Best Health & Nutrition Books Reviewed
We live in the golden age of information. There is a seemingly endless amount out there, much of it untrue or contradictory. When it comes to your health, it’s obvious that you would only want the best, most solid facts available. Nutrition is one of those funny areas where everyone seems to have an opinion, and many of them are wrong. Luckily, there are innumerable sources out there that have been fact-checked, and that have been written by credible doctors and scientists.
- Complete Ketogenic Diet
- 14-day Meal-planner
- 75 Recipes
- The Plant Paradox
- Addresses Lectins
- Simple to integrate
- It Starts With Food
- Kindle edition available
- Integrative approach to body systems
When training, we make a lot of demands out of our bodies. In order for everything to keep running smoothly, we need to use the best food available. In this way, the human body is a little like a vehicle: if you want the best performance possible out of your car, you need high-quality fuel. Putting the minimum-octane-rated unleaded gas into your diesel engine is a recipe for disaster.
Similarly, if you’re making huge demands on your body through marathon training, or bodybuilding, then you need to make sure you’re getting adequate nutrients. Just like a car, if you’re making too many demands on a too poor of a grade of fuel, eventually the machinery will break down. To prevent this, we need to arm ourselves with knowledge. Luckily, there are many books out there that give you the inside scoop on optimal nutrition, based on the most cutting-edge science available.
10 Best Nutrition Books
1. Complete Ketogenic Diet
Sometimes it can be difficult to access information, especially considering that everyone has a different learning style. Some people learn best through listening, some through actively doing, and some through visuals. For this last group, this product includes several easy-to-read charts that make the information visual and accessible. Learning doesn't have to mean squinting at dry, hard-to-understand wording.
75 Recipes Included
The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners includes a huge range of recipes. It contains one of the highest numbers of recipes of any book on this list, as a matter of fact. This literature also gives you the hands-on information that you need in order to put the knowledge it provides into practice. Its the ultimate blend of theory as well as practice!
Cost and Value
This publication is one of the least expensive on our list. This is especially true when you factor in that the Kindle edition costs even less than the priced print editions. Amy also has several helpful tools to assist you on the road to your healthiest self, including its 75 recipes and 14-day meal planner. Overall, there is a reason this is the top rated book on our list. And that top-shelf quality won't break the bank.
14-day meal-planner included
2. The Plant Paradox
Oftentimes, when we're searching for information about nutrition, we get inundated with all the new information. Sometimes books smother us with too much information at once, and it can be hard to digest. The Plant Paradox is laid out in a nutritional plan that is simple to integrate into your life. Laid out in clear, approachable language, it gives advice that you can understand and start using right away.
Investigates Under-researched Lectins
Many buzzwords in the fitness and nutrition industry today are things like ketogenic, pescatarian, paleo, and plant-based. Dr. Grundy takes a new and novel approach, opening a new line of scientific investigation that has not been fully explored by researches. Very little research has been done into the topic of lectins and how they impact human nutrition. If you're looking to fully understand the food you eat and how it may impact your body--and by extension, your fitness goals--this book will give you the information you won't find elsewhere.
Cost and Value
This book is the most expensive on our list, but the price of none of these books ranges more than a few dollars above the others. It gives a novel view of a new and interesting line of nutritional research, which is how lectins affect your body. However, some detractors complain that Dr. Grundy is misrepresenting scientific facts with his claims. Ultimately, not enough research has been done to repudiate or invalidate his research. In the meantime, this book is extremely affordable and provides you with information you can't get elsewhere.
Simple nutritional plan
Written by PhD
Investigates under-researched lectins
May misrepresent scientific facts
8. The Whole30
As proof of how well this book has been received, it spent many weeks at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List. In addition to this, it has sold over one million copies worldwide. People have been reading this book and taking its advice all over the world, and getting the results they want. The reason that this book has been so successful is that it focuses on a broader view of nutrition; with this wider view, you can get a better understanding of both your body and your fitness goals.
