Craig Ballantyne vs the Skinny Bitch Diet

Admission: I’ve never read the book, “The Skinny Bitch Diet”. And I likely never will. Nor will I read their follow-up book, “The Skinny Bastard Diet”. (I’ll be surprised if that does well with men, since “skinny” is an insult to most men, at least the ones I know).

But here’s the premise according to one TT Member…

“The book is a platform for weightloss based on a vegetarian lifestyle and that we should avoid meat, dairy, eggs, fish, etc – that the authors refer to as ‘junk’ foods”.

Now here’s what I think…

There’s a lot of junk in all “food worlds” – both vegetarian and in the meat-eating world.

I think doing the best you can to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and raw nuts is a good place to start your diet. You can then eat meat or choose not to and stick to vegetarian protein sources.

Will farm-factory meat kill you?

Well, maybe by e. coli in a few isolated cases (poorly processed vegetarian foods can also kill you, too), but long-term, I don’t think anyone can prove that eating ‘regular old chicken breasts and red meat from your local grocery store’ once in a while will shorten your life (not counting processed meats, as those certainly have been associated with cancer and diabetes).

I do my best to stick to organic, grass fed meat, but I probably eat “generic Canadian grocery store meat” twice per week. And I just don’t think that will make a difference in my life. I just don’t.

The human body is incredibly resilient and unless you smoke, are significantly overweight, avoid exercise, or drink excessively (or abuse substances), your genetics are likely the biggest factor in your health and longevity.

I eat meat and doubt I will ever stop. I grew up on a cattle farm. I’ve been inside a slaughterhouse. And I still plan on trying a piece of Chocolate covered bacon when I can find a store that sells it in Toronto. (But just one piece and then it will be back to eating on the Turbulence Training lifestyle.)

If you consume meat, dairy, and eggs in moderation, I have a tough time seeing how you can’t live as long a life as someone who abstains, provided you…

  • Take care of yourself.
  • Go to the doctor.
  • Stay out of trouble.
  • Don’t develop any addictions to alcohol or drugs.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Stay active.
  • Associate with wonderful people who give you positive social support.
  • Love someone.
  • Pet a dog thrice daily – this is key.

So take a deep breath, relax, and don’t let skinny beetches get under your skin.

That said, I know a lot of TT Members want more vegetarian info, and so I’m working with vegetarian nutrition expert Kardena Pauza to bring you vegetarian meal plans and recipes. And even if you don’t want to stop eating meat, you’ll still get a lot of healthy eating ideas from her – my first interview with Kardena should be next week.

As for food toxins, yes, there are many that should be avoided…however, in this day and age of detox-this and detox-that, there is one thing that nutrition-detox folks all forget…

…something more powerful than the food we eat…

…and something that no one can really do anything about…

…nor can we ever “detox” from it…

And that is:

The air we breathe. It probably can do more harm than toxins in our food.

The bottom line is this:

If you want to live a long life, then avoid eating really bad food all of the time (french fries, other sources of trans fats), don’t smoke, don’t be obese, reduce as much un-necessary stress as possible, and be consistent with activity that you love to do.

Frankly, thats all you can do and you just have to let your genetics take the wheel from there.

Later this week I plan on posting an extensive interview I did with Brad Pilon about “food paranoia” and if you have ever wished there was someone who could clear up all the misconceptions in the nutrition world, it’s Brad.

Helping you make sense of eating while losing fat,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

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  • deb

    With 2 dogs I’ve get that petting thing done within the first minutes of getting up!

    Still working on eating more fruits and veggies… that everything else seems to be fairly in order.

    When I was born, my likely life span would end about 72. Now I’m planning on living until about 95 (providing I can avoid Alzheimer’s disease). Diet, exercise and reduced stress are key factors in that plan.

  • BRAVO!!!! Great Blog Craig!!! This is a message I do my best to try to get out. Will share this as a Tweet.

  • Great post Craig! I’ve read the Skinny Bitch and I couldn’t agree more. Everyone has their preferences, but with those points you suggest, I can’t see how you wouldn’t have quality health over the long term. Apparently I do need to find me a dog though. 🙂

  • I’m not vegan, and I’ve never read the entire book. I think being vegan can be perfectly healthy, and in fact the healthiest cultures use meat as more of a condiment in their dishes. However; this book calls for eating a LOT of processed soy (at least the cookbook, which I read, does) which is associated with health risks, as well.

    Additionally the tone of the book just rubbed me the wrong way. Kind of the like ditzy college cheerleader who’d always been thin saying, “just quit eating so much and get off your ass! like omg!” Well, duh. I never finished it.

  • Alan

    I can’t conceive of a day without meat, so vegetarianism, let alone veganism is incomprehensible. Soy in the quantities they talk scares me silly and the trouble they have to go to to ensure sufficient quality protein is crazy. Besides eliminating such a large section of the food group from your diet sounds obsessive to me. Finally, I have yet to see a really healthy looking vegetarian/vegan.

