The French Diet: Why French Women Don't Get Fat Hardcover – 1 May 2005
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Anyone familiar with Montignac's theories which were rather flagrantly adapted over ten years ago by the creators of the Sugarbusters regime and Suzanne Somers' Somersizing system and worked over to create million dollar dieting empires replete with how-to books, recipes, web sites, food products and a variety of other spin-offs including teeth whitening agents, will appreciate this compact volume that spits out the dieting principles in a minimum of pages, succinctly explains why the diet will work for life and facilitates even the most unimaginative dieter with complete menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner with accompanying recipes.
In the mid-eighties, Montignac wrote "Dine Out and Lose Weight," in sympathy for business people everywhere like himself that had gained too much weight from heavy business dinners and couldn't see a way to remain polite without the need of going up a waist size. Simply stated, he forbid the consumption of high glycemic carbohydrates with fats and proteins, explaining that the insulin release from increased blood sugar levels stores the fats ingested rather than burns them for energy. Montignac Method meals then, were either carbohydrate based or protein/fat based. Only on the maintenance phase of the diet were some lower glycemic carbohydrates allowed to ride side-car with their fattier macronutritional counterparts. Strictly forbidden on any phase were the usual suspect high-glycemic demons of sugar, white flour and other processed foods.
In "The French Diet," Montignac no longer seems caught up with adhering to his former strict dichotomy between carbs and fats. Now refreshingly, he turns his attention on the concept of GO or glycemic outcome as an explanation of the so-called French Paradox. Roughly speaking, GO takes an "average" look at the glycemic index of the entire meal, rather than its individual components. For example, eating a potato (admittedly a bad example as potatoes are forbidden on phase 1) with a high GI should be balanced with the consumption of really low glycemic, high fiber vegetables, keeping the entire GO to a level of 50 or less. For Montignac, keeping a meal at a GO level of less than 35 will result in weight loss. Anything above 50 will start packing that fat back into its favorite storage location -- your abdomen.
In addition, he throws out standard nutritional definitions categorizing carbs as either slow of fast burning, refuses to believe that caloric input and output (in the form of exercise) monitors weight loss or gain and adheres strictly to the premise that selecting foods based on their nutritional value and the effects they have on metabolism is the secret to maintaining one's weight for life. Under Montignac's plan, carbs are no longer public enemy number one and fats, the bad boys of the AHA regime are, no surprise, great if they are either omega 3 or monounsaturated fatty acids-saturated fats are used sparingly and trans fats are a no-no. As expected, proteins should be selected by origin - the best choices, of course, being fish, chicken, turkey, etc. Foods labeled as `funky'(combinations of carbs and fats like nuts and tofu) by similar food combining plans are thankfully no longer `funky' on this one.
If you thought "French Women Don't Get Fat," fun to read, but contained little dieting tenets, you will like Montignac's "The French Diet". His easy-to-understand format feeds into the American need for empiricism with just enough layman friendly science backed by hard facts and medical studies. The bottom line? Following a balanced diet of real food while tweaking the glycemic index to your best interest puts all current dietary fads to shame.
This book puts much of it's focus, usually with years of reaserch backing its theories, on the glycmic index and how sugars in foods are coverted to fat and stored. It isn't just about fat. There are even handy charts ranking foods from high 100's to low. They offer GI suggestions to loose weight, and to maintence weight. The book also offers menu ideas with a recipe section in the back.
I had to disagree with one of the previous reviewers who, to me, seemed to miss the point of the book. I will add that I have been to France and tasted their food, which is full of flavor and amazing even in the smallest cafés. Here, it too often seems that we focus more on quantity and cost. Our portions are larger and the food, overall, seems less flavorful. The focus in France seems to be quality and flavor. This book - to me and others in my family who have read it - is definately worth the reasonable price.
(Lastly: In France there is a lot more walking and less driving around. Something the book doesn't spend much time on.)