nutrition tips from someone who is truly willing to try anything, no matter how embarrassing it might be.
12 Diet Books That Are Actually Worth Reading
When it comes to healthy eating books, there’s no shortage of options. Log on to Amazon or-gasp-head to a bookstore, and it seems like every celebrity, nutritionist, doctor, and trainer has *the* answer to slimming down. So how can you tell which diet books are legit and which are just hype? Start here-these are the best weight loss books for people who want results.
1. Weight Watchers: The Ultimate Starter’s Guide to Losing Weight Rapidly the Smart Way
By Oliver Sweet, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2017)
Diet philosophy: Everything in moderation
Best suited for: Someone who loves tracking their every move (and bite)
Why it’s worth a read: The famous diet has a legion of fans-including Oprah and Jennifer Hudson-but that’s not why it earned the top spot for weight loss diets on the 2017 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diet Rankings. Rather, it’s because the plan really works. A meta-analysis of 2,400 studies found that Weight Watchers was one of the only programs where the average participant lost more weight after one year than dieters who were doing it on their own or finding advice from other sources. This healthy food book comes with a brief history of the program, recipes, and advice from a Weight Watchers member of 10+ years.
Buy It Now
2. The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet: Smart, Simple, Science-Based Strategies for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off
By Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., and Mindy Hermann, William Morrow Cookbooks (2013)
Diet philosophy: Yes, you really can eat food and lose weight
Best suited for: People who hate feeling hangry
Why it’s worth a read: The whole point of the Volumetrics diet-which was ranked the second-best diet for weight loss in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diet Rankings-is to eat the same amount of food as you usually do, just with fewer calories. No, that doesn’t require ~magic~. It just means eating less energy-dense foods (AKA foods with fewer calories per gram), like fruits and veggies. The New York Times best-selling book features tons of tools and recipes to help you drop pounds without feeling like you’re depriving yourself.
Buy It Now
3. Wheat Belly: 10-Day Grain Detox: Reprogram Your Body for Rapid Weight Loss and Amazing Health
By William David, M.D., Rodale Books (2015)
Diet philosophy: Unhealthy carbs are a major cause of obesity
Best suited for: Those who think their carb addiction has gone too far
Why it’s worth a read: Anyone struggling to pass the bread basket will appreciate cardiologist William Davis’s 10-day wheat detox, which he created after his original Wheat Belly book became a New York Times best-seller. During those 10 days, the program follows recipes that wean you off of unhealthy wheat and grains ASAP, while simultaneously teaching you how to recognize withdrawal symptoms (because pretzel addiction is real!) and how to avoid common diet saboteurs.
Buy It Now
4. The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom
By Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2015)
Diet philosophy: Press the reset button on your entire diet to help you find out exactly which foods are causing health issues
Best suited for: Someone who’s able to stick to a strict, month-long diet program
Why it’s worth a read: Surely you’ve heard of Whole30 by now? This restrictive diet plan requires you to nix all sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy for 30 days. If that sounds impossible to do solo, founders’ Melissa and Dallas Hartwig’s book provides a step-by-step plan that basically holds your hand through the process. Its regular appearance on the New York Times best-seller list solidifies its status as one of the best healthy eating books out there.
Buy It Now
5. Daily Dash for Weight Loss: A Day-By-Day Dash Diet Weight Loss Plan
By Rockridge Press (2014)
Diet philosophy: To lose weight, eat more nutritionally dense foods
Best suited for: People who can’t handle restrictive diets
Why it’s worth a read: DASH-or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension-has been named the best overall diet in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diet Rankings for seven years in a row. This healthy eating plan was originally designed to help lower blood pressure, but followers found it significantly contributed to weight loss as well. (Here are 5 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally.) There are no wild restrictions here-just a call for more fruits and veggies, lean meats, mostly whole grains, and heart-healthy fats. The recipes, a 28-day meal plan, and lots of scientific backup in this book make it pretty easy to convert to the DASH diet if that’s your jam.
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6. The Lose Your Belly Diet: Change Your Gut, Change Your Life
By Travis Stork, Ghost Mountain Books (2014)
Diet philosophy: The key to weight loss is having a healthy gut
Best suited for: Dieters with constant bloating and digestion issues
Why it’s worth a read: Gut health plays a crucial role in weight management, and The Doctors’ Dr. Travis Stork dives deep into the science that explains why a microbiome-friendly diet can help you lose weight, stop bloating, regulate your digestion, and feel more energetic. (Check out these 5 Good-Bacteria Foods You Need for a Healthy Gut.) His meal planner book is full of daily diet recommendations and recipes, so it’s really no surprise that it’s been on the New York Times bestseller list all year.
