17 Best Nutrition Books for Health, Food and Weight Loss

​Trying to lose weight or improve your blood pressure or cholesterol readings?  

chef mixing nutrition cook books

You may think the most useful thing you can do for yourself is go on a diet or take a run outside.

But maybe the very best thing you can do involves lounging around on your couch (for now), and opening up a book on nutrition.

So many people who are struggling to burn fat, build muscle, or increase general health make the basic mistake of jumping in headfirst without doing their homework.

As a result, they go in without the knowledge they need to succeed.  They build their new routine on faulty foundations.  

Oftentimes the shaky pillars of those defective diet plans are “common sense” assumptions with no underlying scientific rationale.  

In some cases, they might be out-of-date nutritional information (or misinformation) remembered from childhood or some magazine.  

People who make these mistakes then wonder why they are not getting the results they hoped for.

The reality is that you are far more likely to succeed with any plan to lose weight, build muscle, or just get healthy if you take some time to research first.

Opening up a book on nutrition may not feel as productive as going out for a run or trying a new recipe, but over the long run it can pay off in huge ways.

It can help you get more out of your exercise program and choose a diet plan which fits your activity level, age, health conditions, and dietary needs.

Of course, not all nutrition books are equal.  Some are more well-researched than others.  

They may also present the information in a manner which is more enjoyable to read and easier to comprehend.  

KEY POINTThe time and money you spend on a quality nutrition book may very well be one of the smartest investments you ever make in your health.

Many people who struggle with their diets do so because they lack the information they need to make intelligent choices about their health.

What to Look for in a Quality Nutrition Book

A good nutrition book will:

Be authored by someone with credentials.  

Many of the top nutrition books are written by medical professionals.  

You may find some great books by other authors as well, but make sure you can actually find out about the author’s background and what qualifies him or her as a nutritional expert.

Be unbiased by political or value-driven agendas, or at the very least, be honest about them.  

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the food and medical industries who are more interested in profit than they are in keeping people healthy.  

Other motivations may also play a role, including personal values (for example, an author who says meat is unhealthy because he does not believe in killing animals for food, as opposed to because the research agrees with him).

Woman surrounded by nutrition health books, looking bored

Be extensively researched, and include citations of proper peer-reviewed studies in scientific research journals.  

The studies, like the author, should be free of bias or commercial interest.

Be geared tow​ard your knowledge level.  

Buying a super in-depth nutritional book with complex scientific explanations may not be a very useful purchase to someone who is just getting started with a particular diet.

Start with something which matches your knowledge level.  Of course, the same challenging book may be a fantastic purchase at a later date.  

Likewise, by that point, a very basic introductory book would not make as much sense.

Addresses the problem you are trying to solve.  

Trying to lose weight?  Then you need a nutritional book which covers weight loss.

Looking to reduce seizures?  Then you need a book which covers a diet like low carb which addresses that need - and preferably goes in-depth into how it relates to your specific issue.  

Just want to understand the science of low carb?  Then you need a book which addresses it.

Tackles the​​​​​ aspect of a topic you are interested in.  

If you want low-carb recipes, a book which is replete with them will do you more good than one which isn’t.  

Provides a rich depth of information in an eloquent way.  

You want a book which features dense information, but not dense writing.  

The more comprehensible a book, the more you will learn from it.

KEY POINTThe best nutrition books are well-researched and are written by qualified experts who are bias-free.

But you also need to consider your own needs when you look for nutrition books at the library or the bookstore.

The best nutrition books will also be suited to your dietary needs and level of knowledge.

​Red Flags

woman sitting with pile of nutrition books

Here is what you should avoid in a nutrition book:

Books written by authors with dubious or missing background information.  

Also avoid authors who are lacking in genuine qualifications, especially if they appear to be strongly biased by some non-nutritional agenda.

Books which do not back up the information they contain with references to high-quality research studies.  

In general, also avoid any book which appears to be authored by someone who does not follow the scientific method.

Claims that any sort of miraculous results can be achieved by following the advice in the book.  

Emotionally charged language is not always a red flag, but past a certain point, it may point toward questionable motivations.  

Make sure you are not following advice in a book which substitutes an emotional appeal for a scientific basis.  

​Stay away from books which do not address both the benefits and potential drawbacks of a diet.  

KEY POINTWatch out for nutritional quacks - there are a lot of them out there.

If something looks too good to be true, poorly researched, or grounded in emotional appeal, you should steer clear.

​​17 Best Nutrition Books​​

​Now let’s check out some examples of fantastic nutrition books which you can consider!

As of the time of this writing, this is a popular book with more than 530 reviews online from amazon customers.  It is authored by Stephen D. Phinney, MD, PhD, and Jeff S. Volek, PhD, RD.  