  • I read the book. Yes it’s about trying to turn you vegan but it uses the PETA approach – how animals are treated/abused etc and how that abuse in addition to other chemicals and hormones and illnesses can affect your health, etc. When I picked up the book I was excited to read it! But once I got into it, I realized they were mostly preaching health and moral reasons on why you should become vegan. Personally, I have no interest in becoming vegan or vegetarian so I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t make that clear in the book description. And I agree, they push soy products which, in moderation have been proven to be a health benefit but like the poster above said, have also been associated with health risks when consumed in abundance. Overall, good book if you are looking to become vegan but need a reason WHY. Other than that, find something else to read…

  • Scott

    I agree that genetics plays a huge role, as does how your body tolerates certain foods. I have high cholesterol, unfortunately, and I don’t tolerate saturated fats at all; they cause quite a spike in my LDL’s and total cholesterol. Even focusing on lean, organic protein sources of meat and dairy did not fix the problem. I’ve substitued beans, quinoa, almond butter, and rice/pea protein (as recommended by John Alvino and Jason Ferruggia) and have no difficulty maintaining the 70-120gms/day as recommended by Brad Pilon. I was already incorporating lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats (flax, fish oil, EVOO), so the switch was not that big of a deal. I feel it’s hard to beat any diet that focuses on whole, non- prossessed foods, regardless if it’s vegan or not. Add in the other recommendations that Craig outlined above and you should be good to go!

  • Americans represent a more diverse gene pool than most of the “healthiest cultures” and it may be difficult to extrapolate optimum protein intake for most Americans based on their diets. Each person’s diet should be customized to reflect their preferences, location and pocketbook. Not every human being is going to thrive on a vegan diet. Nor will they all thrive on 30% animal protein. That said, I think your advice on how to live a long life is great. Even if your life isn’t long, it will sure be nice!

  • Craig; I take my hat off to you!
    I was given that book , read the first page and then used it as a bone for my dog to go and fetch!
    I pet my dog 3+ daily, eat fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and lean protien !
    If you keep it clean most of the time your guaranteed to wind up ahead of the game!
    Linda*

  • Yvonne

    Excellent post!
    (But I don’t have a dog, dammit!)

  • Deborah

    Any form of extreme diet approach is always going to be unhealthy, and we are by nature omnivores – suck it up people, we can eat meat and live… oooh who knew!? Indeed, without good quality meat in your diet you miss out on essential amino acids that you CANNOT obtain by ANY OTHER SOURCE. Not to mention that animals taste good – let’s spend time and effort making their lives healthy and happy, and their dispatch quick, humane and as stress free as possible rather than boycotting meat and dairy products and getting so stressed about what is right and what is wrong.

    Until very recently (by human life on planet terms) the biggest killer in humans was infection which is why people holding on to the “our ancestors didn’t live that long and ate meat and dairy” is a really poor argument, as modern antibiotics and innoculation programmes have irradicated a lot of the stuff that gave shorter average life spans (also, in average lifespans high infant mortality plays a significant part, and even in the last few decades modern medicine has improved this significantly).

    Not cancer, heart disease, stroke, arterial plaque, diabetes etc… all of these have been brought up to epidemic proportions by the modern western lifestyle of poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and stress. Indeed, the last one is probably the biggest killer of all. Exercise has been shown beyond compare to be the single most beneficial thing anyone can do to improve their health, even if they eat total crap (though I wouldn’t recommend that as a lifestyle! :oD ). It reduces stress, lowers excess fat stores, improves muscle tone, helps to balance hormonal systems and if you take your exercise in the great outdoors and green spaces it helps lift the spirits. So yeah, get a dog – the walkies and patting will be good for you (both!), especially the floppling of the ears, which I think is possibly the strongest therapeutic benefit available ;o)

    If anyone wants really sound well researched diet and lifestyle advice then you would be best off reading Anthony Colpo’s ‘The Great Cholesterol Con” – one of the best books on the subject I have ever had the pleasure to read – ditch the ditsy skinny b*tch and go stress free!

  • My diet probably consists of mostly veggies, but it seems a bit goofy to cut out animal protein sources? Especially for soy of all things!

    I guess people think I’m nutty for being mostly paleo, so whatever floats their boat.

  • I prefer a raw food diet practice where by I prefer to consume my foods uncooked and of a plant derivative .

    I am an endurance athlete participating in Olympic distance triathlon, MTB riding, at the present time it is the X country season here in Oz.

    I get all my protein, carbs, fats, etc from plant based sources. I do not stand on a soap box and say its the way but when you say

    “If you consume meat, dairy, and eggs in moderation, I have a tough time seeing how you can’t live as long a life as someone who abstains”

    I would think you have missed a valuable point about why you should question if the rhetoric of animal consumption is real or built up by vested interests and misrepresentation of facts.

    I will spare you the its inhuman line of vegetarian dogma, and brush over the environmental consequences of farming practices that are practiced at this time.

    Instead I ask you to actually consciously think about why you eat like you do, ask yourself where it came from, ask your self if I could not buy it ready made, could I Kill it, cook it, and consume it, easily.

    Ask yourself what impact is my way of consuming foods impacting on the whole of our world.

    I personally do not expect to change anybody’s way of thinking by any thing else except by example.

    If you choose to stay within the guidelines that you have been fed all your lives you will not be able to see what is a necessity for us a human beings to put as our priorities .

    All growth comes from a change of circumstance either forced on us or bought on by asking questions.

    Your journey into health and fitness started with some incidence that caused you to take action, many wont, and will suffer the consequence .

    By being conscious and making choices that are based on our own questions and answers.

    Formulated from, not what can i get, but what can I contribute to the sustainability of the world we all live in.

    Heck I am right out in the left field I even advocate and practice barefoot running, and eating organically grown foods 🙂

  • Totally agree with you Craig. Well, apart from the dog strokes; I’m allergic! lol But to love and be loved is probably one of the most important factors of living a long and happy life. A balanced, nutritious diet and regular activity will keep the body as functional as possible for as long as possible.

    Even the title of the book would stop me buying into it! Not exactly healthy by implication!

