Book review: Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog, by Grant Petersen

Just add water (January 18, 2015)

Eat Bacon, Don't Jog, by Grant Petersen

You’ve heard of the low-carb diet: This is the no-carb diet. Instead of recommending a diet based on protein, though, author Petersen (of Rivendell Bicycle Works fame) pushes beyond puny paleo diets into a realm few even dared to imagine: A diet based on eating fat. Yum.

In establishing the reasoning behind his dietary recommendations, Petersen looks at human history and evolution, and punctures the whole grains and fresh fruits myths, among others. The results, according to Petersen, are weight loss (you still have to do some physical activity, of course), avoiding (or healing yourself from) diabetes, safeguarding yourself from cancer, and possibly protecting yourself from Alzheimer’s.

The catch is you have to go on a diet that’s not just gluten free, but carb-free, to the extent that this is possible. Once you can imagine a diet with zero grains or sugars, you’re about half-way there. The goal is to get your body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for energy and not carbohydrates. It’s not a starvation diet, though. Petersen makes numerous recommendations, offers some recipes in the back, and provides a list of sources for further study.

Far from being a kookie fad diet, Petersen seems accurately to describe what so many of us go through. You exercise to lose weight, but the more you exercise, the hungrier you get. So, you eat more, thinking you can just exercise it off. The problem — in addition to the fact that you’ve created a vicious cycle for yourself — is that many people will never get ahead of the curve on this regime because the very nature of the foods they eat makes it impossible to lose weight.

Petersen’s diet provides a way of breaking the cycle while eating healthy foods. Best of all, he promises that once your body adopts your new diet, maintaining your new lower weight will be easy because you will be eating less and having fewer food cravings.

Petersen offers some suggestions on the exercise front, as well, including body-weight exercises for those who don’t want to buy exercise equipment, and kettle-ball exercises for those who do.

For self-monitoring, Petersen recommends testing one’s blood, as opposed to measuring body fat percentages, or referring to standardized charts of height and weight.

There are two puzzling things about this diet, however.

First, where sweetener is called for, Petersen recommends using one of the many artificial (synthetic or hyper-processed) sweeteners on the market, which seems a disconnect. He doesn’t even mention honey or molasses, either as being tolerable or awful.

Second, there is no mention of fluid intake. My guess is that Petersen is in the drink when you’re thirsty camp, but there are some people who don’t feel thirsty even though their lips are cracked and peeling and their backs are in agony because their intervertebral discs are dehydrated and compressed.