The full title is "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable."

Why Read This Book:

If you are new to low carb and are trying to understand more about why it is a smart diet, this is a great starting point.  The authors have collectively put in more than 50 years of research, gathering data from over 200 research studies.  

The book clears up myths about dietary fat, refined starches, sugars, and more, while offering scientific evidence strongly backing low carb’s many health benefits.

Who Should Read This Book:

This book is perfect for anyone who is interested in the science of low carb.  Read this book to help you make informed dieting decisions, or consider it if you are a healthcare provider who wants to do the same for your patients.  

Note that readers of this book emphasize its detailed scientific explanations.  This means that it is ideal for a reader who is scientifically minded and is looking for that kind of depth - but it is not the best choice if you are casually approaching low carb and just want the basics. 

Another great book for those interested in hard evidence is “Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health.”  

This book is authored by Gary Taubes, an award-winning health journalist, and co-founder of the non-profit organization Nutrition Science Initiative.  

The book has more than 860 customer reviews on amazon.  

Why Read This Book:

Like The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, this is a great volume to read if you are looking for clarification on pervasive dietary myths concerning obesity.  

The book provides solid research backing up low-carb as a healthy diet, and also points toward the lack of research evidence on the supposed evils of dietary fats.

Who Should Read This Book:

This is a good book for healthcare professionals or scientifically minded dieters who want to be sure they are on the right track with their diets.  

It does not contain a diet plan, so do not pick it up as a casual reader looking for a quick way to onboard with a low-carb diet.  Get it if you are interested in the science.

​​​​Why We Get Fat

This book is also written by Gary Taubes.  It is even more popular than Good Calories, Bad Calories, with more than 2,050 amazon reviews.

You can think of Why We Get Fat as a kind of condensed version of Good Calories, Bad Calories.  

Why Read This Book:

As with Good Calories, Bad Calories, you should consider reading this book if you want to break down dietary myths and understand why some people lose weight and get healthy while others gain weight and suffer from cardiovascular diseases and other health problems.  

Who Should Read This Book:

This book is perfect for anyone who is interested in the science of low carb.  

Read this book to help you make informed dieting decisions, or consider it if you are a healthcare provider who wants to do the same for your patients.  

The same approximate audience who enjoys Good Calories, Bad Calories should also enjoy Why We Get Fat.  

But I would say this is a better choice for a more casual reader, whereas Good Calories, Bad Calories is a more technical book.  

The language in Why We Get Fat is simpler and offered to a broader audience of lay people.

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet is a book written by Nina Teicholz, a journalist who has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and other prominent publications.  

The book has more than 820 customer reviews.

Why Read This Book:

While Good Calories, Bad Calories has a focus on myths surrounding dietary fat and obesity, this book focuses more on the myths concerning fat and heart disease.  

This book does a great job dispelling those myths both by shining light on solid research and by providing some background on how those myths got started in the first place.

Who Should Read This Book:

Anyone who is looking for a scientific analysis of the true role of dietary fat in heart health should consider this book.  

It is also a great read if you are interested in some of the nutritional politics which have driven diet myths throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss is a book written by Dr. Jason Fung, MD.  

He is the founder of the Intensive Dietary Management Program in Toronto and focuses on treating patients suffering from obesity and type 2 diabetes.  

The book has more than 680 customer reviews.

Why Read This Book:

As Dr. Fung treats patients with type 2 diabetes, his focus in this book is on insulin resistance and why it has become so pervasive in modern life.  B

ased on his research, he offers a theory as to why so many people are now obese or suffer from diabetes.  

He then helps introduce readers to a plan to reverse both conditions using a combination of low-carb and intermittent fasting.

Who Should Read This Book:

This is a good book to read if you are struggling with your weight and are either diabetic or pre-diabetic.  

But even if you are not worried about diabetes, it is still an excellent read for weight loss and general health.  

Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon

​This is another book which has a focus on intermittent fasting, authored by Adam Steer, NSCA-CPT, with an epilogue by Brad Pilon, MSc.  

The premise of the book could not be simpler; all you need to do to start fasting intermittently is extend your regular overnight fast a few extra hours a couple times every week.

Why Read This Book:

Read this book if you are interested in fasting but are not sure how or why it works or what you need to do in order to get started.  

It even comes with a handy Quick Start Guide to get you on the road to better health right away.  

Who Should Read This Book:

This book is directed at a general audience of lay people and offers a plan which is simple, easy, and approachable.  

If you have been daunted by the idea of fasting for a long time but still want to try it, Eat Stop Eat can help you incorporate fasting into your life with minimal hassle, increasing the chances that your new lifestyle plan will be a successful one you can stick with.

