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Recommended Reading - From Dr. Scherger’s Book: Lean and Fit

A Doctor’s Journey to Healthy Nutrition and Greater Wellness

Nina Teicholz. The Big Fat Surprise (2014). Simon & Schuster.

Nina Teicholz is a journalist much like Gary Taubes and Michael Pollan and is credited with educating the public on the bad science that caused us to avoid healthy fats for five decades, and eat way too many carbohydrates.  She traces the 20th century nutrition history in detail and explains why fats from the foods of nature are among the healthiest things we can eat.  I recommend the book for a solid background.  Teicholz is weak in describing some of the problems with unhealthy fats such as some vegetable oils and how red meat is associated with cancer risk.


Sara Gottfried. Younger (2017). Harper Collins.

This is a follow-up book by Berkeley gynecologist Sara Gottfried on hormones and health in women.  I reviewed her earlier book The Hormone Cure (2014). Dr. Gottfried has reached age 50 so she adds the perspective of menopause on women’s health. She is very smart and uses her own story to frame her advice in writing.  I recommend this book to women having reached their middle years with the start of menopause. The science of aging is well presented.  As for post-menopausal women, I still recommend the books of Christiane Northrup, especially Goddesses Never Age (2015).


Catherine Shanahan, Luke Shanahan. Deep Nutrition (2016). Flatiron Books. 

Catherine (Cate) Shanahan is a family physician that has been promoting healthy nutrition for two decades.  This book is a revision of her 2008 book of the same name.  For some time Dr. Shanahan caught the attention of Kobe Bryant who followed her writing and helped promote her work to other NBA players.  She is a former competitive runner and suffering many of the same musculoskeletal and hormonal problems of female athletes, especially with unfavorable genetic inheritance. Her main nutritional focus is to criticize unhealthy vegetable oils and foods containing sugar.  She is weak in the area of grains and overall glycemic load, and does not emphasize the benefits of nutritional ketosis.  I am amazed by how many of these great authors seem to get only part of the healthy nutrition science that is emerging today.  Her website, drcate.com, is very useful and I have posted her table on healthy and unhealthy oils in a blog here on leanandfitlife.com.


Steven R. Gundry. Dr. Gundry’s Diet Revolution (2008). Crown Publishing.

Dr. Gundry is a celebrated academic cardiac surgeon who became a preventive cardiologist in Palm Springs, CA.  I share many patients with him since I live and practice in the same area.  He is a leader in the low carbohydrate and anti-inflammatory diet movement and this book sets the stage for much of what follows after 2010 with authors recommended here.  I recommend it for a good background in healthy eating and lifestyle.  I will soon read his new book, The Plant Paradox and will review it here.


Sylvia Tara. The Secret Life of Fat (2017). W.W. Norton & Co.

Sylvia Tara has a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego.  After struggling her entire young life with body fat, she decided to study this “organ” in depth.  The book is a very readable and is an in depth look at the complex biology of body fat.  Fat is not just energy storage, but an active hormonal organ that fights to preserve itself, making it harder to get rid of once you have it.  Tara cites the pioneers in body fat research and describes the breakthrough findings such as why someone who loses weight has lower body metabolism than someone at the same age and weight that has not had weight loss.  The weakness of this book is that Tara does not include what happens to body fat and the hormones on a very low carbohydrate diet. She admits to her “sweet tooth” and continues to eat some sugar and grains and even praises the increase in blood insulin. Read this for an understanding of body fat and not for dietary advice.


Elissa Epel, Elizabeth Blackburn. The Telomere Effect (2017). Hachette Book Group.

Two Nobel Prize winners combine to provide the health advice to keep the telomeres healthy. Epel is a psychologist and Blackburn is a molecular biologist, and they were at the University of California, San Francisco. Telomeres are on the end of our chromosomes and they help the body heal, such as releasing stem cells to repair damage.  Our telomeres shorten as we age and this loss contributes to death.  Unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, stress and poor nutrition hasten the loss of telomere length.  The science in this book is strong and readable.  The advice is typical healthy lifestyle without much of the new and emerging nutrition knowledge.


William Davis, Wheat Belly (2011) and Wheat Belly Total Health (2014). Both by Rodale.

Dr. Davis is a cardiologist who got me started after I read Wheat Belly in 2013 and became free of grains. His books are well referenced and he is the champion of a grain free lifestyle. Dr. Davis reversed his own type 2 diabetes and developed extraordinarily healthy lipids from following this approach to eating. He is a modern day Robert Atkins, another cardiologist who healed himself before healing others.


David Perlmutter, Grain Brain (2013) and Brain Maker (2015). Both by Little, Brown & Co.

Dr. Perlmutter is a neurologist with an advanced degree in nutrition. Grain Brain built off of William Davis’s Wheat Belly and emphasized how high blood sugar and the inflammatory effects of grains cause a host of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease. Brain Maker is a breakthrough book bringing the emerging science about the crucial role of the gut microbiome in health and disease, a new “organ” that totally depends on what we eat. An unhealthy gut microbiome, induced by grains, causes leaky gut and most auto-immune diseases and neurodegeneration.


