I had the opportunity this week of reading Michael Webb’s ebook How To Lose Weight While Eating Like Royalty On a Cruise. That’s a pretty bold claim; so does he deliver the goods?

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The book focuses on two aspects of weight control: eating right and getting sufficient exercise. I was very glad to see that he wasn’t promoting eating nothing but salads and rice cakes and spending hours in the gym. That doesn’t work at home and it certainly won’t work on board ship. I especially liked his points about the amount of exercise you can get just by walking. Many sports scientists have begun to rediscover the health benefits of our caveman ancestor’s lifestyle. Our bodies are evolutionarily designed for long duration, slow paced walking in search of food. Between walking the ship, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and walking around town when in port you can get lots of exercise. But Michael doesn’t stop at walking. The book contains a myriad of other fun and interesting (and even naughty) activities you can do that give you plenty of exercise without ever once setting foot in the gym.

The sections on eating choices however, were a mixed bag. There were lots of good ideas (drink plenty of water, avoid too much salt, skip the bread, and weigh yourself on the same scale at the same time every day), but there were also some poor suggestions like avoiding butter, having yogurt with fruit instead of the omelet and bacon, eating hummus and popcorn, and snacking on crackers. The reason these are bad ideas is that Michael is basing his recommendations on the calorie driven, low fat diet promoted by the US government. And that is where things get ugly.

You see, the low fat diet doesn’t actually work. If it did, childhood obesity wouldn’t have increased 300% over the last twenty years. The problem is carbohydrates not calories. Calorie counting is based on a flawed view of Newton’s First Law of Thermodynamics and the whole “fat is bad and causes heart attacks” argument has been disproved repeatedly but like a zombie, just refuses to die. Without belaboring the point, for a look at the science and political games behind the issue take a look at Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes (a short video lecture is also available here). Michael does a good job of pointing out that chemically produced fats are not good for you but misses that natural animal fats (like butter or – even better – ghee) are actually very good for you. A great steak with grass-fed butter melting on top or lobster with clarified butter is truly eating like royalty. He unfortunately advises eating high carb foods like bananas and popcorn, but also is right on when he advises eating high protein, low carb foods like almonds and shrimp. And that Coconut Shrimp? Good for you as long as you skip the sugary sauces that usually accompany it.

Bottom line: there’s a lot more good than bad with this book. It’s a fun read and should take you less than two hours to read the first time. I guarantee you’ll mark parts of the book and come back to them again. My only change would be to skip counting the calories and limit the carbs instead, and you will truly be able to eat like royalty and watch your weight.

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