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Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health Paperback – Sep 23 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (Sept. 23 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400033462
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400033461
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.2 x 23.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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Most helpful customer reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jodi-Hummingbird TOP 100 REVIEWER on Jan. 29 2012
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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By jls186 on July 15 2010
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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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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. French on April 7 2010
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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