Buy It Now
7. Atkins: Eat Right, Not Less: Your Guidebook for Living a Low-Carb and Low-Sugar Lifestyle
By Colette Heimowitz, Touchstone (2017)
Diet philosophy: Eat high-fat, low-carb meals
Best suited for: People who don’t have a problem giving up carbs
Why it’s worth a read: Don’t scoff at the Atkins Diet just because Kim Kardashian swore by it to get back to her pre-baby weight. Science says that people who followed high-fat, low-carb plans like Atkins lost more weight after six and 12 months than people who received their nutrition advice from an expert. While Atkins is still about cutting your carb and sugar intake, this new guide focuses on helping you make all-around healthy decisions-and it’s packed with the healthy recipes, meal plan strategies, and goal-setting tips to get you there.
Buy It Now
8. The Cheese Trap: How Breaking a Surprising Addiction Will Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Get Healthy
By Neal D. Barnard, Grand Central Life & Style (2017)
Diet philosophy: Cheese is as addictive to heroin
Best suited for: Those who OD on dairy on a regular basis
Why it’s worth a read: If cheese is your weakness, this nutrition book is your bible. Dr. Neal Barnard’s book made headlines with his attention-grabbing claim that cheese is as addictive as heroin, and it delivers a realistic program to help people curb their cravings. Barnard spends the majority of the book explaining why he calls cheese “dairy crack,” and how-thanks to the fact that it’s loaded with calories, sodium, and saturated fat-it can contribute to problems like blood pressure and arthritis. (Did You Know Insomnia Can Make Your Blood Pressure Skyrocket?) You don’t need to cut cheese from your diet entirely (dairy does have health benefits), but Barnard’s book provides tips-and recipes-you may need to keep from overindulging.
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9. Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss
By Joel Fuhrman, Little, Brown and Company (2011)
Diet philosophy: Eating unhealthy foods can lead to bad eating habits
Best suited for: People who constantly give in to their cravings
Why it’s worth a read: A regular Amazon best-seller, this healthy eating book outlines Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s six-week weight loss plan and the principles behind it. It investigates the idea of “toxic hunger” and how your cravings can condition your body to overeat, then walks you through ways to leave those food addictions behind by eating more nutrient-dense foods that fill you up on fewer calories. (Check out these 5 Signs You’re Addicted to Food.)
Buy It Now
10. The Biggest Loser: 6 Weeks to a Healthier You: Lose Weight and Get Healthy for Life!
By Cheryl Forberg , Melissa Roberson, Lisa Wheeler, and The Biggest Loser Experts and Cast, Rodale Books (2010)
Diet philosophy: Get 45 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 30 percent from lean proteins, and 25 percent from healthy fats
Best suited for: Dieters who aren’t afraid of serious commitment
Why it’s worth a read: Believe it or not, the diet based off the TV show tied for the top spot on the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diet Rankings for Best Diets for Weight Loss. The report found that the specific combo of restrictive eating and exercise will definitely help you lose weight in six weeks (but did note that to keep the weight off, you have to stick with the plan). You’ll get recipes, medical, and nutrition advice, plus six weeks of workouts in this book-not to mention plenty of motivation to keep going after that month and a half is up.
Buy It Now
11. The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: Your Essential Guide to Living the Keto Lifestyle
By Amy Ramos, Rockridge Press (2016)
Diet philosophy: If you change your body’s energy source, you’ll lose more weight
Best suited for: People who are fine with sacrificing a little protein
Why it’s worth a read: The trendy ketogenic diet, founded by a doctor at the Mayo Clinic, is a high-fat, low-carb diet à la Atkins, but it limits your protein intake. Consuming a diet made up of 80 to 90 percent fats, and the remainder consisting of carbs and protein, forces your body to burn fats instead of carbs-that, in turn, can result in more weight loss, according to a study published in the journal Behavioral Pharmacology. Ready to give it a go? This diet book is a one-stop guide to going “keto,” with easy-to-understand explanations of the ketogenic principles and a 14-day meal plan that gets you started.
Buy It Now
12. The Fast Metabolism Diet: Eat More Food and Lose More Weight
By Haylie Pomroy, Harmony Books (2016)
Diet philosophy: Being strategic about what you eat and when you eat it can make your body more efficient at shedding extra weight
Best suited for: People who hate calorie counting and don’t want to cut out any food groups
Why it’s worth a read: You don’t have to be a nutritionist to know that a faster metabolism equals more weight loss. But revving your calorie-burning engine is often easier said than done. This four-week diet book helps you get there, as the plan calls for three meals and at least two snacks a day (yay!), includes recipes, and allows you to eat from all the different food groups throughout the week. Author Haylie Pomroy claims that the method will jumpstart your metabolism and help you see improvements in your energy, sleep, and stress levels. Who wants to say no to that? (Here are 11 More Ways to Spikes Your Metabolism.)
