Book Review – Men’s Health TNT Diet

Men’s Health TNT Diet: The Explosive New Plan to Blast Fat, Build Muscle, and Get Healthy in 12 Weeks by Jeff Volek and Adam Campbell

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not looking for another diet – I’m looking for more information on the diet I’m already on – low carb. Men’s Health has published a book about combining a low carb diet with weight training to build muscle and lose weight at the same time – and does so through carefully chosen exercises that require only 3- 30 minute workouts per week to achieve it.

What I like about this book is:

  • The book takes a practical approach in it expects that we’re pressed for time and need a program that we can shoehorn into a busy life
  • The science behind low carb is explained clearly and concisely
  • The science behind weight training as complementing a weight loss program is also explained clearly and concisely – this was a learning experience for me – I didn’t know this stuff, but again, I’m not big into exercise
  • It claims that you can have your cake and eat it too – it embraces carb cycling at predetermined times to help build muscle, and claims that you can have any carbs you like when following their formula without impacting your long-term health. While they recommend quality carb-laden foods, they do admit (with a wink) that you can have junk food as well
  • Their diet is based on clinical research – they tested this on real people as opposed to conjuring this up without testing

What I don’t like about this book are quibbles and annoyances, but I’ll note them:

  • Men’s Health is a men’s magazine that I’ve always found a bit patronizing. To me, it takes the formula for your typical woman’s magazine and applies it to men. In doing so, it goes too far at times – I once remember an article that told you how many calories you burn when carrying a case of beer. Go ahead – read some articles on their site and see if you pick up the stereotyping as well. The book reads like that.
  • It claims that it’s for women as well, but I’d bet the gals would feel a bit out of place the way it’s written – sort of like if they were the only woman tagging along with a bunch of guy on a ‘men’s night out’.
  • I question some of the fact-checking – they claim that ricotta cheese is high in carbs. If that’s true, then how can I eat it in induction and still be in ketosis? I checked my ricotta cheese label – 2 grams per serving. That’s low enough if you aren’t overdoing it.
  • The recipes are a bit…spartan. Perhaps it’s to not intimidate the guys who don’t cook – an example of the stereotyping I describe above? It’s not a show-stopper as I’m not at a loss for resources with plenty of low carb recipes.

Again – these are quibbles – it’s a good book, in my estimation. For more info on the book, one of the authors has a blog – you can find that here. There is also a forum to discuss the book hidden away on the site – you can find that here.

So…did I start the exercise? Am I pumped up yet?


I want to, and I have on my to do list to try this, but as I’ve revealed in in this post and this post, I’m not fond of exercise. Someone once said: “whenever I get the urge to exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes.”

I like that – but the fact is I sit on my ass most of the time and I feel it – I’m sore and I’m losing my flexibility. As I’m not just living a low carb lifestyle to lose weight, but to maintain my health, I feel I need to incorporate exercise into my life – and this book provides a formula for exercise that might just be sustainable for me – an exercise-hater.


19 thoughts on “Book Review – Men’s Health TNT Diet

  1. I hate exercise too, LCC. I’ve tried many times over the years, from joining health clubs to using tapes to walking daily, and I always come to the same conclusion. Exercise sucks. LOL

    Now that I’m losing weight again, I actually do feel a bit like “moving.” I’m going to give my yoga tapes a try, perhaps this weekend.

    About the book review, an ex-boyfriend used to get Men’s Health magazine, so I know exactly what you’re describing in terms of stereotyping. But if the book at least has the low-carb info right and has reasonable weight training exercises, I’d say it’s worth the money. Maybe I’ll pick it up for hubby’s birthday next week. Appreciate the honest review!

  2. Naturally fit people seem to love to exercise, don’t they? It’s almost like they flaunt it. Then there are the schmoes, like so many of us, who for any number of myriad reasons have extra baggage and would rather have a handler push it around than carry it ourselves. If I had a job moving my butt all day, lifting stuff, maybe I wouldn’t be this heavy and out of shape. Or maybe I would eat more and I’d look this way anyway, I don’t know. What I do know is I sit at a desk all day long, and then I come home and sit, and then I lay down and sleep. Not a lot of calorie expenditure, is there? So that’s why I got off my behind last week and started back on the routine.

