Release Date: May 15th 2012
Publisher: Random House
Buy It: Book Depository
Distilling Bob’s vast knowledge of nutrition, weight-loss strategy, and human nature down to twenty simple, nonnegotiable principles, The Skinny Rules will help you step away from a reliance on processed foods and the need for so much sweet and salt and step into a newly thin lifestyle. And Bob’s methods couldn’t be more straightforward. Taking the guesswork out of implementing the Skinny Rules, Bob offers a month’s worth of menu plans and more than 90 rule-abiding recipes.I don't watch The Biggest Loser, but I've definitely gained a little bit of what I refer to as "thesis weight" over the past couple months, so I was curious about what kind of suggestions The Skinny Rules would contain. What I found was a nice mix of reinforcing the obvious things (drink lots of water) that we like to ignore, and debunking some myths that we may still cling to (fruit juice, even that all natural stuff, is still not a good choice). There was also a full month long eating guide, with plenty of meal options and use the underlying rules Harper proposes. I haven't tested his regimented diet out yet, but I'm definitely going to be taking the rules to heart when planning my own meals.
I really enjoyed the sense of humour in The Skinny Rules. For example, describing the amount coffee you can consume, Harper writes: "Limit consumption to two cups a day, preferably before noon. Exception: you can drink it all day if you are indeed in Paris." Another thing I appreciated was how there were a couple stories about Harper's writing partner, Critser, and this wasn't like one of those celeb books that are ghost-written; it's clearly a combined effort and Harper is honest about that.
Another example is when describing how to make chicken broth from scratch, one of the instructions say "bring to a boil, skim that weird stuff off the top, and simmer for 4 hours." It's the kind of instruction that's very helpful if you aren't used to cooking and makes the recipes easy and approachable.
My major frustration with The Skinny Rules was how dead-set Harper was on certain foods, and I wished there had been a little more flexibility because of food allergies or just certain things you might dislike. In my case, I have celiac disease and hate broccoli (though he's convinced me to try some of the less traditional varieties in the future). Especially when it comes to gluten, Harper mentions that allergies exist and then pretty much brushes it off and tells the reader not to eat any rice or corn or potato, which are the easiest ways for somebody who can't eat gluten to get a little starch.
Rule number 4 is "Slash your intake of refined flours and grains", and throughout the book Harper continually recommends whole wheat flour and farro– neither of which I can eat. I realize this is a book meant for the general public, but with the increasing number of individuals with gluten intolerances, I would have liked at least a sentence or two mentioning what some good alternatives to wheat were. A couple recipes call for quiona, but that's as close as Harper gets to helpful suggestions. It's a lot easier to say eliminate rice 100% if you don't have celiac disease, when the great grain barley isn't an option.
Celiac disappointment aside, I thought this was a great book for how to lose weight. I really appreciated how Harper wouldn't just tell you something without backing it up with scientific research and personal experience: he doesn't just expect the reader to believe him, he gives you proof. The real proof of The Skinny Rules of course, comes when you apply them to your own life, and I can't wait to start implementing them myself.