Diet and nutrition

5 diet books to help you slim down this summer

July 9, 2013 at 5:25 PM ET

If you're looking to jump-start...

'The 5:2 Bikini Diet'
Harper

'The 5:2 Bikini Diet'
By Jacqueline Whitehart
(Harper)

  • Healthy, balanced eating 5 days/wk
  • 500-600 calories on 2 non-consecutive days/wk
  • Learn to recognize true biological hunger
  • No meal skipping
  • Not a quick fix - establish long term healthy habits

Overall summary:
By markedly trimming down your calories two days a week – by about an extra 1000/day two days a week – it’s about an extra half to one pound a week of weight loss (depending on your calorie needs). That’s the jump start. Your two lower-cal days are lean protein and veggie based, for adequate nutrition, and so you don’t have to worry about enough protein for your body for the day. It is important to divide up and not do two days in a row, metabolically. The other 5 days are calorie controlled – you have to trim calories every day to lose weight, usually around 1500 cal for a day (depends on starting weight, etc). When you have less food on those two days, you really recognize hunger signals – we are so used to eating whenever we feel like it. We’re never quite hungry when we eat, and never quite full when we stop. These two lower calorie days really establish those signals for life. You can’t just top eating – it is important not to skip meals. This is not a quick fix – it is a jump start, used to learn long term habits.

Point by point:
Healthy, balanced eating 5 days/week: You need to be mindful of your eating on the days you’re not on the more restrictive days. Just cutting back 2 days a week more severely won’t produce weight loss. The idea here is to choose a balanced eating plan of about 1400-1600 calories per day (depending on age, activity, gender, starting weight, etc). The jump start is from the added savings of calories – around 500-1000 calories per day, which translates to an extra pound or two a week with those changes alone.

500-600 calories on 2 non-consecutive days: This is the jump start part – you are saving 500-1000 calories per day, which translates to an extra pound or two a week. It must be non-consecutive, so your protein balance remains stable.

Learn to recognize biological hunger and fullness: This stricter plan also helps to show you the biological signals for hunger and fullness – as you’re eating less food, and will be actively hungry for the next meal. People need to learn hunger signals again – we eat all the time, just because it’s there. And, you really appreciate around 1500 calories on your other 5 days – seems like so much compared to 500-600. That is a behavioral boost.

No meal skipping: Meal skipping is never a good idea as it leads to overeating at the next meal. “Saving” calories/foods for later “when you’re more hungry” backfires – as you start eating, and then are overhungry – and appetite is stimulated so you wind up eating more. On the 2 restrictive days, do NOT save it all for one meal at the end of the day. Biological signals kick into high gear, and you’ll get so hungry you’ll have a hard time sticking to the plan.

Not a Quick Fix – Establish Long Term Eating Habits: This is a plan that can work over the long term. It jump starts, but is not a quick fix. This can boost your “standard’ rate of weight loss by a small amount – a pound or two a week. A nice mental boost.

'The 5:2 Bikini Diet' foods
Standard Day:
  • Cottage cheese and peaches
  • Melon wrapped with prosciutto ham
  • Grilled chicken with sundried tomatoes and olives
  • Skim milk latte
  • Chocolate dipped strawberries
500-600 cal day:
  • 4 ounce extra lean burger (no bun) with a salad (250 cal)
  • 4 egg white omelet with pepper and onions (100 cal)
  • 100 cal pack roasted almonds (100 cal)
  • Plate of raw broccoli, cauliflower (75 cal)
  • ½ grapefruit (50 cal)
  • 1 kiwi fruit (25 cal)

If you're a carb lover...

'The Starch Solution'
Rodale

'The Starch Solution'
By John McDougall, MD and Mary McDougall
(Rodale)

  • Plant-based diet
  • Fiber-rich starchy carbs
  • Rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Focus on beans and legumes for protein
  • Adequate, not high protein

Overall summary:
It’s not all brown rice and potatoes. Starches in nature are very normal – and starches are also the food group for many fruits and veggies. This is plant based – not much animal protein – so big focus on the “starchy proteins” like beans and legumes. The problem here really is of portion control. The fiber-rich nature of beans and legumes helps to keep you full, but you have to pay attention to how much or you won’t lose weight. This is a great plan for people who don’t like loads of concentrated protein in a high protein diet (meat, chicken, etc..) This is adequate, not high protein. Fiber is higher in this plan than many others.

