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Wired to Eat - critical summary review

Wired to Eat Critical summary review
Health & Diet

This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: 

Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.

ISBN: 0451498569

Publisher: Harmony

Also available in audiobook, download now:


Critical summary review

According to rough estimates, 45 million Americans start a diet every year. Sadly, the vast majority fail to achieve the results they desire. Why? It is simply because a one-size-fits-all diet most of them stick to does not exist. Each individual responds differently to food—one that creates a healthy response in some people causes an unhealthy reaction in others. In "Wired to Eat," Robb Wolf is fully committed to helping you create your personalized diet plan that guarantees permanent weight loss and optimal health. So, get ready to discover the path to a successful diet!

Wolf’s case was not just an anecdote

Around 20 years ago, Wolf was a biochemist working in the areas of cancer and autoimmunity research. Also, he had ulcerative colitis and several other health problems, and because of them, had to undergo bowel resection and take statins, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants. "I thought I was going to die," Wolf remembers. "And the idea was pretty appealing, considering how much my life and health sucked." Then, he heard about the Paleo diet and, out of desperation, decided to try it. It turned out that decision resolved all of his health problems within several months and saved his life. 

Unfortunately, all that his doctors, including his gastroenterologist, rheumatologist, general practitioner, and therapist, could say to him was that his recovery had nothing to do with dietary changes. For them, his case was just anecdotal. Wolf writes, "This is true, but if you see a million of the same anecdotes, perhaps it’s time to apply some scientific rigor to the question, yes?"

 Before he cured himself with the Paleo diet, Wolf was on the path to attending medical school. However, the mere possibility of becoming like his medical providers killed his desire to become a doctor. As he wanted to help people with their health and fitness, he made a career shift and opened two gyms that became the first and fourth CrossFit affiliate gyms in the world. He included the Paleo diet in his business, helping thousands of clients improve their health dramatically and lose substantial amounts of weight. In addition, he published "The Paleo Solution," which became a New York Times bestseller. 

Over the years, thanks to recent research in nutrition, Wolf realized the Paleo diet was just a "rough" tool that led to satisfying but not optimal results. What people needed was a new approach to eating adjusted to their individual needs. Therefore, he wrote "Wired to Eat," which helps you rewire your appetite with the Paleo diet and determine which foods are right for your health and weight loss. 

Our bodies still haven’t adapted to the modern lifestyle

Wolf says that we are not responsible for all the difficulties we might face nowadays regarding our health or weight. To understand his claim, we should first explore the relationship between the modern lifestyle and the fundamental genetic programming we all carry within our bodies. 

First of all, we are genetically wired to eat simple, unprocessed foods and to spend a fair amount of energy looking for them. In contrast to our ancestors, we now hardly have to move to find ourselves surrounded by a wide variety of food. Although it's not our fault we are in this situation, we should not reconcile ourselves to it if we want to have optimal weight and health. As Wolf puts it, "Eating a modern diet and sitting on our keister for an endless number of hours is not good for how we look or how we feel."

The downward shift in our eating habits actually began with the advent of agriculture that brought a transition from a foraging or hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a settled, agricultural way of living with less activity and a reduced variety of foods. Nevertheless, the amount of sleep, physical activity, and social interaction people had back then, along with their nutrition, was still satisfying in terms of their overall health.

Nowadays, inadequate sleep, lack of physical and social activities, and bad eating habits have become the norm. But, what is actually wrong with that? The thing is, our bodies haven’t caught up with all the profound changes humanity experienced, nor are we educated to deal with them. For instance, one study showed that Americans know how to do their taxes better than eat well. Again, we are not responsible for this—all the advice the government and  media have to offer is "Eat Less, Move More," or "Everything in Moderation."

Our situation clearly needs improvement, and "Wired to Eat" can help you with that. But, before getting more detailed dieting instructions than the two mentioned above , let’s first learn a bit about digestion itself. 

On glucose and digestion

Wolf defines digestion quite simply as, "The process of making large things smaller." The process of breaking down food is both mechanical—occurring in the mouth—and chemical—involving enzymes that disintegrate food into small molecules our bodies can use for their functioning and development. To learn how to create your personal diet, you should, for now, memorize that your body breaks down carbohydrates from the food you eat into a sugar called glucose—our body’s primary source of energy. After you eat, your blood glucose levels go up. This stimulates the release of insulin, which is responsible for keeping glucose levels optimal. "Under ideal circumstances," Wolf notes, "we require only a small amount of insulin to deal with a given amount of carbohydrate, and thus our blood sugar does not go too high or too low." However, when we take in more calories than we burn, our bodies turn extra glucose into fat, which is fine as long as your body’s fat storage is not filled up. Once that happens, your body needs to find other ways to handle the excess fat. Furthermore, in a chronically overfed state, blood sugar and blood lipids are going up, making your body eventually insensitive to insulin. 

