Learning how to “outsmart your metabolism” and “conquer the diet plateau” seems to be a run-of-the-mill promise amongst diet books. It implies a “switch” or a “mode” whereby your body transforms into a machine that burns fat, rather than one which stores it. When you open such books, though, you find an abundance of opinions that vary in their scientific validity, practicality and flat-out saneness. We’ll now explore the ideas of author Wendy Chant in her book “Crack the Fat Loss Code – Outsmart Your Metabolism and Conquer the Diet Plateau.“You don’t have to read very far into the book to discover that Wendy knows what she’s talking about. She explains complex physiological processes in a very easy-to-understand manner and provides some very good analogies to illustrate her points. The basic premise of the book is this;
Our ancient make-up doesn’t want to lose body fat and will revolt against any attempt to lose. The 5 keys to for achieving efficient fat loss are;
- Protect and support muscle: Be sure to have adequate muscle by working at them
- Level blood sugar: Keep blood sugar from spiking and subsequently keeping insulin levels from rising too high
- Create an energy deficit: Keeping calories under control so that the body taps into fat stores sooner.
- Produce heat: This has to do with the frequency of meals. Eating more often will allow the body to continue to produce heat and thus burn more fat.
- Manipulate energy stores: This has to do with a strategy called “macro-patterning”, a phenomenon that involves carefully regulating how and when you take in protein, fat and carbohydrates to avoid storing more fat.
In terms of the dietary plan, the global message is that it is a lifestyle. I know, I know, everybody makes this claim, but not everyone’s plan is actually conducive to long-term sustainability. Chant’s nutritional philosophies can certainly be considered “lifestyle-based” as there are no gimmicks, no extremes and no food is outright forbidden.
In terms of the dietary specifics, the 8 week plan is divided into 4 cycles:
1. Carb-depletion cycle: Keeping carbs below 20g
2. Macropatterning cycle: Complete with a “baseline days”, “carb-down days” and “carb-up” days.
3. Accelerated Fat-loss cycle: A re-hashed version of the macro-patterning cycle
4. Maintenance cycle: This is where the body re-adjusts to a higher nutrient profile
What I liked about this book
- The information is for the most part very sound, well explained and based on science.
- There are very specific directions and details regarding the protocol – all well laid out.
- She includes meal plans and recipes complete with nutritional information.
- The tone of the book is very motivational and would certainly appeal to a wide variety of readership, from the very remedial to the nutritionally-savvy.
- The 4 cycles appear to be a good way to keep the body guessing and thus stimulate fat loss. To be honest, I’m not sure that these cycles have been put through any real peer-review studies.
- There are testimonials sprinkled throughout the book, which show that Chant’s system has been successful, and also serves as motivation for the reader.
Mostly nit-picky stuff, really but at the same time noteworthy. Here are some things I disagree with/feel could be improved:
- Chant claims that men should not consume flaxseed oil due to risk of prostate cancer. This claim is highly theoretical and this kind of blanket advice is unwarranted.
- There is also too much blanket statement-ry regarding fats. I think it is a major oversight to lump all polyunsaturated fats together when some are very healthful and others are counterproductive to health.
- I realize it’s a diet book (lifestyle), but it would be great to have some guidance on exercise, particularly strength training – especially given that her number 1 key for fat loss, according to Chant is the maintenance of muscle.
- I would have also included a section on creating the right mindset. I really feel that one must have the appropriate headspace to embark on such a major change.
I found the book very easy to read and its principles sound – both scientifically and from a common sense perspective. I think people would really thrive on this way of eating, although the specifics do require some work on the dieter.