15 Must Read Health, Exercise, Nutrition & Coaching Books from Fitness Expert Michael Wood

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” – Henry David Thoreau

We all understand the value of reading good books especially when they come from the industry that we work in. For me that world is the health and fitness industry. Over the past thirty years I have read and have had the good fortune of reviewing hundreds of books.

Before we get to my book recommendations, I first wanted to share two articles that I read this week, the first is an article that talks about the reading habits of a few big name entrepreneurs. The second article also appeared this week on Business Insider regarding the one book college professors from some of our elite schools would recommend to others.

The following list includes some of the best health/fitness/nutrition/coaching books I have read. For a review and more information on any of the books, simply click the title of the book and to find out more about the author click on their respective name. Finally, if you’re interested, you can find my complete suggested reading list here.


The One-Minute Exercise, Martin Gibala, PhD, Avery, 2017

Exercise for Mood and Anxiety, Michael Otto, PhD,  Jasper Smits, PhD, Oxford Press, 2011


Deep NutritionCate Shanahan, MD, Flatiron, 2017

Always Hungry?, David Ludwig, MD, Life & Style, 2016

The Diet Fix, Yoni Freedhoff, MD, Harmony, 2014

Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink, Ph.D, Bantom Books, 2006


The Story of the Human Body, Daniel Lieberman, PhD, Pantheon, 2013

How Fat Works, Philip Wood, PhD, Harvard University Press, 2006


Supple Leopard, Kelly Starrett, DPT, Victory Belt Publishing, 2013

Conscious Coaching, Brett Bartholomew, MS, CSCS, Create Space, 2017

Functional Training for Sport, Michael Boyle, MS, ATC, Human Kinetics, 2003

Athletic Development, Vern Gambetta, MA, Human Kinetics, 2006

Core Performance, Mark Verstegen, Rodale Books, 2005

Can You Go?, Dan John, MS, On Target, 2015


Challenging Beliefs, (and the Lore of Running), Tim Noakes, MD, Zebra Press, 2012


For the Love of Books: From Health to Hemingway

“What are you reading?”

There is one bookstore that I have not yet been to that is high on my bucket list that can be found in beautiful Oregon called Powell’s Bookstore. It is considered one of the best bookstores in the country by many publications. I was reading an article one day featured on my Flipboard app that talked about the best bookstores found in each state and of course when I looked at the list under Oregon….you guessed it. That list included one book recommendation from an employee from each of the bookstores mentioned. The name of the book recommended by Powell’s was Books for Living by New York Author Will Schwalbe.  After checking it out online I knew it was a book that I had to get my hands on and read. Mr. Schwalbe mentions the importance of keeping track of what you’re reading by making reading lists and becoming in a sense your own book curator which I have done on several occasions.

Photo Credit: Will Schwalbe

As someone who has been working in the fitness industry for thirty years, I have made a number of recommendations over the years regarding numerous health/fitness/nutrition books. So much so, that as of late it developed into a “suggested reading” list here on this blog. I have also developed a personal reading list (a work in progress) of one of my favorite authors, Ernest Hemingway, that can be found on my SunAlsoRises blog. Hemingway himself was also a master at developing such reading lists. I have a list on my blog of the books that he personally liked to recommend to others. There is also a full list on the blog of all the books that Hemingway actually read from 1910-1940. His books were kept in his libraries in Key West, the Finca Vigia in Cuba and possibly his home in Ketchum, Idaho and they can all be found in this document, that lists nearly 8,000 volumes.

“In order to write about life first you must live it.” – Ernest Hemingway

Here are a few additional book lists that I have found over the years that you may find interesting:

Getting back to Will Schwalbe’s book, Books for Living, is his own list of 26 books that have made a powerful impact over the course of his life. He talks about each of the books by way of a short essay that turns into a fun, educational ride along the way. His book will have that same impact on your life…after it makes your reading “list.”

The One-Minute Workout

Researcher Martin Gibala, PhD, who along with Izumi Tabata, PhD, et al., have helped bring high-intensity interval training back to the forefront of training for both athlete and novice alike. I have had the pleasure of reading all of Dr. Gibala’s papers on high-intensity interval training (HIIT), so when I saw that his book, The One-Minute Workout, was going to be published this year (Avery Publishers, 2017, 263 pages), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. The first half of the book he goes into the importance and research history (his and other researchers) of interval-based training. The second half of the book has the actual HIIT workout protocols and “hits” on nutrition as well. As expected it was a great read. One of the training workouts featured in the book (pages 146-148), called the 10-20-30 protocol, is excellent, I have tried it myself and have previously written about it, see here.

Source: Amazon.com

This particular protocol was published from 2012 research out of the University of Copenhagen and then written about, multiple times, by Gretchen Reynolds in the New York Times Well Blog.

