What’s the most useful low-carb book you’ve ever read? For me, it is one that I read and reviewed way back in 2000. While I must give credit to Dr. Atkin’s New Diet Revolution for getting me started, it was Life Without Bread that convinced me this was the lifestyle I must embrace and stick to if I wished to be healthy, and it is that conviction that still drives me today. This may be an old book, but it is one worth reading, even today.
Here is a flashback to my review from the Truly Low Carb Newsletter, Summer 2000.
Life Without Bread: How A Low Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life
by Christian B Allan, Ph.D. and Wolfgang Lutz, M.D.
This book absolutely floored me. I wish I had read it sooner – and I wish I could force feed its contents to every anti-low carb naysayer I’ve ever met! 😛
I don’t necessarily consider this book to be a “weight loss” book per se, as there is just one chapter in it regarding weight loss. What this book mostly is, is a ringing endorsement of low-carb eating which is backed up by more than 4 decades of clinical experience on more than 10,000 of Dr. Lutz’ own patients in Austria and Germany, as well as a larger and more impressive compilation of clinical study results than any other I have found. The authors explain the biological processes of normal cells, bacteria, viruses, enzymes, hormones, and cancer cells very well, and they draw a clear and detailed picture of the connection between our typical high carb Western diet, and the many modern diseases of man, particularly, but certainly not limited to, cancer.
Originally published some years ago in German, I am very happy that this groundbreaking compilation of research has been updated and made available in English. I bought a new set of highlighters and a set of those little marking flags specifically for this one book, because I know that I will be quoting from it for the rest of my life.
Life Without Bread does not simply regurgitate or reword the low-carb principles which Dr. Atkins made popular. It draws its own conclusions, and in a very powerful and convincing way. When the authors are presenting evidence, they make that clear. And when they are at all venturing away from the evidence and into the realm of speculation, they make that very clear, too.
This book says a few surprising things – like the fact that saturated fat is actually very good for you! That your heart cannot even beat without it. And that high cholesterol levels in the blood have never been proven to correlate with death rates. To the contrary, they say most patients who die of severe heart disease have relatively normal cholesterol levels… Would you be as shocked as I was to learn that a coroner’s study from 1990 found that in deceased people with the most severe heart disease, the average cholesterol level was just 186! Guidelines for blood cholesterol levels were established based on the same faulty reasoning that led to the current food pyramid. I now view both sets of guidelines with the same level of contempt.
The authors of Life Without Bread tell us that higher levels of LDL cholesterol are NOT unhealthy – high homocysteine levels in the blood are what make LDL protein adhere to arterial walls and become unhealthy. And that high homocysteine levels occur because of a deficiency in three vitamins: B6, B12, and folic acid, all of which can be found in abundant quantity in … Drum roll, please … saturated fat, animal foods, and leafy veggies – the backbone of low carb eating.
Their plan for staying healthy for life is summed up in just two sentences, which I will quote directly: “Restrict all carbohydrates to 72 utilizable grams per day. Eat as much of any other foods as you wish.”
They do say in the chapter on weight loss that further carb restriction may be necessary to achieve weight loss, and that some people, particularly women, simply cannot lose weight on a low carb diet, for as yet unknown reasons, but they are adamant about the universal need for such a diet and they talk a lot about which is more important, aesthetic beauty, or good health.
They say that they have brought hundreds of low-carb babies into this world and that pregnant women who stay at the 72 grams of carbs per day level bear children that are much healthier and that keeping those children at the same carb level should ensure that they never need to worry about excess weight gain.
Life Without Bread is very thought provoking, and I encourage everyone to read it.
Used copies are available on Amazon now for less than $3, and new paperbacks are available with Prime shipping for around $15. Half.com is another good place to find older books for a steal. Happy Reading!