I recently received an email question from a knowledge-hungry reader.
I’m becoming VERY interested in learning how the body works; what happens when we eat carbohydrates, the effects of antioxidants, etc. I was given a good introduction in “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and of course the 3rd chapter in your book, where you talk about insulin, or even your article “what happens when you carb binge”. Wikipedia and Google help me to a certain point, but I soon become overwhelmed; it’s hard to put everything together… where do I go from there?
Great question. Yeah, Google is a godsend, but it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, especially when a top 10 Google search ranking doesn’t necessarily indicate quality of content so much as it indicates the effectiveness of a site’s search engine optimization (although it doesn’t hurt to have both…). And a quick peek into the blogrolls of your favorite sites can be useful, but there’s often little explanation or explication to accompany the listings. Besides, blogrolls don’t cover books, or films, or other offline resources, and despite the undeniable ease of relying totally on blogs and websites, those offline resources can’t be ignored.
Quick. How’d you hear about your favorite book or album of all time? Did you let an online algorithm determine what genre/artist/author/etc you’d prefer? Or did a trusted friend, colleague, or family member make a recommendation? I dunno about you, but I’ll take personal recommendations from people I trust over what some impersonal line of code thinks I should like, given the choice between the two.
You’re reading MDA, so I’m going to assume you care about what I have to say – at least a little bit. So, without further ado, I present my recommended list of nutrition, health, fitness, and all things Primal-related readings, viewings, listenings, and perusings.
Whole Health Source – Stephan is logical, rational, and completely fair. If he’s biased, it’s in favor of unfettered, unfiltered science. If you’re interested in fat-soluble vitamins, traditional diets, and understanding the increasingly-obfuscated science of lipids, Whole Health Source is the place to go.
Hyperlipid – Peter delves deep into the science of fat. He’s a veterinary anaesthesiologist by day and a high fat nutrition expert by night. He gets ultra technical, though, so if you aren’t familiar with such terminology as oxidized LDL, familial hypercholesterolemia, lipoprotein(a), or ApoE, you may want to wade in slowly. It’s definitely worth getting your feet wet.
Free the Animal – Richard is fiery and can really rub people the wrong way. He swears on a semi-regular basis, and he definitely doesn’t suckle fools. He’s also a damned entertaining writer with a complete lack of fear when it comes to dietary self-experimentation. His experiment has gone pretty well, and you could learn a lot from it. Read this blog daily.
Theory to Practice – Keith Norris trains hard in a pretty unique way. It’s not quite CrossFit, and it’s not quite basic barbell training. It is brutally effective and efficient, though, and Keith’s theories on power, CNS stimulation, and “the perfect rep” are insightful and evocative. His attempts to articulate the intangible aspects of training succeed, time and time again.
Protein Power – It’s always a pleasure watching Dr. Michael Eades dismantle studies, especially pro-statin papers (for which he seems to reserve special rancor). Dr. Eades’ firm grasp on the science, coupled with his acid wit, makes for an educational, entertaining read on the soft science of dietary fat and carbohydrates.
Conditioning Research – Cutting edge research, especially the stuff on fitness. I don’t know how he finds this stuff, but Chris always manages to pull something interesting out of the Internet ether and highlight it on his blog.
Son of Grok – Although he hasn’t updated in awhile, I’ll always reserve a special place in my heart (and on my blogroll) for the Son of Grok. He makes delicious Primal food and writes honestly about everyday life as a modern Grok.
Animal Pharm – Dr. BG is a little wacky and a bit zany, but she somehow manages to seamlessly blend steady references to mainstream pop music with science-based lipophilia. How could you not love this blog?
Nephropal – “Health from an evolutionary standpoint,” with a nod to kidney function in particular. This is high-level stuff that might require a second (or third) reading, but it’s worth the time and effort. I think there was a merger between Animal Pharm and Nephropal; not sure.
PaleoNu – An MD, and a practicing radiologist, Kurt Harris runs a fantastic no-nonsense blog exploring the evolutionary diet. What I like about PaleoNu is its insistence on corroborating the speculative nature of the Primal lifestyle with hard science. The two coincide more often than not, but Kurt is committed to making sure.
Robb Wolf – Former nutrition expert for CrossFit, Robb is a true advocate of the ancestral lifestyle. He’s worked closely with Loren Cordain, and with years of experience helping tons of clients lose weight, beat autoimmune issues, and improve athletic performance via paleo methods, Robb knows his stuff. He’s also got a great podcast called the Paleolithic Solution.
Heart Scan Blog – Dr. William Davis has been reversing atherosclerotic plaque in patients for years by eliminating fructose and wheat, and supplementing with niacin and fish oil. Statins? What’re those? Dr. Davis is working on changing the system from the inside, from the belly of the beast. If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, his blog can probably help.