The original research was completed on 16 male/female runners who ran 2-4x/week. Eight of the runners kept running as usual (covering about 17 miles in those 2-4 training sessions). The other group of eight runners reduced their training volume by 54 percent and worked out using the 10-20-30 sprint protocol. After a warm-up, the group ran for a minute that included an easy run for 30-seconds, followed by a faster run for 20-seconds and finally a sprint for 10-seconds. They completed this 1-minute run for 3 to 4 intervals with rest between each interval run. Both groups trained for seven weeks. Among other things, the sprint group experienced a 4 percent increase in their VO2 max. The sprint interval group also saw significant changes in performance despite cutting their volume by more than 50 percent.

Try adding this type of interval training into your training program if you’re a runner or maybe if you’re looking to get back into running like I was. After a period of time away from running, I started doing interval training indoors on a treadmill over the course of a month. My goal was to develop a good base with just 10-15 minutes of total running time/session during that first month (total workout time: 20-30 minute training sessions, every other day). As my aerobic capacity improved, I got more into the 10-20-30 jog to sprint protocol during the following month (as my body got use to the stress of running).  As the research demonstrated, and I too experienced, the protocol worked beyond expectation, experiencing great results with less time spent working out.

A Must Read: Living With A SEAL by Jesse Itzler

I had an opportunity to get a look at the soon to be released book, Living With A SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet by entrepreneur, Jesse Itzler. I felt like I was watching a soon to be released movie – even though it was a hardcover book that I was reading – it was thoroughly enjoyable and quite frankly, I could not put it down. I don’t know if it was due to the intriguing coach/athlete relationship with SEAL (as in Navy SEAL) and his client, or because of the gut-busting scenes in the book, involving the burpees, one of the lake incidents or times using the weighted-vest.

Source: http://amazon.com
Source: http://amazon.com

The main character, Jesse Itzler @the100MileMan, is the owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, and a pretty good endurance runner with multiple NY marathon under his belt. He is also married to Sara Blakely, who founded Spanx. Jesse ends up hiring a Navy SEAL for a month to shake things up a bit and take his work (fitness) capacity to the next level. The Navy Seal ends up living with the family and traveling everywhere with them. No matter where they are, home/office/traveling, the SEAL always finds some unique way to insert his training protocol into the already busy day of Jesse. This of course, needs to happen multiple times each day, no matter the weather outside or time. By the end of their journey, Jesse ends up finding out a great deal more about himself than he ever expected to…”Roger that.”

This book is a must read for anyone looking for that next great pull you in type book. Maybe you’re looking for some fresh ideas yourself for a new training stimulus or like Jesse, just need to shake things up a bit. I read the 250-page book in basically a day, I just could not put it down! I’m sure you’ll feel the same way afterwards. It read like a future movie script to me with Actor Terry Crews playing SEAL.

“If you can see yourself doing something, you can do it. If you can’t see yourself doing something, usually you can’t achieve it.”  – SEAL(ism)



Book Review: America’s Best Places to Run

Running expert, Jeff Galloway has teamed up with his son, Brennan, to take you through 55 of the most gorgeous trails in the United States. Brennan captured their beauty with his camera while Jeff gave special information on the running trails.

America’s Best Places to Run enhances the running experience by offering access to very special running routes. This book gives a preview of the scenery with directions to the start and special instructions to enjoy the area.  In addition to the more than fifty trails and half-dozen race venues reviewed in this book it also  includes tips on training for trail running, dealing with elevation, running uphill and downhill, terrain issues, and endurance, and time-tested suggestions for preparing for each trail.

ZReaders will learn about trails from the Grand Canyon to Walden Pond, and from Florida’s Blue Mountain Beach to Yosemite National Park, and from the Illinois Prairie Path to Texas’ North Shore Trail.  These are the 55 trails that could be on any runner’s bucket list.  They are organized into five regions including: West, Midwest, South, Mid-Atlantic, and New England/New York. This beautifully illustrated book will take runners from the urban environments to seaside delights and challenging mountain passes.  It is all here in Jeff & Brennan Galloway’s collection of scenic, historic, and amazing places to run.

Olympian Jeff Galloway has run for over 50 years and still runs a marathon about every month. He’s coached over a million runners to their goals through his retreats (in several of these locations), clinics at events, individual consultations, running schools, and books.

Brennan Galloway was a track and cross-country athlete at Colorado College, has produced two documentaries, and continues to run almost every day, finding new and interesting trails wherever he goes.  He traveled over 50,000 miles to document the various trails with photographs.