Daniel Lieberman, The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease (2013). Vintage Books.

This Harvard evolutionary biologist knows more about health, nutrition and disease than most physicians. He describes in detail how the nutrition of our paleolitihic ancestors was much healthier than our processed foods today. Most modern processed food is “mismatch” with our evolutionary body and he described how we are in a state of “disevolution”. This is a powerful call for revolutionary change by a brilliant academic.


Terry Wahls. The Wahls Protocol (2014). Avery (Penguin Group.

Terry Wahls is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa. At the peak of her career she developed disabling multiple sclerosis (MS). After failing to improve on both standard and new experimental medications, she sought relief through healthy nutrition and lifestyle. An anti-inflammatory low carbohydrate Paleo diet reversed her disease and she is back at work and lecturing widely (See her TED talk and YouTube presentations). She has an ongoing clinical trial helping others to reverse MS and other auto-immune disease. Anyone suffering from such problems, or even persons wanting to avoid such diseases, should read this book and follow the protocol. She has three levels of diet depending on how intense a person wants to be with their nutrition.


Jeff Volek & Stephen Phinney. The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living (2011) and The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance (2012). Both by Beyond Obesity, LLC.

Jeff Volek, RD, PhD is an academic nutritionist at The Ohio State University and Stephen Phinney, MD, PhD recently retired from the food science department at the University of California, Davis. They provide the hard science behind the benefits of low carbohydrate nutrition. In their book on performance, they describe how great endurance athletes such as the tennis player, Novak Djokovic, excel without eating carbohydrates except for what is in whole foods. Being a fat burner during long athletic events results in a steady blood sugar and steady performance compared with athletes that get tired, dizzy or cramp when they bottom out their limited supply of carbohydrates.


T. Colin Campbell & Howard Jacobson. Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition (2013). BenBella Books.

Colin Campbell is a distinguished nutrition scientist at Cornell (now emeritus). His research focused on nutrition and cancer and he conducted the largest epidemiologic research in the world showing that cancer and animal protein are strongly associated. He is a champion of a whole food plant based diet (vegan). He first published The China Study in 2006 and Whole summarizes those findings and provides a critique of how most nutrition science falls short in providing the information we need due to attempting to study single nutrients rather than whole foods. He also describes how the food industry in America is suppressing vital information about healthy and unhealthy foods.


Rick Warren, Daniel Amen & Mark Hyman. The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life (2013). Zondervan.

Rick Warren was an overweight pastor in Orange County, CA and decided he had better lose weight and become healthy. Rather than do that himself he challenged his congregation to join him. He enlisted the help of two physicians, Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist who has shown through imaging studies that the higher the blood sugar the more rapid the brain atrophy, and Mark Hyman, a family physician who advised Bill Clinton on becoming healthier by giving up grains and processed food. This book covers how in 40 days the congregation of Warren’s church lost over a hundred thousand pounds. Rick Warren provides spiritual advice while the doctors advise on healthy nutrition.


Denise Minger. Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health… and How to Reclaim It (2013). Primal Blueprint Publishing.

Denise Minger is a super-smart self-taught data junkie and in this book lays bare food politics in America and what is healthy nutrition. She dissects each of the recommended diets in America from the four food groups through the pyramids. She also reanalyzed the data from Colin Campbell’s The China Study showing that, among other things, fish from wild sources was also associated with lower cancer rates.


Scott Jurek. Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness (2012). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.

Scott Jurek is the first male star performer of ultramarathons. He is also a vegan. This book is his life story from his childhood near Duluth Minnesota to setting new records in the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run winning it six years in a row. His journey of being lean and fit is inspiring and he continues to break limits just setting a new record for completing the Appalachian Trail in 46 days.


Dan Buetner. The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People (2015). National Geographic Society.

Who can argue about the food ingredients of the healthiest people on Earth? What I find fascinating about the nutrition of the Blue Zone populations is that they are mostly very healthy and the people are lean and fit and relaxed. Most do eat some of the toxic carbohydrates such as breads. They live an average of eight years longer than other populations. I wonder how long they would live with optimal nutrition without the inflammatory foods?


Justin Sonnenburg, PhD and Erica Sonnenburg. PhD. The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long Term Health (2015) Penguin Press.

This husband and wife team are both microbiologists at Stanford University and are leading researchers in the human gut microbiome. They wrote this book for the general public in order to spread the word about the importance of the gut microbiome in human health. Their lack of medical training gives the book some limitations, however they provide lots of important information and validate the academic credibility of work in improving the gut microbiome, a critical “organ” for human health.


Gerard Mullin, MD. The Gut Balance Revolution: Boost Your Metablism, Restore Your Inner Ecology, and Lose the Weight for Good! (2015). Rodale, Inc.

