Top 10 Books Picked By LeanGains - AnabolicMinds.com
    • Top 10 Books Picked By LeanGains


      by Martin Berkhan Leangains.com

      I've always been a voracious reader and even though I get most of my reading fix from scientific journals these days, I try to squeeze in an interesting book whenever I get a chance.

      "Interesting" to me usually means whatever topic I find interesting at the moment. And when something piques my interest, I binge read. I'll plow through scores of books on a topic, and I'll only slow down when my obsession wanes.

      In my youth, I was obsessed with the horror genre, fantasy books, and science fiction. The very first thing I did online back in the mid-90's was to look up one of those authorative "Top 50" lists of the best books in a genre and try to read every single one of them.

      I took my reading very seriously, and kept a notebook in which I reviewed each one of them once I finished. The review was half the fun of the process, I thought.

      In my late teens, after I discovered strength training and became interested in nutrition, I read everything I came over on those topics. Fortunately, not a whole lot on strength training. I was lucky enough to stumble across a true gem quite early, which set me straight and negated the need for anything else for a good while.

      In my early twenties, I kept reading all sorts of books on nutrition and physiology, but I had periods where I drifted into entirely different subjects - like film theory, evolutionary theory, behavioral science and psychology, for example. At this point, I rarely read any fictional books, only non-fiction.

      Every so often I get asked about reading tips, so that's why I put together this list of books that I think would be of great use and interest to my readers. These books are from a seemingly diverse range of topics - from nutrition, physiology and strength training, to psychology, human behavior and evolution.

      Why such diversity? Can a psychology book get you ripped? The way I see it, books on psychology, evolutionary theory and behavioral science are useful pieces in your fitness education. Even though you might not think so, they complement your physique and performance goals very well.

      Most people look at diet and training in a fairly narrow-minded way; they either treat it like a numbers game, or an ideology with certain rules and regulations. Looking only at nutrition and training "as is", they never go beyond the confines of their small world with its pre-determined rules and regulations.

      Expand Your Horizons

      After years of study and reading about nutrition and training, you reach a point where gathering any more information on these topics will be of very little practical consequence to your results. There is only so much you can learn about insulin, carbs, whey protein and body fat percentages.

      Before you reach this point of diminishing returns, you would be well advised to invest your time on topics where you have lots of room to learn and grow.

      Being able to eat sensibly, count calories, lift weights and track your progress, is merely scratching the surface. To come full circle and reach "fitness zen" - a state where you feel content, balanced and in control of your body and mind - you must seek to understand yourself on a deeper level. Knowing the workings of your mind is just as important as understanding the workings of your body, in order to get them to cooperate properly.

      Looking at things from another perspective, not merely "as is", will also make your reading and study of nutrition, physiology and training, more interesting. Unlock other perspectives of looking at things and you can take it to the next level. A level that lies above and beyond insulin, carbs, whey protein and body fat percentages.

      The red thread that runs through most of these books, is that they expand your horizons. They add a little something towards improving our understanding of ourselves: why we think they way we think, why we feel the things we feel, and why we do the things we do. They show you ways of doing things in a more efficient way, whether that means training better, eating better, thinking better or simply handling yourself better.

      Not every book on this list comes with a profound message that will change your life. Some books are simply good reads, that I found interesting, informative or insightful - and I think you will too.

      I've hand-picked each one of these books and I hope that you will enjoy these books like I have. Here we go.

      (This is not a ranked list; the order is completely random.)

      P.S. I'm falling asleep as we speak, my brain is fried and my shoulders are killing me. It's too late to make any edits, so I apologize in advance for any weirdness. I spent the better part of the day writing this and just want to get it up on the site before I hit the sack. Seems these things always take longer than you expect.

      1. The End of Overeating

      Foley further analyzed the panel's findings and ultimately pinpointed five key influences on irresistibility. In order of importance, they are: calories, flavor hits, ease of eating, meltdown, and early hit. "Those are the attributes that drive cravings for you to eat," she said. Each one of those properties engages the senses in multiple ways, Foley reported. Taken together, "it's about creating a lot of fun in your mouth, a lot of novelty in your mouth.

