Book Review – The Fat Revolution by Christine Cronau

fat revolution

The cover of this book is a bit misleading.  It features a bikini clad author and states “Why Butter and Real Fats actually make us slim”

You could be forgiven for thinking this is just another diet book that recommends another version of High Fat/Low Carb or Paleo.  In fact, you might overlook it all together if you were searching for books on improving health as at first glance, the book looks like it might have been written in the 1970’s as well which I know for me made it seem like it might be outdated.

However, you should never judge a book by its cover (as they say).  The Fat Revolution is actually a really good read and is mostly NOT about weight loss at all.

For a start, its not till page 80, that weight loss actually even becomes the focus.  Prior to that the author spends those first 80 pages telling us about the health benefits of eating more saturated fats and not using vegetable oils.  She explains why low cholesterol is actually unhealthy and how the whole ‘low fat’ craze is the biggest health blunder in history. There are lots of studies noted and a quote that I thought was really eye opening:

The true scientific method is to propose a hypotheses in such a way that it can be refuted.  You then set up experiments designed to refute the hypothesis. If you can’t, the hypothesis is likely to be correct.  But if you can find a refutation, the hypothesis is wrong.  And it doesn’t matter how many positive studies you have, they are all trumped by one contradictory study.

Marketers and promoters of drugs, vegetable oils, grain based, dairy and processed foods all seem to ignore that and continue to cite studies that have disproved over and over again.

The book is quite heavy reading and you’ll most likely have to read small amounts often to absorb some of it, but its also really good and the author has many, many, many references both through the book and at the end, where there are almost 20 pages of references and credits alone.

If you’re interested in decreasing your risk of heart disease and other modern lifestyle diseases, and losing a few kilos in the process, I would recommend reading this book.  You’ll learn why saturated fat is not the baddy its been made out to be.  Why a low cholesterol level IS NOT the goal and why fat is not necessarily what is making you fat.

bad diet

One chapter that stood out as very misleading however, was the chapter titled ‘Exercise is unnecessary for weight loss’.  In it, Christine recommends that you do not need to exercise to lose weight. She even says that exercise causes you to lose muscle mass and makes you fat?!?!?!

She goes on to explain why exercise raises cortisol and is pretty much bad for you, but what she doesn’t explain (at least clearly anyway) is that she is referring to long duration ‘cardio’ type exercise.   She actually cites a study of long distance runners as proof that exercise is bad, by saying that all the runners got heavier each year during the study.  However, no mention of dietary habits was made.  I think we all know that exercise on its own does not cause weight loss (at least after the first few weeks) and you cannot out-train a bad diet.  On a side note, most of the sedentary population is getting heavier each year (I’m sure you’ll relate to that) so running is not the cause of that!

She does recommend resistance exercise (although she says she weight trains just once per week) and also recommends interval training.  So FitterFaster clients are covered there.

I do agree that higher duration and continuous cardio exercise can raise cortisol levels and therefore blunt fat loss.  In fact any exercise does.  Exercise IS a stress to your body.  This is only a problem if you do not look after your recovery.  If you are eating to support your exercise, getting enough quality sleep and getting enough nutrients, exercise at fairly high levels is okay.  Other stressors also have to be taken into account as well (as I’ve mentioned loads of times in previous articles and posts)  Here’s a link to one of the posts here http://fitterfaster.net.au/balance-cortisol-lose-weight/

Christine also failed to mention any of the other health benefits of regular exercise such as a stronger heart, stronger bones, better mobility and function for every day life.  Also that training helps you to psychologically make changes to your eating habits and it also changes the shape of your body.  Weight loss via diet alone will not result in a healthy, lean looking body.

Christine also mentions how many people in the gym she attends have comparable bodies to hers even though they train more often the she does.  Then she says

“Actually there are many people in the gym 5 or 6 days a week who aren’t achieving their goals at all and are still overweight.  My diet helps me burn stored fat and build more muscle, so I have an advantage”

This does NOT prove that exercise makes you fat or stops you from losing weight.  It doesnt really prove anything but suggests that the people she is referring to may have a less than optimal diet and that is stopping them from achieving their goals. Once again, you cannot out-train a bad diet.

Lots of Christine’s theories make perfect sense and there is lots of science to prove it (which she references throughout the book).  Her advice to reduce or cut out completely vegetable oils, grains and low fat products is something I’ve always recommended.  I was a little concerned that she started or finished quite a few sentences with ‘in my opinion’ but nevertheless, I did agree with most of what she said because of my own research over the past 6 years or so.

Overall the theories in the book are good.  The one thing I’d mention is that a totally low carb approach such as this one may not be the best approach if you are exercising regularly.  You do need to supply your fit, trained body with energy to ensure that cortisol levels are not continuously elevated.  That’s why I recommend extra high energy carbs on training days to my clients.

fats

I also wouldn’t say that you can eat as much fat as you like and not get fat.  I think that is a bit of an exaggeration as calories do matter too.  A much higher saturated fat intake than most people have would only have positive benefits though.  So add more grass fed butter and cream, coconut oil, grass fed meat (including the fat surrounding it), true free-range eggs, fish oils and wild-caught oily fish and some cold pressed extra virgin olive oil to your daily diet and reap the health benefits.

There is an accompanying cookbook title The Fat Revolution Cookbook which has some great recipes.  I must admit I didn’t have time to try any of them, but will do in the future.  A lot of them are similar to the ones in the FitterFaster Recipe Book I did notice though.