The Calorie Myth: How to Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight, and Live Better – Jonathan Bailor

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“Forget calories. Focus on hormones. Lower your set-point. Burn body fat forever.”

Jonathan Bailor makes it sound easy.  However, I know it is easier to make clean eating a lifestyle rather than struggling with  constant dieting a lifestyle. I, like many others, overindulged this holiday season. While I used to be able to shed those excess pounds in a couple of days, I’m finding it progressively harder now with each passing year.

I’ve checked out a lot of “healthy eating” books over the years and finally discovered one that makes sense and provides  all of the tools and support necessary to achieve that healthy and happy balance. Researcher Jonathan Bailor explains it all in his latest book, The Calorie Myth: How to Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight, and Live Better.

First of all, he maintains that not all calories are created equal. “Sane foods provide a lot of nutrients and few of them can be converted into body fat. Even better, SANE foods trigger the release of body-fat-burning hormones, clear clogs, and lower our set-point. The more of SANE foods we eat, the simpler slim becomes”.

So what is SANE-ity?
Satiety – how quickly calories fill us up.
Aggression– how likely calories are to be stored as body fat.
Nutrition-how many vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, etc. calories provide.
Efficiency-how easily calories are converted into body fat.

He maintains that we must lower our set-point (increase our metabolism) to stay slim, instead of counting calories. As we age, our hormones change or “clog”. When we increase the quality of our eating and exercise we can heal or “unclog” our hormones and thus lower our set-point. When we eat low-quality foods, our body becomes unable to effectively respond to hormonal “burn fat” signals. Hence by eating more high-quality foods we will burn more fat.

He explains all of this in detail and lists the high-quality foods and how much of them we should be eating  as well as providing scientific evidence and case studies. These studies are essential, but can be a bit overwhelming (that is, boring). So if you’re convinced, you can skim over some of it.

In the last part of the book he describes a complete five-week nutritional plan to free us from dieting and to overcome subconscious roadblocks to fat loss. He incorporates psychological tools that enable us to eliminate the desire for “in-sane” foods.  He includes recipes and recommended substitutions for popular foods that we eat, including a “SANE” and “SANEST” option. He also includes lots of guides and helpful links.

I especially like the food tracker that guides you to eating SANE food and helps you from indulging in “in-sane” choices. Unfortunately, you have to make copies of it , which can be cumbersome. (I hate loose paper!) It would be great if it could be accessed  as a mobile phone app to track your weekly progress.

Runners and cardio addicts like me may get defensive while reading the chapters on exercise. I thrive on interval training where my heart races in short bursts. Bailor makes a compelling argument that it is futile to exercise to burn calories, since what we eat makes the big difference.  He also argues that cardiovascular exercise can be detrimental. He  promotes exercising less… a lot less, but smarter–focusing on incorporating more muscle fibers, that is, heavy resistance training with an emphasis on the negative motion.  I can’t argue with that, but am I really going to give up my Muay Thai and spinning? Never!

In spite of this, The Calorie Myth is a comprehensive health and nutrition book that I will refer to often. Bailor reinforces the concepts in several ways to make them stick and motivate the reader.  I don’t recommend borrowing it from a friend; you’ll want your own copy.    I have never given such a book a “five bookmark” recommendation…until now.

That says a lot.



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