First off, I need to be clear about one thing: I haven’t read many books on diet. There are sooo much books on that subject and frankly, sorting out which one is really worth it, moreover, trustworthy can be quite difficult.
So, I’m basically going to start with three books I actually read, one is tackling body metabolism and advocating fasting (and it’s pretty popular), the second one is a rant against sugar (pretty popular too) and the last one is not even really about diet, but about habits (quite popular too, yep).
But you know what? They’re the 3 most influential books for this blog. And they all are tightly linked to my fasting and dieting habits.
I’ll also recommend other books based on what I’ve read about them. I know it would be best to get hands on review, and I’ll try to read them in the long term anyway.
The 3 most influencial books
The Obesity Code by Jason Fung
This has to be the one. When I’ve discovered intermittent fasting it was from a YouTube channel and I think it showed an interview of Jason Fung or mentionned his book.
Later, I watched some interviews of Fung and the clear, straightforward way he was talking about how the body and the metabolism worked struck me.
So, I’ve listened to the Obesity Code and I was blown away by the thoroughness in which Fung explains the process of weight gain. The title says it all: the book deciphers obesity.
Dr. Fung bases everything in the book on many studies and thorough researches. The Obesity Code really started with a question he once asked himself: why aren’t we trying to cure the cause of diabetes instead of just giving insulin to cope with it?
The result of these researches an almost 300 pages book on the science of weight gain. Even though it becomes quite technical, it’s really clear and simple to follow.
Pure, White and Deadly by John Yudkin
How Sugar Is Killing Us and What We Can Do to Stop It
You can already see that the author ain’t kidding. And amazingly, this book was first published in 1972. John Yudkin was a British nutritionist serving at the time on the Chair of Nutrition at Queen Elizabeth College.
The book was republished with many more experiments and research on the subject in 1986, Yudkin felt that his book was becoming outdated (hell, even today it still feels like a precursor). In 2012 an even newer edition (the one on the picture) adds an introduction by Dr. Robert Lustig.
Yudkin goes in great length to explain his theory that fat gain and heart disease are linked to sugar, at a time when it was “common knowledge” that fat is the problem. I cannot say that changed a lot since then…
The premise is the comparison of two carbohydrates: starch and sucrose. At the time, they thought those two carbs where metabolized in the same way by the body. But starch (which is found in bread, pasta, some cereals) is broken down to glucose. While sucrose is broken down into glucose… and fructose.
Fructose, which is also a centre point in the Obesity Code, is then linked through research to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. All that already put on paper by a specialist in 1972.
Some additional researches where added in 86 on that subject, with more experiments and hard proof, but still, thinking that this book is almost 50 years old and that the sugar epidemic has widely spread rather than diminish is quite depressing.
This book is really a precursor to every new dieting trend: keto, paleo, fasting, etc. Even though it doesn’t treat carbs in general, but sugar and fructose in particular, the simple fact that it considers the substance, which accounted at the time for one sixth of calorie consumption in the UK, a poison is big enough to influence at least some physician on the subject.
The book is on Amazon.com as usual. Sadly, as of yet, there’s no audiobook to be found.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Okay you might wonder why, when there are so much books about diet out there, I’m trying to sell you on a psychology / self-help crap book.
Because this blog may be called the Intermittent Dieter, which is intermittent and not only dieter! I could never restrain myself to be a constant dieter, so I’m not trying to make this a habit.
But understanding how habit form can be huge even when it’s not done each and every day. I don’t do much sport on the weekend; I don’t drink and eat the right way either. I don’t indulge in junk food, but I usually don’t think about what I eat, and I drink alcohol.
During weekdays though, I get up at 6 am, I do 30 to 45 minutes of exercise, spend 15 minutes doing Wim Hof’s breathing’s exercise. I stopped looking at Facebook 200 times a day, I stopped biting my nails ALMOST completely, I implemented intermittent fasting every day, etc.
Not all this comes from this book, but it helped me understand how I was able to create those habits and, for some of them, how to form or get rid of them.
Some warning though, this book is mostly based on examples.
In fact, I’d say that 75% of the book is Duhigg telling the story of people that successfully used the power of creating habits to either:
- Manage a multinational corporation (Paul O’Neill)
- Coach an international football team (Tony Dungy)
- Train for the Olympic gold (Michael Phelps)
From these examples Duhigg explain the science of habits and all this makes it quite easy to grasp and apply on yourself. But if you’re mostly after hard science and hacks that’s not what the book is really about.
Other books I would recommend
Based on reviews, listening to lectures or interviews on YouTube, reading articles, I would also like to recommend to you some other books that are in my Wishlist.
The Diabetes Code by Jason Fung
After the obesity code, Dr. Fung takes a closer look at diabetes and tries to explain how we can cure the cause of diabetes, rather than its effects. Many people already benefited from his expertise, just look at the stories on his blog.
Yes, those “this diet totally changed my life” pages are quite common and may feel scammy. But keep in mind that Fung’s website initially was a simple blog with testimonials and advices.
It now offers all that, plus paid membership, courses, etc. I’m not recommending you take the membership (I don’t even really know what it’s about), just to read the book.
So, apart from all this, I’m really curious to read the Diabetes Code. I already read and heard a lot on reversing diabetes with low carb and fasting, but still I’d like to have a more thorough look at it.
Fat Chance by Robert Lustig
I already mentionned Lustig in this article, in 2012 he gave an introduction to the book Pure, White And Deadly. Lustig is one of the biggest advocates against sugar in the profession and has been for many years.
I’ve listened to his talks on the subject and I like his not bullshit, straightforward way of talking about sugar. Saying bold things like:
Exercise does not cause weight loss. What does exercise do? It causes muscle gain. Muscles have mitochondria. Mitochondria burns energy. So, exercise is the single best thing you can do for yourself. But if you think it’ll show up on the scale. Think again.Robert Lustig
And the book actually starts with this little foreword:
This book is written only for those of you who eat food.
The rest of you are off the hook.
You’ve got to love this!
His book tackle sugar, why a calorie is not always a calorie, the metabolic syndrome, the difference between “fat” and “sick”, food addiction, etc. All this backed up with studies, researches and years of expertise in these domains.
You simply cannot go wrong with this book, and I intend to read it just to make sure.
The Power Of When by Michael Breus
I discovered Breus in an interview in an unrelated YouTube channel, where he was talking about the different types of chronotypes (bear, lion, dolphin, wolf).
His theory is that everybody belongs to a specific chronotypes, which means we all perform certain activities better at a certain time of day. You can even take a quiz to discover which chronotype you are and what that means exactly.
This one also is on my Wishlist, but more out of curiosity, since what Breus says makes sense, but I’d actually like to see what he talks about for almost 384 pages: is there many studies on the subject? What researches does he brings to the table?
I took the quiz. I’m a bear and what I’ve read on that (apart from the questions of the test) figures. Even though, based on Breus, exercising right after waking up is not ideal for me, but it actually feels quite good!
I’m not going to recommend you this one as hard science, but to keep an open mind and to see what he has to teach you about it.
We know now that when we eat is a really important factor in weight loss and this book is all about the “when” angle.