What are You Reading for the New Year?

imgresOne of my non-fitness goals for the New Year is to stop buying so many books but that can be difficult when part of your job is to keep up and review the latest trends in your industry and in my case, that’s health and fitness. I have tried, however, to read more from my Kindle especially since I’m running out of bookshelf space. There are so many great books that have been published recently not to mention a long list of great ebooks and audio books. So the question is, what are you looking to read to start the New Year off? Here are a few titles that you may be interested in and for a more complete list please look here.


Faster, Higher, Stronger: How Sports Science Is Creating a New Generation of Super-athletes and What We Can Learn from Them, by Mark McClusky. I just finished this book and it was excellent – I have recommended it to many. McClusky is a veteran journalist who is also a working-class athlete. He does a great job at taking you behind the scenes of what some of the top athletes are trying and willing to do to improve their sports performance level.

Born to Walk: Myofascial Efficiency and the Body in Movement, James Earl

Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally by Kelly Starrett and TJ Murphy

eBooks (Kindle)

A Guide to Better Movement: The Science and Practice of Moving with More Skill and Less Pain, Todd Hargrove

Your Atomic Self: The Invisible Elements That Connect You to Everything Else in the Universe by Curt Stager I have just started this but it should be a great read. Dr. Stager is a science journalist who has published a number of books and peer-reviewed journal articles. There are many interesting science-based facts that will grab your attention, like the one I tweeted today. I could not agree more with his comment: “the better you understand the world in atomic terms, the richer your experiences may become.”

Book Review: Eating on the Wild Side

On a recent Saturday afternoon while in Barnes and Noble bookstore I was using my iPhone to take a few pictures of a couple interesting pages from a new nutrition book. As I tried to walk the isles and read (trying to build-up my daily Fitbit steps) I found myself taking more and more pictures of various pages. I finally decided to just buy this great book, Jo Robinson’s Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (Little Brown & Company, 2013, 407 pages, $16). Come to find out Robinson, who is a health writer, has already been winning book awards with her book that was published in May (as a paperback) and has now reached bestseller status.

photo credit: http://npr.com

I have always been interested in the nutritional value of specific foods, what they typically lose when consumed too soon/late and the phytonutrients that are lost when over-cooked or when the wrong “type” is eaten. Author Robinson hits on these topics and much more in her excellent work. Her heavily referenced book (26 pages worth) goes into detail about the fruits and vegetables we consume. Her book is broken into two sections: chapters 1-9 focus on vegetables while chapters 10-17 focus on fruits.

The author states that if we were to consume more wild species of certain fruits and vegetables we would obtain more phytonutrients, antioxidants and we would not need to take any type of supplements. For example, “one species of wild tomato, has fifteen times more lycopene than the typical supermarket tomato”. Even tomatoes that sit side by side in a typical supermarket can differ dramatically in their nutritional make-up. If you’re interested in finding out what brand of tomato has ten times the amounts of phytonutrients compared to another brand and much more, then you should check out her book and take that walk on the wild side.

Jeff Galloway’s New Book: Nutrition for Runners

imagesJeff Galloway has a new book out, Nutrition for Runners. It covers topics such as what runners need to eat, your fat-burning tool kit, trouble-shooting performance problems, choosing the best shoes for you and much, much more. The following discussion is from Author and runner Jeff Galloway with nutritionist and Author Nancy Clark.

Q: How can a runner take control of eating and avoid overeating?

A: You can take control of your nutritional destiny by having a cognitive strategy for eating (or any other activity). This shifts control out of the subconscious brain and into the frontal lobe. As you focus on what you eat, how much and when the conscious brain overrides the SBC brain. This interrupts embedded emotional subconscious eating patterns and gives you a chance to choose foods that will keep you energized and healthy, while you avoid overeating. By having an eating plan, you can combine the foods you need to balance your nutrients, keep the energy supply flowing, and avoid dehydration. (Excerpted from page 11, Nutrition for Runners by Jeff Galloway)

Q: How do you keep your blood sugar levels normal?

A: Your brain is fueled by blood sugar. When the blood sugar level is at a good, moderate, normal level, you feel good, stable, and motivated.

The simple act of eating about 100 calories within 30 minutes before running can reduce the negative, make you feel good, and get you out of the door. The standard recommendation is 2 calories per pound bodyweight within 5–60 minutes per-exercise. A simple solution is to eat grains instead of simple sugars or combine protein with carbs. Once you establish which snacks work best to maintain your blood sugar level (BSL), most runners maintain a stable BSL by eating small meals regularly, every 2-3 hours. It’s best to combine grains, fruits, and vegetables with protein and a small amount of fat. (Excerpted from pages 27-29, Nutrition for Runners by Jeff Galloway)

Q: What are the best foods for energy?