      The End of Overeating seeks to provide an answer to why the world is eating itself into oblivion. At the core, this is about the clash between our genes and the modern food environment. We're on the losing side, as evidenced by our deteriorating health and ever-expanding waistlines. In the Western world of plenty, sloth and gluttony reigns supreme. Fat and unhealthy is the norm.

      David Kessler approaches this subject from a new and fresh perspective, and delves into the neurobiology of appetite regulation. Humans have a biological imperative to pursue activities that increases the odds of survival or reproduction. We are driven towards the pursuit of such behaviors, and the repetition thereof, by feeling rewarded by them.

      Sex, money and power provide us with kicks, and so does food. The reason that we find certain foods tasty, is that because every time we eat, we feel a nice little tingle in the nucleus accumbens. A dopamine and opioid-induced kick right up the hedonic hotspot.

      This is all good and perfectly in order. We'd starve to death without such an adaptation. This reward system helped us identify and connect calories with certain tastes in nature. We are hard-wired to appreciate the sweetness of honey and the fatty and savory parts of meat.

      But in a world where food is engineered to such a high degree that it has little in common with the tastes found in nature, and where such food is constantly available with no time-investment or energy expenditure on our part, such adaptations become maladaptive.

      The food industry has introduced new tastes and foods to our palate: hyperpalatable food, with tastes too complex, too sweet, too fat and too rewarding for us to deal with. Our appetite regulation goes out of whack. We don't eat to satisfy hunger or a physiological needs. We eat just for the hell of it.

      Finding the perfect blend of pleasure factors is an elaborate process where nothing is left to chance; a science in itself. Kessler goes behind the scenes and provides a fascinating look into the elaborate work of "food engineers" - experts in designing foods that are guaranteed to deliver maximal pleasure and hook the consumer.

      I was curious about which sensory properties make marketplace winners. The Snickers bar, according to Civille, is "extraordinarily well engineered." While its flavor characteristics are appealing, she said, the real key to its success lies in its even disappearance and clean getaway.

      "When you eat a Snickers bar, the chocolate, the caramel, the nougat, and the peanuts all disappear at the same time. You're not getting all this buildup of stuff in your mouth." That contrasts with many products whose nuts become annoyingly lodged between your teeth and your cheek. The genius of Snickers, explained Civille, is that as we chew, the sugar dissolves, the fat melts, and the caramel picks up the peanut pieces so the entire candy is carried out of the mouth at the same time.

      The commonalities between drugs and hyperpalatable foods is an analogy that Kessler brings up several times in his book. Foltin, a researcher Kessler interviewed in the book, termed combinations of sugar and fat "the dietary equivalent of a speedball" (a stimulant taken with a downer, such as cocaine and heroin). Such comparisons are exaggerated, but not entirely incorrect.

      So the next question would then be if food is addictive and this is a hot topic in addiction and obesity research right now. There is no definite consensus yet, but there is some suggestive evidence (correlational, not causal) in human studies. It's a topic I'm personally very interested in, which I guess you can tell by the length of this review. I hope to cover it eventually, and share my perspective and my thoughts on as it relates to intermittent fasting and long-term leanness.

      The End of Overeating is the best mainstream diet book I've come across. The bar is not raised very high here, so I'm not suggesting that this is a masterpiece. But the subject is fascinating and thoroughly explored in this book, with interviews and "behind-the-scenes" type coverage that provide a contextual story.

      I think this book pulls of the rare feat of managing to strike a good balance between writing for the lay man, but maintaining an appeal for someone with a deeper understanding of the topic, like myself, and many of you folks reading this. Kessler does not dumb down the topic, which is otherwise all too common in mainstream diet books.

      This book comes with the obligatory "how to eat" chapter at the very end. The behavioral strategies notwithstanding, this is essentially your generic diet advice chapter for the Average Joe's and Jane's. It's best left ignored. Up until that point, the book is a fun and very interesting ride.

