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Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs,…
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Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of… (original 1997; edition 2008)

by Gary Taubes

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Member:fiverivers
Title:Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health
Authors:Gary Taubes
Info:Anchor (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 640 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease by Gary Taubes (1997)

Recently added byUrbanRam, private library, Mike_Farnan, John.Archibald, elledeetwelve, mathgeek, duende
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  1. 00
    Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink (infiniteletters)
  2. 01
    Dynamics in Action: Intentional Behavior as a Complex System by Alicia Juarrero (kukulaj)
    kukulaj: Juarrero's book studies the difference between a wink and a blink, developing a theoretical framework to help us understand that difference. Taubes's book is about whether fat accumulation is more like a wink or more like a blink. Obesity is a huge public health problem, so Taubes is doing a great service - but the book is missing a good theoretical framework, which makes its conclusions shaky. Juarrero could provide just the foundation that Taubes lacks.… (more)
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» See also 23 mentions

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One of the more important nutrition science books written in the past 50 years. Taubes contrasts the "Lipid Hypothesis" with the "Carbohydrate Hypothesis" as the main factor in promoting obesity, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease, and finds that we have been focusing on "fats" in our diet, while the main culprit really does seem to be carbohydrates and sugars. It does indeed look like the chief mediator in heart disease, obesity, and Type II diabetes in insulin, and a low-carbohydrate diet is the key to weight loss and prevention of coronary heart disease. Atkins was right! A very important book. ( )
  bodhisattva | Feb 5, 2014 |
Loving it! Very dense and quite a tome, but an engaging read nonetheless for anyone interested in nutrition, low-fat diet debates, primal/paleo, cholesterol, and Western diseases.

Finished it and LOVED it. Went out and bought his next book, Why We Get Fat. I like GCBC better. It's truly a life-changing book. But if you don't like dense books, I'd stick with Why We Get Fat. ( )
  mjennings26 | Apr 3, 2013 |
I had avoided this for years because I have a very limited capacity for cheesy diet books. But I finally caught it at the library, and surprise! It's not a diet book at all. It's a medical journalism-style piece following the history and politics of obesity and nutrition research for the past hundred years or so. It's fascinating, somewhat dry, and really fairly eye-opening. Highly recommended if you dig the sciencey side of nutrition. ( )
  JeremyPreacher | Mar 30, 2013 |
This book's title and back cover suggest that it is a diet book. It isn't -- it's journalistic approach to nutrition. And it is, exactly as my SantaThing page suggested, "nonfiction that fundamentally shifts the way you view the world, or that you're on a mission to ensure everyone knows."

Painstakingly laying the groundwork, Taubes pokes holes in everything we know about cholesterol, fats, carbohydrates, obesity, and balanced diets, and builds up the scientific framework -- never tested due to the assumed natural truth of what we all already know -- to argue that fats and proteins should be the fundamental building block of a healthy diet. Carbohydrates, and refined carbohydrates in particular, raise blood sugar and insulin levels, which fixes fats into adipose tissue and causes insulin resistance and diabetes.

Yes, this book's argument converges on urging the Atkin's diet. It's for that reason, I suspect, that the blurbs are so high level. Certainly if I had known what I was getting into, I would have dropped the book pretty early on due to skepticism -- but I'm glad I kept with it.

Taubes argues his case for reducing carbohydrate intake so forcefully that I strongly suspect there is some elided grey area, but the premise is a believable one. Recommended to people interested in diet, health, or books that shake up all your assumptions, who aren't afraid of lay-person-level scientific explanations. ( )
  pammab | Dec 27, 2012 |
An interesting read that asks interesting questions about nutrition and diet and how come people who follow many of these diets don't seem to lose weight. This book points the finger at refined carbohydrates.

Now I have issues with a one size fits all model of diet. I don't think that's how it works, but that's me. I think that different people react differently to different foods and that some of the diet models we're working with in our society are too generic, not based on people but on statistics and this book points out that those statistics are based on a bad model, on groups of patients who are of a type, and maybe a particular diet works for them but these things don't work for everyone. He points at people who eat more and are thin and then people who eat less than them and are larger.

Due to my gluten intolerance (I get terrible gastric issues if I eat any form of gluten and this was tested accidentally by my husband) I have reduced a lot of my carbohydrates in my diet. This has creeped up over the last year or so, as has my weight, this book makes me think that maybe I should start taking more of my refined carbohydrates out and trying to also reduce my blood pressure.

Now why do I have reservations about this diet? Because I don't think it's that simple. Because when I eat too much fat in my diet it doesn't agree with me, I know people who are very healthy on diets that are high in carbohydrates. I don't believe one size fits all but I do believe that there is something terribly wrong about the diet industry and what is presented as good to eat.

It's worth wading through the pages if only to make you think about what we're told about foods and how science isn't always accurate when it does research because of researcher bias and the fact that sometimes the models are flawed.

Honestly after reading this I believe that we're living through a huge research project that would be rejected on ethical grounds if it were actually formally acknowledged. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Dec 11, 2012 |
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For Sloane and Harry, my family
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William Banting was a fat man.
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In the prevailing wisdom, a simple caloric imbalance is the culprit: we get fat because we consume more calories than we expend. The alternative is that excess weight and obesity, like all diseases of civilization, are caused by the singular hormonal effects of a diet rich in refined and easily digestible carbohydrates.
Certain conclusions seem inescapable to me, based on the existing knowledge:

1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization.
2. The problem is the carbohydrates in the diet, their effect on insulin secretion, and thus the hormonal regulation of homeostasis -- the entire harmonic ensemble of the human body. The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.
3. Sugars -- sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup specifically -- are particularly harmful, probably because the combination of fructose and glucose simultaneously elevates insulin levels while overloading the liver with carbohydrates.
4. Through their direct effect on insulin and blood sugar, refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary heart disease and diabetes. They are the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and the other chronic diseases of civilization.
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. Expending more energy than we consume does not lead to long-term weight loss; it leads to hunger.
7. Fattening and obseity are caused by an imbalance -- a disequilibrium -- in the hormonal regulation of adipose tissue and fat metabolism. Fat synthesis and storage exceed the mobilization of fat from the adipose tissue and its subsequent oxidation. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses its balance.

8. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated -- either chronically or after a meal -- we accumulate fat in our fat tissue. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and use it for fuel.
9. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. The fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.
10. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.
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"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."--Back cover.… (more)

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