Buy It Now
- By Ashley Mateo @ashleymateo
Nutrition Books That Fueled My 50lb Weight Loss Journey
When I started on my journey in January 2013 to lose an extra 50 lbs I’d been carrying around for years, I knew I had a lot of learning to do on the topic of nutrition.
I had just had my third child in May 2012, and you could say I was carrying some baby weight, but honestly I was overweight before I had kids, so this was a much deeper issue for me.
I had read the fun book Eat This Not That a few months prior, and I’ll have to be honest – I was truly surprised by most of the recommendations. I didn’t know if I should eat a hamburger or a BLT. I didn’t know the caloric impact of a sundae or a basket of French fries. I didn’t know which foods had more fat in them than others. I didn’t know anything about nutritional decisions.
Luckily, I recognized the importance of nutritional knowledge to the success of my ultimate outcome, so I resolved to read at least one book each month.
I would consider Eat This Not That the impetus to the realization that I had a lot to learn about nutrition. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a nutritional book because it doesn’t teach you anything about the way your body uses food to function, but it is definitely a good gauge of your nutritional know-how. A quiz book of sorts!
The following books are what really helped me the most. They were all great in their own way, adding to my nutritional knowledge foundation bit by bit in different ways. I have listed them in order of importance, i.e. how much they contributed to my nutritional knowledge and making me better at distinguishing good foods from bad.
Atkins for Life – This book helped me learn a lot about the role sugar plays in our bodies. It’s a pretty technical book, which I loved. This was the first time I found the term “insulin resistance” explained in a way that I could understand.
This Amazon review basically sums up the book, “Atkins argues that low-fat meals are high-carbohydrate missiles, causing the body to produce excess insulin, which then produces fat, slows down metabolism, and tips the scale.” While I don’t follow a low card diet plan, this information was extremely useful on my journey.
This is Why You’re Fat
I just loved Jackie Warner’s no nonsense approach to weight gain. I could tell I would like it from the minute I read the title. I did, indeed, want to know why I was fat, and she showed me not only why, but how I could fix that problem forever. This book is FULL of practical advice.
You: On a Diet by Dr. Oz
I always enjoy watching Dr. Oz on tv because he’s entertaining and down to earth. This book offers the same. It explored (and explained to me) lots of different factors that might be influencing my tendency to be overweight, and it’s full of lots of overall lessons in nutrition and the way our habits influence our weight.
This book covers the mental side of weight gain and explains how stress, genetics, and muscles all interact biologically to determine your body size.
It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole 30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways
The Whole 30 plan is a rather strict set of dietary rules but the exact guidelines aren’t what makes it great. What I learned from this book was a healthy attitude toward food, even the food that you aren’t “supposed to eat.” Now I know how to have a cheat day and get right back on the train without feeling guilty! The advice in this book is GOLDEN.
These five books about nutrition gave me the knowledge I needed to successfully lose 50 lbs after having baby #3. I guarantee they will help you if you are in the same place I was when I started my journey.
Read More: How I Lost 50 Lbs After Having Baby #3
More Great Reading – Fitness & Nutrition Magazines
In addition to reading at least one new nutritional book per month, I also gave myself permission to purchase a fitness magazine every other week to help me stay motivated during my toughest diet days.
A few magazines I would highly recommend for anyone going through this same thing are:
- Muscle & Fitness Hers (my fave!)
- Eating Light (lots of great recipes that are big on flavor but nice to your waistline)
- Clean Eating (also great ideas for tasty recipes that are actually good for you, especially if you exercise a lot)
PSA for All Moms!
You may notice that all the links I placed above are to Amazon book listings. If you are going to purchase any of these, I HIGHLY recommend you first signing up for Amazon Mom. Actually, I recommend signing up even if you don’t plan on making a purchase right away. Not only do they have a 30-day free trial that gets you tons of benefits, you can get 20% off diapers PLUS access to tons of digital coupons, sometimes on those very diapers you were going to buy anyway.
If you would like to start at the beginning of this post-baby weight loss series, start here.
This post is included in the Complete Guide for Stay-at-Home-Moms, a collaborative effort by over 50 mom bloggers