Required Reading: The Best Nutrition Books

By Mike Howard

2832-popular_diet_books.jpgI’ve read quite a few books on diet and nutrition over the years. I figured it was about time I created a “best of” list.

The following are books that I believe stand above the throngs of mediocrity and hype that pervade the “Diet and Health” sections of bookstores.

In no particular order, here are 7 “must-reads” of Nutrition and Diet books.

The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan

A true classic in the world of nutrition, this instant classic is an eye-opener to where we’ve been, where we are, and where things are going when it comes to what we are consuming.

What to Eat by Marion Nestle

A very informative, comprehensive and well-balanced “how to” guide when it comes to navigating your grocery store aisles. It’s a big book but finish it and you will be well-armed for grocery store dominance!

The Body Fat Loss Solution by Tom Venuto

Tom became an “under the radar” e-book legend with his groundbreaking “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” offering and then followed it up with no-nonsense, evidence based and easy-to follow “Body Fat Solution“. A true “total package” book that is destined to be a classic.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen

Yes Mr. Pollan has 2 books in this distinguished list. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. Pollan takes this simple concept and weaves it into another classic with his very engaging diatribe on “nutritionism” and the politics and other factors that impact what we eat.

The End of Overeating by David Kessler

Overeating is a monumental issue in our overindulgent society. Kessler tackles the root of the problem and provides some sound solutions to help overcome it. This book is a very thought-altering reading experience.

The Fat Loss Troubleshoot by Leigh Peele

The Fat Loss Troubleshoot is as comprehensive a manual as you will find on the subject – tackling a myriad of issues that are stand in the way of you and the body and health that you want. It’s a matter-of-fact, un-sugar-coated and evidence-based journey with a conversational tone.

Knowledge and Nonsense by Jamie Hale

This book is nothing short of epically complete. A bit overwhelming in terms of the volume of content (I see this e-book as part manual, part encyclopedia) but man alive you get it all here – metabolism, exercise, nutrition, and supplements. It’s best digested in bits, but it’s an invaluable resource all the same.

Which books have you read that have helped you? Please list your “Reading Essentials”


  1. jake3_14

    Protein Power Life Plan, by Eades and Eades, MDs
    Know Your Fats, by Mary Enig
    Fats that Heal, Fats That Kill, by Udo Erasmus
    The Cholesterol Myths, by Uffe Ravnskov, MD
    Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You!, Uffe Ravnskov, MD
    The Nutrition Solution, by Kristal and Haig (about metabolic typing)
    Why We Get Fat, by Gary Taubes (GCBC put me to sleep)

  2. rparker

    Hi there,
    I have to say that some of these books are worth their weight in gold. The information stored in them will help anyone with their weight management through their lives. It is with books like these and other programs available on the internet that helped me lose the weight I needed.

    I have successfully lost 170lbs, reduced my blood pressure from 160/110 to 120/80 and droped my waist size from 48 to 38 inch over the last 1.5 years. The best thing is, I didn’t use fad diet or medication. The trick is to gain real and useful knowledge about how the body work, how to kill cravings etc. It is not that hard if you really want to know how to do it.

    If you’re interested in my journey please visit me at my site.



  3. Abel

    I enjoyed reading The Body Fat Loss Solution by Tom Venuto.
    Best in the business at the site states. True believer. I lost 35lbs

  4. Dan

    I don’t think Taubes has completely disproved the lipid hypothesis. I have mentioned several times that Loren Cordain, who is in the same nutritional camp as Taubes, stated that the Inuit had hardening of the arteries prior to the advent of western influences- which is due to their predominantly animal diet. They didn’t suffer heart attacks, because their carbohydrate consumption was low. I think it is fair to say that saturated *can* be a risk factor for heart disease, but it does not mean that any amount of consumption inevitably leads to heart disease. It usually is a good idea to limit saturated fat consumption, but eliminate trans fats altogether. Eating few refined carbs does mitigate the risk of saturated fat. If a person decides to consume a lot of saturated fat, then it is better not to consume very many carbs. Getting a lot of exercise also mitigates the risk. Many low carbers state that grains are harmful to them- that is the case because the carbs in grains makes the harm of the fat greater. A person not eating a lot of saturated fat would not be harmed by grains. Similarly, persons on a high fat diet will not gain weight if they don’t eat fruit, but the fruit allows for the fat to be fattening. Think in multifactorial terms. If you get five other factors right, then eating saturated fat as a risk factor is mitigated.

  5. Mike Howard

    I’m used to the Taubes-ists whining by now but I’ll bite. The irony in a Taubes fan calling someone else biased is something to ponder.

    Taubes’ first section on lipid hypothesis was phenomenal. But in the same way I wouldn’t give A-Rod an MVP award for his performance in April – I can’t give Taubes a spot on this list.

    And yes I am biased… I am biased against nutritional narrow-mindedness and sloppy, cherry-picked science and agenda-driven tomes. It’s the same reason why the China Study and Nourishing Traditions didn’t make the cut.

  6. Mike Howard

    Thanks for the input, Lana!

  7. Mike Howard

    Yes! Willett’s book is excellent – good call!

  8. DJ

    You’ve omitted the two masterful books by Gary Taubes, clearly demonstrating your obvious bias. And the longterm bias of this blog.

  9. Spectra

    I read “In Defense of Food” and “The End of Overeating” and I thought both of them were very informative. I’d like to check out Tom Venuto’s book “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” as well–thank you for the list. I’ll have to make a visit to the library pretty soon!

  10. Jim Jacobsen

    I enjoyed reading “The Maker’s Diet” by Jordan Rubin. It’s largely concerned with eating minimally processed foods. There is a clear religious perspective that may not suit some folks, however. I’m going to look into Michael Pollan’s books.

  11. Lana

    “The Paleo Diet” Loren Cordain (some great bits of info to be taken from the philosophy).
    “Good Calories, Bad Calories” Gary Taubes (reads like my university textbooks though…don’t read if you are tired as it will likely make you fall asleep haha).
    “The Eat Clean Diet” Tosca Reno (some more great bits of wisdom garnered from this book).
    “The Abs Diet” David Zinczenko
    “The 30-minute Vegan” Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray. It is not so much a book, it’s recipes. It was a huge inspiration for me. It really opened my world to thinking of, and finding fresh ways of incorporating more whole foods, fruits, and veggies in my daily life. You don’t have to make the same darn salad everyday.
    Tome Venuto’s “Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle” was also huge for me. I do keep meaning to read “Omnivores Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food” but somehow never get around to it…

  12. Bonnie

    I’ve read The End of Overeating by Kessler and Fat Loss Troubleshoot by Peele. They were both really good! I’ll have to check out the others.

    There’s one more book I would add: Eat, Drink, and be Healthy by Walter C Willet.