159 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need to know about diet, exercise, and losing weight
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...
Published on 19 Mar 2009 by T. D. Welsh
64 of 111 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars deeply flawed
Interesting, but very deeply flawed.
Taubes makes the mistake of 'all-or-none' thinking when he states that overeating must be the result of EITHER a metabolic or hormonal disorder, which he favours, OR a behavioral issue due to lack of willpower. I cannot imagine why it must be entirely one or the other, and not a combination of both. In his Epilogue, on page...
Published on 1 Jun 2010 by Gillian Riley
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159 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need to know about diet, exercise, and losing weight,
This review is from: The Diet Delusion (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. That's purely because Taubes lays the groundwork properly, gradually building up his explanation in simple terms that any lay person can easily follow. There turns out to be a lot of groundwork, but by page 400 you will be reading about the chemistry of insulin, triglycerides and fatty acids - and enjoying the intellectual stimulus.
Bottom line: Taubes has showed me that all my own empirical observations and experiences have a reasonable explanation, and I have not been going mad when the calorie sums didn't even begin to add up. The reason is one I hardly even dared to think of: the scientific establishment has failed utterly in its duty to inform us lay people of what is good and bad for us. Much of what governments tell us to do is not only useless, but positively harmful.
72 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you think you know everything about diet...think again,
This review is from: The Diet Delusion: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Loss and Disease (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. But if the body isn't working properly to maintain this homeostasis, and if instead, it stores calories eaten as fat and is unable to release fat from fat cells to provide energy, the animal is going to be hungry and lethargic, while accumulating even more fat. The typical symptoms of obesity.
And the cause of our obesity problem (and many other chronic diseases of civilisation) Taubes argues, could be a diet very high in carbohydrate (and particularly, refined carbohydrate). That type of diet leads to constantly high blood insulin, which in turn stops fat cells releasing fatty acids for use as fuel. Type I diabetics have difficulty maintaining body fat. People treated with insulin have difficulty not putting on weight. And as a society we are eating far more carbohydrates that ever before, not least because if we try to avoid eating fat, we tend to get our calories from carbohydrate foods.
This book isn't trying to sell us the "Taubes diet" or the "Taubes supplement range" - the author is trying to convince us, our doctors and our scientists that the current received wisdom is not only flawed but may also be causing enormous harm. The book is a fascinating, page- turning read, debunking many of our nutritionists' most cherished platitudes left, right and centre. Well worth reading.
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe THE most important food book,
This review is from: The Diet Delusion (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.
96 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An tremendous work of scholarship,
This review is from: The Diet Delusion (Paperback)I bought this book after reading a review in the British Medical Journal as the influence of diet on health is a subject of great interest to me. This book is not a light-weight journalistic book but a work of scholarship going in great detail into the background history as to how some supposed firm truths about, for example, the deleterious effects of dietary cholesterol have become entrenched despite much evidence to the contrary. The author has done a prodigious amount of work ferreting out research papers, interviewing scientists and presenting some of the complex biochemistry that underlies why some of the entrenched ideas are wrong from first principles. In the latter regard I've known for years that ingested cholesterol, say in eggs of prawns, will not increase circulating cholesterol because, as a biochemist, I know that blood cholesterol levels are controlled by a feed-back system so that synthesis in the liver is reduced if cholesterol is provided in the diet. What I didn't know was that data from the Framingham Heart Study, that didn't fit the received wisdom that cholesterol is bad news, has been buried, for example, that cholesterol levels in women over 50 years has no bearing at all on heart disease. Similarly, propaganda that saturated fat intake is linked to breast cancer is the reverse of the truth, and the repeatedly found inverse correlation between blood cholesterol level and risk of various cancers (in other words the lower cholesterol level the higher the risk of cancer) has been constructively ignored because the scientists doing the research were so convinced that saturated fat and cholesterol were the culprits in the search for a causative factor in heart disease. Yet time and time again when research has been done where similar populations are studied (i.e. not comparing different countries) the results find little or no association. As a medical research scientist myself I know that one has to avoid becoming so attached to beliefs that research is done to prove that one is right rather than what should be the case to test to the limit that the belief is wrong.
I suppose it's because dietary fat has the same name as the thing that pads out our adipose tissue that it's popularly assumed that it's the fat in the diet that makes us fat, whereas all food is potentially laid down as fat in the tissues. Similarly because metabolic energy is generated from glucose it's assumed that carbs are what are needed for energy, but again that's not the case, protein, carbohydrates and fat are all energy sources. Athletes don't need to stock up on carbs for energy, their fat stores are there for that purpose.
The wealth of research linking insulin (and the triggering of insulin secretion by carbohydrates in the diet) to fat deposition is comprehensively and convincingly presented by the author is both unsurprising from first principles but it is shocking that it has been side-lined by the "fat is bad " brigade in the field of obesity and heart disease. Lay persons may wonder how false hypotheses can prevail but may not realize that important international conferences are overwhelmingly funded by pharmaceutical or food companies and the influential "thought-leaders" are often on retainers from these industries or at the very least the research is funded by the latter and support given to present their findings at conferences. "Thought-leaders" tend to be the editors of journals and thus wield power over what gets published. Also there's an inherent publication bias in favour of papers finding positive associations between factors because negative findings (i.e. reporting no association) are less likely to be published or secure further funding as there's no money to be made out of research that finds no benefit in to weight-reduction of manufactured low-fat foods; or questions the importance of cholesterol in the genesis of heart-disease in the vast majority of cases, then the wholesale prescribing of statins, to reduce cholesterol, one of the biggest money-spinners of all time would be under threat.