    Tusc 😀

  • Bryan

    Great post Craig. I think you’re right, the book most likely will not do well with men besides the fact it appears to be too gimmicky. I was born premature and have been a vegetarian virtually all of my life.I think the key to wellness as you’ve stated is relative to lifestyle and staying “connected” to well-being.

  • From a womens point of view (and fellow trainer) I have to say I am not ecstatic about the skinny bia diet… Women still want to gain muscle definition and these women who wrote the book have clearly no experince in body composition. Sure lose some fat… but by following their diet you can also plan on losing your muscle…

  • David

    I agree with a lot of what watzzupsport said. For more details on what he mentioned, check out the book “Food Revolution” by John Robbins. It is incredibly eye opening; it changed my opinion on eating ‘standard’ (i.e. non-organic) meat. It is a big book, but worth the read.

    Cheers,
    Dave.

  • kevin Taylor

    Hi Craig, It is plain and simple follow the rules an mother nature will take care of the rest. As far as going to the doctor unless you have an underline problem if your smart about your method of eating you will not have to go to the doctor that much at all. I have not been sick in two years since I have changed my method of eating. If I was going to battle I would not want a under nourished vegetarian by my side!!

  • Hi Craig, Thank you for the opportunity to sound off. Most it seems these days are on the veggies bandwagon. My thoughts (as usual) are somewhat controversial. At 65+ I suppose one has to be. Please let me therefore initially digress to some extent.
    A simple Google search of the creation of the universe will elicit the unbelievable fact that for the known universe to come into existence purely by chance is somewhere in the magnitude of one divided by one followed by 120 zeros. Similarly a simple web search for the number of neurons in an average human brain is around 100 billion (what does this mean? it means that if we count as fast as we can, non-stop 24 hours a day, it will take us around 1000 years).

    My point in sharing all this shocking facts are that usually, we know almost nothing about what is good, best or bad for us. The anatomical variations of our teeth and our digestive processes confirm that our diet has to be a mix of veggies and various proteins.

    I trained to participate in the 2004 Pan Pacific Masters Games in Australia and was happy to note an author on fitness state that, at present eating had become a social event. For example if a family wishes to go out for dinner they decide OK where shall we go? Pizza, Steaks, Seafood, Crabs, Lobsters blah, blah….. I tried out what this author (who helped train some very famous current Celebrities) stated, namely that if you train hard and properly enough, your gut feeling will tell you what you must eat. Since this seemed logical I really trained as best as I could and surely enough, after some time I really did crave for specific foods, roast beef, with fresh salads, all sorts of fruits, cheese, eggs, milk etc., Hence my position is train hard with knowledge and eat a mixture of foods both meats, veggies, fruits and nuts. Result! I won 2 Golds and a Silver. Thank you Craig, for the valuable advice. So far I have fallen off the exercise ball only twice 🙂

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Congrats Thiagan! Very interesting approach.

  • Amber

    Hi Craig!
    I appreciate and agree with everything you have said. And I also agree with what you say about keeping your whole grains at a very minimum if you really want to get your body fat down. That seems to work the best for me when I follow that way of eating.
    If you really want to try some chocolate covered bacon, my husband and his family have a chocolate candy company and sell it here in Ohio,(which I try to keep away from so I’m not tempted.) It’s not one of my favorites, but if you’d really like to try it, we’ll be happy to send you some to try. Our treat. You can check the website out at Marie’s Candies.com, so you know it’s legit, and I’m not some weirdo! Let me know if your interested.
    Amber

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Amber, thanks for the offer. I’ll email you our shipping address!

      Craig

  • Great post Craig,

    Another example of people using dietary and health scare-mongering to try and sell books and ideas.

    B

  • Sarah

    Hi Craig,
    Great article! I have actually skimmed the SkinnyBi**h book in the store…I think it’s hilarious how they go from being 2 women in the modeling industry eating Mc’i D’s for lunch everyday to being on a soap box for not eating any meat because it’s cruelty to animals… whatever! 🙂 Being healthy is a mix of eating healthy, exercise and learning not to always take life so serious…meaning spend time each day with family and friends (even your dog(s) I have two : ) Thanks for all your workouts, articles and encouragment…. HAGO! Sarah

  • Dori

    Thanks for this, Craig. As a woman who has struggled with positive body image my whole life, I refuse to open (or walk near) any book or message that further perpetrates the negative self-image and destructive thoughts many women live with. Furthermore, I agree with you that our bodies are not as weak and fragile as many people seem to make them out to be these days–and we are living longer and better every year.
    I will continue to eat meat, most of which is all natural, if not organic. When I do, I feel better, healthier, stronger and I am full. Same with vegetables and other plant-based foods. The idea that we shouldn’t eat something that we wouldn’t feel comfortable “hunting” ourselves is a bit strange to me. I guarantee you, that if my family were hungry, my father and husband would be out there doing whatever it took to get us something, even if that meant hunting. The reason we are uncomfortable with the idea is because we haven’t had to do it–thanks to the adundance of food in this and many countries. We are simply spoiled. But even I would be capable of a LOT if my son needed to eat. The concept that eating meat is just wrong is so strange to me because it is as if we are saying that our ancestor’s discovery of fire and sharp tools was wrong. Or that the lion who takes a zebra down is wrong too. We ARE animals. Animals EAT animals, and I believe there is a reason that our bodies process animal proteins much more easily that protein from other sources.
    That said, I completely understand people who want to eat vegetarian for their own personal reasons, but I don’t understand people who dispute the science and nature behind it.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Well said!