      2. Starting Strength: 3rd Edition

      ...After four more years of testing and adjustment with thousands of athletes in seminars all over the country, this third edition expands and improves on the previous teaching methods and biomechanical analysis. No other book on barbell training ever written provides the detailed instruction on every aspect of the basic barbell exercises found in SS:BBT3.

      Starting Strength: 3rd Edition is the only book on this list that I haven't read, and I'm only saying that because Mark Rippetoe apparently rewrote and added enough new stuff to make this a new book on its own, rather than just a slight improvement over 2nd Edition.

      I've referenced Starting Strength: 2nd Edition several times in the past and consider it a very good and complete resource for the lifter or the strength coach. Most recently, I talked about my use of the Starting Strength progression model in "****arounditis." (Under "3. You don't plan for progress.")

      Starting Strength: 3rd Edition has only been out for a few weeks and I've only read good things so far. Like the description suggests, the consensus is that 3rd Edition is a solid update and improvement of an already great book. According to the top review on Amazon:

      The 3rd Edition of Starting Strength is excellent. Immediately, the most striking aspect of this re-write are the illustrations. They are incredibly well done and illustrate the concepts in the text seamlessly. They alone are worth the purchase of this book.

      This book is a quite dramatic improvement (I use that word with hesitation as the other two editions are also very, very good) over the 2nd edition in content, look and flow that comes with such a deep understanding of the material being presented. There's a logical progression in the writing and principles in the book that make this much more than an instructional manual on performing barbell lifts and programming strength training. You will understand the why's of correct barbell and strength training which is what makes Starting Strength different from any other book on strength training available.

      Since I think 2nd Edition is a great book, and one of very few "must have"-books in strength training literature, I don't think you can go wrong by buying this book. I've put in my order.

      3. Beyond Brawn

      This is the book I wish I could have studied when I started out in bodybuilding. I was so naive, gullible and misinformed, just like most trainees are today—even those who have been training for years. This is a book would have spared me all the frustration, heartache, injuries and sham advice I had to suffer from before finally learning what productive bodybuilding and strength training are all about.

      Beyond Brawn: The Insider's Encyclopedia on How to Build Muscle and Might begins with the quote above and I count myself among the lucky few who were blessed to come across this gem at a very early point in my training career.

      Like I wrote in "****arounditis", when I first set my foot in a gym, I went through the usual and almost obligatory first few months of training on a haphazard bench-n-curls-and-whatever-I-felt-like-that-day-routine.

      But as time passed, I found out that strength training was the only physical activity I actually enjoyed doing, so I started to take an increasing interest in the topic. That's when I stumbled across Beyond Brawn, which changed everything for me. It taught me the value of working hard at the right things, to put effort where it counts, and to not bother with anything else.

      This is a book that I've talked myself blue about in the past, for a very good reason: it's one of very few books that had a real and lasting impact on me. I'd say that it's perhaps the single most important book I've ever read and I've read a lot of books. Beyond Brawn took strength training from being just another cool thing to do with my buddies after school, to being one of my greatest passions, and subsequently a part of my career.

      Needless to say, it's also the one book that has had the single biggest influence of my training ideology - which can, very briefly, be summed up as quality over quantity, or intensity over volume.

      Like Starting Strength - albeit different in terms of methodology and progression model - this book is an excellent strength training resource that covers just about anything you need to know to get started, and much, much, more.

      In my personal experience, this book alone can take you from beginner to highly advanced, if you have enough sense and good judgement to modify the core system when and if the need arises, based on your results and your personal preferences. That goes without saying and applies to every training system and methodology, but let me give you an example of what I mean here.

      While I had very good success with some of the abbreviated one-set high-intensity routines in the book (one set to failure), I gradually started to add more sets of each movement, and did not use straight sets across as recommended in the book for multiple sets (i.e. the load remains unchanged from set to set).

      Instead, started doing 2-3 sets for most compound movements, and lowered the weight systematically between sets, progressing each set independently. That's how my reverse pyramid training approach was born. Essentially, RPT is a higher-volume version of the minimalist routines in Beyond Brawn, with a specific set structure of descending sets (resembling a reverse pyramid).

      I still use RPT to this day personally and consider it the single most effective method for preserving muscle mass and strength on a diet.

