Thursday, July 11, 2013

On My Radar: Good Reads

Salt Sugar Fat
Michael Moss

I've mentioned this book a few times now on podcasts and whatnot. It is legit. If you ever need a reason to stop eating shitty processed good, read this book.This book goes behind the scenes of what big food corporations do to essentially create food products then market them to the public that they're good and need to be consumed. It's really quite disturbing -- especially when you hear that many of the people working for these food giants won't even eat the same products they sell and make a living off of. It's divided into three sections on sugar, fat and salt and each section dives into the nitty gritty of products that contain a good amount of each of those things. Like the cereal aisle, and how it's easily filled with boxes that are more than 50 percent sugar, yet still touted as healthy.

I'm of course a fan of fat, and it makes up a huge part of my diet, but in this case the book is taking about the added fats to processed foods to increase flavor, palatability, and the desire to want to just keep eating and eating.... and poor-quality fat and crap that you find in processed cheese, things like that.

What I also love is that the author goes into the history of many food products, like cereal (anyone know the story of John Harvey Kellogg? Quite interesting -- even a movie on it with Matthew Broderick). There is also a lot of science (written in a way you can understand), and sociology tied in. Really fascinating stuff.

Fitness Confidential
Vinnie Tortorich

Ok, how did I know not about this guy sooner?! Vinnie is rad. He is a Hollywood fitness trainer, but not a "Biggest Loser" type of trainer -- more like the evil cousin, in a good way. He says it straight up, and he knows his sh*t. If I had to summarize his "whole thing" into one phrase it's "Cut The Crap." He's really dialed in with fitness, wellness and nutrition. He, personally, is an ultra endurance athlete (when not busy) and lives a "no sugar, no grain" lifestyle -- to the extent where you'll frequently hear him say, "f*ck quinoa." On the job front, he's famous for getting Hollywood's best in shape.

Vinnie is also a host of a very entertaining health and fitness podcast -- which he and I found out through conversation is more popular than my Endurance Planet ;) All good. All love. In fact, I got lucky and just had him on my podcast this week; you can listen to the show by clicking right here.

So the book? Pure awesome. Fitness Confidential is basically part biography, part how-to on fitness and health. It's really not your average diet and fitness book. It's kind of like a coherent rant that very informative yet funny all the while. I love his take on big corporate gyms (and why they suck), and on "buyer beware" of choosing a trainer/coach, or how about why you can't target where you lose fat (I get asked that a lot), and even a little bit on endurance athletes. Beyond that you get the whole scoop on Vinnie's life -- he has some great race stories (Furnace Creek 508 anyone?), and interesting life stories in general. I can't give anymore away. You just have to read.

I highly recommend this book.

Running for Women
Dr. Jason Karp & Dr. Carolyn Smith

I mentioned this book before on the blog, but now I've had a chance to read most of it and interview the author so I have more to say.

Let me ask this: How many of you ladies know the details of the menstrual cycle and, personally, where you're at in your cycle (even when you're not on your period)? Not many of us. But if you did, you could work it to your advantage in your training and racing. Hormones are a crazy thing, and we can empower ourselves by knowing how we operate. The authors explain.

That's just the beginning. Running for Women is a total gem. As a female athlete and a coach of other female athletes, this book is a must have. It's the most comprehensive and up-to-date book I've found on female athletes and how we tick -- oh my are we complicated compared to our male counterparts. And don't let the title fool you, it applies to all female athletes, especially those in endurance sports. As with Vinnie, I also had Dr. Jason Karp on Endurance Planet for a great interview, which will be released Tuesday, July 16. Check back here. I think you will learn something new - we talk about what's in the book in detail, not just teasers.

The book is divided into three parts: 1) Physiology, 2) Training, 3) Health and Wellness. Throughout it covers unique aspects of female athletes and sites current research. For example, how we have the ability to be better fat burners. Or why it's true that we have the potential to struggle more in heat. Of course, more serious topics are covered, too, namely the Female Athlete Triad, and the risks of that condition. Also special cases, such as pregnant athletes and older menopausal athletes, and how to navigate through that. There are tips on building a sound training plan, the best strength training for bone health, and much much more....


  1. I picked up Salt, Sugar, Fat but I haven't read it yet. I started Rich Roll's book and will hit the SSF once I'm done. It's just sickening what these companies do to our food supply. The sad part is, eating healthy is extremely difficult because they're so ingrained into every aspect of our food supply. We're actually starting our own organic garden to get rid of chemicals in our fruits/veggies.

    Everyone should read that book. It's scary!

  2. What are your thoughts on cereal? I'll admit that I'm pretty hooked on it, but it's the kind that I like to consider "healthy" and I know the ingredients in it.

  3. Ben,

    Quite frankly I think cereal is crap. That said, I used to eat it by the box regularly (oh god, did I, haha)! But even the "healthy" stuff is really not healthy. Between the grains, sugar, additives and poor quality of calories, it's just not good stuff and leaves you hungry soon after eating. I pretty much stay away from all grains for that reason, especially those processed and in a box. At most, I do overnight oats when I choose to have a grain for breakfast. Hope that helps!

  4. Howdy!

    Salt, Sugar, Fat - best book! What an eye opener!

    Also, you could try quinoa porridge as an alternative for breakfast. :)