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Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health [Paperback]

Gary Taubes
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 23 2008 Vintage
For decades we have been taught that fat is bad for us, carbohydrates better, and that the key to a healthy weight is eating less and exercising more. Yet despite this advice, we have seen unprecedented epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Taubes argues that the problem lies in refined carbohydrates, like white flour, easily digested starches, and sugars, and that the key to good health is the kind of calories we take in, not the number. In this groundbreaking book, award-winning science writer Gary Taubes shows us that almost everything we believe about the nature of a healthy diet is wrong.

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Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health + Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It + Wheat Belly
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Taubes's eye-opening challenge to widely accepted ideas on nutrition and weight loss is as provocative as was his 2001 NewYork Times Magazine article, What if It's All a Big Fat Lie? Taubes (Bad Science), a writer for Science magazine, begins by showing how public health data has been misinterpreted to mark dietary fat and cholesterol as the primary causes of coronary heart disease. Deeper examination, he says, shows that heart disease and other diseases of civilization appear to result from increased consumption of refined carbohydrates: sugar, white flour and white rice. When researcher John Yudkin announced these results in the 1950s, however, he was drowned out by the conventional wisdom. Taubes cites clinical evidence showing that elevated triglyceride levels, rather than high total cholesterol, are associated with increased risk of heart disease-but measuring triglycerides is more difficult than measuring cholesterol. Taubes says that the current U.S. obesity epidemic actually consists of a very small increase in the average body mass index. Taube's arguments are lucid and well supported by lengthy notes and bibliography. His call for dietary advice that is based on rigorous science, not century-old preconceptions about the penalties of gluttony and sloth is bound to be echoed loudly by many readers. Illus. (Oct. 2)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Noted science journalist Taubes probes the state of what is currently known and what is simply conjectured about the relationship among nutrition, weight loss, health, and disease. What Taubes discovers is that much of what passes for irrefutable scientific knowledge is in fact supposition and that many reputable scientists doubt the validity of nutritional advice currently promoted by the government and public health industry. Beginning with the history of Ancel Keys' research into the relationship between elevated blood-cholesterol levels and coronary heart disease, Taubes demonstrates that a close reading of studies has shown that a low-cholesterol diet scarcely changes blood-cholesterol levels. Low-fat diets, moreover, apparently do little to lengthen life span. He does find encouragement in research tracking the positive effects of eliminating excessive refined carbohydrates and thus addressing pernicious diseases such as diabetes. Taubes' transparent prose brings drama, excitement, and tension to even the most abstruse and clinically reserved accounts of scientific research. He is careful to distinguish the oft-confused goals of weight loss and good health. Given America's current obsession with these issues, Taubes' challenge to current nutritional conventional wisdom will generate heated controversy and create popular demand for this deeply researched and equally deeply engaging treatise. Knoblauch, Mark --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant journalism Jan. 29 2012
By Jodi-Hummingbird TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This book is one of the most important health books I have ever read.

(My copy was called 'The Diet Delusion' which is the UK and Australian etc. title of the book 'Good Calories, Bad Calories'.)

The author is incredibly intelligent and that this book took the author more than five years to write, shows. I've read few health books so intelligently written as this one.

I thought I was quite well educated about diet and the need to restrict refined carbohydrates (for good health and to stop weight gain) but I learned so much from reading this book.

This book is not a simple book offering practical advice and a diet sheet but a detailed analysis of why low calorie diets don't work and why restricted carbohydrate/high fat diets do.

The book explains that:

1. The 'calories in, calories out' mantra is a myth

2. 'A calorie is a calorie is a calorie' is a myth

3. The 'just eat less and do more exercise to lose weight' message seems to be logical but is actually wrong and unhelpful

4. Overweight and obese people often eat no more calories, or even less, than their thinner counterparts

5. Low calorie diets also reduce the amount of nutrients in the diet

6. It is a myth that the brain and CNS needs 120 - 130 grams of carbohydrate as fuel in order to function properly, as the body can use fat and protein equally as well, and these fuels are likely the mixture our brains have evolved to prefer.