      Stuart McRobert gets repetitive in the book. But I think that's because the lessons in the book are so valuable - especially for a beginner - that they need to be hammered in deep. But once they stick, they can pay untold dividents in the form of results and progress.

      4. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

      How many hippos worry about whether Social Security is going to last as long as they will, or
      what they are going to say on a first date? Viewed from the perspective of the evolution of the animal kingdom, sustained psychological stress is a recent invention, mostly limited to humans and other social primates.

      Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers is the definitive book on stress, following Hans Selye's classic The Stress of Life from the late 70's. I've read both and Sapolsky's book is the more updated, accessible and enjoyable read of the two.

      Nobody has come close to covering the topic of stress and human health in such depth - and with such a great blend of science, humor and real-life examples. It's simply a very well-written, fun, informative book on the physiology and psychology of stress, backed up with anecdotes and relatable examples of how we experience stress. It also covers coping strategies, albeit somewhat briefly, if my memory serves me right.

      I'm a big fan of Robert Sapolsky and like all his books. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers is the one book with broadest appeal, but I personally liked The Trouble with Testosterone as well.

      I read Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers over a decade ago, and besides being a great primer on stress and human physiology, it also taught me one very important lesson that has stuck with me ever since: stress is only in the mind, and we can create our own stress-induced hell by simply perceiving things the wrong way. To deal with stress, don't battle the stressor. Battle your perception.

      5. Mindless Eating

      Did you ever eat the last piece of crusty, dried-out chocolate cake even though it tasted like chocolate-scented cardboard? Ever finish eating a bag of French fries even though they were cold, limp, and soggy? It hurts to answer questions like these. Why do we overeat food that doesn't even taste good?
      We overeat because there are signals and cues around us that tell us to eat. It's simply not in our nature to pause after every bite and contemplate whether we're full.

      If you want to nudge someone towards losing some weight, or make their New Year's resolutions a little bit easier to maintain in the long run, Mindless Eating would be a brilliant book to give them this Christmas. The title is pretty self-explanatory. This book is about how easy it is to overeat unless you make a conscious effort not to.

      There's been a lot of research on this subject and Brian Wansink talks about many ingenious studies, such as the "bottomless soup bowl" experiment where participants kept eating as long as the bowl was full.

      Wansink does not recommend calorie counting for weight loss, and suggest that people instead implement certain eating strategies as a method to self-limit and reduce their calorie intake spontaneously. This may certainly work very well for Average Joe's and Jane's. For most you readers - who are already diet conscious and probably used to counting calories - these strategies may be a little bit too basic.

      However, Wansink does cover some more interesting stuff. He speaks about the buffet study, and mentions the eating strategy I talked about in "Cheat Day Strategies for The Hedonist" ("4. Limit choices, not amounts"):

      Studies show that when people are presented with multiple food-choices, they eat more. In fact, calorie intake during a buffet scales almost linearly with the amount of different foods to choose from. If I offered you unlimited amounts of turkey and cheesecake, you'd likely only eat so much of it before you felt 'full' and satisfied.

      ....By 'mentally limiting' the food choices you allow yourself, i.e. only eating that which you absolutely love and crave, can be a very effective strategy in regulating calorie intake without feeling deprived. Remember, you don't need to taste of every damn food or treat that is offered. Stick to that which you truly enjoy eating and skip the rest.

      Just how useful and enlightening you will find this book depends on your diet experience and nutritional know-how. In summary, Mindless Eating is a brilliant book for people who are looking to change their diet for the better. For us others, it's still an interesting read, much thanks to the many studies covered in the book.

      6. Never Let Go

      ...We drank and continued to up the ante, until I took on a bet to squat 300 pounds for 61 reps. I was allowed to train a few weeks first, of course.
      That was a mistake; I should've done it drunk.

      Never Let Go is a collection of coach Dan John's essays and articles on a wide range of topics; strength training philosophy, various strength training programs, mindset, dieting, and more.

      I counted 42 articles all in all, and they're all worth reading, some more than others. Dan is at his absolute best when he talks about strength training philosophy.