    Nothing crazy to start. Three times a week when I get up at 5:30: some stretches; about 22 minutes on the treadmill going from a walk to a brisk walk and back down; 2 sets of 25 seated chest presses on the gym followed by 2 sets of 25 pec butterflies; on the floor with the ab roller for sit ups, crunches, and obliques. About 40 minutes or so total. It doesn’t take more than a few days of this to start feeling tighter and better about yourself. What was at first hard to do becomes easier quickly, and you push yourself just a little more next time.

    I’m a little down lately for several reasons. I’ve just learned my old digital scale has been off EIGHT POUNDS for at least the last five years. I know this because this morning I compared my records of my weight during my biannual visits to my doctor since 2003 with what I’ve weighed at home, compensating for clothing, and it works out. So that means that the first time around on Atkins I did not start out at 230 and drop to 200; I was really 238 and dropped to 208. (So what, it’s the loss that counts, right?) But it also means that when I started the re-induction three weeks ago, I was really 230, not 222. I bought a new scale a few days ago, a Weight Watchers branded Conair number, very stylish, with body fat, hydration, and bone mass readouts all on the same display at the same time. I weighed a gym plate on it and it came up right on the mark. I tested it for repeatability, and it’s the same number every time to a tenth of a pound. So, other than feeling like I’ve been doing induction for three weeks and haven’t lost ANYthing (I have to force myself to remember I lost what I lost), I at least have a reliable and accurate scale now.

    Reason 2 for being down: I’m on a plateau. Actually, I’ve gained this week, a pound and a half since my low last Saturday. I’ve averaged 19.6 net carbs daily over the week, and typically less than 2000 calories. My ketostick the last two days has been medium, which is darker than I have ever measured before, even the first time around. So why am I gaining? I can hardly believe it’s the meager exercise routine I’ve started, yet I always initially blame this for a stall in absence of a better answer. My loss graph, which had been comparing nicely to the first time around, started diverging six days ago. I was within a pound of my previous loss for this period, and today I am five pounds heavier than I was at the same diet day in 2003. Thank goodness the difference between Atkins and other diets is that I am much less discouraged than I might be due to the fact that I do not feel deprived or hungry. I have faith gained from experience that this is a transitional phase and I WILL start to drop pounds again soon. I HAVE to… I am well into ketosis so I know I’m turning fat into fuel.

    Reason 3: I lost a dear friend to the grim reaper this week. The woman who worked over the cube wall from me with whom I had a close relationship for more than two decades died from a sudden heart attack in her husband’s arms at home on Tuesday. She’d been home on disability for the last five months following a back injury that required surgery and had been looking forward to returning to work soon. She would have been 64 this June. Way too soon to go.

    Any encouraging words or similar weight loss stall stories from the response-reading community are welcomed with open arms.


  3. Sorry to hear about the loss of a friend – it puts things into perspective – maybe it doesn’t matter if your scale was off, or if you’ve stalled.

    These are just trifles and nothing to get upset about.

    It’s not easy to keep your bearings at times like these – I’d suggest not beating yourself up too much – I’ve *never* thought that beating yourself up is helpful, but give yourself time to…well, heal is the right word.

    When I find myself in similar circumstances it sometimes seems that everything is covered in shit. It isn’t, of course – it’s just Life.

    Scales and stalls will right themselves in due time.

  4. Oh, don’t get me wrong LCC, I’m not beating myself up over anything. It’s just that old “one step forward, two steps back” deal that it feels like right now. Like Trish says, “This too will pass.”

    Being an atheist, I don’t really think that poorly about death. It happens when it happens. I think it was Jim Morrison that said, “Nobody gets out of here alive.” But my favorite axiom is from ‘The Wiz’: “You can’t win, you can’t break even, and you can’t get out of the game.” In other words, at least in my interpretation, we die. That’s it. No heaven, no hell. The Great Void.

