Glow15 by Naomi Whittel has been a popular book in the last year and I had heard her promote it on a number of podcasts that I follow. When my mother in-law bought the book, I thought I should give it a review. The target audience is women, but there is applicable information for everyone.
The premise for the book is anti-aging and longevity, and that according to the author 70% of longevity has to do with your lifestyle. Something I believe in too. She believes that autophagy is the missing link to anti-aging. Autophagy is the process by which cells remove toxins, recycle parts and repair their own damage. Basically it gets rid of the nonfunctional components of the cell. Translated, autophagy literally means self-devour. The author states that if you avoid the factors of accelerated aging; added sugar, environmental toxins, sedentary lifestyle and lack of sleep you will not only be healthy on the inside, but on the outside as well.
The book is essentially comprised of five sections: Diet, Energy, Exercise, Sleep and Beauty.
The philosophy promoted here is what the author calls IFPC or Intermittent Fasting (IF) and Protein Cycling (PC). Fasting gives your cells a chance to repair and clean up the waste and toxins that have accumulated. Intermittent fasting works by activating glucagon which works in opposition to insulin to keep your blood glucose levels balanced. The program entails that on three non-consecutive days you IF for 16/8 (which means you fast for 16 hours and eat within an eight hour window) and that you have low amounts of protein on these days, about 25 grams worth. On the four other days you do not IF and eat normal to high amounts of protein, in the range of 45-55 grams. The author believes that depriving your body of protein on the three IF days will enhance autophagy. Again the target audience is women and for men and those with higher activity levels the protein values would likely need to be adjusted upward.
The author also promotes the concept of Fat First, Carbs Last, meaning to eat healthy fats in the morning as well as at every meal and save quality (not processed) carbs for the evening. I agree with this concept to a degree.
This section of the book discusses vitamins, supplements and most importantly polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that protect against free radical stress and damage to cells. Naomi Whittel is the person who brought Bergamot Citrus Fruit to my attention and it is discussed a lot as it is said to contain some of the highest levels of polyphenols you can find and is one of the pillars the Glow15 program is based on. Bergamot combined with Earl Grey Tea, Green Tea, Ceylon cinnamon and coconut oil is the Glow15 prescribed energy booster. Also discussed in this section are other polyphenol sources, Omega-3 fatty acids, various vitamins, probiotics, resveratrol, curcumin and berberine. I agree with nearly everything in this section of the book, however I have found that it is very difficult to find Bergamot. The local health food stores in my area do not carry it, and on-line I can only find essential oils or fairly pricy teas.
The exercise regime prescribed by Glow15 is to only exercise on your high protein days, so four times a week for 30 mins in a fasted state. The program allows caffeine beforehand and you refuel with protein. The four workouts a week consist of two HIIT (high-intensity interval training) cardio workouts and two resistance training workouts. At the back of the book there are some sample exercises for the workouts and they are broken out for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. This is where I have my biggest criticism of the book. Glow15 is making an assumption that the readers already have a decent level of fitness, which is fine, but as a personal trainer myself, I know that a deconditioned person would have difficulty starting with the listed beginner exercises.
This section provides a quiz to see what type of sleeper you are. The quiz and results it gives you are an adaptation of Dr. Michael J. Breus’s book The Power Of When. Using the quiz in the book, I came out as a Lark or morning person. Not a surprise. The rest of the chapter discusses strategies for each type of sleeper you are relating to light exposure and setting your bed time etc.
This last major section of the book starts off articulating that your skin is your largest organ and is a direct reflection of your health and well-being. Discussed are some common ingredients in beauty products to avoid such as Formaldehyde, Mineral Oil, Petrolatum, Oxybenzone, Parabens & Phthalates and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate to name the most harmful. Some ingredients to add to your skin topically are discussed as well as getting into some therapies like micro-needling, massage, acupuncture and acupressure (including a do-it-yourself chart)
After the five sections described above there is a discussion of useful topics that appear to have not found a home anywhere else, such as shopping guidelines/ list, the best cooking methods and ones to avoid, a chart for cooking oil temperatures as well as a discussion on soaking, sprouting and fermenting seeds and vegetables.
The tail end of the book provides a sample 15 day plan with meal suggestions, FAQ’s on the program and sample recipes. I found the recipes to be decent, and the author has put her spin on them, but I didn’t find anything too imaginative or new here that is not in other cookbooks or websites.
While this book is definitely geared towards women, the biggest takeaway was on the concept of Autophagy. While this book is not the first time I have heard autophagy discussed, it is a topic that needs more attention so for that alone it gains points. Naomi Whittel has created a catchy program name and put her spin on many thoughts and theories that were already out there for implementation. If this easily read book can get people to make some positive changes in their life then this book is a winner.