Life Without Bread
Reviewed by Stephen Byrnes, PhD, RNCP
Plan's name: Life Without Bread
Life Without Bread: How a Low-Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life
by Christian B. Allan, PhD & Wolfgang Lutz, MD. Keats
Publishing;CA., ISBN: 0-658-00170-1; 240 pp.; $16.95 USD
About the author:
Life Without Bread is mostly based on the clinical experience of Dr.
Lutz, an Austrian medical doctor who has successfully used low-carb
diets for decades on thousands of patients. The results of Lutz' clinical
successes have been published in several European medical journals (mostly in
German) and he even authored a German version of LWB as far back as 1967 to
In recent years, a slew of books on low-carbohydrate diets by medical doctors
and nutritionists have appeared on the market. Some, like those by Dr. Robert
Atkins, MD, have focused on using low-carb diets for weight loss. Others, like
the Protein Power series by the Eades, have focused on the lifestyle of low-carb
eating. None of the titles, however, have applied low-carb eating to a variety
of diseases, showing how such a diet directly ameliorates and heals conditions
like Crohn's disease, heart disease, and diabetes. With Life Without Bread,
however, that pattern has ended. Dr.'s Allan and Lutz have done an excellent
job of lucidly presenting a systematic approach to low-carb eating, its
beneficial effects on a number of disease conditions, and, most importantly,
the scientific and clinical data to back up the claims.
Life Without Bread is mostly based on the clinical experience of Dr. Lutz,
an Austrian medical doctor who has successfully used low-carb diets for
decades on thousands of patients. The results of Lutz' clinical successes have
been published in several European medical journals (mostly in German) and he
even authored a German version of LWB as far back as 1967 to good response.
His work, however, was ignored in the United States. While the USDA was
hawking the Food Pyramid with its 6-12 servings of grain products a day on the
American public (and most of the Western world following this lead), Dr. Lutz
and a handful of brave iconoclasts were preaching the virtues of high protein
and fat/low-carb diets for healthy living. After many years, Lutz succeeded in
securing an American publisher and the results of his experience and research
are now available to all English-speaking people.
The book begins with a definition of just what low-carb nutrition really
is, followed by an historical survey of the approach by various doctors and
nutritionists including such luminaries as William Banting, Weston Price,
Vilhjamur Stefansson, John Yudkin, and Carlton Fredericks. In Lutz and Allan's
definition, the low-carb diet should include no more than 72 grams of
carbohydrates a day. The rest of the diet should be made up of protein and fat
from a range of plant and animal sources.
Chapter three focuses on the effect carbohydrates have on hormonal
function. Despite the complexity of the subject matter, Lutz and Allan do a
fine job of explaining the endocrinological details with a variety of graphs,
illustrations, and references.
Most of the following chapters focus on the benefits of low-carb nutrition
for such diseases as diabetes, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders,
obesity, even cancer. The chapter on heart disease deserves special notice for
it effectively debunks the phony, but widely held, notion that saturated fats
and cholesterol from animal foods cause this condition. The authors explain in
detail the physiological benefits of saturates and simultaneously point out
the flawed reasoning behind the Lipid Hypothesis. This chapter is really what
sets the book apart from other low-carb titles currently available and is
worth the price of the book.
Chapter 11 is also a distinguishing chapter in that it explains the
evolutionary basis for low-carb eating. Lutz and Allan clearly show that the
low-carb/high fat and protein diet was the diet that humans evolved on and is
what we are best suited for today. It is the high-carb/low-fat diet that is
alien to our species.
The final chapter is also unique to the low-carb nutrition books available.
It shows how to implement the low-carb eating plan in various people. Lutz and
Allan wisely point out that older patients need to be eased into the program
over a period of time, as opposed to jumping into it cold-turkey. They point
out the possible health hazards of such an approach. This chapter should prove
invaluable for clinicians.
Lucidly written, heavily referenced, and well-illustrated, Life Without
Bread is a must-have book for physicians, nutritionists, and the public.
By the numbers: The only number
to look at is an upper limit of 72 grams of carbs a day. Lutz and Allan
do recommend, however, that older people (60+) or those with autoimmune
conditions like lupus and asthma gradually lower their carb intake over a
period of a few weeks to avoid overstimulus of the immune system and an
aggravation of existing conditions.
Basically, you can eat all the meat, non-starchy vegetables, cheese, and
natural fats as you like with moderate amounts of nuts, yogurt, and whole
milk. Some carbs are allowed as long as you do not exceed 72 grams a day.
Charts are included in the book with carb levels for a great many foods.
This really depends on the person's likes and dislikes. No menus are included in the book, just the general "what to eat" guidelines.
Unique Fatures: Lutz and Allan
emphasize throughout that low-carb nutrition is not just for weight loss, but
for a host of other conditions and diseases as well.
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Reviewed by Stephen Byrnes, PhD, RNCP