Okay, so maybe you’ve tried to get your loved ones to read Good Calories, Bad Calories, only to watch them experience brain-lock the first time they see the words lipoprotein lipase

Hey, it happens.  I was a pretty good student, but I was out of school for many years before I could read a chemical name without experiencing unsettling classroom flashbacks — in my case, visions of a stern nun who responded to questions such as “Could you please explain that again?” by shaking her head and staring at the ceiling as if to plead, “Dear Lord, why are you punishing me by enrolling dolts in my class?”

Gary Taubes is working on a more consumer-friendly version of his ground-breaking treatise, which I’m looking forward to reading.  But in the meantime, there are some good books out there that offer scientifically sound advice for losing weight and improving your health, minus the heavy-duty science. 

I read one this week.  Actually, I read it in an afternoon, which is what makes the book worthwhile: it’s a nice little summary of what works and what doesn’t.  If your Aunt Martha isn’t willing to read this one, it’s time to just give up.

The book is titled S.P.E.E.D., which is an acronym for Sleep, Psychology, Exercise, Environment and Diet.  I’m pretty sure the particular arrangement of the chapters was done on purpose … I mean, they could’ve called it D.E.E.P.S., or P.E.E.D.S., or P.E.D.E.S., but S.P.E.E.D. is easier to remember and more eye-grabbing.  And as the authors point out, each chapter stands alone.  You could read them in reverse order without losing any comprehension.

The book was written by Jeff Thiboutot and Matt Schoeneberger, personal trainers who between them hold several degrees in fields like nutrition, psychology and exercise science.  (See their web site here.)  Normally, when I see Bachelor of Science in Nutrition after an author’s name, I start to worry … here comes the brain-dead parroting about the evils of saturated fat and all that.  I’m pleased to say, however, that these two have actually done their research.  Pretty much everything they state in the book is followed by a string of citations from scientific journals — so if you do enjoy jumping head-first into the science, you can look it up.

And if you don’t, you can still learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to losing weight.  Here are some highlights:

  • A lack of sufficient sleep screws up your blood sugar, promotes insulin resistance, and increases your appetite.  (As someone who deals with occasional bouts of insomnia, I can attest to the appetite problem.)
  • Achieving any goal, including weight loss, requires defining a vision and a specific action plan, then sticking to the plan.  The plan should focus on what you can do, not on pre-defined results.  (There’s some good advice in this chapter on avoiding negative mental patterns that undermine your success.)
  • Exercise alone rarely produces any meaningful weight loss — but the right kind of exercise combined with the right diet does work, and exercise is important for your overall health, fitness and mood.
  • A whole-food diet with a minimum of sugar and starch is best for supporting both health and weight loss.  Yes, you’ll need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight, but keeping insulin in check by restricting carbohydrates makes the process much easier.

The scientific evidence presented in each chapter is neatly summarized, straightforward, and easy to digest.  You’re not going to learn intricate details about biochemistry or metabolic pathways from this book — but again, that’s the point.  (Remember Aunt Martha.)  You can think of it as a case of “We did the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to.”

And it’s clear that Thiboutot and Schoeneberger know how to separate the good science from the bad.  One of my favorite sections of the book is actually an appendix that gives an overview of the Scientific Method and explains the differences among various levels of scientific evidence — or what the authors call The Great, The Good, The Bad and The Absolutely Worthless. 

Much of the nutrition reporting that appears the media is based on studies (and I use the term loosely) that fall into the last two categories.  More than a few health and nutrition reporters need to read this book … or at least be smacked over the head with it. 

But don’t smack Aunt Martha.  Just put the book in her hands and hope she reads it.

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6 Responses to “Losing Weight With S.P.E.E.D.”
  1. Matt Stone says:

    Hey, if you’re looking for cliff notes on Taubes that’s fun for the whole family, Fathead is a much better alternative than any book I’ve read, including my own weight loss book.

    I appreciate that, although I hope the film inspires some people to read the books too.