    To me, it’s more comforting thinking about finality than dreaming about any of the fantastic afterlife scenarios proposed by the hundreds of religions out there. My friend was a Roman Catholic. All her passwords for her programs at work were based on either her grandchildren’s names or “Jesus.” Like “ILOVEJESUS.” More than a few times she said she was going to make converting me her life’s project. (Well, THAT didn’t work out.) We went to the wake last night; thankfully, the body didn’t even look like her. That I hadn’t seen her in five months helped ease the pain of viewing her corpse. In the casket was a letter from one of her very young grandchildren saying he was sorry she died but was happy knowing she was in heaven with Jesus. And so another generation drags its progeny into the fairy tale abyss.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to profer my personal viewpoints like that here in the low carb blogosphere. I could delete them, but then this retraction would be incomprehensible.

    Back to the point: Scales and stalls WILL right themselves, unless you have a wide stance. Say, that works out either way, doesn’t it? 😉 I am undaunted. Atkins works, low carb works. I know it, I’ve been there. I’m here because of a series of unfortunate events (?!?) but I’m turning it around with tools that do the job and a bitchin’ attitude. Time isn’t my enemy, it’s my best pal, because this isn’t a diet, it’s my life. It’s what I do now. It’s what I WAS doing and it WAS working, and IT DIDN’T HURT. Many years ago I quit smoking for two years and because of a series of unfortun… I’m repeating myself… I started smoking again like I had never stopped. One day, a few years later, I quit, cold turkey. That was 24 years ago this week. Back then, I felt I was putting the last nail in the coffin of my potential death from any of a number of smoking-related diseases. Four and a half years ago, I felt I was putting nails in the coffin of my potential death from any one of a number of diseases and ailments due to being overweight and eating an unhealthy diet.

    I’ve got my hammer and a BIG handful of nails. Please keep your distance for your own protection; safety glasses ARE required in this area.

    The MAS

  5. I’m sorry Megamas….sorry for your loss of your friend and sorry for your loss of joy, lately. Not that you want to hear this, but I’ll say a little prayer for ya, to my God and it won’t hurt ya at all! Chin up dude, the sun will come out again tomorrow and we’ll all lose a pound, promise!!


  6. Glad to hear you’re not beating yourself up – sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between someone who’s taken a few body blows and one who has been defeated by them. Good for you.

    As to atheism – you’re right – this isn’t the place – it’s a blog about low carb. I’ll let it pass with just this comment: an atheist ‘believes’ in no God the same way a religious person believes in God.

    Nuff said about God or the lack thereof. For further on this subject, check out this.

  7. Precious! And it hit it right on the nail. Secular Humanist 100%. Next on the list, Unitarian Universalism (my first marriage was in a UU church because my wife and I at age 19 wanted a traditional wedding but were already firm non-theists (the third choice on the B-O’-M list). Thanks for the link and I’ll be back with a strictly on-topic post soon. Peas out.

  8. Megamas – really sorry for the loss of your co-worker. Two decades is a long time to know *anyone* these days, much less someone you work with. My heart goes out to her husband.

    Yes, this too shall pass…I keep that as my personal mantra because I get obsessive about too many things. When I’m dwelling on something I remind myself that eventually something else will have my attention. Hope that makes sense.

    Hang in there – plateau or not, you WILL lose again if you are in induction. Get thee some keto-stix and start celebrating ketosis!


  9. LCC,

    Have you thought about doing a book review on Good Calories, Bad Calories? It would be nice to see here on the site. It’s a fantastic book about the science of high-carb eating, the science of insulin, blood sugar, triglycerides, hyperinsulinemia, and metabolic syndrome and the non-science of the U.S. Food Pyramid, dietary guidelines and the low-fat industry. It is a must read for anyone questioning the low-carb, high-fat approach and why they may not be losing as much weight this time around. I highly recommend this book. Even if you don’t love science and research it’s good info and good motovation.

  10. I’m working on it now, actually. I’ve begun reading the book for the second time and taking notes – I believe it’s *that* important.

    I don’t want to do a hatchet job – my reason I haven’t posted a review yet.

  11. Well, looks like I’d better get a copy of GC,BC soon or be left in the dust. I’m intrigued by KelleyO’s comment, “It is a must read for anyone questioning the low-carb, high-fat approach and why they may not be losing as much weight this time around.” The second or more time around on low carb, I’m taking that to mean. I am a little discouraged with my progress this time, but at least I’ve lost SOMEthing and am not gaining. And I’m not hungry. Just anxious!

