Book Review: Naked Calories
It only took me two days to read this book, even though it sat on my bookshelf for about a month. I first heard about this book on both the Underground Wellness and Balanced Bites Podcasts. I’m usually pretty wary/lazy when it comes to buying the books from the interviews on Underground Wellness.
Not sure why this interview stood out to me, but I decided to buy the book.
I think that the background story is pretty amazing. Not only do they have years of successful clinical experience, but Mira Calton (one of the co-authors) managed to cure her osteoporosis using the same methods described in this book. Oh yea, they also spent six years traveling around the world studying different cultures.
They’re sort of like modern day Weston A. Price’s, although, and they’ll admit, that there aren’t many cultures untouched by by modern food.
Overall, this is a great book.
It’s very well researched and they do an amazing job of making every one of their arguments easy to understand and digest (pun intended). The Caltons do a great job of making simple connections and analogies from some very complex theories and facts.
Their main argument is that the majority of disease in the world, or at least non-infectious disease, is related to micronutrient deficiency. This is primarily seen through a dramatic spike in obesity and obesity related illness.
The title of the book refers to the fact that people most of the food that people eat is pretty much nutritionally worthless. A lot of people are familiar with the term empty calories, but the title of this book is a nuance of that concept. Naked calories are not only food that have a high caloric content and little nutritional value but also foods that have been denatured to the point where even previously good foods are now poor.
While I felt some of the book was over simplified, I also need to keep reminding myself that I am a ginormous nerd. Having good background in nutrition makes a lot of nutrition books seem redundant. That is not to say that I didn’t learn a lot from this book.
I did pretty well on the self test, but there were definitely some questions that hurt my feelings.
The biggest take away from this book is that I am pretty settled on where I stand on the multivitamin question.
Previously, I had argued against the need for one pretty vehemently. I believed and told people, that by simply eating a good Paleo diet getting all of the required micronutrients would be a non-issue. Its pretty much indisputable that the Paleo diet is the most micronutrient dense diet. It is also pretty well established that the Paleo diet removes most anti-nutirents.
This means that even if you are consuming less of a micronutrient than is available using super fortified foods, you are eating these nutrients in a form that is both bioavailable and in an environment free of micronutrient depleters.
For that reason, I think that the Caltons did their argument a disservice by not taking a stronger stance against grains. Yea, I’m biased, but my blog is called Paleo Now for a reason.
There is no food that blocks the absorption of micronutrients more than grains in any form.
The main thesis of the book revolves around micronutrients as the root cause and solution to all health and obesity issues.
There isn’t anything wrong with this hypothesis, I just think its incomplete. There are so many theories and hypothesis and arguments behind the cause of the obesity epidemic that I think that taking just one view is inherently incomplete.
A full theory has to look a more than just nutritional content, but has to also consider food addiction (both psychological and physiological), advertisement, economics, exercise, hormone production, and pretty much everything else. This is not to say that micronutrients are not an important factor or that the book advocates anything other than just eating real food (JERF for you Sean Croxton fans), but I think that there is just so much more to the puzzle.
I would definitely use this book as a tool to get someone to take a multivitamin and to help ween someone off of modern industrial garbage food.