7. Restricting calories with a low fat/high carb diet just makes you hungrier and more lethargic and slows your metabolic rate. Weight loss is only maintained if the patients stays on a semi-starvation diet forever, which is impossible for most people and also undesirable.
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68 of 77 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
If what he implies is true, many people will respond with hostility to what he says, however, I would point out that this author really seems to have done his homework. The 11 Critical Conclusions of Good Calories, Bad Calories:

1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, does not cause heart disease.
2. Carbohydrates do, because of their effect on the hormone insulin. The more easily-digestible and refined the carbohydrates and the more fructose they contain, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.
3. Sugars--sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup specifically--are particularly harmful. The glucose in these sugars raises insulin levels; the fructose they contain overloads the liver.
4. Refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are also the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer's Disease, and the other common chronic diseases of modern times.
5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating and not sedentary behavior.
6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter any more than it causes a child to grow taller.
7. Exercise does not make us lose excess fat; it makes us hungry.
8. We get fat because of an imbalance--a disequilibrium--in the hormonal regulation of fat tissue and fat metabolism. More fat is stored in the fat tissue than is mobilized and used for fuel. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this imbalance.
9. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated, we stockpile calories as fat. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and burn it for fuel.
10. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging read, challenging ideas July 15 2010
By jls186
Format:Paperback
This was a challenging read in two ways: the material seems quite radical at first (fat probably isn't going to kill you but starchy carbs and sugar probably will) but at times it can be quite technical and a bit dry - which is why I gave it 4 stars out of 5.

On the other hand, I found the sections on obesity, fat metabolism and the carbohydrate hypothesis absolutely fascinating and I couldn't put the book down. As someone who has only gotten fatter and fatter eating restrictive low fat, low calorie diets, this book helped put the pieces together and has given me the hope that there might actually be diets out there that will help me lose this unwanted weight and feel better about my body and my health. BUT - this is an important distinction to make, apparently - this book isn't a "diet" book, there is no prescribed diet plan.

I would definitely recommend this book - overall it is a great read and will hopefully make people question the deeply ingrained beliefs that low fat, low calorie diets are the solution to obesity and diabetes - despite evidence to the contrary.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want the real truth, here it is April 7 2010
By B. French TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Gary Taubes spent many years researching and writing this book, and it shows. We are the lucky benefactors of all his hard work.

If you really want to know the actual science behind metabolism and what humans were meant to eat, read this book. You won't need to study a dozen texts; it's all here for you. If you want to understand the politics and how the government and national health organizations managed to get things so terribly wrong, Taubes explains how it all happened. You will be properly educated and probably outraged, but you will also be able to make smarter choices for the rest of your (now longer and healthier) life. This book is the new nutritional bible.

Also, check out:

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good information but too clinical making it a really long read.
Published 5 days ago by Tracey Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars great review of what we have been "fed" by government ...
great review of what we have been "fed" by government departments. "Why We Get Fat" is an easier, shorter read, and sufficient for almost everyone.
Published 14 days ago by Gregory Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Should be required reading by all dieticians.
Published 1 month ago by gerald roy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good ideas and questions
Published 1 month ago by Dr. I. F. Jagas
5.0 out of 5 stars Gary Taubes deserves an Award for Public Service
PHENOMENAL Tome!
Crucial reading for those of us who cannot otherwise know of the misguided, often corrupt (* see Note below) and potentially harmful to the public's health &... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Avid Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reporting
Provides a complete history of research on obesity. Tells all the facts that have been covered up or lost for various reasons. A worthwhile read.
Published 2 months ago by Guillian
4.0 out of 5 stars An important read - recommended
I believe Taubes has recently written what amounts to a condensed version of this book called 'Why We Get Fat'. For the casual reader, that book may be better than this one. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Nik
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but Dry Book
This book is well written and the author seems to be very knowledgeable. The book certainly makes a person think. Very dry book though and very scientific. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sheryl
1.0 out of 5 stars Dissappointed
Very heavy reading. Not at all what I expected. Not for the average person to read. Doctor...maybe...would like to return it.
Published 5 months ago by Cathy Campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars It's as good as you've heard
I loved it. Yes, it's very long, but it's worth it. The research is amazing, and the writing top notch. Read more
Published 8 months ago by GoClick
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