Books are boring, they are used for decorating a library in the living room, or as a door stopper. Also, my personal favorite, to lift the screen of your computer. So what is about books why people keep publishing them.
Well, it’s because books are the most complete, dense and worthy source of information. Articles can be written by anyone. But writing a book takes courage and time, which very few are willing to sacrifice for the education of others. (Like we do @ Dutrition).
I used to be one those people that considered books boring. I hadn’t read a single whole book until I was 25, that was 2½ years ago. This all changed when I met a bunch of wonderful people that were into self-help books and introduced me to a couple of them. My first one was Robert Cialdini’s Influence.
I fell in love with reading instantly. I couldn’t imagine what pieces of information I was missing all those years.
Nowadays it’s my “relaxing” activity. I read at least 1 book per month and sometimes 2 or 3. I suggest you do the same. But if you’re not yet an avid reader, begin with one book, then another. When you reach the magic number 10, go for the next ten. By the end of 20 books, you will have formed the habit and you will have seen the value I’m talking about.
Now let’s dive into my list of the top 10 fitness books I’ve read so far. They are all MUST READS.
1. The Fat Loss Bible by Anthony Colpo
Anthony is making a terrific job at destroying POP nutritional myths like “calories don’t count” or “eating frequent small is the only way“ etc. He cites research papers for every single thing he writes about. And at the end, it gives you a full plan on what to eat and what strategy to follow for your diet plan, even supplements.
He gives great insights about research studies and trials that are failing in providing enough value since they’re not clinical, and he makes sure you understand the difference between simple diet trends and long term fat loss plans.
He has also written another great book about the “cholesterol” myth, called The Great Cholesterol CON. Which explains, among other things, why eating more than one egg per day, is NOT a problem
2. Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle by Tom Venuto
This is probably, the complete book for a beginner. It has everything you need to know about dieting, calories, macros plus some basics about weight training.
The newest edition, includes 1-2 chapters for advanced strategies as well, like breaking plateaus or accelerating fat loss.
My favorite part is at the end, where he includes a big table with the best nutrient dense foods for each category, along with their macros. We have used that table on Dutrition, to propose different foods, per category, when you create a new diet.
Tom Venuto holds a degree in exercise science and is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. He used to be a drug-free bodybuilder.
Finally, “Burn the Fat” is a best-seller.
If you’re gonna read only one book and you’re a beginner, I strongly recommend going with this.
3. The Ultra Mind Solution by Mark Hyman
A friend of mine referenced this book as the “GO TO” for any brain related issue like mood, headaches, stress or even sleep.
Great book with a lot of information and many case studies.
I loved the part about a kid that got “healed” from autism by actually treating heavy metal poisoning and some severe food allergies, that no other doctor had previously diagnosed.
The most valuable thing about the book is that it includes some self-reporting questionnaires so you can have an idea if you’re suffering from a disorder, plus it suggests supplements based on your “problems”.
Actually, he has a whole plan of dieting and supplementing for six weeks that will definitely improve your daily life and productivity. You are going to fix your brain by focusing on 7 key areas.
- Fix your digestion
- Cool off inflammation
- Optimize nutrition
- Enhance detoxification
- Balance your hormones
- Boost energy metabolism
- Calm your mind
4. Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson
I wanted to study on sleep and this book is compact and dense that you almost don’t need to know anything else. The 4h Body (by Tim Ferriss) has some tips as well, but I really think Shawn hit the mark with this one.
He explains at the beginning of the book the importance of sleep and how we are conditioned to believe that sleeping 12 or 1 o’ clock in the night is considered normal, while it shouldn’t be. Plus, he mentions that:
“Research shows that after just 24 hours of sleep deprivation, there is an overall reduction of six percent in glucose reaching the brain. Simple translation: You get dumber.”
Plus, he mentions that getting enough sunlight and Vitamin D is crucial for producing the melatonin that will help you get to sleep earlier. And obviously, try to avoid intense lights during night time. Tablet anyone?
The book is very easily read and the chapters are very short.
He also has a great podcast called “The Model Health Show”.
5. A Guide to Flexible Dieting by Lyle McDonald
Doesn’t need any introductions. If you ever heard of IIFYM or people talking about eating candy and chocolate bars on their diet, they are on the “flexible dieting” wagon. I am strongly opposed to eating most of the time this way, but if you can fit in there a couple of meals during a week, that are not so “clean” but macros and calories are down, then I am all for it.
At least learn to do it the right way, people.