Dr. Mullin is a gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He tells his childhood story of being embarrassingly fat once weighing over 300 pounds. He studied nutrition to lose the weight and as a medical scientist learned the critical importance of how human nutrition feeds the gut microbiome to not only help us lose weight, but also to be healthy overall. His largely self-developed diet plan is mostly consistent with what is presented in this book. However, he is not fully grain free in his recommendations, a limitation that can be overlooked by the strength of his overall recommendations. Being from one of the world’s most prestigious medical schools, he provides academic credibility to what is presented here.


Robynne Chutkin, MD. Gutbliss (2013) and The Microbiome Solution (2015). Both by Penguin Group.

Dr. Chutkin is a gastroenterologist specializing in women’s health. She uses nutrition to correct both common and uncommon GI problems such as bloating, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis). While her recommendations apply to men and women, her writing style and testimonials will resonate very well with women.


David Ludwig, MD, PhD. Always Hungry? (2016). Grand Central Life & Style (Hachette Book Group).

Dr. Ludwig is a pediatric endocrinologist at Harvard with impeccable academic credentials. His new book for the public reinforces the problems of excess carbohydrates and processed foods. He gives the low carbohydrate approach to nutrition solid academic credibility and also provides practical solutions. Many will like his maintenance diet but I consider it too high in carbohydrates (50%). He also only addresses weight and does not consider the role of inflammatory proteins such as in grains.


Robert Lustig, MD. Fat Chance (2012). Penguin Group.

Dr. Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco. He is best known for his attack on sugar and high fructose corn syrup added to most processed foods. He makes a strong case that these sugars are causing the global epidemic of overweight and obesity and that only radical public health measures will save us from spiraling into obesity and poor health. While his focus is limited to sugars, his message is powerful and the science is excellent.


Mark Hyman. Eat Fat, Get Thin (2016). Little, Brown and Company.

Mark Hyman is a family physician and the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine. With Eat Fat, Get Thin Hyman puts a positive spin on healthy nutrition by discussing what we can eat rather than what we must give up. A clue to the book is on the cover, with an avocado, tree nuts, olive oil and dark chocolate, not bacon.


JJ Virgin. The Virgin Diet (2012), HarperCollins and JJ Virgin’s Sugar Impact Diet (2014) Hachette Book Group.

JJ Virgin is a nutrition and fitness coach who became a bestselling author. Her first book eliminates the unhealthy processed and carbohydrate foods. Her second book is useful in that it identifies the hidden sugars in many foods that can prevent weight loss in someone thinking they are eating right. Along with Robynne Chutkin and Terry Wahls, this book would be especially useful to women.


Jonny Bowden. The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. (2007) Fair Winds Press, Beverly, MA.

For anyone who thinks my list of 50 foods is too limiting, this book is a very comprehensive description of 150 superfoods of nature. Many of the high glycemic fruits are listed but as long as one remembers the use of whole fruits in moderation because of the sugars, this book will be very useful.


Christiane Northrup, Goddesses Never Age (2015).  Hay House, Inc.

Christiane Northrup is a gynecologist from Maine and has been writing books on women’s health for many years.  She is most famous for her book, The Wisdom of Menopause ( 2012).  In Goddesses Dr. Northrup provides a health prescription for all aspects of a mature women’s life, mentally, physically, socially and spiritually.  Her nutrition recommendations are excellent and consistent the low carbohydrate superfoods presented in Lean and Fit.  This is my top recommended book for women over age 50.


Gary Taubes, The Case Against Sugar (2016).  Alfred A. Knopf.

This is a dense and comprehensive bookabout the history of sugar and the sugar industry.  Taubes rails about how the sugar industry helped create a culture of “sugar is not so bad” and shifted the focus to saturated fats as the food to be avoided.  He writes this book as if he was building a court case against sugar as a food villain, and he does this very convincingly.  I already knew that sugar and other carbs were behind the epidemic of overweight, obesity and type 2 diabetes.  I did not realize how sugar consumption also causes many cancers and diseases such as gout.  The Case Against Sugar should become a classic treatise on why we need to move away from sweets in human nutrition, especially high fructose corn syrup (see my comments on the Robert Lustig book Fat Chance).


Steve Blum, Intermittent Fasting (2017).  Self-published and available on Amazon.

See my blog on intermittent fasting.  I recommend this book because it is short and very clear, and does not push one option such as the 5:2 diet.



www.leanandfitlife.com by Joseph Scherger, MD
www.cureality.com by William Davis, MD
www.drperlmutter.com by David Perlmutter, MD
www.drhyman.com by Mark Hyman, MD
www.rawfoodsos.com by Denise Minger

Joseph E. Scherger, MD, MPH
Lean and Fit Enterprises, LLC


The information presented in this book is the result of many years of practice experience and clinical research by the author. The information in this book, by necessity, is of a general nature and not a substitute for an evaluation or treatment by a competent medical specialist. If you believe you are in need of medical intervention, please see a medical practitioner as soon as possible.
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