Book Review – “The Renaissance Diet” – by Mike Israetel

The Renaissance Diet

With the plethora of diet books already cramming the cyber shelves of many a fitness enthusiast, one has to ask, what can this offering possibly add to the already burgeoning collective discussion? With a title suggesting revolutionary brilliance, idea revitalisation, (or alternatively the dietary habits of 15th century European artisans), the answer it would seem is, very little.

Renaissance eating

The original Renaissance Diet?


This book is written to cater for anyone with the goals of altering their body composition via scientific based dietary methodologies with the concepts discussed by experts in their field of study and competitors in their respective sports. The explanations can at times ride the line of being overly technical which may overwhelm the novice reader. On the other hand, for the avid lifter, most of the info can definitely be filed under the heading of “heard it all before”.

Dr Mike could have at least used his methods to diet for this year's NPC show...

Dr Mike could have at least used his Renaissance methods to diet for this year’s NPC show…

It seems to be a common marketing trend among fitness gurus at the moment to attack whatever is trending as a way to give a voice (and spotlight) to the lone dissenter. Paleo, Low Carb diets, Intermittent fasting and avoiding processed foods all get their share of slam from the authors despite many people reporting life changing results from adopting these eating methods. Although the authors aren’t “technically wrong” in their claims, their arguments are way too nuanced for the average Joe, and the message serves mostly to obfuscate and create confusion in the minds of the already confused.


He can eat how he wants…..I just don’t want to look like him.


Most surprising was the support of some claims dismissed by many as “bro-science”. Terms such as “peri-workout-nutrition” and “anabolic window” have become a cliched joke among lifters, but are given a rebirth in these pages citing their legitimacy. The authors are also supportive of the spaced feedings theory that drove many bodybuilders of years gone into murderous rages if they missed or were late for a meal.

The treatment of these concepts are given their proper context via a “nutritional priorities” info-graphic which measures their impact and importance in the grand scheme of things. (Nutrient timing for example accounts for approximately 10-15% when viewing Israetel’s graphic)


Another annoying gimmick employed in the book is the use of client before and after pics embedded in the various chapters. There’s no explanation or details surrounding the methods used or how the pics relate to the discussion. A case study of how they used their dieting approaches to specifically achieve Client X’s peak conditioning would have added a unique dimension to the book. Basically, the before and afters boil down to advertising filler that I could really have done without.

before after

In summary, the Renaissance diet is less “renaissance” and more a “re-hash” of information that can be found with a 2 second Google search. Yes, it’s nice to have an orderly compiled book with hyperlinks etc, but there’s many sites giving away similar pamphlets for free as part of their marketing material. The asking price for this book ($27) is fucking obscene when you can buy something like “Bigger, Leaner, Stronger” by Michael Mathews for a fiver. Alternatively, “The Lean Muscle Diet” by Schuler and Aragon provides a much more definitive resource and is a lot cheaper too.

It’s a solid read as far as information goes and a novice/intermediate would be served well with the information contained within, but in this already glutted dietary book market, there’s better reads out their costing much, much less.

3/5 – for novice trainees

2/5 – for intermediates and advanced trainees.


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