      Within many of the stories Dan recounts, is a lesson, an insight or a gem of wisdom that you would do well to learn from. In "The Rule of Five", Dan John talks about his bet to squat 300 lbs for 61 reps - a bet he made after a few drinks, right after he was feeling ****y after an already outstanding workout. He failed the bet and the principal lesson is that we cannot expect greatness every time we set our foot in the gym. Some workouts will be better than others. Only once in a blue moon do you have a workout that truly staggers you.

      Out of nowhere, you add thirty pounds to a max, deadlift another set of wheels, or complete some kind of mad challenge that still wakes you up years later, softly sobbing into the night.

      Dan made his crazy 300-lb-for-61-reps bet after a particularly awesome workout, and he expected to win the bet based on his recent performance - but he didn't, because he expected to repeat and even outperform an already exceptional performance.

      ...Don't let a great day destroy years of planning and training by thinking that this is now the norm. Enjoy the day, but keep a little humility.

      This is a lesson that speaks to me personally, as I've had periods of good and steady strength gains that made me set all sorts of goals and expectations for myself - "if I keep adding 5 lbs to the bar every workout, I'll be benching/squatting/pulling (insert unrealistic number here) in no time!"

      And the funny thing is, it's something I still do every so often. But for your own sanity, "learn to embrace lousy days", like Dan John would say, "because a great day is just around the corner."

      Dan John has a unique mix of qualities that makes Never Let Go a great book; he has lots of stories to tell, plenty of wisdom to share and a ton of experience to back it up. Dan doesn't take himself too seriously, either. He's got a great sense of humor and the book is damn funny at times.

      7. How We Decide

      Ever since the ancient Greeks, these assumptions have revolved around a single theme: humans are rational. When we make decisions, we are supposed to consciously analyze the alternatives and carefully weigh the pros and cons. In other words, we are deliberate and logical creatures.
      ...There's only one problem with this assumption of human rationality: it's wrong. It's not how the brain works.

      How We Decide is a book about human decision making from a neuroscientists perspective. There are many other popular books about this specific topic - call it the "we-why-do-stupid-****" genre, or behavioral sciences - such as Malcolm Gladwell's Blink and Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational.

      How We Decide differentiates itself from these by focusing more on the neurobiology of the decision making process. Psychological concepts like "loss aversion" and "instant/delayed gratification" are also covered.

      Some of you might recall that I referenced How We Decide in "The Marshmallow Test.". The book is rich with studies, experiments and anecdotes of a similar kind, which adds context to all the talk about dopamine, synapses, pre-frontal cortexes and amygdalas.

      Of the many books I've read on this topic, I'd say Predictably Irrational and The Paradox of Choice are equally good as How We Decide. They are certainly no less interesting if you find the subject as engaging as I do. I'm currently reading another book in the genre, called Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman. I'm half-way through and it's a great read

      8. The Selfish Gene

      We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment. Though I have known it for years, I never seem to get fully used to it. One of my hopes is that I may have some success in astonishing others.

      Richard Dawkins' first book, The Selfish Gene, is one of the classics of modern biology and evolutionary theory. The book provides a gene-centred view of evolution, where - briefly explained - our genes, and the behaviors and traits they provide us with, are interested in one thing: reproduction.

      The practical consequence of this programming, is that almost everything we do, and the choices we make, is directly or indirectly related to improving our chances of spreading our genes further. Showing off our money by driving expensive cars, exercising, or striving to increase our standing in a group or a company, are - when push comes to shove - merely ways for us to increase our likelihood of getting laid.

      As the title implies, Richard Dawkins puts greater weight on the survival of the individual, rather than the survival of the group. One implication of this is that real altruism does not exist, and behaviors that might appear to be selfless acts to an observer is, when push comes to shoves, something that will benefit us in the end - by improving our standing in a group, for example (...which then increases our chances of getting laid, or surviving long enough to get laid, etc...You get it.)

      The Selfish Gene became hugely popular when it first came out in the mid-70's, was well-received by both scholars and mainstream audiences, and said to have caused "a silent and almost immediate revolution in biology". It's easy to understand why. Besides being a fantastic primer on evolution, I think this is an outstanding book by its own right.

