Thursday, May 25, 2006

Eat More, Weigh Less (Dr. Dean Ornish)

In Eat More, Weigh Less, Dr. Dean Ornish dismisses a lot of common myths about weight loss. Not only does he do this with good arguments, but he supports his claims with scientific data from large clinical studies. (And he gives an excellent response to the low-carb Atkins diet.) Ornish is a cardiologist who became interested in weight loss when he was studying heart disease. What he and his colleagues have found is that it's not necessarily the amount of calories that you eat that makes you gain weight, it's the amount of fat that you eat that makes you gain weight. He promotes a nonfat vegetarian diet filled with lots of fruit, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. Granted, people who are at risk for heart disease who follow this diet get results right away and stick with it, but it's a big leap for the general public to make. But, as Ornish notes, this isn't an all-or-nothing deal. Eating more veggies and less fat will have great benefits.

The second half of the book includes recipes by many famous chefs. However, famous chefs sometimes forget how we normal people cook and what kinds of ingredients we have access to. For example, one chef has a recipe for persimmon muffins. I'm sure they're delicious, but I don't think I even knew what a persimmon looked like before I lived in California, where they're abundant and grow on trees in people's front yards. Not only is it a regional fruit, it's also a highly seasonal fruit, available only in the fall. That said, I also did find many recipes that sounded great and seemed relatively easy.

Even if considering becoming a vegetarian makes your mouth water for a porterhouse, I'd still recommend reading this book for an understanding of how the body processes fat, why people who diet hit plateaus, and how best to fuel your body throughout the day.

Next book up: Fantasyland by Sam Walker

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