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Summary

When Chris McDougall stumbled across the story of Churchill's 'dirty tricksters', a motley crew of English poets and academics who helped resist the Nazi invasion of Crete, he knew he was on the track of something special.

To beat the odds, the tricksters - starving, aging, outnumbered - tapped in to an ancient style of fitness: the lost art of heroism. They listened to their instincts, replaced calories with stored bodily fat, and used their fascia, the network of tissue which criss-crosses the body, to catapult themselves to superhuman strength and endurance.

Soon McDougall was in the middle of a modern fitness revolution taking place everywhere from Parisian parkour routes to state-of-the-art laboratories and based on the know-how of Shanghai street fighters and Wild West gunslingers.

Just as Born to Run got runners off the treadmill and into nature, Natural Born Heroes will inspire casual athletes to dump the gym memberships for cross-training, mud runs, and free running.

©2015 Christopher McDougall (P)2015 Audible, Ltd

What members say

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  • Mark
  • Banchory, United Kingdom
  • 30-04-16

Natural reading for all survivors

I have just finished reading ‘Natural Born Heroes’ by Christopher McDougall and it truly put in focus my transition over the last couple of years from obese to normal and how it was achieved so very easily by breaking myself from refined carbohydrate addiction.
Compared to some I was not even that addicted, I hardly ate chocolate and candy, I did not eat sugar in my beverages, but I did like really good bread, along with pasta and potatoes. But I was still a steady 30-40 lbs overweight, even when I tried to reduce calorie intake and take more exercise. All that changed in July 2014, when someone suggested I consider doing Paleo - I say doing, as it is more a way of life than a diet. I did not cut out calories, I ate what I wanted, just no refined carbs and very little unrefined carbs. I was not hungry and did not crave bread and cookies, as long as I did not eat them. The core fat melted away over a period of 3 months and by 6 months I had quite naturally lost 35 lbs. while just taking reasonable exercise. I found I had more energy when I was not taking on carbs and I seemed to just feel great. Over the last year, I more or less maintained my weight, easing in to some calories from Carbs, but I found very quickly that little indulgences like the occasional Pizza had a very negative impact on my body fat, carbs just went straight to waist fat and made me hungry again for more carbs. I realised that the completely unnatural cereal and sugar based ‘nutrition’ we have been fed over the last 30 years was indeed completely false. Eating good quality meat, butter, eggs, milk, fish was actually very healthy and we had been fed lies about good food. Certainly I do not advocate eating factory grown meat fed on corn and concentrates, but real grass fed meat and dairy is exactly what our bodies require, along with plenty of fresh green vegetables, fish and a few seeds and nuts.
When that kind of diet is combined with a normal level of activity, which for me is mostly quick ChiKung exercises in the morning and as much walking I can do, with some running, I feel great. When I lapse to eating carbs for even a couple of days, I feel the way I used to, losing energy and vitality.
I liked ‘Natural Born Heroes’ as it combined ancient and modern Cretan history, Minos to the German occupation, with personal journeys in fitness.
I think the example of Timothy Noakes, the ‘guru’ of carbs for athletes and his regret and transformation away from being a carb guru to being an overweight type 2 Diabetes sufferer, was quite an insight. Noakes now healthy, has now thrown out carbs as being a killer and is now a believer in a healthy low carb lifestyle.
Another really interesting point in the book was made about energy drinks and the scandal surrounding the drink more fluids campaign. You don’t need energy drinks as an athlete, you need a healthy diet and a few sips of water.
We have slain the dragon of cigarette addiction, but have we slain the dragon of the processed carbs addiction?
There is a lot in the book about how the human body is capable of amazing feats of endurance, especially when in a natural low carb condition. It is certainly well worth reading if you want to become an amazing athlete, however, for the average person, who just wants to be healthy and fit and does not want to go to an early, painful and obese grave, it is also recommended reading!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Fabulous book

A truly magnificent story. Learned a lot, cried a bit and laughed out loud at the amazing relationships and adventures. Thank you for writing this.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Good as a story for inspiration but not for learning

Overall an enjoyable story with many interesting characters who could be inspiring. However, those looking to glean some more instructional information may be disappointed

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • MFW
  • Aylesbury, UK
  • 20-08-15

A good book, but some weird assumptions

I really do enjoy these books, there is a lot to be taken from the dietary information, but some of the assumptions made are clearly bull and can't be substantiated.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Neil
  • LEEDS, United Kingdom
  • 13-08-15

Loved Born to Run, didn't love this.

I don't think McDougall is clear on what this story is about.

He has a narrative about resistance fighting during WW2 on Crete which is okay but I only found it compelling in certain phases. Into this narrative he tries to weave (unsuccessfully in my view) themes about the natural capabilities of the human body which have been forgotten in the modern age.

There are some enjoyable sections, I liked the stuff about Parcour, but overall I found it very boring.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Loved it, so inspirational.

Such a brilliant listen. Bit hard to keep track of the change in time periods but such an inspirational listen. I listened to most of it whilst cycling. Thoroughly enjoyable experience :)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Awesome!

Awesome book! I want to go to Crete! great lifestyle tips too. next book Chris. .....

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great follow on to born to run.

As with any of Mcdougals books a ripping yarn. Not as gripping as born to run but still insightful and drawing on loads of sources. If you like born to run then you'll like this.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Good listening mash up of war novel and fitness.

Good read, though a bit confused at times... sometimes you'd prefer a war novel and others just a fitness book. Overall pretty good, but does feel like a square peg in a round hole at times.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Good book, appalling narration

It's really a shame the narrator thought he could add some flavour by adopting the worse English accent since Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins for the few English characters. I'd like to give this zero stars as it doesn't deserve even the minimum of 1 star.

Would have been nice to have chapter titles - that way it would be possible to isolate the few fitness chapters from the wartime story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 24-08-17

outstanding

More than a war story of epic proportions, it is a blueprint for a healthy, vibrant and exciting life. were I able to ensure that the very best among my friends and military comrades read just one book - this would be it.

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  • Chandan Chawla
  • 19-07-16

Confused !

What would have made Natural Born Heroes better?

I came from Born to Run to this and was as if in a maze . The author didnt know as if what he was writing about .

What was most disappointing about Christopher McDougall’s story?

it had no momentum