      Great books have the potential to light up your interest in a topic. Like Beyond Brawn started my passion for strength training, and How We Decide made me explore behavioral sciences further. The Selfish Gene was the book that piqued my interest in evolutionary theory. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

      But how does evolutionary theory relate to the things I write about, some of you might wonder? Well, I've often alluded to it here and there in my writings, and many of the physical processes that take place during dieting can be explained from an evolutionary point of view. I did so in "Top Ten Fasting Myths Debunked", for example, and backed up the evolutionary framework with modern science. Here's a few assorted quotes:

      People seem to believe they will suffer severe hunger and mental impairment from not eating every so often. Consider for a second the evolutionary consequences for survival if this was true. Given that regular periods of fasting, even famine, was a natural part of our past, do you think we'd be here today if we were unable to function when obtaining food was most critical?

      - "3. Myth: Eat small meals to keep blood sugar levels under control."

      Seemingly paradoxical, metabolic rate is actually increased in short-term fasting. For some concrete numbers, studies have shown an increase of 3.6% - 10% after 36-48 hours (Mansell PI, et al, and Zauner C, et al). This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. Epinephrine and norepinephrine (adrenaline/noradrenaline) sharpens the mind and makes us want to move around. Desirable traits that encouraged us to seek for food, or for the hunter to kill his prey, increasing survival.
      At some point, after several days of no eating, this benefit would confer no benefit to survival and probably would have done more harm than good; instead, an adaptation that favored conservation of energy turned out to be advantageous. Thus metabolic rate is increased in short-term fasting (up to 60 hours).

      - "4. Myth: Fasting tricks the body into 'starvation mode.'

      Whenever you hear something really crazy you need to ask yourself if it makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. It's a great way to quickly determine if something may be valid or if it's more likely a steaming pile of horse****. This myth is a great example of the latter. Do you think we would be here today if our bodies could only make use of 30 grams of protein per meal?

      - "5. Myth: Maintain a steady supply of amino acids by eating protein every 2-3 hours. The body can only absorb 30 grams of protein in one sitting."

      Now you understand what I meant by saying that "looking on things from another perspective, not merely 'as is', will make nutrition and physiology more interesting" in the beginning of this article.

      9. Getting Things Done

      Reflect for a moment on what it actually might be like if your personal management situation were totally under control, at all levels and at all times. What if you could dedicate fully 100 percent of your attention to whatever was at hand, at your own choosing, with no distraction?

      Getting Things Done is an old school, hands-on, no-bull**** approach to productivity and organizational strategy. It's old school, because the basic principles of the GTD system are neither new or revolutionary. Deal with things in order of importance, prioritize the right things, delegate, etc.

      However, what David Allen has created with GTD, is a very practical, concrete and detailed system that outlines a way of doing all these things in the most efficient way possible, with the least amount of mental drain.

      Why don't zebras get ulcers? Because they're not dealing with chronic stress, like many humans do in the modern world. Zebras might experience stress intensely - imagine the adrenaline rush you'd get from being chased by a lion on the savannah - but the stress is intermittent, not chronic. This probably held true for our cave dwelling ancestors as well. Modern humans have traded intermittent and severe stress for a low-frequency, nagging, ever-present kind of stress.

      An inbox that is never empty, emails that are always awaiting a reply, favors that are constantly being expected of you, high standards that must always be maintained things, things you should do, people you should call, etc. These are the stressors we deal with today. Like Robert Sapolsky teaches you the theory and physiology behind stress in Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, David Allen teaches you how to deal with these stressors.

      If you don't pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.

      Earlier, I said that "we can create our own stress-induced hell by simply perceiving things the wrong way. To deal with stress, don't battle the stressor. Battle your perception." By this, I meant that we often create something from nothing, by mentally assigning importance to things that aren't really important. Sometimes we even create something out of nothing.

      The first step in effective self-management and stress reduction, is being able to perceive things as they truly are and assign the right amount of importance to them. The second step is making a quick decision on how and when you will deal with them. This is where Getting Things Done comes in; it teaches you how and when to deal with all this stuff by providing a very concrete system of organizing yourself and your goals.

