Differently to other books I reviewed for Hay House, this book by Dr. J. Mercola, Fat for Fuel, is a scientific Nutrition book, and not an esoteric, inspirational book, as such. I am certainty not suggesting it doesn’t hold inspiration; in fact it does too, but it is very factual.
The interest in this book comes from my profession as a Health Coach and Nutritional Advisor. One of the biggest challenges in my “world” is the continuous and contradicting information attached to diets and health.
Nutrition is the only science where two completely opposite theories can be proven to be indisputably right. How is that possible? Well; in a lab, we can prove anything to work by setting the environment we need to test things but a lab environment is quite different to a human environment. The variables in each person’s body can never be replicated, at least not all of them and not all of them at once. A human body has so many variables to account for; some changing even daily, can you imagine? Those variables inevitably change the outcome of any test; hence why we are so unique!
The question with every diet is: what does it offer? And what is it for? I came to realize through my studies and experiences that some diets can be completely therapeutic and I think that one of those diets is indeed the “High Fat” or Ketogenic diet.
In his new book, Dr Mercola shares a lot of studies and proof that a Ketogenic diet is a great option for a variety of diseases; mostly for brain functions, especially as the brain is mostly fat. In his book, he is focusing on re-establishing the heath of mitochondria and their role at cellular level, which, when disrupted, can cause illness.
I loved reading this book as it showed the research to back up all the claims it made, but of course, being also a student of Dr. Neal Barnard’s Plant Based, low fat, high carb diet, a lot of information clashed, especially when it came down to diabetes.
Now, don’t get me wrong; although i love Dr Barnard and i believe the science behind his work is also impeccable (remember the continuous proven contradictions i mentioned before?) it is true that i believe there is space for both approaches, depending on what one is trying to achieve!
But how do you handle these clashed when we are looking for answers and the answers are constantly different?
I feel that when reading nutrition books or studying nutrition, an open mindset is necessary.
I find that the trick is to be open mined to trying things and see how your body reacts to it. Having tried both ways of eating (high carbohydrates and High fats) and having felt the benefits of both at those times, I think they are guidelines that can be applied interchangeably; the question is to understand what we want to achieve and why we do what we choose to do.
But let’s focus on Fat for Fuel and its really good content and educational material. The first thing that Dr. Mercola focuses on is how to heal the metabolism; a big one in our days!
Most people in modern society suffer terribly from metabolic syndrome; which is their body being unable to use energy effectively and assimilate nutrients, which results in a very messy outcome: diabetes, obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s etc..
The main reason here is that we are consuming less and less real food and more processed junk with no nutritional value and empty calories. Basically we are damaging the body’s own intuitive approach to energy usage and storage, ending up storing everything, including toxins, which then damage the body, in our fat cells (which then become bigger and bigger) – now this part is my own research and years of studies but by looking at the science in this book it makes sense.
This is an important point as many people think fat makes people fat but it is a lot more complex than that and untrue.
I will have to say that being a plant based practitioner, I do not agree with some of the sources Dr Mercola describes as healthy fats; like fish. I am aware that Omega 3 in fish is a powerful nutrient for the brain , but at the same time fish comes with extra cholesterol we do not need as humans and for obvious reasons the industry has never questioned that; hey selling fish makes money. But i will also acknowledge that in his list he has real food and not pre-packaged junk; which is the common denominator for all healthy eating habits.
Dr Mercola makes a good point on something that has been confusing people a lot: the huge emphasis on Protein that took off with The Atkins diet and continued with the Paleo and how inaccurate the protein obsession
At least, even though not plant based, this book does share the need for more vegetables and healthy fats and less animal protein. What I found helpful is that this book is not a diet as such but it does sort of help with identifying what food one should have or stay away from if on this plan.
Also, although the idea of this diet is Ketogenic; this book was written more on a therapeutic level and targeted to Mitochondria healing (the little guys in our cells that make ATP or energy) – the more Mitochondria, the more effectively the cells work, use energy and well as a result less disease and less body fat.
I believe this book could be used to allow the body to heal periodically as it really kick starts the most wonderful reaction into “fat” burning and energy consumption but it is relatively restrictive so for the healthy people around, not necessary to do all the time and for those with less patience, it might be a little boring.
I recommend reading this book and learning the information and see how they can be applied to your life. Even if you are plant based, like me, just adapt the info to plant choices and see how it works.
I am happy Hay House endorses good scientific books as well as other inspirational titles, as we need to try and spread wisdom and knowledge with everyone around. Most importantly the need to make people question what information is available and why only certain “research” is shared whilst others aren’t; so when scientists share their own one can also learn a different angle.
Dr. Mercola is not a plant based doctor, like other very good functional medicine doctors, but in truth, he speaks up against the industry. On a scientific level one needs to acknowledge that with nutrition there are many outcomes and try to learn as much as you can and then follow your own ethical values as well. I learned a lot in this book; even if not all applies to me when it comes to food choices; but i can discern and make wise decisions.
Life is not black and white and neither is food!