​One incredibly popular book to read is Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, by William Davis, MD.  

Davis works as a preventative cardiologist and founded the TrackYourPlaque.com program.

Why Read This Book:

​As the name implies, this book’s focus is exclusively on wheat and its health dangers. 

The information is presented in simple language that lay people can understand, but is amply backed by research (including the author’s own experiences watching 2,000 patients become healthy after removing wheat from their diets).  

After presenting its case for nixing wheat, the book provides some starting recipes and practical suggestions for a new wheat-free diet.  

These recipes are especially geared toward those who are trying to lose weight.

Who Should Read This Book:

​This is an excellent read for a general audience wanting to understand scientifically why wheat is bad for them, and looking for some direction when it comes to a wheat-free diet.  

If you are looking for more recipes than this book provides, see the cookbook below.

​This cookbook is a companion volume to Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health.  It is also written by William Davis, MD.  

The full title is “Wheat Belly 30-Minute (Or Less!) Cookbook: 200 Quick and Simple Recipes to Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health."  

Why Read This Book:

​If you want to subtract wheat from your diet, this cookbook is what you need.  It presents you with a wide variety of meals, snacks, and desserts.  

There is a 14-day sample menu, and a guide to getting your kitchen ready for wheat-free cooking.  

Any drawbacks?  Some buyers mentioned that some of the ingredients are a pain to find.

Who Should Read This Book:

​Many people with diverse nutritional goals can benefit from this cookbook.  Use it to lose weight, improve overall health, or work around wheat insensitivity.  

​This book by Weston A. Price is in its 8th edition.

Weston A. Price was a dentist based in Cleveland who wanted to find out what was causing dental decay and degeneration in his patients.  

So he launched into extensive laboratory research.  The book is a compilation of his findings and their implications.

Why Read This Book:

​This is a book to consider if you are looking for overall nutrition and lifestyle advice.

Price does not just focus on one aspect or another - he covers extensive ground involving nutrition, food preparation, supplementation, and more.

Who Should Read This Book:

​Anyone can benefit from this book.  

If you are looking for a “shortcut” to better health, consider reading it just for the Dietary Guidelines.  

This is a quick list of nutritional recommendations as well as dangers to avoid.  

If all you ever do is read this list and put it into action in your life, you will be on your way to much better health.

​Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar - Your Brain’s Silent Killers is a book by neurologist David Perlmutter, MD.

In this book, he sets out to demonstrate how even healthy whole grains can harm your neurological health.  

Why Read This Book:

​This book is aimed at those who are concerned about preventing brain disease, and who are also looking for a way to improve their cognitive health now.

After providing a researched argument for a low-carb diet, the book presents a 4-week plan to help readers transition into a new lifestyle.

Who Should Read This Book:

​You might consider reading this book if you are worried about dementia and other brain maladies which can strike as you get older.  

But you also may find it useful if you have other neurological disorders such as depression or anxiety.

Switching to a diet like the one recommended by the author may help you to manage your symptoms and prevent problems going forward.

​Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease is a book by Robert H. Lustig, MD, a professor of pediatrics who has written 120 peer-reviewed articles.  

Why Read This Book:

​The focus of this book is on the dietary evils of sugar, but it also covers a lot of other aspects of nutrition and lifestyle - everything from fiber and insulin management to exercise and stress reduction.  

Who Should Read This Book:

​This book is an engrossing read if you are interested not only in the science of nutrition, but also the history and politics which have shaped our assumptions about diet.  

Obviously (given the title) it is a good choice if you are looking for advice to help you lose weight, but it is also an excellent eye-opener if you are just concerned with general health.  

Readers additionally mentioned it is very helpful when it comes to learning how to read and interpret nutritional labels in the grocery store.  

​The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting is written by blogger Jimmy Moore and kidney specialist Dr. Jason Fung.  

With more than 420 customer reviews, it is a popular book for those who are interested in fasting.  

Why Read This Book:

​This is an excellent overview of different approaches to fasting.  While it is information-rich, it does not contain so much as to be overwhelming.  

You will learn about multiple fasting methods as well as the history and cultural traditions surrounding the practice.  

You also will learn more about the science and get some recipes along the way.  

Who Should Read This Book:

​This book is a perfect all-around choice whether you are a newbie, an intermediate at fasting, or even an advanced practitioner.  

Because the information is so well-rounded and covers so many aspects and types of fasting, it is an informative read for pretty much anyone.  

​Another book which Jimmy Moore has written, this time in conjunction with Eric Westman, MD, is Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet.   

Why Read This Book:

​This book seeks to dispel common dietary myths and misconceptions about keto diets.

These include both misconceptions about nutrition as a whole, as well as misunderstandings about how to properly adhere to a healthy low-carb diet.

