This piece was first published on my old site on December 3, 2013.
Truth is not a one-liner.
Dr. David Katz, a respected obesity researcher and director of the Yale Prevention Research Center said this to me.
“We have a lot of different people demonizing different things,” Dr. Katz said. “They’re falling in love with their own hypotheses. Sugar! Eggs! Protein! Carbs! A lot of this is an attempt to sell something, but the challenge with the truth is that it is not a one-liner. It’s not just to avoid carbs. These people are salesmen, and one-liners can make you rich.”
It sure made Pierre Dukan, author of The Dukan Diet, wealthy. His book was just another form of low-carb dieting, and unless you count Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Dukan’s is the bestselling diet book of all time, with 10 million copies sold. His diet has sold as many copies as Catch-22, A Brief History of Time, The Cat in the Hat and The Joy of Sex.
Excuse me while I go kill myself.
I wonder if Dukan is planning a sequel. He could call it: The Future Queen of England Read My Diet Book and So Everyone Bought It and I Got Rich Diet.
We have diets that last 3 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours and 17 days. There are diets based on cabbage, cookies, peanut butter and what spear-wielding troglodytes allegedly ate. Some diet books promise a certain amount of pounds/inches/dress sizes lost in just a few days, while others have the “secret” to boosting your metabolism. Wheat, sugar, meat and fat are all demonized. Fear runs high about the effect on your heart, belly, bowels and brain should you dare eat this toxic food. Speaking of which, we need to cleanse that stuff out of you, so buy this product and never get too far from a bathroom.
If you only eat how they do in Hollywood/China/South Beach/Colorado/France you’ll be lean and healthy. It’s almost like living there.
Here is a portion of a rejection letter I received from the editor of a major publishing house in regards to my forthcoming book: “Despite his flashy prose, he actually writes like the informed journalist that he is … sane, levelheaded, with proven advice. And while that’s great journalism, I worry that it’s not as salable of a diet plan.”
Yeah, there was no gimmick, so she was worried it wouldn’t sell. No wonder so many people are confused. No wonder obesity is at an all time high. Do all the gimmicks confuse you? Is your grain brain stuck contemplating your wheat belly? Is intermittent gluten interfering with your Jenny watching? Did you ditch low paleo after just 17 days? Are you tired of eating clean vegans?
There are diet books based on a gimmick, and then there are sports nutrition books based on improving athletic performance.
Then … there is THE sport nutrition book.
I’ve been recommending this book to people for years. I’ve interviewed the author a number of times. In the pages of my forthcoming book, I tell people to go buy this book. This book is Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.
I just got my fifth edition. Here it is.
A couple of important things are on this cover that I want you to take note of, like the designation “RD,” for example. Not all RDs are awesome – I take issue with the one who said “Bread is the Devil” – but most are solid, and that’s why my book was written in consultation with an awesome RD named Lindy.
Let’s get into why you want Nancy’s book as opposed to some gimmicky diet book.
Well, first off, exercise is awesome. I’ve written articles about how it boosts your brain, lowers stress, alleviates depression, can improve your station in life, enhances career potential and income earning capabilities, makes for a better sex life, allows your competitive spirit to thrive, gives you an opportunity to bond with others, can be done with a dog, can transform you into a better eater, and has a host of other cardiac and health benefits that improve both quality and quantity of life. Exercisers live longer, and live better.
Also, exercise is fun. Except for yesterday. Yesterday wasn’t much fun.
Diet books are often about cutting and losing and restraining. Diet books are also often not based on a valid interpretation of the scientific evidence or anything resembling reality, but instead utilize gimmicks and outlandish claims. Because, marketing.
A good sports nutrition book, however, is based on improving athletic performance. And when it’s in its fifth edition and is lauded by nutritionists and coaches o’er the land as being awesome, then it’s worth a look.
Now to the second important thing on the cover of Nancy’s book. It says, “Over 550,000 copies sold!” I also have the 3rd edition, which proclaims over 350,000 copies sold. The book continues to sell well, year after year, because it gets results. It’s the go to manual for active people to fuel their exercise endeavors.
And yes, weight loss is part of it, if you have fat that you need to lose. An exercise-performance based diet is a healthy one that often will lead to the shedding of excess fat as a happy byproduct. It’s not really about the numbers on the scale, but the numbers on the GPS watch, barbell and treadmill.
With a focus on sports nutrition, you’re not focused so much on losing, but on gaining. You’re gaining speed, strength and stamina along with mental acuity and improved wellbeing. Yes, it’s also a great recipe for fat loss, but the dropping of excess poundage, again, is a side benefit rather than a primary focus.
And that’s what makes it sustainable. Sports nutrition is about the journey rather than the destination. Diet books come and go, but Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook continues to be the book of choice for those who want to find out what they’re physically capable of.
The 3rd edition is the one that made all the difference for me. I had done reasonably well in my fitness journey, having lost 30 pounds of fat and gained a fair amount of muscle, but around 2003 was when I really wanted to up my game. I wanted to get faster and stronger and leaner. The director of health and fitness programs at the University of Calgary recommended Nancy’s book to me, and that was the start of changing how I viewed everything to do with food and fueling athletic performance. A decade later I’m a muscular Boston Marathon qualifier who can see his abs.
James S. Fell, CSCS, is an internationally syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and AskMen.com. He is the author of Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind, published by Random House Canada.