Saturday, April 17, 2010

Book Review: A Guide to Flexible Dieting

I don't review books very often, because I rarely find books that I totally recommend. It's hard to say, I recommend you read Chapters 1-3 but Chapter 4 is ridiculous. 

As you all know, because I have moaned about it for a couple of months, I've been stuck in weight loss limbo for a couple of months now.  I bought a book to get through this idiotic plateau once and for all.  I've also recommended several websites where I've learned a lot.  One of those sites that I recommend is  Body Recomposition, so for my birthday I ordered this book, A Guide to Flexible Dieting.

I waited impatiently for my order and read it in one sitting.  It's not a huge book - it's 110 pages.  It doesn't have glossy pictures, suggested menus, or before pictures of a frumpy sad overweight woman followed by an after pictures of the new improved buff tan woman in a bikini, complete with glowing smile. If that is what you are looking for, pick up any of the 400 page opuses at your local book store.  You won't get the same type of  factual information from the pretty books.  You'll get cheery optimism, pretty pictures, recipes, and the opinions of the author from the pretty books.

Flexible is not a diet book.  It does not recommend a specific diet.  It explains how to make diets work better for you.  It explains nutrition basics.  It explains how to figure out your approximate body fat percentage, your maintenance calories, and your nutritional needs.  It explains why and how a few of the more popular diets work (or don't).  It removes the mystery and it does so backed by dozens of studies performed by respected sources.

I like to consider myself relatively intelligent, but I'll admit, I was a little nervous about buying the book because when I read stuff on the website, I have to have another window open with Google so I can define the terms I don't understand. The author, Lyle McDonald, is highly respected in the field of physiology and nutrition. He reviews current studies in those topics on his website, and never just makes random claims. He always has scientific backing for his recommendations. He is one of the smartest guys out there in terms of exercise and diet, whatever your goals happen to be - weight loss, body building, sports specific training and nutrition. He can be a little crusty on the website, especially the forums, but I imagine when you've written the articles and answered the same questions 12 billion times, it begins to wear on one.

The internet persona and the author persona are quite different.  This book is all science but it's easily understandable and clear to people who do not hold multiple science degrees.  I didn't have to use Google once to understand it.

One of the most important things McDonald discusses in the book is the "all or nothing" mentality that we've also talked about on here about a million times.( here , here and  here for example) When you "mess up" don't let it blow your day, week, month.  Move on.  That is what "flexible dieting" is all about -  applying dieting to the real world experience and not letting mistakes throw you off-track.  It gets inside your head and helps you understand why you may have failed in the past, and helps you to overcome those mental blocks this time around.

Some of the things discussed in the book are:

Determining Your Body Fat Percentage
Free Meals (or what I call off-plan meals here)
Full Diet Breaks
Setting Maintenance and Diet Calories
The Psychology of Dieting

The formulas are easy to use, the writing is friendly and personal, and the author has a dry sense of humor and a no BS attitude.

This will be $39.95 well spent - I recommend this book from cover to cover, without the usual reservations I put on books.  I know that as my dietary needs change, I will be referring to this book again and again.

You can find it on McDonald's website  at the Body Recomposition store.

Let me know if you decide to go for it - I'd be interested in your thoughts on it!


  1. Great review! I love the book and it is too bad more people don't know about it!