  12. Kelly0,

    What did you find in the book that explained why it’s more difficult the second time around? I don’t remember that (one of the reasons I’m rereading it again).

    Regarding the ‘1 golden time’ – I don’t believe it. I think it’s perception – we remember being fat, then being thin, and forget the looooooong time in between. It took me a year to go from 260 to 195, then I stalled for a year before I went to 180. That first year I lost, on average, 1.25 lbs. per week, which is an entirely realistic and safe weight loss rate.

    While this time I lost 20 lbs in a little more than 2 weeks, I’ve stopped cold. But – if I take the long view, it takes me 16 weeks to lose 20 lbs. So even if I stall for 14 weeks – I’m still on track.

    As I’ve decided to go from 215 to 170 – 45 lbs – at 1.25 lbs per week, I need 36 weeks to get to my goal. I started on Dec 31, so it will be in some time in *August* (if I counted the weeks correctly) before I’m there.

    August seems way far away as I shiver here in January, but is *is* realistic.

  13. LCC & Megamas, I don’t know your ages or your blood sugar but what I took from GC, BC was that as we continue to eat carbs and age we increasingly succumb to metabloic syndrome and hyperinsulinemia. At least those of us more pre-disposed to it anyway. If we did not have increasing metabolic syndrome we wouldn’t be this fat, particularly in the stomache area.

    So, I find, as I age and become increasingly insulin resistant due to abuse of carbs, it is more difficult to lose at the same rate as I did even just a year or two ago.

    From The Schwarzbein Priciple, Atkins, and other sources I can’t remember but including GC, BC, I believe that we can heal metabolic syndrome as long as we do not go back to carb abuse. There is one study he sights in GC, BC where obese children were put on a low-carb diet and lost all of their weight and then after 11 or so months completely lost a desire or craving for sweets at all. And Schwarzbein says it may take up to a year or more to heal metabolic syndrome, depending on the severity, from mild to full blown diabetes (this is not to say that diabetes is curable, but that it is the ultimate case of metabolic syndrome and hyperinsulinemia).

    Additionally, GC, BC also mentions the other hormones in our bodies besides insulin that have an affect on fat storage and release.

    No, he never said, “The second or third time will be more difficult”. But my impression was that we become more insulin resistant as time passes, noticed by our beer bellies, and that this increased insulin resistance takes it’s toll not only in health but also in the ability to release fatty acids back into circulation for oxidation and use.

    I think this is common knowledge though – that insulin resistance increases with continued carb abuse. But the science behind it it’s effect on fatty acid mobilization was explained in detail in GC, BC and even understood by likes of me! At least I think I understood it…….

  14. Kelley, thanks a bunch for sharing that. For the record, I’m 56. Even though I didn’t start low carb until I was 52, I believe it has been 4 and a half years that could have taken me from pre-diabetic into full blown Type II if only due to age and my obesity. I have typically measured between 103 and 107 on my biannual fasting glucose test over the past four years (which surprises me with the way I’ve been eating), but my hemoglobin A1C tests are great and confirm I am NOT diabetic.

    I attempted the cinnamon trick I’d read about online while researching ways to reduce one’s blood glucose. Supposedly, a study was done (in Pakistan, if I remember correctly) that indicated the consumption of a nominal amount of ground cinnamon daily had the effect of lowering blood glucose levels, and additionally lowered the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the study group. Three weeks prior to having my blood work done, I took one gram of cinnamon in the morning every day. When the test results came back, my blood sugar reading was 110! This obviously was not the answer, not for me, anyways. I stopped taking it, and my next tests were back to 107 and then 105. Go figure.

    If anybody is interested, Good Calories, Bad Calories is available for downloading to your PDA. Check out I’m getting my copy tonight.

  15. Megamas, how is that book coming?

    When you said you were going to download to your PDA I thought, “Good luck!”

    I don’t think I could read it from a PDA so you are more man than I. But then again, I’m a women so either way you slice it……

    It’s a tough read but gets better as you get towards the end. I liked it so much though that I even read the acknowledgments! It’s interesting that he starts out with his research believing that low-carb is a bunch of hooey and is convinced otherwise.

  16. Kelley, you know, the best laid plans… I kept meaning to get to buying it during the week and one thing leads to another… this weekend for sure!

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