A: By eating grains, fruits, and vegetables as the foundation of each meal, you’ll consume about 55-65% of your calories from carbohydrates. This is exactly what you need for a high-energy sports diet. These carbohydrates are stored in muscles in the form of glycogen, the energy you need to train hard day after day, and to compete well on race day. (Excerpted from page 45, Nutrition for Runners by Nancy Clark, RD)

Like carbohydrates, protein-rich foods are also an important part of your sports diet. You should eat a protein-rich food at each meal.

Whereas some marathoners frequently choose pepperoni pizza, fast food burgers, and other meals filled with saturated fats, other runners bypass these foods in their efforts to eat a low-fat or vegetarian diet – but they neglect to replace beef with beans. (Excerpted from page 52, Nutrition for Runners by Nancy Clark, RD)

Q: How does fat accumulate?

A: Eating more calories than are burned off, day after day, promotes fat deposition.

While men tend to deposit fat on the surface of the skin, women (particularly in their 20s and 30s) fill up internal storage areas first. Young women use the “pinch test” to check fat levels and aren’t concerned until the hidden fat areas are somewhat full and the fat spills on to the surface of the body. (Excerpted from pages 108 & 109, Nutrition for Runners by Jeff Galloway)

Q: How can we stay injury free?

A: Because running and walking are activities that enabled our ancient ancestors to survive, we have the ability to adapt to these two patterns of motion if we use these principles:

  • Walk or run at a gentle pace – and insert walk breaks from the beginning.
  • Schedule sufficient rest between each workout.
  • Exercise regularly – about every other day.
  • When increasing exercise, do so very gradually, and reduce the intensity of the longer workout.

The single greatest reason for improvement in running is not getting injured. (Excerpted from page 217, Nutrition for Runners by Jeff Galloway).

UnknownThis guest post is from Author Jeff Galloway and Author Nancy Clark, MS, RD. Jeff was an average teenage runner who kept learning and working harder until he became an Olympian. He is the author of the best-selling running book in North America (Galloway’s Book on Running) and is a Runner’s World columnist, as well as an inspirational speaker for more than 200 running and fitness sessions each year.

Nancy Clark is a registered dietitian (RD) who specializes in nutrition for sports performance. Her private practice is in the Boston area, where she helps runners and other athletes of all ages and abilities to win with good nutrition. Her best-selling Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook has sold over 500,000 copies.

Book Review: Your Nutrition Solution to Acid Reflux

More than 60 million Americans experience symptoms of acid reflux at least once per month and at least 25 million Americans suffer on a daily basis.


Most of us have experienced that uncomfortable, fiery sensation in our chest after we eat a big meal or foods that don’t quite agree with us – the dreaded heatburn! The good news is that despite its name it has nothing to do with the heart. The heartburn sensation you feel is, in medical terms, acid reflux.

A long term study found that the number of people who experience acid reflux at least once a week has gone up almost 50 percent in the last 10 years, with women appearing to be a bit more susceptible than men. This may say something about our current American diet!

Your Nutrition Solution to Acid Reflux contains:

*Tips not only on nutritional intake but the lifestyle changes needed to find relief.
*Interactive tools that allow you to become a food detective and make the changes necessary to feeling better.
*Alternative and/or natural treatments and the role of Probiotics and Prebiotics, Calcium and herbal supplements.                                                                                                                                                        *Easy-to-follow meal plans to help get you started on a life without the symptoms of acid reflux.

Guest post by, Kimberly Tessmer, RDN, LD a consulting dietitian and author, her new book, Your Nutrition Solution to Acid Reflux (New Page Books, May 2014) will give you the latest medical information on acid reflux and GERD as well as a complete yet simplified overview of the disease to enhance your understanding.

Reprinted, with permission of the publisher, from YOUR NUTRITION SOLUTION TO ACID REFLUX © 2014 Kimberly A. Tessmer, RDN, LD. Published by New Page Books a division of Career Press, Pompton Plains, NJ. 800-227-3371. All rights reserved.

Book Review: How Fat Works


“I’m interested in how the body reacts to excess fat and how fat metabolism and the genetics of fat metabolism play a role in insulin resistance and fatty liver disease.”

Author Philip A. Wood, Ph.D (not related) has written a great book, How Fat Works (Harvard University Press, 2006). This is a well written book by a Professor at the Burnham Medical Research Institute on the inner workings of fat. One of the most interesting chapters in the book, in my opinion, was chapter 14, Exercise to Burn Fat. Dr. Wood explains process of both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism with great clarification as well as other aspects of basic metabolism in general. A section, in chapter 16, titled Increase Insulin Sensitivity was also very interesting. He talks about how some of us may have food sensitivities towards macronutrients like fat and carbohydrates. This book is well worth the read, no matter if you’re just a fitness enthusiast or a professional in the industry. For a deeper dive into the book check out this article published by Susan Fried in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.