Although we can control our body weight by keeping track of the number of calories we consume, this method generally doesn’t work in the long run. A study conducted several years ago on 800 people whose blood glucose levels were monitored every five seconds, showed their glycemic response—how much blood glucose increased for a given meal—depends on other factors, including exercise, body fat levels, the composition of the gut biome, and genetic factors. 

The results of this research are significant as they show that each person reacts to food differently. It practically means that you can create a dieting plan customized to your body that includes foods that keep your blood sugar levels within healthy ranges.

Phase One: The 30-day reset

The dieting program Wolf lays out in "Wired to Eat" consists of two phases. The first one lasts for 30 days, and its purpose is to rewire your appetite with a Paleo diet and help you discover whether you are insulin resistant. In the second phase—which Wolf called the 7-Day Carb Test—you will find out which specific foods you do best with.

Three primary dietary components will help you rewire your appetite in the first phase: protein, fiber, and the appropriate carb content. Protein, especially the one from low-fat meat, such as chicken breasts or pork loin, is remarkably satiating. Fiber, particularly dietary fiber, is associated with improved satiation, satiety, and reduced food intake. When it comes to the appropriate carb content, Wolf says 75 to 150g is a good start for most people. And how much is that? If we are talking about rice, it is about three cups—an amount people can eat for one meal. Regarding fruits and vegetables, 75 to 100g of carbs is a remarkable amount of food. That is why sticking with fruits and vegetables is crucial at the beginning of the diet, as they are hard to overdo. 

  1. Given everything we mentioned above, in Phase One, your diet should include three meals per day, built around the following: 
  2. 4 to 6oz of protein at every meal 
  3. 75 to 150g of carbohydrates per day, from as wide a variety of fruits, vegetables, and roots as you can manage
  4. Added fat for flavor. Wolf says you should not be afraid to use it, as long as you "don’t drink it through a straw"

To make your dieting easy in Phase One, Wolf created a chart of foods you are allowed to eat, categorized in four columns: proteins, vegetables, fats, and herbs and spices. This chart can give you a good idea of what your meals should look like. The amazing thing is, if you made a meal with one item from each column, you would have 81,000 meal options from this short food matrix. You can download the chart, along with the plenty of easy and quick recipes you can make, from Wolf’s website.

Phase Two: The 7-day carb test plan

The 30-day plan will help you lose weight, especially body fat, relatively quickly due to the reduced caloric intake. In addition, your insulin levels will substantially decrease after you complete Phase One. However, if you want to create a personalized nutrition plan that will ensure your weight loss is permanent, you need to take your eating to the next step. In Phase Two, you will learn how to do that by testing your blood glucose response after eating a specific amount of carbohydrates for breakfast. 

To prepare yourself for The 7-Day Carb Test Plan, buy a blood glucose monitor to test your glucose response to meals. There are numerous models available with prices ranging from $10 to $200. If you need help on which one to choose, you can visit Wolf’s website for recommendations. Blood glucose monitors are easy to use, and you can always consult the Internet if you need any help with that. 

Apart from measuring your blood glucose response to meals, you will also need to track what you eat and when. For this, you will only need a pen and paper, or you can download free meal tracker apps. You will only need to track the number of effective carbohydrates—the total carbohydrates minus the fiber.

So, what you need to do during Phase Two is: 

  1. Make breakfast with 50g of effective carbohydrates. Some of the carbohydrate sources are white rice, oats (cooked), polenta, quinoa, gluten-free bread, lentils, beans (black, pinto, and lima), chickpeas, potato (white and sweet), carrots, beets, onion, mango, banana, grapes, apples, and so on. Apart from these, you can use other carb sources, as long as you figure out how much of that food you need to eat to get 50g of effective carbohydrates.
  2. Track your blood glucose response two hours after the meal using your blood glucose monitor. Ideally, your blood glucose will be between 90 and 115mg/dl at that point. If it is higher than this range, retest that food on another day by eating 25g of effective carbohydrates. If your blood glucose is still above 115mg/dl, you should avoid this particular food since it likely is not a healthy choice for you.

Final Notes

"Wired to Eat" is a paradigm-shifting diet book that enables you to go beyond general guidelines and lose weight by eating the foods that work best for your body. Wolf’s easy-to-follow pieces of advice, along with the abundance of recipes for weight loss included in the last chapter, make this book appealing for anyone who has been struggling to lose weight for a long time. In short, if you want to look, feel, and live better, follow Wolf’s roadmap to losing weight, and you will see how your life can radically transform in only 37 days. 

12min Tip

If you want to be successful in your diet, don’t let yourself be tempted by the junk food you have in your house. Before starting Phase One, make things as easy as possible for yourself and clean all of it out of your pantry and refrigerator.

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Who wrote the book?

Robb Wolf is a former research biochemist, an expert in Paleolithic nutrition, and author of the New York Times bestselling books ‘’The Paleo Solution’’ and ‘’Wired to Eat.’’ He has been a review editor for health and nutrition journals, serves on the board of directors of Specialt... (Read more)