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Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on DI [Hardcover]

Gary Taubes
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

18 Sep 2007
In this groundbreaking book, the result of seven years of research in every science connected with the impact of nutrition on health, award-winning science writer Gary Taubes shows us that almost everything we believe about the nature of a healthy diet is wrong.

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 with more and more people acting on this advice, we have seen unprecedented epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Taubes argues persuasively that the problem lies in refined carbohydrates (white flour, sugar, easily digested starches) and sugars–via their dramatic and longterm effects on insulin, the hormone that regulates fat accumulation–and that the key to good health is the kind of calories we take in, not the number. There are good calories, and bad ones.

Good Calories
These are from foods without easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. These foods can be eaten without restraint.
Meat, fish, fowl, cheese, eggs, butter, and non-starchy vegetables.

Bad Calories
These are from foods that stimulate excessive insulin secretion and so make us fat and increase our risk of chronic disease—all refined and easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. The key is not how much vitamins and minerals they contain, but how quickly they are digested. (So apple juice or even green vegetable juices are not necessarily any healthier than soda.)
Bread and other baked goods, potatoes, yams, rice, pasta, cereal grains, corn, sugar (sucrose and high fructose corn syrup), ice cream, candy, soft drinks, fruit juices, bananas and other tropical fruits, and beer.

Taubes traces how the common assumption that carbohydrates are fattening was abandoned in the 1960s when fat and cholesterol were blamed for heart disease and then –wrongly–were seen as the causes of a host of other maladies, including cancer. He shows us how these unproven hypotheses were emphatically embraced by authorities in nutrition, public health, and clinical medicine, in spite of how well-conceived clinical trials have consistently refuted them. He also documents the dietary trials of carbohydrate-restriction, which consistently show that the fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.

With precise references to the most significant existing clinical studies, he convinces us that there is no compelling scientific evidence demonstrating that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease, that salt causes high blood pressure, and that fiber is a necessary part of a healthy diet. Based on the evidence that does exist, he leads us to conclude that the only healthy way to lose weight and remain lean is to eat fewer carbohydrates or to change the type of the carbohydrates we do eat, and, for some of us, perhaps to eat virtually none at all.

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. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.
11. The fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be.

Good Calories, Bad Calories is a tour de force of scientific investigation–certain to redefine the ongoing debate about the foods we eat and their effects on our health.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 601 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group; 1 edition (18 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400040787
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400040780
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 16.5 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Gary Taubes, author of Bad Science and Nobel Dreams, is a correspondent for Science magazine. The only print journalist to have won three Science in Society Journalism awards, given by the National Association of Science Writers, he has contributed articles to The Best American Science Writing 2002 and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2000 and 2003. He lives with his wife and son in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Systematic, comprehensive, insightful 1 Mar 2010
Taubes is considered as THE low carb hero, paving the way for good nutrition, and giving relief to diets such as primal, paleo, atkins and south beach. But not based on his opinion or his own research...based on a thorough, detail, systematic and objective review of literature from the 19th century to today.

I bought this book to learn more about how the low carb diet i have chosen affects my body, and as a teaching/introduction aid to my friends and family to explain why I eat the way I do. i got more than I bargained for, as the message of the book is not 'low carb is great', it is 'why have we been eating the way we have'.

The studies cited in the book examine the causes of obesity, the shift in cultures to the westernised diet, the details of biology such as HDL/LDL cholesterol, and the notions of calories in equals calories out. The book seems as unbiased as a book can be and really presents ideas in a way that let the reader make up their mind.

