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The Diet Delusion: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Loss and Disease Hardcover – 5 Aug 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Vermilion; New edition edition (5 Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091891418
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16 x 5.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 528,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 16 Jun 2010
Format: Paperback
Okay, I should maybe have taken one star away because he could have used a good editor. He often repeats himself and goes around in circles and the book could have been shorter. For this reason it may be a hard slog for some.

But this could be one of the most important books you will ever read if you care about your health and longevity. Forget the low-fat nonsense. It seemed to make sense for a while, but it doesn't work. When I was a child nutritionists advised two ways of losing weight. Cutting carbs or cutting fat/calories. From the early seventies the latter one has become gospel. We have eaten less and less fat and - whether in the US or the UK - got fatter and fatter as a nation. The reason? We've been eating more starches, refined carbohydrates and sugars. Before 1900 we ate 5 lbs of sugar a year. Now we eat 135 lbs. A group of very biased researchers, pushing their own agenda, ignored evidence that conflicted with their low fat theories, and used political clout to make them the mainstream.

Some of this will be familiar to followers of Atkins and other low carb diets, but Taubes exhaustively covers the science and the politics. I am 100% convinced about everything he says, except his apparent distrust of exercise, which I believe can have a function of reducing blood glucose rather than reducing calories.

After five years overweight, in five months I lost 25 - 30 lbs by ignoring what my doctor told me about dieting and restricting refined carbohydrates. Now she tells me I'm so good at weight control I should write a book. I still don't give her the details. More and more people are learning this for themselves. The "authorities" will probably be the last to admit it.

Oh, and the government food pyramid is garbage. The Harvard food pyramid is much more sensible if you must trust any of them.
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77 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Jacqueline F on 31 Jan 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a BIG, highly readable and hugely informative book, written by American science journalist Gary Taubes. I read the US edition, which was published there as "Good Calories, Bad Calories". I assumed that when it appeared in the UK, it would arrive in a blaze of publicity. So far, it seems I was wrong.

Taubes' interest is in the scientific basis for the received wisdom about what makes up a healthy diet and what makes people fat. We all know (because we're told ad nauseam) that the current obesity epidemic is the result of people overeating and having sedentary lifestyles. And overeating is generally interpreted as eating too much fat and too few fruits and vegetables.

Taubes has spent years going back to the original research and interviewing scientists. And he's found that in fact, there is very little real science behind what we are routinely told about dietary fat. Instead, assumptions linking dietary fat to heart disease were made in 1960s America and the "fat is bad for you" bandwagon rolled on from there.

The book also challenges the view that obesity is "caused" by overeating and taking too little exercise. It's like saying that alcoholism is "caused" by drinking too much alcohol - as an explanation, it doesn't get you very far. Taubes argues that obesity is actually a problem of fat accumulation. If an animal's body is working properly, increased energy intake (extra food) will be matched by increased energy expenditure. Conversely, if you restrict food, the animal will be less active. In both cases, fat stores will remain the same.
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171 of 174 people found the following review helpful By T. D. Welsh TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Mar 2009
Format: Paperback
After several decades of complete confusion - thanks to the bumbling incompetence of the scientific community and our government masters - I am now beginning to understand the relevant aspects of human metabolism, through reading Gary Taubes' groundbreaking book "The Diet Delusion". Not only do I now know that your body weight does not depend purely on how many calories you eat and how many you use - I also know exactly why.

Believe it or not, our mothers were right: starchy foods do make you fat! It turns out that eating fewer than 2000 calories a day of carbohydrates can make you very fat regardless of how much exercise you do, while cutting right back on carbohydrates and eating more fat - even if you exceed 3000 calories - can make you slimmer (and quickly too) without getting hungry. If you would like to understand how these things can be true, in spite of all we have been told, then read this book. I promise, you will understand.

There are no "new miracle diets" in here - just conscientious, accurate, painstaking explanation of the facts. Taubes himself is a journalist, not a scientist or doctor, so he has no axe to grind and no tenure to chase. He contents himself with reporting what has happened in nutrition research, ever since Mr Banting found he was unaccountably obese in the 1860s and was eventually restored to slimness and health through a diet that eliminated starchy foods. Then we had Ancel Keys and his cholesterol theory, and a gentleman named Newburgh who insisted that fatties simply have no will power. (Neither of those theories has ever stood up in experimental tests, which usually prove exactly the opposite).

A word of warning - "The Diet Delusion" is a fairly massive book, both in length and content, and will take several days to read.
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