What’s Your Take On Vegan Diets Such As Skinny Bitch?

Skinny Bitch. Man, what a compelling title for a diet book that’s basically nothing more than a vegan diet repackaged with generous helpings of grrrl power for good measure.

Damn, I should’ve used that strategy too.

Since (like the authors of Skinny Bitch) I’m genetically inclined towards leanness myself, I should write a provocative fitness book called The F— Fat People Diet based on an ancient Chinese methodology for maintaining optimal levels of leanness through inscrutable eating and mathematical prowess.

But I digress.

Let’s examine the Skinny Bitch Diet without all the “I’m a former Ford Model” crap:

Since it’s essentially a vegan approach to eating, you’re forbidden to eat meat, dairy, sugar, refined flour, or artificial sweeteners. Aside from their recommendations to eschew meat, I’ve no problem with their suggestions.

Sugar and refined flour (along with fructose) are arguably responsible for the current explosion in obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in America and coincidentally are the first two things Mike and I strike off of the list when working with new clients.

Dairy can cause digestive problems in many people (myself included). Most people eat dairy to make sure they get enough calcium, which is a dubious benefit, since the total amount of calcium you actually absorb from dairy is small compared to the more assimilable calcium found in vegetables and nuts.

Also, many dairy products cause spikes in insulin levels comparable to white bread (!), which can have disastrous effects on your health and your waistline.

The jury is still out on artificial sweeteners; although certain ones like aspartame and saccharin have been linked to cancers and other clinical ills, most artificial sweeteners appear to be safe if consumed in moderation.

That means if you replace the 17 sugars you put in your coffee with 17 packets of Splenda, you’re not only crazy, you’re not fooling anybody (including your body’s metabolic response).

Diet foods high in artificial sweeteners do stimulate appetite and have been clinically shown to cause overeating, so they are right to steer you clear of those.

So those recommendations, plus the emphasis on the consumption of organic vegetables and berries, water, green tea, Turmeric (what is turmeric?) and red wine are what I like about their approach.

Here’s where they get a bit wacky:

This is a vegan approach, so they advocate avoiding meat. Now it’s important to note that both authors eschew meat for personal reasons, which I have absolutely no problem with.

But it is not more healthy for you, nor is it better for fat loss to avoid meat.

In fact, the facts are that it’s quite the opposite – without eating protein from animal sources, you can not obtain sufficient amounts of B12, without which, you will die (B12 supplementation is a must for anyone on a vegetarian or vegan diet).

Additionally, far from slowing your metabolism (as the authors claim), the protein in meat accelerates your metabolism, causing you to burn far more calories at rest due to the breakdown of protein into its constituent amino acids (it’s called the Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF) and Mike and I write about it in more detail in the Dirty Little Book of Dieting).

They don’t poo-poo protein, however.

The authors do advocate replacing animal proteins with those found in beans, nuts, and soy products (in case you don’t know how we feel about soy, in a nutshell: Don’t eat it. Its benefits are overhyped and its dangers are underreported. Of course, if you don’t eat animal products, you’ve really got no choice and we offer you our condolences).

Also, the authors don’t have a real appreciation for the finer points of biochemistry.

Co-author Rory Freedman writes:

“We live to eat, and there's no reason you should have to live without cookies. We just read the ingredients and look for better substitutes for sugar, like evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, molasses, raw sugar, beet sugar, maple syrup, things like that.”

Guess she doesn’t realize that all those “natural” sugars all get turned into the same thing once they hit your bloodstream – glucose.

And that glucose does the same thing whether it’s from a drop of honey or a morsel of whole grain carrot cake – spike insulin levels and promote fat storage.

Skinny Bitch makes some good points and scores well with its message of getting healthy in order to facilitate fat loss.

However, the book is not science-based and carries the bias of being written by two women who have never been fat in their lives, nor will they likely ever be, and it’s not because of their diet (thank your parents!).

-Eugene Thong CSCS