Its quite a tome to get through because of the number of new ideas in introduces, but I would consider it to be one of the most important books I have ever read, because for me, it confirms that the 'low fat high carb' diet that our government recommends is literally killing some people, and by choosing to eat less refined foods and more good fats I can positively impact my health.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The diet delusion 4 May 2010
By Kindle Customer VINE VOICE
This is the US version of a book published here in the UK as the diet delusion. Although his book did massively well in the US under its original title,for some perverse reason the publishers decided to rename it when it was launched here in the UK. Because of this all the word of mouth and momentum the book had built up in America was lost, and the book is fairly unknown in this country. This is not a 10 easy steps to losing weight book, although you will find Gary Taubes 10 easy steps amongst the 640 pages. This is a science book, detailing in a scientific way why we put on weight and why we fail to lose it. It's written by an excellent science journalist and so is easily accessible to all general readers. The only problem I have with this book is that it's really 2 books. If you have problems with cholesterol read the first half. If you want to lose weight, skip the first half and start the book half way through. This book is for everyone who has tried to lose weight and has failed.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 22 Nov 2008
By Jim W
My aunt bought this book but I decided to give it a read. It has taken immediate effect on my life, thus compelling me to right this review (which is completely out of character). Everything I thought I knew about diet, even from being taught in school, appears to lie on no other foundations than the whims of dogmatic scientists obsessed with being right. It is incredibly well written and often amusing. At points I have found myself in fits at some of the stupid and clever things that scientists have said. If I had one minor complaint it would be that in some cases Taubes will describe in detail the experiments that provided evidence for the carbohydrate hypothesis and merely say that another study did not agree, rather than say what, and how significantly the other study showed. Not to end on a negative note (which would be highly unjust) this is a must read, it could well extend your life as well as being an efficient use of your time. A quick comparison with other diet books I found around the house reveals that this one is far superior, both in the evidence for the conclusions it reaches and the readability of the text.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good calories bad calories review 8 Aug 2010
By rhys
Great book! Quite chunky but a good read.its good to see the food industry from a different perspective too. I highly recommend this book to anyone who's serious about nutrition.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rethink the hype about low fat diets 5 April 2009
OMG!! As a mother of a child with type 1 diabetes, this book was on the must read list!! It has made me realise the 'science' behind low fat diets is questionable, to say the least, and that the fad around low carb diets is political. Eat healthily, eat fewer refined carbs and as much natural fat as you like. Her diabetic control has never been better. GET THIS BOOK!
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Building on the successes of Dr Atkins. 23 Oct 2008
Garry Taubes' Good Calories Bad Calories (GCBC), also know as the Diet Delusion in the UK, is a brilliant book that promotes what Dr Atkins and others have been saying for decades. Taubes does not deserve a Nobel Prize for this work, however, as one ignoramus suggests, because Garry has simply picked up the baton from Dr Atkins. For proof of this, and for a flavour of Garry's brilliant writing style, you can Google for Garry's infamous article, titled 'What if it's all been a big fat lie?', published in the New York Times, in 2002. You will see that Garry is strong defender of the brilliant Dr Atkins (rip.)

GCBC is filled with masses of scientific evidence that will shock you into giving up breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit-juice and sugar-laden junk etc. It is a fascinating read that will change you forever -- and it will most likely add years to your life expectancy too! Do yourself and your family a big favour.


PS: I have been following a low-carb diet for more than 10 years now. In January 2008, aged 41, I had a full medical and full-body-scan (CT) -- my mid-life MOT I guess. And the result? I have an exceptional health profile for my age and the CT scan revealed no arterial plaque at all! Saturated Fat is bad for you? Bla! I am one of the healthiest specimens they've tested!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I just wanted to let people know that this is one of the best books...
I am not going to write a long review. I leave the words to the writers I am but a humble reader. I just wanted to let people know that this is one of the best books ever written... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Floyd Woolley
4.0 out of 5 stars Heavy but extremely interesting
An extremely in-depth resource for the history of nutrition in the western world, as well as the science behind it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Danielle Sasaki
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely interested
I would recommend this book without hesitation for all those with an interest in diet and food related issues. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Seven of nine
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably one of the best health books in the world.
If you read "The Paleo Solution" then you know how we should live.
If you read this, then you will know more about health than 99% of so called doctors.
Published 7 months ago by Carl Keeling
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have if you really want to understand why and how we get fat...
This is not an easy read for the layman and there is a lot of science to wade through and understand. Read more
Published 8 months ago by A. THORN
5.0 out of 5 stars Good calories and bad calories!
This book is amazing. Never thought how bad it really is with the truth with carbs.
Recommend other people to read it.
Published 10 months ago by MH
5.0 out of 5 stars Good service
Still have not read this book yet as time is always against me.Have flicked through and looks quite heavy, not like his later couple of books which I personally think are excellent
Published 15 months ago by andy
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding
I didn't think it was possible for anyone to do so much research into a topic. Gary Taubes must have read (and analysed) every article written about diet published in the last 500... Read more
Published 15 months ago by katie
3.0 out of 5 stars wasnt in the format i requested
I ordered this book with great anticipation of receiving it. when it came i was disappointed to see that it was in cd format and not a book. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Wunder Angermeier
5.0 out of 5 stars its great
its always nice to read a book confirming what you already think!!!
A bit of a heavy read but every page contains such informative stuff.
Published 15 months ago by Ms. Z. Ford
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