If you are trying to clear up confusion about dietary matters, Keto Clarity is a good choice (and thus its title).

Who Should Read This Book:

​This book is a good option for beginning low-carb dieters who still feel unsure whether low carb is the best choice for them - or who are unsure how to correctly and safely eat a low-carb diet.  

​One incredibly popular book you can purchase on the paleo diet is titled Practical Paleo, 2nd Edition (Updated and Expanded): A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle.  

This book is authored by Diane Sanfilippo, a Certified Nutrition Consultant who runs a health blog called Balanced Bites.  

Why Read This Book:

​If you are looking to understand the science in-depth from a biological perspective on why a paleo diet is good for you, this book will provide you with a wealth of information (about 125 pages worth).  

You can then learn some starting meal plans to help you transition to the diet.  

Who Should Read This Book:

​Some people who do not enjoy more technical reads may struggle with the first 125 pages of Practical Paleo. 

If you do have the scientific background to appreciate that kind of information, however, you will probably love this book.

Note that the meal plans which are offered are also not ideal for everyone.  If you have diabetes, fibromyalgia, high cholesterol, or any of the other conditions the author lists, the meal plans may not be right for you.  

But so long as that does not describe you, her meal plans and recipes make it easy to get into living the paleo life.  

​If your main goal is to find a cookbook for paleo ketogenic recipes, you will want to check out Quick & Easy Ketogenic Cooking: Meal Plans and Time Saving Paleo Recipes to Inspire Health and Shed Weight.  

This book, authored by wellness expert Maria Emmerich, has more than 590 customer reviews​.  ​

Why Read This Book:

​Many of the books suggested in this list focus mainly on providing nutritional information and refuting common myths and misconceptions surrounding ketogenic diets.  

While many of them do include some recipes, meals are the key focus of this book.  In fact, you will find over 170 recipes in its pages including pizza sticks, chicken alfredo, taco bar night, spring popovers and more.  

Who Should Read This Book:

​This is a diverse collection of recipes, so there is something in here for everyone.

The author even went out of her way to add useful icons next to all of the recipes which let you know immediately whether they fit within certain parameters (i.e. vegetarian, dairy-free, nut-free, and so on).  

So whatever you are looking for, you should find some great recipes to try here.  

​Another highly recommended cookbook is this one by George Stella.  If you enjoy cooking shows on TV, you probably know him from Food Network.  

He has five bestselling cookbooks.  This one has more than 470 customer reviews​.

Why Read This Book:

​If you are trying to lose weight, this cookbook can help you to do so while also becoming healthier.  

Stella’s family of four collectively lost more than 650 pounds using the cooking techniques taught in this book.  

There are 130 recipes in all, presented with beautiful full-color photographs.  

Who Should Read This Book:

​Anyone who wants to try a low-carb diet can take advantage of the recipes in this cookbook to get off to a great start.  

But what is really awesome about these recipes is that they are all wheat-free and sugar-free.  

So if you are on a gluten free diet or you are a diabetic (or simply want to stop eating wheat or sugar), you could not ask for a better recipe book.  

And of course you should consider this book if you are hoping to shed a few pounds.

​One more book to think about for recipes is Eat Happy: Gluten Free, Grain Free, Low Carb Recipes Made from Real Foods For a Joyful Life.  

Author Anna Vocino was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002, and since then has come up with new versions of her favorite comfort foods which are free of gluten, sugar, and grains.  

Why Read This Book:

​Eat Happy is of course aimed at others who suffer from celiac disease, but not exclusively.  

Anyone who is looking for a healthy diet that doesn’t include gluten, grains, and sugar will enjoy these recipes.  

They are designed to be simple and easy to prepare with common ingredients and no need for expensive appliances.  

Who Should Read This Book:

​These recipes are well-suited to anyone who suffers from celiac disease, fibromyalgia, diabetes, gluten sensitivity, or a range of other health conditions where carbs can be extra problematic.  

Since you are getting away from those unhealthy carbs, you can also consider this if you are just looking for a low-carb cookbook with delicious recipes that aren't too challenging to make.

Conclusion: Healthy Nutrition Starts with a Good Book (or Several)

If you want to get healthy with your diet and lifestyle, you cannot just dive in without first laying a groundwork of scientific knowledge.  

The books on this list can help to fill in the gaps in your nutritional understanding, liberating you from diet myths.  

The recipes and meal plans they offer can then help you to make the transition in your kitchen to healthier cooking.  

Switching from your current diet to a low-carb diet will come with some hurdles which will test your patience, just like any other major lifestyle change.  

But armed with a few comprehensive nutrition books written by genuine experts, you will be ready to take on those challenges and journey into a healthier future!

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  • Updated September 29, 2018

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