  2. Elenor says:

    Ordered it, and through your site too! {wink}

    Been TRYING to get my mom to actually watch your movie: took it and my netbook to a week in upstate NY clearing out her sister’s apartment… she was too “stressed and too tired to watch,” so I watched by myself… (again…). Pointed out that her breakfast (she’s 85…) is REALLY protein deficient — Shredded Wheat and in my head I hear your voice: “71″ (glycemic index); she stalks over to the closet to read the label, intending to prove me wrong… and says nothing: ’cause there’s pretty much no protein), a sliced banana, milk (at least it was whole milk, cause I was there… usually 2%), and a bit of toast… {eye roll} She cannot accept that she’s protein deficient because she’s thin and has muscles in her legs from walking the dog… She IS sort-of low(er) carb, lost 60-some pounds going low carb a number of years ago, when she also took up walking (bless her heart!), so she’s WAY better than she was… but I’m trying to introduce her to protein powders, since she’s not eating enough protein to rebuild muscle and organs and all!

    Maybe this shorter book will help. Thanks again Tom for bein’ here and doing what you do. You and Jimmie and the Eades are my every-morning visit to keep my resolve up. Taking your movie out to LA where my mom, my sister and her husband and their 12-yr-old Type 1 son live… We’re gonna have a movie night!! (With shackles, if I haveta!)

    Enjoy movie night. Glad you ordered the book, too; but I don’t embed the Amazon merchant code in the links to any books I recommend. That would be a bit too close to a paid endorsement.

    Now, if you decide to click the Fat Head ad in the sidebar and go shopping for whatever, that’s a different story … then Amazon identifies us as the referring site.

  3. Ellen says:

    This looks like one I’ll want to add to my library. Thanks for sharing!

    You’ll like it.

  4. Terry OCarroll says:

    Thanks for the review, I’ve just ordered a copy of the e-book version. Hopefully it’ll be helpful in my fat loss efforts.

    I believe it will help.

  5. Laurie says:

    More FATTY HEAD & Body Musings:
    Charlie Rose had some fascinating neuroscientists on Thursday night. I was intrigued. At one point, one said that there is a difference between silicon computer circuits and human brains, because one is silicon and the other is ‘meat’! He’s wrong. Our brains are mostly FAT.
      When I calculated the astounding 2 football fields worth of fatty surface area covering our 100 trillion cells, I didn’t add the acres more of the fatty coating to all our 100 billion neurons’ axonal fibers. I will do that calculation soon because as I was listening to the show, it occured to me that these make-up a lot of additional fatty acreage and were not included in my previous calc. (I only accounted for the membranes covering the average cell’s ‘body’ originally) Axonal processes are in addition to the 100 trillion cell’s surface area membrane covers and they are interstitial and outside and additional to my first calculation. Also, there are multiple fatty membrane bound organelles INSIDE (intrastitial) each and every one of our 100 trillion cells, though they are smaller (okay organelles are not so much in the rbc’s). Also, the bacteria we harbor, 1000 trillion of them, again while smaller, turnover DAILY and we supply their fatty building material. I don’t know yet how to account for that and what the ‘tonnage’ of saturated animal fat we must have in our diets to thrive and remain mentally sound. But I will get back to you on it.
    I have been thinking about our evolution and what might have sparked our branching off from our closest relatives and also accelerating away and taking off from more distantly related carnivores. We figured out how to get into the braincases and into bones. We ate bugs, brains, bone marrow, and (don’t be grossed out) BM’s. I’ve read about this last speculative suggestion because feces still contain huge amounts of energy (animal poop fertilizers anyone?). We also became social and learned how to hunt together. Voila. Then when we figured out agriculture, we got more populous. The more people around, the more chances for genius and technological advances. So agriculture is a full-circle double-edged sword. We are smart, numerous and no longer thriving on wheat and sugar and frankenstein vegetable ‘fats’ after we reproduce and head into old age!!!!!!!
    Laurie

  6. Dy says:

    Tom, thank you for sharing this resource. I have a dear, dear friend who is morbidly obese. She’s a beautiful, vibrant, funny, warm woman, trapped in an unending cycle of heart medication, blood pressure medication, diabetes medication, self-flagellation, disappointment, and shame. She and I often talk about her struggles and her situation, and she is receptive and open to learning. She *wants* to be in a better place.

    But when I say that her physician, who tells her to eat, say, a baked potato, with margarine, and a glass of water, for lunch, is *way off base*, she (rightfully) wants to know why. And *that’s* where I lose her. I need a way to explain, in layman’s terms, and without making her eyes glaze over, exactly why the advice she is following is only feeding the vicious cycle. She’s smart, but it’s confusing. That’s all there is to it. This book just may be the key to helping her learn to shift gears. Thank you!

    It’s a good one. Much more accessible than Good Calories, Bad Calories.

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