Lyle McDonald is not for the faint-hearted, he gives a lot of information about each subject and he is very thorough in explanations.
Lastly, the book has very specific diet-breaking or cheat meal protocols that fit your goals (fat loss or muscle gain) as well as your current body type.
Other than that Lyle McDonald is my personal favorite writer, I follow his blog religiously and he has also a very active FB group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/810890695609053/)
6. Digestive Wellness by Elizabeth Lipski
Dr. Lipski has done a great job at explaining why a lot of our problems begin at our gut. She provides a very long explanation of most common diseases and how we can overcome them by fixing our immune system, through our gut.
If you are suffering from any long term thing, I suggest you follow the DIGIN model in order to find your real problem. The DIGIN model allows us to look at the underlying mechanisms to assess and finally to come up with a plan for restoring health.
In the last part, it gives tips and guidelines for fixing almost any long term health issue, by actually fixing your gut.
Great book, similar to ultra mind solution. Check also her website, she has more books about digestion in general.
7. Why Calories Count by Marion Nestle
Short and to the point, you get to learn how the concept of calories was invented.
It gives information about how we use energy from food, how much energy we need and how to find the proper amount of calories that we need to consume. It actually explains all the concepts around calories like if it promotes longevity and what are the best practices according to studies.
Finally, it gives you some insights about the political aspect of dietary regulations and why multinational corporations could be responsible for obesity problems.
Dr. Nestle is maintaining a great blog about food politics and how the US department of agriculture is operating regarding dietary guidelines and so forth.
8. Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon
Single best and quick book about fasting. What are its benefits and why we have abandoned fasting in the new age while it used to be a common practice for centuries.
It deals with all the common myths about fasting, like losing all your hard earned muscle or weight training performance. Plus, it gives great detail on our hormonal changes during the transition from fed to fasted state and it lays out all the health benefits that come with that.
It is not a diet plan book per se, but it gives you all the fundamentals if you want to incorporate fasting in your diet regimen.
He has also a great short guide (8 articles) about intermittent fasting, check it out (http://bradpilon.com/introduction-to-intermittent-fasting/).
9. The Muscle & Strength Pyramids by Eric Helms
This book has it all, it is actually, the ultra-scientific, research-heavy “burn the fat, feed the muscle”.
It has all the information you ever gonna need about body building and micro adjustments that you need to make according to your goal and your level of fitness.
The great thing about this book is that gives you good prioritization over what things you should try to optimize. Like the common nonsense that people dive into whey supplements when they don’t even know how many calories they consume on a daily basis.
Again, in this books, Eric is referencing research trials after trial, for any single thing he says. No more bro-science, the end of an era.
Lastly, this is comprised of 2 books, training, and nutrition. I gotta say, the training book has all the details in the world of tension, load or cycle planning of your workouts. Definitely, a must read if you wanna up your game in the weight room.
Eric is a very well educated man and has made a ton of publications in journals about physiology and nutrition. I also follow him on facebook religiously and try not to miss any podcast or roundtable, he participates in.
He has also 2 amazing co-authors Andy Morgan (http://rippedbody.com/) who has a great blog, definitely worth following and Andrea Valdez (http://andreavaldez.net/) who is a 3DMJ coach, like Eric, and is also producing great videos on youtube. Check them both.
10. Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe
We are talking about the “barbell bible”. This book has everything you ever need about weight training. I wish I had read this book when I was starting going to the gym. It would have saved me all these years of “little” progress.
There are 5 basic strength training exercises:
- Bench Press
- Press (Over Head)
- Power Clean
Overhead presses are almost unknown to people in the gym, or they simply choose not to do it. From my experience, I have started pressing 2 months ago, and my shoulders are getting better by the day, plus it has helped a lot with my bench press.
Bench press used to be my weak spot, but that was due to insufficient shoulder training. I ended up hurting a lot of times during bench. Overhead press to the rescue.
As for power cleans, it is the default exercise for actually materializing all the strength you got from the weight lifting into power (velocity + force production). If you are an athlete or practicing any sport, it’s MUST DO exercise. It will help tons with your performance.
There is a great video series by the art of manliness in collaboration with Mark “Rip” Rippetoe about all the basic lifts as well as what to take into account while in the weight room, like squat shoes or preventing injury.
Finally, it gives out a lot of variations of these weight lifting exercises and all the accessory movements you need to train to raise the load in your bench, deadlifting and squatting.
Do you have any other books that you consider the best, regarding fitness and health?