Pointby point:

Plant based diet: It is important to know that starches are a part of nature – in the form of fruits, vegetables, and beans, and legumes (lentils, black beans, tofu). Not much meat – and lower in protein, but adequate because most of the protein is from plant sources.

Fiber rich starchy carbs: This diet works in high-fiber starches – whole wheat bread and pastas, so all grains included are fiber rich. The beans and lentils are high in fiber and protein rich – and taste starchy.

Rich in Fruits and Vegetables: This also includes the starchy fruits like bananas – very satisfying for a dieter.

Focus on Beans and Legumes for Protein: As above, the focus on vegetable sources of protein are a double duty food – a starchy taste and texture, and rich in fiber and protein. Important for people who like the mouthfeel of starchy foods.

Adequate, not High Protein: Many plans are so protein-focused, the starches in nature are cut down, to keep calories in check. Animal proteins and vegetables are a basis for many weight loss plans – with the focus on protein. In this plan, the protein is adequate, but not super-high. Good for people who would like some lean meatballs, with whole wheat pasta (moderate serving) compared to a plan that gives you meatballs, with a salad – no starch of any kind. This can be punitive!

'The Starch Solution' foods
  • Mushroom stroganoff
  • Bean and corn enchiladas (in soft whole wheat taco)
  • Tofu lasagna
  • Vegetable shepherd's pie
  • Vegetable soup

If you like meal replacements...

'The Body Reset Diet'
Rodale

'The Body Reset Diet'
By Harley Pasternak, MSc
(Rodale)

  • 5-day protein-rich liquid plan
  • Protein-rich smoothies as meal replacements
  • Transition to foods for long term
  • Balance of protein, fats, and carbs
  • Integrates moderate exercise plan

Overall summary:
This plan is set in Phases. The first phase is all liquids – but NOT a juicing plan, which is unhealthy when used exclusively. It is a high-protein rich liquid plan for the first 5 days – 3 high protein smoothies and 2 snacks (so you do have a little food. That is important for “chewing” which people really miss!). The idea of teaching people to have a protein smoothie as a meal replacement (as a once a day replacement for the long term) is really good. It helps control calorie intake for the long term. It’s a good balance of protein/carbs/fat, and the food plan for the long term is good. The exercise plan is moderate – and not heroic. This is good, because when you exercise too much, it stimulates appetite. In this book – which si a good thing – exercise supports but does not replace a weight loss effort.

Point by point:
5-day protein-rich liquid plan: This is not “juicing” or a “detox” plan. It is a great way to create structure in your daily eating, without a lot of trouble or difficulty. You have a protein-based shake – called smoothies – with varying kinds of fruits, yogurt, milk, ice, spices. It limits the shakes to 5 days, before you starting eating real foods again – and all balanced, variety of foods.

Protein-rich smoothies as meal replacements: These focus on protein, to manage hunger – and to provide a variety of nutrients for these 5 days. Using meal replacements is a great way to get structure, and take the pressure off of what to eat for every meal. This makes it easy.

Transition to foods for long term: The idea here is to focus on creating structure for 5 days, with shakes only (takes the guesswork out) – that are tasty and include many fruits and vegetables in a calorie controlled way. Foods are added from the start, which is good.

Balance of proteins, fats, and carbs: No foods are off limits – it is for the thinking person who will agree to eat a large variety of proteins, fats, and “smart” carbs (complex). A smart way to go.

Integrates Moderate Exercise Plan: Author is a fitness guy – but his plan is really smart. No intensive exercising, as he also realizes that weight loss is 90% eating and 10% activity. It takes maybe 5 minutes to eat 500 calories, and 2 hours to burn it off – so do the math! His idea of moderate activity – a brisk daily walk is consistent with American guidelines for good health and is a workable way to start – about 20 minutes a day of walking, at a minimum.

'TheBody Reset Diet' foods
  • Apple and chunk of fat-free cheese
  • Edamame (in shells)
  • Strawberry smoothie
  • Orange smoothie
  • Egg white omelet with turkey bacon

If you are a foodie or a chef...

'Art Smith's Healthy Comfort'
HarperOne

'Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort'
By Art Smith
(HarperOne)

  • Strong focus on shopping and food prep
  • Calories/portion listed with recipes
  • Large variety of taste and texture of foods
  • Emphasis on healthy comfort foods
  • Shares his personal success story of 120 pound loss

Overall summary:
A very different focus here. He has been morbidly obese. As a chef, he has channeled his interest in cooking – which made him obese – to one where he can enjoy his love of cooking with lower-calorie dishes, and a lot of creativity – tons of spices, cool veggies and ingredients to make flavor pop. The portions are controlled (ie, small!) and the calories PER PORTION are listed in the recipes which is just great. His own personal stories embedded within are motivating. This is MOST DEFINITELY for someone who likes to shop and cook – and take the time to do so. This is not 30-min meal for most of the recipes. If you love to cook and feel deprived if you think you’ll lose that because you’re trying to lose weight, this book is for you. Beginners – not for you!