The emotional aspect of nutrition
Our relationship with food is more complicated than just putting fuel in the tank. Of the reasons that this book has been so successful is because it takes this complicated dimension into account. This book is written to help you explore your own relationship with your food. Once you straighten out your relationship with the fuel you're putting into your body, your mind and workout goals will be clearer.
Cost and Value
This product is the most expensive on our list. That being said, it is only a few dollars more than the other options included here. Additionally, it has several things going for it that other options on this list don't have, such as being written by a Certified Sports Nutritionist. Hartwig knows what nutrition athletes need. If you're looking to get the best nutritional advice for intense training, you'll find it here.
1 million copies sold
#1 NYT Bestseller
Emotional aspect of nutrition
Step-by-step plan included
Difficult to read in Kindle
4. How to Not Die
Some nutrition books give you a lot of information, but not a lot of hands-on facts that you can put to use immediately in your life. You won't have that problem with How to Not Die. This book includes a checklist of healthy foods, as well as nutritional facts on each and how they affect your body. For the athlete looking for optimal nutrition, this hands-on information is extremely useful.
Endorsed by the Dalai Lama
Few books are endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. However, he took some time out of his schedule to give this one a read. As a devout vegetarian who has maintained excellent health into his eighties, this spiritual teacher has endorsed this book and its authors. When it comes to the Dalai Lama, you can trust that he only deals with people of the highest moral caliber. Therefore you can be assured that both of these authors have your best interests at heart.
Cost and Value
This book ties with another for the slot of most expensive on our list. However, that is only a matter of a few dollars. How to Not Die has many qualities that make it worth its price, not the least of which is the clear and methodic ways that they use to present clear scientific evidence throughout the book. They lay out how certain foods affect the body, and then straightforwardly present proof of their claims. Overall, the only detractors of this book say that the print on the paperback edition is a bit small to read comfortably.
Endorsed by Dali Lama
Presents clear evidence
Includes healthy foods checklist
Paperback print is small
Though Dr. Campbell wrote the bulk of this book, the other contributor, Dr. Howard Jacobson Ph.D. is a contributing author. Both of these esteemed writers have decades and decades of experience in the field. When wondering what information to trust, you can just look at these two gentlemen's credentials to know that you are in good hands. If you're ready to learn what powers your body, and how to power your fitness routine, then get ready to pick up this book.
Oftentimes a common approach to nutrition is to examine how different kinds of food are digested into the body. However, the premise of Whole is that each individual food is full of a diverse chemical makeup that is handled in diverse ways by your body. This book takes an integrative approach to your body's systems to give you the full picture about how nutrition functions in and affects the body.
Cost and Value
This product has a mid-range price when compared to other items on our list. It comes in a Kindle edition so that you can read it anywhere. Some critics of the book state that it goes too far into ideology and strays a bit from the science. However, defenders point to its two doctor-authors, who are positively dripping with credentials and accolades, and the solid science on which it is founded. Overall, this book is worth its cost.
Written by 2 PhD Authors
6. The Longevity Diet
Oftentimes we think about how what we eat affects our bodies. However, sometimes an equally important element is how often we don't eat. Abstaining from eating, also known as fasting, has noticeable positive effects on the body and may lengthen the human lifespan. There are many ways to reach peak performance, and intermediate fasting can help you out on that road. This book provides detailed information on this methodology, as well as tips for safety and effectiveness.
Many nutritional books rely mostly on firsthand experience or testimonials to prove their effectiveness. The Longevity Diet is one of the few books on this list that has been clinically tested and researched in a laboratory. The science behind this book is solid, and the evidence is well laid out in its pages. Sometimes you have to worry about whether or not the author actually knows what they're talking about, and if their claims are real--you won't have to worry about that here.
