- 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: 862 g
- Average Customer Review: 44 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health Paperback – Sep 23 2008
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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 the Audio CD edition.
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 the Audio CD edition.See all Product description
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(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. Being far more active just makes you far more hungry.
8. It is a myth that reducing calories slightly or increasing activity slightly will lead to weight loss.
9. It is a myth that we evolved through periods of feast and famine to be very good at holding onto fat. Fat gain is due to excessive insulin levels caused by high dietary refined carbohydrate intake. It is a sign of something in the body going wrong, not a healthy adaptation.
10. Fructose is not much better than glucose and the two together may cause more harm than either individually.
11. The idea of a weight 'set point' is a myth
12. Insulin is the overall fuel control for mammals. High insulin levels cause the body to store fat and stop the body from using fat as fuel. This means that high carbohydrate foods make you put on more fat, and also leave you still feeling very hungry and unsatisfied.
13. Our bodies have evolved to do best on a diet of plentiful fat and protein (including saturated fat), lots of greens and minimal fruits and starchy vegetables. This diet is the best for health and also for losing weight and stopping weight gain.
14. Dietary fat, including saturated fat, is not a cause of obesity. Refined and easily digestible carbs causing high insulin levels cause obesity.
15. To say that people are overweight due to gluttony and slothfulness is just not correct and it is very unfair. Overeating and a sedentary lifestyle are often CAUSED by eating a high carbohydrate diet! This association has wrongly been interpreted as a cause of weight gain, rather than an effect.
16. Hunger caused by eating a high carbohydrate diet (or excessive exercising while on a low calorie diet) is a very strong physiological drive and should not be thought of something mild and psychological that can be overcome with willpower. This is something serious occurring in the body, not the brain!
Thus psychological 'treatments' for obesity are inappropriate and cruel. Most people are overweight due to bad medical advice, NOT a lack of willpower, greed, laziness or because they lack 'moral fibre'
17. People have different insulin secretory responses. Even if insulin secretion is slightly off, weight gain can occur.
18. Eating large amounts of a high sugar and high fat food like popcorn is easy because the body will not use most of the carbohydrate and fat for immediate fuel but will store much of it as fat - leaving you able to eat a lot of it and still be hungry a short time later as well.
19. Eating foods with a large bulk or high in fibre wont fill you up, you need the correct proportion of macronutrients and will stay hungry until you get them.
20. Those advocating the low calorie and high carb diets for health and weight loss are not involved in legitimate science. These approaches are not supported by the evidence.
I have still not covered so many other great points!
The bottom line is that we have evolved to eat a diet that contains enough fat and protein to cause satiety, lots of green vegetables and minimal amounts of fruits and starchy vegetables. Our bodies really can't cope with huge levels of refined carbohydrate as have recently been added to the modern diet.
More detailed information about this type of diet (and the benefits of traditional foods as well such as raw milk, organ meats, bone broths and fermented foods) can be found in books such as 'Nourishing Traditions' and 'Eat Fat, Lose Fat' by Sally Fallon (of the Weston A. Price Foundation) and Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan and Luke Shanahan, among others.
This book is a *very* dense read. (Those that are very ill and can't read such a long and complex book may do best to read just the first chapter and the last 2 chapters as these provide a summary to some extent.)
My only criticisms of the book are that a brief, maybe half page summary, of each chapter at the end of each chapter may have been very helpful for those of us that struggled taking in so many new facts at once due to illness or any other reason. I'd also have liked the ideas of Weston A. Price to be featured a bit more prominently than just on the acknowledgments page! But I accept that space was a concern for the author, as he states.
To the author, thank you so much for all your hard work. This is such an impressive body of work. I wish we had more investigative jounalists writing about 'controversial' topics to such a high standard.
I highly recommend this book. Check your library for a copy, at least!
Jodi Bassett, The Hummingbirds' Foundation for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
1) Keep internet access handy when you're reading. It helps to provide greater detail and depth if you look up some of the subjects, concepts and people as they're introduced in the book. The history of nutrition in North America is fascinating because it affects each and every one of us, no matter where in the world you are.
2) The book should have been called something else. I don't know what, but I personally found the title underwhelming. To me, it did not properly convey the incredible information and detailed research that went into it. I was left in awe and shock many times throughout the book, even though I was already familiar with the carbohydrate hypothesis.
3) This is not necessarily a diet or nutrition book. It is a detailed historical report on the poor decisions and errors made by stubborn people. This amounts to a giant, world wide experiment that has resulted in millions of lives lost, including members of my own family who believed, right to their graves that fat was bad and that cholesterol should be lowered. No more! I'm angry and frustrated that nutritionists and doctors continue to extol the virtues of a low fat, high carb diet, without research and without scientific justification, simply because that's what they were "taught in school."
4) The battle with governments and health officials (and even fellow colleagues) has just begun. It's up to us (those who have tested this hypothesis and found that it does in fact work for weight loss, athletic performance and health) to spread the word.
5) The book is a bit daunting. I'm a fast reader with a technical background, but I found that it took quite a while to get through this one. If you're looking for a lighter read, try Taubes more simplified book: Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It
Also suggest reading:
Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution: Completely Updated!
The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman and
The Ketogenic Diet: A Complete Guide for the Dieter & the Practitioner
That said, is a diet high in refined carbohydrates and added sugars unhealthy? Of course it is. But, one could also argue so is telling people that calories don’t matter as long as carbohydrates aren’t being eaten. Perhaps moderation is the answer? Eat your fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and unsaturated fats. If you want to, consume red meat, alcohol and refined sugar in moderation. Enjoy your food, and enjoy being active!
The book is an interesting read but if you grasp the concept then I suggest saving yourself the trouble of reading 400 + pages and have a cookie! Joking!
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