  • aleks

    Released a few weeks ago, this article sheds some light on the effects of red meat consumption.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/health/28brod.html?ex=1257220800&en=0d6e39a276c17d56&ei=5087&WT.mc_id=NYT-E-I-NYT-E-AT-0506-L4

  • Sandi

    Craig,
    Love your bullet points. Too many health books, articles and programs overlook those components. That being said however, I do, after A LOT of reading and research, eschew dairy products. Most human cultures for most of human history have not included much dairy in their diets and the healthiest cultures (mostly Asian) still don’t. I think we are pretty well brain-washed as a society when it comes to the “glories” of dairy consumption and it would be worth your time to take a serious look into it. The China Study is a great place to start for the anti-dairy viewpoint. For the pro-dairy viewpoint it is tough to come up with much in the way of research that wasn’t funded by the dairy industry (that should tell us something) but through your business you probably have access to a lot of nutritional data and research. Just watch out for the provenance before taking it as fact. BTW had a GREAT workout this morning thanks to you.

  • Hi Craig,
    You’re right, it’s just as easy to be an unhealthy vegetarian as it is to be an unhealthy meat eater.

    I have been vegetarian for over 7 years and am able to keep a muscular build. I am a healthy vegetarian. BTW: I don’t use any protein powders and stay away from soy. My diet come from healthy whole foods. I am vegetarian by choice.

    I’m not saying that everyone should be a vegetarian, but I am saying that people should pay attention to the types of meat that they do eat.

    Organic grass fed beef can be healthy for you, but commercial feed lot cattle is extremely harmful.
    There is no middle of the road. One is healthy the other does extreme harm. There are many reasons for this, too many to explain in this comment section.

    For me, eating well goes beyond weight loss and six pack abs.
    Eating well is about achieving vibrant health and wellness. Weight loss and a toned body are the side effects of leading a healthy lifestyle.

    Thanks Craig. Have a great day! 🙂

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Alexander,

      Explain: commercial feed lot cattle is extremely harmful. There is no middle of the road. One is healthy the other does extreme harm. There are many reasons for this, too many to explain in this comment section.

      Because I don’t believe it. Extreme harm, c’mon. Cigarettes cause extreme harm. Jumping off a 10-story building without a parachute causes extreme harm.

      Craig

      • brian

        I’ll explain. Commercial cattle are given steroids and hormones to fatten them up, and also antibiotics. What a coincidence that this could affect the person who eats it in a negative way. There was a time when the medical establishment told us cigarettes had health benefits. People argued for years that they caused cancer. Years later Big pharma admitted it. Anyway most people smoke for many years before something serious happens. So it’s very possible it could be just as harmful as cigarretes. Watch supersize me. That guy was about to die after eating mcdonalds for a month. Now you’re gonna say that’s mcdonalds but commercial meat is treated with the same chemicals. There’s been studies done where they found a non-organic piece of chicken to be only 50%percent chicken. Just because we’re not told our whole lives it is harmful like cigarettes doesn’t mean that it’s not. There’s so much you need to learn about nutrition.

      • Craig Ballantyne

        Hey Brian,

        I grew up on a cattle farm. My father never once gave a cow steroids or hormones. Antibiotics, yes, but not hormones.

        There is a lot you need to learn about farming.

        Craig

  • Dale

    Craig,

    Whether you want to be a vegetarian or a meat-eater is a matter of personal choice. Many of us need animal protein or we feel starved all the time.

    Not everyone can afford to eat the ideal organic diet. It’s expensive. You can learn to avoid foods high in sweeteners or with bad fats like french fries and potato chips. An advantage to hunting is you get leaner meat free of the chemicals added to most commercial meat.

    Diet and exercise help you live longer, but a big factor is your genetics. Your chances of living a long life are greater if you have long-lived relatives. If you come from a family with short life spans, you can do every thing right and still not live much longer than your relatives. If you inherit the right genes, you can do every thing wrong and still live to be a hundred.

    My great grandmother lived to be 104 and other relatives lived into their 90’s. I don’t know if I got her genes so eating right and exercising is important in case I don’t. I don’t have any pets so I have to settle for petting a neighbor’s dog when I can.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Brilliantly said Dale, and in fewer words than I! Thanks for a good dose of common sense.

      Craig

  • I’ve read “Skinny Bitch” and while it has some good points, to me it’s too extreme for the majority of people to stick to. Craig’s list of ways to take care of yourself is far more practical. Whether you choose to be a vegetarian or not, paying attention to the quality and quantity of food you consume will be evident in your physique. Thanks for the dose of common sense Craig. Moderation in all things is often the key to success.

  • Keep up the great work Craig, you’ve got a lot of meaty advice here. ;o)

    Really, common sense is the name of the game, and what works best for one person might not work the best for someone else. The key is to not judge someone because they don’t take on your chosen lifestyle. Besides, there are too many very healthy energetic meat eaters walking around disproving the notion that meat is bad for you.

    There are many ways to feed your body and your body will undoubtedly give you feedback. As for us, we have a great appreciation for chicken and fish and even the occasional ruffed grouse hunted down by my hubby in our very own Eastern Canadian woods.

    Lots of great wisdom shared in many of the comments! I’m off to pet my dog for the 15th time today!

  • LuckyPenne

    Never read TSB, but I gave up this debate last year thanks to advice from Dr. Doug Graham, author of “The 80/10/10 Diet.” I follow a species-specific diet, which serves my needs better than any other I’ve tried in over four decades of living. If your chosen regimen serves you, then more power to you! 😀

    For anyone interested in learning more about a low-fat, raw vegan approach (no soy, oils, or other refined products) used successfully by world-class athletes, I highly recommend Doug’s website and books: http://foodnsport.com

    Here’s one of my favorite lectures on the subject, which gives a quick overview (>10 minutes) of the species-specific diet Dr. D recommends, and covers most of the misconceptions presented here:
    Dr. Doug Graham – Raw Food Festival 2000 and another of Doug juggling balls on a ball for the skeptics in the crowd LOL (Click HERE.)