Cost and Value
This product is one of the more expensive items on our list. It has many high-caliber qualities, such as its expert authors, multi-format availability, approachable science, and included recipes. However, there are some out there who point to the fact that this diet and lifestyle are difficult to implement into their day-to-day lives. If you can put this book's advice into practice, it is extremely valuable. However, if you don't have the time to implement it, you may want to look elsewhere.
25 years of research
Includes 30 recipes
Includes the science of fasting
Difficult to emulate
7. Salt Sugar Fat
Oftentimes when we read nutrition books, we expect them to list facts about fruits and vegetables, and maybe talk about how our organs process and uptake foods. However, Michael Moss takes a departure from this traditional track. Instead, he writes in a deep-diving investigation into three of nutrition's biggest demons: salt, sugar, and fat. He dives deep not only into how these three things affect the body but also how the industry promotes these ingredients. This information is presented to help you make the best conscious food choices for your body.
Oftentimes industry-insider secrets stay just that, secrets inside the industry. However, Mr. Moss uses is wiles and wits as an investigative reporter to bring you private and unique information about the food industry. Armed with this secret knowledge, you will be able to make more educated decisions about your health, as well as knowing things that the agricultural and food production industries would rather you not know.
Cost and Value
This is one of the least expensive items on our list. Some detractors have claimed that the writing is extremely clinical and that it can get boring to read at times. However, the validity of the facts within its pages is definitely not up for debate. If you're looking for the truth about salt, sugar, and fat, and can handle writing that can be dense at times, then this book is definitely one that you need to read.
#1 NYT Bestseller
James Beard Winner
Deep investigative style
Inside industry take
Overly-clinical writing style
3. It Starts With Food
Many books provide you with recipes, but not much guidance outside of those recipes. For more meta-level advice that can be applied more widely to your life, these two authors provide a detailed shopping guide to help you when you hit the store. This book informs you about not only what specific foods boost your nutrition, but also what kinds of food, and how they work together in the bigger picture.
In the same big-picture vein as the shopping guide, this book also provides a meal-planning template. Many books will give you recipes or shopping lists, but once you've tried all of the recipes, you're stuck on an endless loop, always eating the same dishes. The meal-planning template puts the power back in your hands. Each individual's life and fitness needs are different, and thus everyone is going to have different levels of ability when it comes to cooking and will use different kinds of ingredients.
Cost and Value
This is one of the least expensive items on our list. It manages to jam many different kinds of resources and information into one approachable volume. Critics of this book accuse it of being repetitive in places. But with all these resources included, two all-star authors, and many other helpful pieces of information besides, this book is hard to beat.
Integrative approach to body systems
9. The China Study
Oftentimes, scientific research is relegated to dusty, academic journals that are too dense for the average person to read. The public rarely gets the chance to read about the findings of scientific studies from the authors themselves. However, the public gets the chance to do just that with the China Study. Based on the largest nutritional study ever conducted in science, this book is written in approachable language for a general audience. The scientists themselves present their findings, so there is no doubt about the facts.
The China Study was originally published in 2004. However, a revised and expanded edition was published a few years ago in 2016 to update their findings and to bring new insights to the fore. The updated edition features information such as updated research on heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and more; it also features updated supplementation recommendations. This book changed the game in nutritional research when it came onto the scene; these updates make sure it stays relevant today.
Cost and Value
This product has a mid-range price when compared to other items on this list. However, it stands out, if only because of the ground-breaking science on which it is founded. Written by the scientists themselves, this book reports its groundbreaking research for the layperson. Some buyers have reported that the book arrived damaged to their home; however, if you buy the Kindle edition, you can avoid this potential problem, as well as take your book anywhere in your phone.
