||10-04-2011 02:42 AM
Jonny Bowden Living Low Carb (2010 edition)
Jonny Bowden's Living Low Carb is a big fat book, a sort of low-carb encyclopaedia. We've had a lovely week of weather in the UK, so I've been reading it in the garden.
What I really like about Bowden is that he takes a flexible, and often cautious, approach to low-carb eating. He does not trumpet low-carb diets as a revolution or a miracle: rather, he subjects them to critical analysis. For example, unlike some writers, he does not believe low-carb diets make calorie-counting redundant; he argues that if low-carb diets have a metabolic advantage, it amounts to no more than 100-200 calories a day. In other words, if you eat the same calories on a low-fat and a low-carb diet, low-carb has an edge, but only a very slight one--the point being that anyone who thinks they can eat freely on a low-carb diet will not take off weight. And although Bowden believes saturated fat is a good fat, he cautions against eating too much of it, which will slow or stop weight loss. Above all, Bowden recommends sensible, balanced eating--he is old-fashioned in that sense, but, I think, wise.
A nutritionist, Bowden is very good on the science. He explains things very clearly but without oversimplifying them. Not everyone will enjoy the scientific sections, but I lapped them up. There's also a long section where Bowden reviews a long series of diet plans. I expected this to be dull, but Bowden uses his reviews as an opportunity to explore a whole range of food theories, including those on diabetes, endocrinology, and exercise.
The book isn't designed to be read cover-to-cover (though I did) but more as a reference book, so there's some repetition from section to section. Bowden's prose style is readable and engaging, though at times he overdoes it on the folksy address to the reader. Overall, I'd say this is an essential book, both for reference and because it acts as a sobering balance to the more over-enthusiastic low-carb manifestos out there.