    Oh, and I’ve had pets in the past (dogs, horses, cows-nursed a calf who lost its mom, rabbits, etc.) but baby hugs fill the bill now! 😉

    To your health, Amigos!

  • Hi Craig old buddy,

    Here’s my thoughts on these topics – I’m probably a bit biased towards meat but some interesting research in these…

    http://www.tropicanafitness.com/view/v/article/a/164 – Vegetarianism is NOT the way to health!

    http://www.tropicanafitness.com/view/v/article/a/149 – does meat really cause cancer?

    http://www.tropicanafitness.com/view/v/article/a/159 – Are carbs the new fat?

  • Steven Flannery

    Bypassing the moral aspects of meat consumption a few points:

    1) If you follow craig’s diet its more based on fruits, vegetables, and raw nuts then meat. I for one have started to eat raw broccoli with hummus (red pepper for me) and apples because craig makes a repeated point of saying Americans dont get enough whole veggie/fruit intake relative to “food” that comes out of a box.

    2) the amount of meat being consumed by the average human can not be sustained by our planet…the resources (grain, water, energy) it takes to produce a pound of protein from animals is astronomical

    3)Two Books EVERYONE should read – Food Revolution – John Robbins The China Study – Both books go into great scientific detail about the direct correlation between meat consumption and cancer rates…this is a huge eye opener

    bottom line?
    humans must eat more fruits,veggies and nuts. (for several reasons)

    most humans should lesson (at the very least) the amount of meat they consume

  • Nicolle

    Don’t criticize any book until you’ve read it. And you should NEVER EVER even begin to think in your head you could come up with ANYTHING that will remotely be good (or bad) for a woman. Our hormones fluctuate so often, and eating meat can actually mess with them and cause breast cancer and other cancers…not to mention the carcinogens in anything that isn’t organic. Different foods/exercise must be done for women depending on their cycle of hormones, their age, etc. A man can’t even begin to know what we go through nor what affects us. The fact that at a certain time of the month we can more readily injure ourselves, that we feel as if we’re so exhausted we’ve been drugged, and other times when food makes us sick and we could run a marathon.. you have no clue. Every year of a woman’s life, every day, it changes. Don’t review any books until you have read them. Thank you.

  • Bonnie

    Craig, great post. I can’t comment on the book, because I haven’t read it although I did hear about it last year. But I did want to say that I truly appreciate that you didn’t completely dismiss vegetarianism.

    I’ve been a personal trainer for about a decade and I’ve come across many different people with different food preferences and tolerances. I, myself can only shed body fat when I go strictly vegetarian, nearly macrobiotic in fact. But it isn’t my preference and it certainly isn’t easy.

    I only go vegetarian for 3-6 months at a time (I’d really miss my grilled chicken and fish otherwise). For most people, it is difficult to determine how to combine foods properly to ensure adequate protein on a vegetarian diet. Far too many recreational veggies simply turn to lots of high fat, low quality packaged soy products and expect good results and optimal health. Or worse, they figure that french fries are vegetarian and go to town.

    As far as high protein and carb cycling diets, life hit me hard with devastating family health problems over the past year and I turned to comfort food for solace. I was still working out (after all, I am a trainer), but bad eating habits led to a 15 pound gain in body fat. So, it was the perfect time to review a very popular diet/exercise program by someone I hold in the highest regard. It’s a very good program (one that I could still recommend although it won’t work for me) and I wanted to put myself through it in order to provide a thorough review and shed the fat I’d gained over the past 6 months. It was my hope that carb cycling would make a difference because I already knew that high protein wouldn’t work for me.

    After only one week of mostly low carb cycling, my body was literally falling apart–failure to recover from workouts that I normally would be able to endure with little difficulty, nagging injuries that necessitated altering workouts, and a 5 pound weight gain (within 1 week) consisting entirely of increased body fat! It shouldn’t have happened in a world of perfect biochemistry, but we are all unique. I just happen to be unable to tolerate high levels of animal protein.

    After that first week I adjusted my diet and voila! Success! Injuries recovered and I could actually look forward to the workouts that were killing me on a higher protein/fat diet. Best of all, the weight was going in the right direction again–fat loss and, believe it or not, fairly rapid muscle gain. And, all of that with the same overall caloric intake.

    So yes, most people will do exceedingly well with higher protein intake, but there are those of us (even personal trainers) who have funky metabolic and digestive systems who will thrive on vegetarian diets. In short, the best way to eat is the one that works for you.

    By the way, I ought to mention that I did put myself through Turbulence Training several years ago while I was on one of my vegetarian cycles. Highest ratings for convenience, thoroughness, and results! And although my body was tight and toned before I started, I still managed to drop to 12% body fat and gain nearly 6 pounds of muscle in a relatively short amount of time. Awesome!

    Bonnie

  • Justin Bosley

    I agree with Dale. To each there own.

    I actually do a combination of both. Vegetarian somedays and good old lean meats, fruits and veggies another. I see benefits to both. However, by the sound of things the author of this book really isn’t trying to spread the word of good health, they’re trying to force there belief’s on to other people…and that is just not right.

    Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan or an “omnivore”…hit the gym, be happy and live and love to the fullest.

    Justin

  • Craig Ballantyne

    Thanks Bonnie! Interesting feedback.