Written by 2 PhDs
Firsthand scientific research
Largest study ever conducted
2 million copies sold
May arrive damaged
10. The Omnivore's Dilemma
Oftentimes nutritional information is given without much if any context. However sometimes context is everything. Mr. Pollan asked the most basic question when it comes to nutrition: why do we eat what we eat? The answer is more complex than you can possibly imagine. He takes us down a historical perspective as to why as a society we eat what we eat. The nutritional facts you took for granted may well get turned on your head after eating this book. Getting back to basics will help you decide not only what the best diet for your fitness goals is--but what is best for your life.
Multiple New York Times Bestseller Author
Michael Pollen has been on the New York Times Bestseller list no fewer than seven times. This is not a fluke, but rather the mark of a man who knows what he's talking about and can write about it well. The information he presents captured America's attention, and his straightforward, uncomplicated writing style has allowed millions to grasp the concepts to which he has dedicated his life.
Cost and Value
This product has a mid-range price in comparison to other books on this list. Some detractors claim that this tome uses dense wording that is difficult to understand. However, millions of readers who have purchased this book beg to disagree. Overall, it provides something no other author on this list does, which is an answer to the philosophical question of why we eat what we eat. Aside from the basic nutritional science, the answers to these bigger questions are well worth the read.
Winner of James Beard Award
Answers philosophical questions
There is more information out there about essential nutrients than ever before. When you’re looking to train to the height of your ability, you need to be sure that your body to keep up. Part of that equation is making sure you’re putting the best possible fuel into your body. Depending on your goals, there are many different kinds of books with different kinds of foci out there custom-made for you. Whether you’re just looking to lose weight, or you’re looking to build your muscle endurance to run a triathlon, knowing the science of your body will serve you well.
Criteria For Evaluating The Best Nutrition Books
Nutrition Researches and Ph.D.s: Just because someone has the word “doctor” in front of their name does mean they’re medical doctors. Typically, people who have completed a Ph.D. receive the title “doctor.” These people include scientists and nutrition researchers associated with institutes and universities.
Medical Doctors: These authors generally have the title “M.D.” at the end of their name. This is the mark of someone who completed medical school and who has treated patients either at a private practice or at a hospital. Authors in this category include surgeons, family doctors, pediatricians, and other medical specialists.
Certified Sports Nutritionists: People who are certified sports nutritionists are certified by the Commission on Dietetic Registration as having completed the coursework necessary to earn the credential. This is perhaps the least-prestigious of the kinds of credentials authors on this list have. However, it is also perhaps the certification most directly relevant to the reader looking for optimal nutrition for their athletic training.
Recipes: Not every book will include recipes, and for those that do, the number included varies greatly. Some include as few as ten, and some as many as seventy-five. If you are looking specifically for a book that will provide you with a huge range of recipes, keep an eye on the table of contents to ensure you’re getting what you need.
Meal Planners and Templates: Some books include information not only on how to cook (recipes), but also give you information on how to take control of your own health and plan your own meals. They may provide handy templates to help you along in this process. This information is handy because it prevents you from being chained to the same ten recipes and getting bored.
Shopping Guides: One of the most daunting things about eating for improved health is going to the store. There are hundreds of products, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Luckily, many books have included shopping guides to make this process a little less overwhelming.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does the book come with included recipes?
A: Some do, but many don’t. Check the table of contents to see if there are any included.
Q: Can I return it when I’m done reading it?
A: It depends on the return policy of the vendor. However, oftentimes books such as these become resources that you refer to again and again. For this reason, you may want to consider keeping it around.
Q: Can I use this diet if I have a medical condition?
A: The person who can best answer that your doctor. You should always touch base with your medical professional before making any drastic changes to your food intake or lifestyle, especially if you have a medical condition.
Q: Do the recipes take a long time to cook?
A: It varies from recipe to recipe. Many nutritious meals do take a larger time investment. However, there are many quick-and-dirty meals that are included in these books specifically for the athlete on the go.
Q: What do I do if the book arrives damaged?
A: Most companies have a return or exchange policy, especially if the book arrives water damaged or otherwise affected. Contact the seller to set up an exchange or refund.