Tuesday, January 6, 2015

WholeBody Reboot: Book Review

Whole Body Reboot Book
Now is the time of year when everyone is looking for the diet that is going to help them achieve their weight loss goals once and for all.  Unfortunately, most diets don't work long term because people they are too restrictive and people cannot maintain them indefinitely.  This is also the time of year people decide to go on cleanses or detoxes to compensate for their holiday over-indulgences.  As I have said many times, these quick fixes are pointless.

When I was asked to review this book, I initially rolled my eyes.  Wholebody Reboot? It sounded like a crock, just another gimmicky diet plan for suckers.  But the part about it being based on Peruvian Superfoods intrigued me, so I decided to take a look.  I am glad I did!

Written by registered dietitian, Manuel Villacorta, originally from Peru, it provides meal plans and recipes customized for both men and women.

Villacorta shares his own personal journey with his health and details how he put on weight and began feeling sluggish and depressed when he moved from Lima, Peru to the United States, and began consuming a typical, processed North American diet.  Fed up with his state of poor health, he finally requested his mother send him recipes for his favorite Peruvian dishes and began cooking the foods he grew up with.  Soon he lost weight and improved his health.

Now, I will state up-front, these are not magic weight-loss foods.  They are, however, whole, unprocessed, nutritious foods and eating real food and cooking them from scratch is a key component to managing your weight.  Studies have shown that the more restaurant meals you consume, the higher your BMI.  This meal plan does require a lot of cooking, and honestly, I think everyone should be cooking on a regular basis.  Its an important life skill.  But, from doing weight loss counselling I know there are some people who are just never going to jump on that bandwagon.  If you are a staunch non-cook, than this plan is definitely not for you. 

Villacorta's meal plan is based on 21 Peruvian Superfoods:

1. Aji (chili peppers)
2. Artichokes
3. Avocado
4. Beans
5. Cacao
6. Camu
7. Chia Seeds
8. Cilantro
9. Kaniwa (similar to quinoa)
10. Kiwicha (amaranth)
11.  Lucuma
12. Maca
13. Papaya
14. Pichuberries (AKA: Cape gooseberry, Inca berry, Aztec berry, golden berry, giant ground cherry)
15. Purple corn
16. Purple potatoes
17. Quinoa
18. Sacha Inchi seeds & oil
19. Sweet potatoes
20. Yacon
21. Yuca

Now, most of these products are available in good health food stores, or online.  But if you can't find the fresh produce in your community, it might be tough to follow the meal plans.  All of these items are definitely superfoods, but they are also extremely expensive.  If you are on a budget, this meal plan may be beyond reach.

The book begins by describing the benefits of the superfoods.  In the second chapter, a Jump-Start Reboot Detox plan is presented to get you going.  Now, you know I hate detoxes, but he does say you are welcome to skip this part and go right to the meal plan.  At least this detox is only 5 days, but in typical 'cleanse' fashion it is a mostly liquid diet of, admittedly, yummy sounding smoothies (and I don't even like smoothies!).  He also includes protein in every smoothie and even allows for some solid food to be added if you feel the need. 

In Chapter 3, Villacorta lays out the rules:

1. Eat breakfast within an hour of waking (I don't think you need to stick to this religiously, but do eat breakfast!)
2. Do not skip meals
3. Have carbs, protein and fats at every meal
4. Don't worry about stopping eating at a certain time of day
5. Stay hydrated

This is all sound advice.

There are then meal plans laid out for men and women that are 'basic', 'gluten-free', 'vegetarian', and 'vegan'.  This is nice as it can accommodate just about anyone.

My one problem is this: While the men's meal plan is 1,800 calories, the one for women is just 1,300.  You can bet your butt you will lose weight on this, but I doubt many people can stick with such a low-calorie diet.  If you do try this and are struggling, I would bump it up to 1,500 calories/day.

I like that Villacorta addresses the issue of dining out, and in-line with the experts, recommends eating no more than 2 restaurant meals per week.  That being said, he acknowledges this may be hard for some folks, and gives guidelines for staying on track at a restaurant. I also like that he doesn't make you eliminate an entire food group like a lot of diet plans too.  You get to eat carbs, just healthy ones.

Once you have achieved your goal weight (he doesn't give a time frame), Villacorta recommends increasing your calories by 25%, which would bring women's daily total to 1,625.  That is probably doable for most moderately active women.  If you are extremely active (like me!), that definitely won't be enough. 

The last part of the book is the recipes.  I have to say my mouth watered here.  Some of these sound amazing! Roasted artichoke mashed potatoes?  Yes please!! Ceviche? Lima Bean Stew? Yuca Fries? Avocado Mango Salsa?  Yummmmmmmmm!

My one criticism is that when flour is used in some recipes, it is white, refined wheat flour.  I'd ditch that and at least replace it with whole spelt flour or a gluten-free blend.

In sum, if you like cooking and are not on a strict budget, you might like this meal plan.  The food sounds delish and you definitely will not get bored eating the same, mundane meals over and over.

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