  • Craig Ballantyne

    Geez Nicolle, why are you so angry at me? This wasn’t a book review…or a criticism of the book…it was my opinions on eating. Just an opinion.

    Craig

  • Charles

    Great thoughts, Craig, good Common Sense-something that is rarther RARE in today’s day and age !! The unfortunate fact that if you are a strict vegitarian and don’t supplement wisely you statistically have a shorter and unhealthy life-span.

  • I think you unleashed a monster with this post Craig… vegetarianism always creates a lot of controversy with strong opinions on both sides.

    I know a lot of people claim they feel better on a vegetarian diet. If that’s truly the case, good for them… but it’s DEFINITELY NOT for everyone, and there’s no doubting the fact that the human digestive system has developed over eons to consume an omnivorous diet for the majority of the population.

    I’ve also known plenty of vegetarians that eat horribly — eating tons of refined grains, flours, processed sugars, and trans fats… all while simultaneously avoiding “deadly animal proteins”… that’s just ridiculous thinking!

    Personally, I feel weak when I don’t eat animal products. I just get a general sluggishness and feeling of weakness when I don’t consume healthy animal products…. and that’s one of the most important aspects… if the animals were HEALTHY and ate the correct foods that they were meant to eat, the meat will contain healthier nutrition for human consumption. If the animals were sick and unhealthy, that meat will not contain balanced nutrition.

    here’s some of my favorite foods:
    http://www.truthaboutabs.com/hard-body-nutrition.html

    I agree with Craig though that in general, if you lead a healthy lifestyle most of the time, the body can certainly handle occasional “bad” foods without a problem, whether they come from the animal kingom or the plant kingdom.

    btw, great points about the pets, loved ones, etc… I’ve read tons of studies with strong links for longevity to how many close personal relationships people have in their lives, their outlook on life (mostly positive or mostly negative), as well as stress reduction for pet owners.

    -MG

  • Rich

    Craig, I agree with the points you make there ARE many factors that determine a person’s health and longevity. Although diet is not the only factor, it is one that is in our power to control most directly. Here is an interesting point to consider (at least in my opinion). Many researcher in the area of the evolution of the human diet point out that for hundreds of thousand of years the human and proto human species ate a diet that consisted of equal parts of omega 3 and omega 6, However, the modern american diet consists of almost twenty times the omega 6 as omega 3. Although, as you point out the humans are extremely adaptable, it may take as much as tens of thousand of years for major changes in genetics to take place. It should also be noted that many modern foods have been in the human diet for less than ten thousand years. As an example wheat was first cultivated in ancient Egypt. (Could this be why so many people have gluten allergies?) For reference see Micheal Pollan’s books, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” and “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto”

  • Awesome Post Craig! I would recommend whey protein to all of my clients and a handful of girls said “Isn’t protein bad? I read this book Skinny Bitch…” I wanted to shout – This cleverly titled book is ruining society! But I withheld. Thanks for bringing this to light. Their sequel should be titled Skinny Fat – low weight girls with high body fat %.

  • Not to mention that a vegetarian or a vegan needs resistance training even moreso. There has to be a need for their bodies to take in and process the protein that is difficult to extract from non animal sources. BTW- Jack Lalanne has eaten fish and chicken his entire life and still does. Hmmm. Seems to be working fine doesn’t it?

  • Donald Dick

    Craig,
    I haven’t read the book but I recommend you and your clients read : Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Esselstyn, ex Cleveland Clinic. After my wife and I followed his dietary advice (no oils, no dairy, no meat, no fish, only a plant based diet) for almost a year we felt we lacked energy and I lost a lot of muscle even though I was doing bodyweight Turbulence Training although somewat sporadically. We have included fish, eggs and grass-fed meat for several days of the week and I think we both feel better. By the way we have lived 85 and 84 years, and I am still working (out, and in business). I really like your workouts.

  • Great read, thanks for posting this.

    I agree with you 100%.

    Another food that gets a bad wrap: eggs. Yes, studies published in the 1950s (by cereal companies nonetheless — eggs main competitor!) showed that eggs INCREASE CHOLESTEROL.

    What the studies NEGLECTED to mention are that eggs increase good cholesterol, and your body’s ability to process and use bad cholesterol (LDL).

    Why is the world so hell bent on bashing HEALTHY FOOD? Meat, eggs, tuna (the mercury can’t harm you, if it was ever present in the first place), salmon (same).

    It’s like I say to my friends, if everyone REALLY knew nutrition/exercise (like they claim), there would be A LOT LESS OBESE PEOPLE.

    Cheers 🙂

  • Tonja

    For science-based information on optimal diet, including a no-meat or low-meat diet, the best book is Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live.” Looking at all aspects of health, it appears that eating only about 5-10% of one’s calories from meat is the most optimal. Check out “The China Study” for very convincing research (basic lab, epidemiological, and clinical) about the link between animal protein and cancer, as well as several other chronic illnesses.

  • megan

    I’m like Bonnie, except my body does not do as well with high carb consumption. Which i find unfortunate, because i love carbs. sigh.

    I was pretty much a vegetarian, when i went to the doctor and had extensive blood work done. I ate lots of beans and rice then, and he said, “Well, you’re getting enough protein, but too many carbs for you. You need to go back to eating more meat.”

    I had pretty much lost my taste for meat by then, and never liked a lot of dairy. But, back to meat i went. My follow up blood work done several months later proved that i needed to keep on eating the “new” way i had been. Meat, meat, and more meat :-p At least that’s how it felt, as i maybe had meat once every two weeks before that and returned to eating it every day.

