A Book a Month: January 2010

Goal #3 is to read a book a month. I’ve always been an avid reader, but I got out of the habit of reading for pleasure during grad school. (Funny how being forced to read 200+ pages of textbooks a week will do that to you!) I’ve gotten back into reading somewhat, but I’m very inconsistent. I’ll go months without finishing a book, and then I’ll read two in a week. So, this is my attempt at some consistency.

The book I read in January was “Ultra-Metabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss”, by Mark Hyman, MD. I’ll give it 3/5 stars. The first half of the book was very interesting. Dr. Hyman talks about how all of the body systems work together, and how many different things affect your metabolism. The chemicals in food can actually affect your hormones and control how your body metabolizes food and energy. Not surprisingly, the super-processed foods we eat so much of now are not very good for us. The main takeaway from this part of the book is that we need to eat more whole, natural foods, and that there are some foods/vitamins/minerals that can actually help you to boost/restore your metabolism. Many of these ideas are familiar if you’ve read any of Michael Pollan‘s food writing. (Pollan is the superior writer, by the way.)

The second part of the book details a rather specific eating plan to cleanse your system and then keep it healthy. While the title of the book insinuates that the plan is “simple”, I found that descriptor to be a bit misleading. Yes, it’s simple in that the more whole, real foods you eat, the healthier you’ll be, but eating those foods consistently takes a lot of effort. Many of the foods he recommends are obscure (you’d have to go to a Whole Foods type of place to buy them) and expensive. Additionally, the time it takes to prepare them is more time than many people have to put into preparing their food on a daily basis. That is not to say that it’s completely useless. There are some recipes that look very good (I haven’t had a chance to try any yet) and I am completely on board with integrating more whole foods into my diet. I just don’t think a complete overhaul of your day to day diet in this fashion is reasonable for most people.

Overall, there are some interesting takeaways, but I am not incorporating much of it into my daily regimen that I hadn’t been working on incorporating previously. If you have the time or money to make a bigger commitment to this style of eating, I think that you would benefit greatly from this book. Also, if you have concerns about your metabolism, you will gain some insight into how to ramp it up. Otherwise, you can probably stick with “Food Rules”.

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