The author is to be commended for this monumental and thought-provoking book.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading,
This review is from: The Diet Delusion (Paperback)Firstly, you'll find it easier to start off with Gary Taubes intro book "Why we get fat", which is stunning, and you'll automatically want to read this book next. It's a classic and a life changing book. I have Kindle and hard back copies of it - as it's too critical to "lose" or lend out.
This is the more indepth version - with the backing research (in the US it's called "good calories, bad calories").
Taubes is an accomplished writer - so sit back. You're about to be taken on a roller coaster of a ride.
In a nutshell, if you eat sugar, flour and other hi carb foods, you generate a lot of insulin.
Insulin is a very powerful hormone, that has the following effect...
1. Its stops you burning fat instantly, so if you eat carbs, you literally cannot lose weight.
2. Insulin is known as the hunger hormone, so you're starving and overeating.
Current Dieting advice is to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg. If you eat 4 meals plus 5 fruit, you'll be realising Insulin 9 times a day... so you'll be permanently starving and worse, unable to burn any fat... so won't lose weight at all.
Insulin triggers our overeating.
It's a constant cycle. This advice breaks that cycle and gives you masses of research to back up it's arguments. It's a stunning piece of work, that blasts government advice for the folly that it is.
All current diets miss the key factor - the influence of hormones.
This book introduces the concept that Obesity is "malnutrition", it's caused by poor quality foods in sugar and flour not by overeating or lack of exercise.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally.......,
This review is from: The Diet Delusion (Paperback)some one with a brain is tackling the nutritionists and government idiots who "write" our diets for us. I read this book cover to cover but I do have a degree in biology. I hear he is coming out with an "easier" version! I couldnt get my husband to read it!!! I have already dropped 11 lbs, just by removing sugar, flour, bread, pasta, rice and potatos from my diet. I am not hungry, just had blood work done so know I am okay in that respect,,,,and feel perky and still do cardio aerobics 6 times a week! Thanks Gary! Looking forward to the simpler version of this book so I can buy EVERYBODY I KNOW a copy!
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Diet Delusion,
This review is from: The Diet Delusion (Paperback)Superb! Real science made clear. An exposure of the very bad dietary advice that the world has been conned with. The wrong and misleading information has lead to much ill health in the world. Taubes is a hero and a brilliant man.
It takes some long and careful reading but he has read the research, understood it and passed it on to us. We are mad if we do not heed it.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars READ IT! That's an order...,
This review is from: The Diet Delusion (Paperback)...after all, our government and nutritional 'experts' (I use the term loosely) order us to do things and we do. Well, not anymore! Now we start to THINK FOR OURSELVES!
This book will change everything you thought you knew to be fact when it comes to nutrition and it's link to modern diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes etc... But then you will find yourself in a predicament, as you tell your friends and family to eat lard and eggs every day and that 'weight watchers' or 'slim fast' is toxic and fattening you will be faced with ridicule and treated as the stupid, paranoid person they thought you were. That is until after following the advise in this amazing book your health and body starts to change from the moody, sick, fat slob they thought they knew to a healthy, strong, and (slightly) less fat slob your are now.
This book is comprehensive and well written and the author should have an award for the most 'light bulb' moments in a book as you will find yourself saying 'ahh, now I know' quite a lot!
Highly recommended, just don't expect your brainwashed family and friends to believe a word of it!
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Same as Good Calories Bad Calories,
This review is from: The Diet Delusion (Paperback)It's violently irritating to me that this is the same book published under the name Good Calories, Bad Calories in the United States - I bought it in error. That said, it's a bloody good book and I'm glad I've had the opportunity to read it again. Taubes says of the obesity researchers, in essence: a walk through the ocean of your intelects would scarcely get the ankles wet. He's writing more as a scientist than as a science writer in this book, for his statement of the Carbohydrate Hypotheisis - the alternative to the obesity researchers A Calorie is a Calorie - is compelling. Much of it is within my experience as I am an insulin-dependent diabetic: insulin makes me hungry and put on weight unless I restrict carbohydrates, a strategy the obesity researchers dismiss as contraventing the Law of Conservation of Energy. Moreover, restricting carbohydrates lowerd my HbA1c to 5.5%, out of the danger zone. For those unfamiliar with diabetes, for an insulin-dependent diabetic to have an HbA1c of 5.5% is practically unheard of. Reducing carbs lowers daylong insulin exposure in both helathy people and diabetics, and Dr Gerald Reaven has demonstrated in prospective trials that elevated daylong insulin exposure predisposes to heart disease, stroke, hypertension, cancer, and the dementias - many reasons to read this book.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heroic book,
This review is from: The Diet Delusion: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Loss and Disease (Hardcover)I read this book from cover to cover in one go. A staggering amount of work and research went into it, and it is a very comprehensive account of research, ideas and dogma related to health and obesity over the last century. It is a shame that many of the people involved did/do not have the same appreciation of what constitutes real science as Gary Taubes does. As a scientist myself I am horrified by the levels of arrogance, incompetence, dishonesty and fraud documented in this history.
It should be mandatory for every health profession to read it.
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The Diet Delusion by Gary Taubes (Paperback - 1 Jan 2009)