    For years i’ve tried to eat locally as much as possible. I can tell you the names of the farmers where i get a goodly amount of my beef, pork, and some poultry. All of the eggs i eat. A generous amount of my veggies. They follow sustainable agricultural practices. I grow some of my own veggies, and supplement with what others around me have grown. In the winter, can’t grow a whole lot, so yes, i do visit the supermarket for some produce.

    After years of unwittingly damaging my metabolism, i’m doing what i can to repair it. It’s a slow process in my case, but i know i’m on the right track. For me. While a vegetarian lifestyle can work very well for many people, it doesn’t work for all people. And vice versa.

    I’ve decided to make peace with myself and accept myself for the omnivore i am. I try to eat whole foods, i try for high quality, and i try to eat the right amounts for me.

    DH is terribly allergic to dogs, so we have cats. I pet them every day and you’re right, Craig. It is key. Nothing quite like unconditional love.

  • Anna

    Pet a dog daily–I like that! But still never heard a good explanation for why we pet dogs and eat certain other animals (outside of necessity, of course–certainly isn’t a necessity in the US!).

  • Michelle

    I read this book as well and as someone else posted it primarily recommended a diet of processed “vegetarian foods”. I think that you can be healthy as a vegetarian, but after making several attempts in the past to maintain a vegetarian diet the mistakes that I made I think are very common. People just don’t know what to eat and think they are being healthy, when in reality they have just traded the typical unhealthy American diet for one that contains just as much processed food but it’s labeled as vegetarian or organic so therefore it must be healthy.

  • Kelly M

    Great post and a good variety of food for thought. I look forward to reading more about cleaner food and recipes. While I have exercised in some form or another, my entire adult life, my diet hasn’t always been ideal. I made an appointment with my doctor almost 2 years ago and told I was borderline type 2 diabetic. I was prescribed blood glucose monitoring and put on the ‘list’ where I have to be monitored every 6 months until ‘then end’. No, it’s not cancer or another debilitating disease, where free will is largely or completely not a factor (yes, I used to smoke, so I’m sure someone will take issue with this comment) but I am making a general point about how type 2 diabetes, if caught early can reverse the onset, or at least control and hold back further ill effects for a long time. So I saw a nutritionist and an exercise and fitness consultant (oddly, I had already taken steps to becoming a personal trainer/fitness leader) at my doctor’s advice. So, after some diligent exercise and a program that I have pieced together, after my last appointment, my doctor told me that my ‘bad’ cholesterol was excellent, blood pressure was excellent and all bloodwork was great. He told me to keep doing whatever it was that I was doing. I had cleaned up my diet somewhat (I still have some flawed eating habits) but I am working towards improving that as well. At 38, I feel strong. I have some extra bodyfat that I would like to melt off as a side effect of becoming healthy and fit.

    I guess my point is that when everything gets ‘too much’, and I want to keep this light, is that I had to get back to the basics. To survive and move towards a healthier lifestyle, which is by most people a matter of choice, ends up being a priority. I’m employed fulltime, father of 4 and married. I consider it my priority to stay healthy, to provide for myself and my family. If I had to hunt and forage for food, so be it. I apologize beforehand if this offends anyone, but I think alot of us would find it a luxury to examine how and why we can and do eat, what we eat. If we do that, then we have to examine why anything we use, wear, discard ‘is’. I don’t think you missed some valuable point. You stated that we all have choice to eat as we choose, principle and moral issues included or not. As a husband and parent, wondering how the food I am about to purchase came to be where it is, is not a priority for me. For many, it appears that it is. My priority is being a strong, healthy provider. Everything else, comes after.

    I am more than willing to try vegetarian eating, as I try to keep an open mind about all things I encounter.

  • Craig,

    I just happened to see the “Skinny Bitch” series of books as I wandered through a Coles bookstore today and my first reaction was, “Like I want to be a ‘Skinny Bastard’?”

    Just another provocative title to sell a diet book with unrealistic advice. Trying to maintain a diet like they recommend would drive most people insane. A sure way to fall off the wagon.

    I follow the ‘everything-in-moderation’ diet – mostly fruits, vegetables, some dairy, chicken, fish and every once in a while some red meat and a little alcohol, like wine or beer. Your body can easily handle the ‘bad’ stuff when it’s in moderation.

    I must admit though that eating meat, including chicken, does make me cringe at times because of the animal abuse involved. But it’s difficult to live on an ‘extreme’ lifestyle diet so we make what we feel are the best decisions for us.

    One addition to your list: work in a career or business that you absolutely love, and I think you’re doing that.

    Rainer

  • There are so many diet fads and different camps who think they are right when it comes to what we should eat and how it will impact our health. I’ve always stuck with a strong helping of common sense and the ideas of balance and moderation. Listening to your body is the key, if you are tired consume more carbohydrates, if your muscles are sore more protein.

    I know many vegetarians who struggle to get an adequate amount of iron and other essential nutrients from their diets who have to rely on supplements. Fish being classified as a junk food seems a bit overboard since it has so many benefits especially for proper brain function and heart health.

    At the end of the day though anything we put in our bodies can both be potentially beneficial for us or harmful. A glass of red wine a day containing antioxidants and reservatrol has been linked to reducing heart disease and cancers. Too much on the other hand can damage vital organs and poison us.

    Same goes with fruits and vegetables a vitamin deficiency is one thing but too much of a certain vitamin or mineral can be equally as damaging to our health. Food for thought.

  • WOW! you did well on this one…. I didn’t think it was going to end. interseting reading- thanks 🙂
    Reading other peoples opinions broadens horizons, opens minds to look into other options.