      The GTD system is as simple or as deep as you want it - from basic to-do lists, delegation strategies, weekly reviews of your progress and tasks for the upcoming week, concepts like "The Threefold Model for Evaluating Daily Work" and sophisticated filing techniques (that's right, he talks about the right way to deal with paper work).

      I use a very basic version of the system. The tools I use includes post-it notes for daily tasks, a notebook for weekly goals, a "Someday/Maybe" notebook with ideas and goals that I may want to think and build upon in the future, and a big black box to file away whatever I want to have a look at later in the week or month. This stuff will make more sense if you read the book.

      In "****arounditis", I wrote that tracking progress, planning for progress, and being methodical about the process, is absolutely crucial if you want to spend your time in the gym efficiently (See points 1-3). To do this, keeping a training log is essential.

      What the training log is to training, GTD is to productivity and self-management. You still have to put in the work and bust your ass. But keeping training log, lets you know if you're on the right track.

      10. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism

      This text continues to set the standard through the authors' ability to clearly and accurately explain even the most complex metabolic processes and concepts.
      With Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism 5th Edition, you are well prepared as you continue your journey in the field of nutrition.

      Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism is "the" go-to textbook on nutrition and metabolism. It's very thorough and comprehensive, and just the kind of book you want to get the facts about how things really work, and if you want to expand your knowledge beyond the mere basics.

      Given the many loony toon theories and strange beliefs people adopt after getting their nutritional education from articles by professional bull****ters, this book is a must read if you want to separate facts from nonsense.

      I haven't read many textbooks on nutrition, so I can't say whether there is a better alternative than Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. As far as I can judge the book on its own merits, it's a very solid resource and reference that covers almost every aspect of nutrition and metabolism that I can think of. I've recommended it for years.

      Bonus: Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

      Cooking increased the value of our food. It changed our bodies, our brains, our use of time, and our social lives. It made us into consumers of external energy and thereby created an organism with a new relationship to nature, dependent on fuel.

      Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human didn't make the list. The reason I'm including this as a bonus review, is mainly because the book has received a good bit of attention recently (in this article, for example), and I thought you might be interested in my opinion on the book. Since I read it recently, I figured that I might as well do a review while it's still fresh in my memory.

      News sites have focused on the nutritional angle of Wrangham's book. With titles like "Why Calorie Counts Are Wrong: Cooked Food Provides a Lot More Energy", it's easy to get the impression that this is some kind of diet book, that faulty nutritional labeling is a revolutionary finding, and that physiology, metabolism and calorie counts are central themes in this book.

      Make no mistake about it - this is primarily a book about anthropology and human evolution, written by an anthropologist. On this topic, I've gathered that it's a very well written thorough piece of work. But it becomes painfully obvious to me that Wrangham does not quite understand or grasp the nutritional side of things.

      From minor annoyances, to wild assumptions and factual errors, I found this side of the book a bit hard to swallow, given that Wrangham seem to almost promote the book from a diet perspective (or perhaps that's just what the press wants him to talk about), i.e. using it as the main selling point. I took a few notes on the specific claims and assertions that I took issue with.

      But as I'm sitting here now, there are three things on my mind. First of all, I've run out of steam. My eyes hurt, I'm dead tired and I can't do a good job of my critique of Catching Fire. I can't half-ass it, and I would need to double-check Wrangham's references and find the specific quotes and sections of the book where he makes these assertions, to make sure I'm not misrepresenting anything.

      Second of all, a longer review and detailed critique of this book, from a nutritional perspective, might make for some educational reading - perhaps even a separate article. At the very least, I will finish this little bonus review tomorrow, or as soon as I can.

      For those of you considering Wrangham's book, I should note that it's still a good book. For someone interested in anthropology, it might very well be the most interesting and important book on this list. However, given that I had some issues with it, and that I don't think it's an ideal book for a somewhat casual reader, I didn't quite think it would fit with the other books on the list.

      Source: http://www.leangains.com/2011/12/ten...28Leangains%29

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