Pointby point:

Strong focus on shopping and food prep: This is great for people who really would feel deprived if they are out of the kitchen, and not shopping for food, trying recipes, and spending a lot of time in the kitchen preparing foods. This is NOT for the beginner – way too daunting, and the shopping is more intense with all kinds of seasonings that make things taste great. PERFECT for the “foodie” who wants to lose weight.

Calories/portion listed with recipes: This is so helpful. At the bottom of each recipe, you have not only the CALORIES in the whole recipe – but calories/portion – so you know how many portions are in the whole thing. IE: calories/1 cup serving.

Large variety of taste and texture of foods: With a chef and foodie as the author – a large variety of all kinds of low-calorie and nutrient rich foods are used. The taste and texture of such a large variety is very satisfying to many people – and breaks up the “boredom of dieting” and eating the same foods daily.

Emphasis on healthy comfort foods: This is not a book of ricecakes topped with salsa and herbs. It is REAL food – and does the heavy lifting of modifying calorie-laden dishes with a zillion calories. The recipes are good ones – and while not as calorie-dense as the originals, look good in the photos, and make sense, from a food preparation point of view. The kinds of trims in the calories are excellent.

Shares his personal success story of 120 pound loss: His passion for this is well done in his writing. His writing is from the heart – and is very inspiring. He didn’t lose the weight (120 pounds) in a short time – but he DID succeed with slow, steady and consistent progress. He points out you CAN be a foodie, and also lose weight. Admirable and very honest story!

'Art Smith's Healthy Comfort' foods
  • Turkey meatloaf
  • Fennel, arugula, and orange salad
  • 3-bean turkey chili
  • Lemon yogurt panna cotta
  • Whole wheat margherita pizza

If you're an emotional eater...

'Foodist'
HarperOne

'Foodist'
By Darya Pino Rose, Ph.D
(HarperOne)

  • Anti-diet approach
  • Train your brain to make smart food decisions
  • Create and reinforce new eating habits
  • Solutions for weight loss sabotage
  • Understand the psychology of eating

Overallsummary:

This is the thinking person’s book. Not focused on food as much as your emotional connection to food, with many practical strategies to create new eating habits, and break the bad ones. You CAN change your poor food decisions, with the strategies here. And, points out a lot of weight loss self-sabotage situations and how to deal with them. It is a mind-body-mouth book! If you want some insights into your overeating, to lead to workable changes for yourself, this is for you.

Point by point:
Anti-diet approach: This is the thinking person’s plan – who wants to get in touch with your emotional connection to food. It’s not so much WHAT you’re eating, but WHY you’re eating. This can work with mostly any well balance diet plan. This is a thinking person’s plan – it reviews all kinds of ways to connect your mind and body – but you have to think about the specifics for YOU – to personalize the approach.

Train your brain to make smart food decisions: This book provides strategies to change your behavior – to make smart food decisions. We all know WHAT to do, but need some practical steps to implement.

Create and reinforce new eating habits: The strategy here is to create new habits. Think about what you want to change, and then make small steps towards that. And the author has many helpful, specific strategies about how to create new habits (and it takes about 3 weeks to “learn” a habit).

Solutions for weight loss sabotage: Often it’s not all the stuff you’re doing right – but the specific issues that sabotage your effort. And everyone is different – what one person finds easy is so hard for someone else. Whether it is night-time snacking, stress eating, skipping meals, sweet tooth, overeating on the weekends – strategies are outlined of how to recognize – and steps to resolve- the sabotages blocking you for success.

Understand the psychology of eating: In current times, none of us are eating from hunger, like cavemen and women. We eat for so many reasons – many emotional – happy, sad, bored, stressed. Once we can accept that many reasons for eating might “seem” like hunger, but are not – we have turned the corner to self-awareness and strategies for success.

'Foodist' foods
  • Roasted cauliflower (tastes like french fries – roasted at 500 degrees)
  • Sliced avocados
  • Grilled onions and peppers
  • Cheese plate
  • Light beer
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