  • Kevin

    Here’s a suggestion: before writing an article ‘vs’ something, why don’t you actually understand what it is you are opposing. That way, perhaps, you can form an intelligent argument based on the facts that are actually contained in the book rather than the second and third hand accounts of others. You say “I don’t think anyone can prove that eating ‘regular old chicken breasts and red meat from your local grocery store’ once in a while will shorten your life”, yet it is a fact, those facts are in the book, those facts are well cited, and it would not have spent over 100 weeks on the New York Times best seller list without being stopped by the meat and dairy industries powerful lobbyists and lawyers had the facts not been true.

  • Great article and fantastic response was interested in everyones differnet opinions.

    cheers – Max

  • Yea, I think balance is the key. I actually read through the “Skinny Books”. They were entertaining, but frankly I think you gave more realistic advice in the few paragraphs above.

  • Sandra B.

    And Craig, with all due respect, you need to consider that there is much you need to learn about cattle production, no matter your background. Growth hormones are used in Canada. I do not believe that consuming food that’s been injected with hormones is healthy for humans.

    http://www.agromedia.ca/AFMG/Section%201%20Nutrition%20&%20Management/1U1%20Growth%20Implants%20for%20Beef%20Cattle.pdf

    “At present (2000) there are three general types of growth implants used in beef production. The first is composed of the natural hormones progesterone, estrogen and testosterone which are produced by the animal. They are used as a single estrogen implant (Compudose) or as estrogens in combinations (Synovex, and Component). The second contains a biologically active (estrogenic) product, zeranol, which stimulates the animal to produce more of its own natural hormones (Ralgro). A third product contains a synthetic testosterone, trenbolone acetate, which is combined with estrogen (Revalor and Synovex Plus).”

    Folks be careful to ensure that “grass fed” beef you buy wasn’t sent in its final stages to a feed lot for “finishing” (and hormone implants to fatten them up before slaughter).

    • Sandra B.

      (Above is referring to Craig telling Brian he has much to learn about cattle industry)

  • Robin

    Craig, you’ve missed the point completely about why some people are vegetarians. That cheap supermarket chicken and farmed fish, etc. is the result of unspeakable cruelty and suffering to the animals, living creatures who feel pain and are butchered, murdered in ways that if you did it to a dog or a cat you would be prosecuted. Also, it does damage to the environment to raise livestock that way. I know a lot of people will not want to hear this and will laugh or poo-poo it. I spent my whole life unknowingly and uncaringly eating meat. One day I fully realized what I was consuming and I had to stop. When you wake up to the way that meat gets to your table, no person with any kind of feelings could keep consuming it. If you had to work in a kill room at a chicken processing factory, would you still eat chicken, really? You say you’ve been inside a slaughterhouse. How did that make you feel?? And yet you say pet a dog. I’m not trying to take a poke at you, I’m just asking you to think about what you’ve said here.

    • kbg88

      Oh goodness Robin. From my perspective, you foster a victim mentality. Just walking through a grocery store, you pick up all of the vibrations of the food. I choose to believe all animals are sovereign. I’m not sure how it all works in the creation process however I “choose” to believe that animals eaten for meat have chosen (at some level) to experience what they are experiencing at a soul level. I believe that everything is part of the Creator”…which as unconscious humans, we don’t understand despite bible beating fanatics claiming understanding…
      and that the “Creator” is neutral, just experiencing everything it has created. There is no positive/negative, good/bad, right/wrong at the level of the “Creator” thus no victims or perpetrators…just experience. Robin, you have no idea what is best for anyone’s life path including those of animals. You are practicing arrogance of “the mind” which thinks it knows what is best for another. Grow up!
      Mind you own business. AND frankly, what you think is none of my business either. Sigh!

      • Synthia Fagen

        I really like this comment.

      • kbg88

        Thank you. I am grateful.

      • Synthia Fagen

        Not too many people step back and see the non-duality of it all — especially when they’re arguing a point on the Internet. 🙂

      • kbg88

        Have sent a more personal email to you via your website in Chicago.

  • kbg88

    Regarding the air we breathe…we are living in a toxic world…and as stated, the body is resilient. People are living longer despite the “air we breathe”.
    Most people breathe in a shallow fashion, not oxygenating the body fully. Perhaps that is more the issue than “the air we breathe”.
    One of the things I love about Quantum Physics…is that the premise is
    “it’s all made up” and everything we are experiencing is “an illusion, a dream”. So, all of this baloney sausage is just that…baloney. Craig wants to make a living by selling his beliefs and claiming their “truth”. Whatever.
    I’m going to go an pet my dog…not because Craig says to do so…just because I love her/me.

  • kbg88

    One last comment…when you take a picture Craig, unclench your hands…they are pictured as fists!?! Being a body/energy expert, i continue to study the body and the metaphors of the body. From a metaphoric standpoint, you are ready to fight. Instead, watch STOP IT! with Bob Newhart on YouTube…then take another picture. Also, your 6-8 pack is buying the hype that this shows health and tone…when metaphorically it is “holding in” emotions rather than “allowing” life.

  • Kim Kopan

    kbg88: Pretty judgmental towards Craig &Robin. The cow I grilled up on the BBQ chose that fate. OK 😒 Well that sounds silly but whatever dude! I am OK with you telling yourself any fairytale that helps you exist. Robin also gets her view on slaughter houses being concentration camps for livestock. You both gave meca giggle. I’m off to pet my dog now. 🐶 Great article Craig!

  • wc88

    Does the 6 minutes to skinny program work with hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance or estrogen dominance in women?