Art de Vany – The old guard. One of the first Primal practitioners with an online presence. His site is pay-only now, but he’s been doing this for years and he’s absolutely legit. The man is over 70 and could kick the asses of most guys a third his age. You’d do well to pay attention to what he says concerning diet and exercise.
Jimmy Moore – Some people begrudge him for his promotion of low-carb products, but Jimmy consistently highlights new research, and his podcast is always packed with quality interviews. There’s nothing wrong with making money.
WAPF – A foundation dedicated to the research of Weston Price, the WAPF site contains tons of helpful info on fats, raw dairy, and the importance of animal foods in an optimal diet. Some of their claims regarding homeopathy and alternative medicine should probably be ignored, but their dietary advice (despite the acceptance of sprouted and fermented grains) is generally top notch.
Paleo Diet – Loren Cordain’s site has a ton of research on the evils of cereal grains and legumes, the importance of protein in the diet, and he’s even softening his stance on saturated fats.
Beyond Vegetarianism – A fantastic resource for people considering a vegetarian, vegan, or raw food lifestyle. Much like Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth, Beyond Vegetarianism represents the views of former vegans and vegetarians who realized their former diet was less than optimal. There is special emphasis placed on Paleolithic diets.
Lyle McDonald – Love him or hate him, Lyle generally knows his stuff. His heavy-handed “paleotard” talk can get annoying, but if you don’t let that cloud your perception I think you’ll find some valuable information, especially with regards to strict cutting diets and performance nutrition.
CrossFit – A ridiculously intense total body fitness program, CrossFit isn’t for everyone, but thousands swear by it. Very Primal-friendly for the most part.
Mind and Muscle Forums – Most of the talk revolves around supplementation (illegal and legal alike), but there are some interesting, super involved discussions on diet, nutrition, and fitness with plenty of paper analysis. Things can get extremely advanced extremely quickly.
Immortality Institute Forums – These guys are obsessed with living as long as possible. Some seem to focus on longevity over quality, but the geekiness is undeniably informative.
Ross Training – A premier site for functional fitness, Ross Training has a ton of great information on “unconventional” workout techniques (kettlebells, bodyweight, sledgehammers, ropes). I’m especially fond of the homemade equipment tutorials.
Scirus – Search hundreds of thousands of study abstracts. If you’re lucky, you might even happen across the occasional free text.
The Vegetarian Myth – Eades reviewed it, Richard reviewed it, and I did, too. This should be read by anyone, not just prospective or current vegetarians. It’ll either change minds or anger them, and that’s exactly what a good book should do.
The Paleo Diet – Cordain’s book. Solid, solid info backed up by good research. He gets a lot of flack for his stance on saturated fats, diet soda, and canola oil, but paleo and Primal see eye to eye far more often than they clash.
Protein Power – Dr. Eades’ bestselling diet book. Fantastic diet plan with the research to back it up.
Good Calories, Bad Calories – Should be required reading for all health care practitioners, as far as I’m concerned. The bias and bad science it exposes will make you swear off sugar forever.
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration – Dr. Weston Price chronicles his ten-year global search for the secret to health. He found, almost without exception, that cultures eating indigenous, traditional foods had perfect dental arches, minimal tooth decay, strong immune systems, and freedom from signs of degenerative diseases. Just a dentist? Not by a long shot. Free text available online.
The Primal Blueprint – I heard this one is supposed to be pretty decent.
And a few more from my Suggested Reading list.
Fat Head – Guy eats nothing but low-carb fast food fare and loses a ton of weight, then spends the rest of the movie demolishing the lipid hypothesis of obesity and heart disease. Dr. Eades’ makes an appearance. Better than Super Size Me, if you ask me. He also runs a great blog.
Food, Inc. – We know CAFOs are bad, but this movie shows us why – in graphic detail. It’ll probably turn a bunch of people off meat altogether, but Primal folk will only redouble their efforts to source free range food.
King Corn – We also know corn is bad for us, but this movie makes it abundantly clear just how abundant the stuff is across all segments of our food supply. Again, all the more reason to go grass fed.
Paleo in a Nutshell Part One and Part Two – Our very own Methuselah put together a great pair of Youtube videos explaining the basics of Primal lifestyle. Send these along to friends and family members who can’t be bothered to read.
Sugar: The Bitter Truth – The YouTube description says it best: “Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods.” That about sums it up. Fructose is bad; here’s why.
Gary Taubes’ “Big Fat Lies” Lecture – If you can’t get a hold of Good Calories, Bad Calories, watch Taubes in action here. Pretty much everything we thought we knew (well, maybe not us) about nutrition, diet, and disease is wrong, and Taubes shows why.
This list is by no means comprehensive. Instead it’s simply a good starting point in my estimation. Let me know what you would have included in the comments section!