Sunday, July 12, 2015

Book Review: The Hunger Fix

Next up for review is The Hunger Fix. The author, Dr. Pam Peeke, is a medical doctor specializing in nutrition and lifestyle medicine.

Introduction
The major focus of The Hunger Fix is food addiction. The author believes that overeating is dependent on the neurotransmitter dopamine and our brain’s reward system. The book explains, in great detail, the relationship between dopamine and body weight, and then presents a 3 stage recovery program to “rewire” the brain to overpower the addiction. The book is 302 pages long. The Hunger Fix is very well written and I truly enjoyed reading it.

5 Things I Really Liked About The Hunger Fix
1) I really liked learning about the science behind reward and food addiction. Many argue that food addiction is not real, and that overweight people simply lack willpower. When it comes to sugars and refined carbs, I would totally disagree. I have seen for years the powerful pull that sugar can have on the overweight and medical research is beginning to compare sugar addiction to alcohol or drug addiction.

2) I thought that the dietary approach was strong. Dr. Peeke recommends a balance of 20-30% protein, 25%-35% fat, and 30-35% carbohydrate. While I would generally recommend a bit less protein (20%) and a bit more carb (45%), this is very close to what I tell my own clients.

3) The importance of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise is stressed throughout The Hunger Fix. Not many weight loss books mention enough about exercise.

4) The section on meditation was compelling. Stress reduction can have a powerful impact on our ability to make positive lifestyle changes and sharpens focus. This is an often completely overlooked component of weight loss programs.

5) The meal plan and recipe sections were really well done. 

5 Things I Didn’t Agree With In The Hunger Fix
1) Dr. Peeke recommends eating every 3 hours. I have found that it is way too easy to overeat when you do so. My most successful clients eat 3 meals per day and don’t snack at all. If your blood sugar is stable, you will have absolutely no need to snack anyway. Keep in mind that eating just 70 more calories than your body needs per day will result in a 7 lbs. weight gain over a year.    

2) The references in this book were interesting. At certain times, the references cited were from really reputable journals, like The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and The New England Journal of Medicine. The rest of the time, the book cited very unusual and obscure journals, links to websites, YouTube videos, newspaper articles, and magazine articles. Several times Dr. Peeke wrote “Science shows that…” and didn’t list any references at all.

3) The cardio recommendations are a bit low. Dr. Peeke recommends cardiovascular exercise 5 times per week for 20 minutes. This is well less than optimal for weight loss. In my experience, women need to hit at least 250 minutes/week and men need to hit 150 minutes/week if they want to get the scale moving.

4) One recommendation that I didn’t agree with was that for sugar consumption. Dr. Peeke does an impressive job explaining the addictive properties of added sugar. She uses compelling research to present her case. After all this, she quotes the American Heart Association recommendations on sugar, that allow women 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, and men 9 teaspoons of sugar a day. In my opinion, this is way too much! For someone addicted to sugar, complete avoidance is the only way. To me, this is similar to telling an alcoholic that one or 2 drinks a day is OK. 

5) Similar to the last point, I was surprised at some of the foods I found in the meal plan and recipes. Many of these were high glycemic load or contained a lot of sugar. Examples include: white potatoes, smoothies, balsamic vinegar, popcorn, bread, honey, brown sugar, candy, juices, rice cakes, etc. These foods can cause a reactive hypoglycemia that increases hunger and make it really hard to keep calories in the weight loss range.

Is The Hunger Fix Worth Reading?
Absolutely! I enjoyed this book. You’ll learn a lot about how our brain is hard-wired to seek rewards, and how the food industry takes full advantage of this fact when creating products. The Hunger Fix really comes from a different perspective than other weight loss books that I have read.

Overall, The Hunger Fix program is very sound. To make it complete, I would add a bunch more cardio, get a little stricter on some of the carbs allowed, and limit eating to 3 meals per day. 

 

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