It’s taken me a while to get round to writing this book review. I read this book last year and I highly recommend it. It’s one of my favourite books on why we should all be eating plant-based. It’s entirely evidence-based and also very entertaining.
If you’re vegan or eating plant-based, you should really be following the author of this book, Dr. Garth Davis, on Facebook. He’s not only very entertaining, he also debunks all the bad research out there and myths on the ‘benefits’ of consuming animal protein. As a PhD student I find it refreshing to read his comments, always based on research, as he clearly knows what he is talking about.
Back to the book, Proteinaholic. I am a huge fan of The China Study, Eat to Live, The Starch Solution and Super Immunity. Those books are all in the same category – they explain why we are all getting sicker by consuming (too many) animal products and that eating whole, plant-based foods is the answer. Based on science, these books all demonstrate that eating animal products is one of the main causes for the rise in obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease (among other diseases). While some of these books may be a little extreme, Proteinaholic starts out by saying that you don’t have to go full-on vegan to become healthy, which I find refreshing. The author writes that, rather than becoming “anti-animal protein” it’s better to be “pro fruits and vegetables”. As long as the majority of the calories you consume come from plants (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains) you are healthy.
Fruits & veggies
Fruits and vegetables are the heroes of Dr. Garth Davis’ book, which really isn’t anything new. What is new, is that he writes that even if animal protein is not reduced, fruits and veggies are believed to reduce cancer risk, all by themselves. This highlights the importance of eating fruits and veggies, more so than cutting back on animal products. This suggests that even if you can’t give up on meat or dairy, eating more fruits and vegetables is the best thing you can do for your health.
Nevertheless, according to Proteinaholic, in order to be as healthy as we can be, we should reduce or eliminate our animal protein intake. And this also includes fish, which is still generally seen as a health food. Dr. Garth Davis does write that there’s a difference between wild-caught and farmed fish. Wild-caught fish are believed to have long-chain fatty acids which may be better for your health because of the greater concentration of omega-3, which decreases the omega-6/omega-3 ratio which, in turn, decreases inflammation. So, if you want to eat fish, always choose wild-caught fish and limit your consumption to 2 servings a week. Fish contain a lot of heavy metal, PCB and dioxin contamination and are not as healthy as most of us think.
The carb myth
I am a huge carb lover, so I always applaud a book that celebrates carbs. Dr. Garth Davis writes that carbs are not the major cause of diabetes, meat is. He writes that we as human beings are literally created to process sugar and starch and believe it or not, beef actually raises insulin more than pasta does (yay!). He cites many studies that show that people eating fruits, veggies and especially whole grains show lover levels of inflammation and diabetes, compared to the general population. He concludes that, the more carbs you eat, the lower your risk of diabetes. And finally: the book states that carbs do not make you fat unless you are eating too many calories. The human body is designed to burn carbs. Woohoo!
Plants and weight loss
More good news – a plant-based diet increases weight loss, which in itself is a good reason to adopt the diet. Dr. Garth Davis writes that maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to prevent cancer. Moreover, despite what many people think, protein is not key to weight loss. The authors writes that, in the end, it’s simply the total number of calories you consume that matters.
“I have never seen a single person who became overweight from eating too much fruit”
I was very happy to read about fruit and weight loss. Dr. Garth Davis writes that whole fruits are extremely healthy; full of fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals. I believe this is a common misconception. I often talk to people who are trying to lose weight, so they stop eating fruit, which is so ridiculous! So I loved reading about this myth in Proteinaholic. The author writes that he can’t believe that people actually avoid fruit to lose weight. He states that:
“There has never been a single study showing that fruit consumption leads to weight gain (…) I have never seen anybody get fat from broccoli or bananas”
Diets high in fruits, veggies and starches have worked for many years to keep people slim and healthy. People are blind to this because of their carb-obsession and obsession with protein. The author states that science does not support the fact that protein causes weight loss and carbs cause weight gain. In fact, it’s animal protein that’s found to be most associated with weight gain. Studies show that vegetarians and vegans tend to weigh less and the more animal protein people consume, the more weight they tend to gain.
A final note
Finally, the author writes that his goal is not to make everybody vegan, but to increase the amount of fruits, veggies, grains and legumes people consume while decreasing their reliance on protein. Meat should not be in the centre of the plate. I loved this book for many reasons, but mostly because of these last two sentences. Many books advocating a vegan diet are quite extreme, while this book basically says: eat more fruits and veggies, regardless of your meat consumption. Love, love, love Proteinaholic and I highly recommend it!