ISBN-10: 0757313515; 312 pages; paperback; published August 3, 2009
Could too much sodium be the real reason obesity rates are so high (and getting higher)? That’s the premise of The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes You Fat and the 4-Week Plan to Drop a Size & Get Healthier with Simple Low-Sodium Swaps. Written by registered dietitians and ACE-certified personal trainers Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, aka “The Nutrition Twins,” The Secret to Skinny argues that high-sodium consumption will “plug you up, bloat you out, and pack on the pounds.” Basing their conclusions on a combination of science and personal experience working with clients, Shames and Lakatos believe that eliminating excess salt from the diet will not only get rid of excess water and bloat, but also increase metabolism and fat burning as well.
Certainly, there is a strong case to be made that Americans would be wise to reduce their sodium intake to improve overall health, especially given the prevalence of high blood pressure. However, while the authors describe how excess sodium can cause bloat, they don’t fully explain how it causes weight gain (other than the fact that high-sodium foods are often processed, unhealthy foods). The dietary recommendations provided—to avoid processed foods, to choose whole foods whenever possible and to incorporate low-salt substitutes for high-sodium ones—are solid, and will appeal to those looking for a detailed meal plan to follow, designed by registered dietitians.
The book includes a 10-day Jump Start plan designed to help dieters lose weight and start curbing the cravings for salty foods. This is followed by a 14-day maintenance plan to help guide dieters to a more healthful way of eating over the long term. Both diets include detailed menus (even down to brand names for specific foods) and accompanying recipes. Additional chapters on incorporating physical activity and using tools such as a food log also are very helpful.
Perhaps the most valuable chapters, particularly for long-term maintenance, are those that highlight the foods to avoid—and the ones to choose instead. After all, few people can follow a detailed diet plan indefinitely and, at some point, will have to start making wise food choices on their own. The true value of any diet book, then, is whether it offers readers the tools and knowledge necessary to continue on after the “diet” period is over. The Secret to Skinny appears to succeed in this respect.
What we liked:
- Features solid nutrition information and offers a plan to retrain the taste buds to like less-salty foods, particularly processed foods
- Clear, step-wise plan makes it easy for those who want a detailed dietary plan from registered dietitians rather than general recommendations
- Sound physical-activity recommendations, incorporating cardio and strength training (including exercises to do at home or the gym), although flexibility training is not mentioned.
What we didn't like:
- Too much emphasis on getting “skinny,” with salt as the sole enemy of a sleek physique
- While the authors describe how excess sodium can cause bloat, they don’t fully explain how it causes weight gain (other than the fact that high-sodium foods are often processed, unhealthy foods).
September 7, 2012