Quick review: “The Men’s Health Big Book of Food and Nutrition”

I’m a serial browser and an occasional reader, so with the vast number of pages I’ve quickly-flipped through running through my mind, I can hastily say that “The Men’s Health Big Book of Food and Nutrition” is the most essential book to weight loss I’ve come across yet.

Let me take a step back for one second. If I’m in a slump and feel like my diet is derailing, the first thing I immediately do to get back on track is calorie count. I’ve had stretches where I’ve logged every bite for months, and times where it’s only takes a few days of scrutiny to right the ship. But the most frustrating part of using a calorie counter (Calorie King and My Fitness Pal in my experience) is the ease of finding natural ingredients.

What I always wanted was a calorie counter that easily allowed me to build and store the stats of recipes I make at home. I can’t stand that these weight loss programs are faster at letting me know a Whopper with cheese contains 760 calories, 47 grams of fat and 1,450 mg of sodium. I already knew that was bad for me. How ’bout you help me figure out how good the food I’m making at home is?

And that’s where the “Big Book” excels–as a tool for those who have beat the fast food addiction and want to know more about what’s good for them.

What got me to purchase the book initially is the nearly 200-page pictionary of common fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, grains, dairy, cheeses, oils, fats, spices, etc. You’ll learn the proper serving size, nutritional information and health benefits of a variety of foods. Because I weigh my food when cooking and serve on smaller plates to maintain portion size, knowing the proper serving sizes and their make-up has become key to maintaining portion control.

I was introduced to new ingredients and learned a ton of awesome tips and tricks to grocery shopping and kitchen work. (Ex: “Some poultry producers inject solutions into chicken breasts to make them juicier and more flavorful … but the tradeoff from plumping is a huge increase in sodium content”; “Eating grapefruit three times a day (or 8 oz. of fresh-squeezed juice three times a day) leads to significant weight loss … subjects dropped pounds even though they hadn’t deliberately altered any other part of their diet.”)

Guide aside, my other favorite part of the book is a glossary of food additives that describes the effects of messed up stuff like “hydrogenated vegetable oil,” “modified food starch” and “Yellow #6.”

For those just starting on the path to healthy eating and weight loss, the book also offers a handful of other essential chapters: the E-A-T-S nutritional plan (Eliminate added sugars; Add quality proteins; Trade starch for produce and whole grains; Stop fearing natural fat); a guide to getting started in the kitchen; and the “100 healthiest meals on the planet,” including wild mushroom pizza, summer clam chowder and chicken and pineapple sandwiches.

Check out one of those recipes, a moist and flavorful beef meatloaf, that my homeboy Kevin recently cooked for his blog Diet Accomplice.

If you’re struggling with weight loss, I suggest tackling the nutritional element before moving on to the physical element. If you don’t know where to start, I would definitely suggest you start with this book.

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