Customer Review

235 of 239 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chris, 30 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It (Kindle Edition)
I recommend this book if, like me, you have spent time, effort and money trying to figure out how to remove your excess weight and have better all-round health.

This book is the second from Gary Taubes that I have read. The first `Good Calories, Bad Calories' (or The Diet Delusion here in the UK) is long, at nearly 600 pages, expects a knowledge and understanding of science, is occasionally repetitive and sometimes poorly edited, but makes the point about the wrong road we have been following in pursuit of weight loss and better health extremely well to my mind.

This is a shorter book and took a lot less time to read. It is clear to me that Taubes has tested and honed his arguments and has learned how to get them across better. To my mind the book flows easily. There were one or two technical sections but he led me up to these with background so by the time I got there I was able to understand the point he was making. In GCBC this was not the case and there were some sections that I didn't `get' and had to read a number of times to understand.

The book acknowledges but does not deal with the consequences to the environmental and moral questions that it raises. This is left for others to debate. Here the science behind fat metabolism is the focus of attention.

There is new information in here too. There is a description of Insulin Resistance that I found very useful in furthering my understanding. The unanswered question in the whole book for me is: Can Insulin Resistance be `cured' and if so how long does it take?

`Why We Get Fat...' is not really a diet book. Since starting the diet as prescribed here, though, I have lost 28lbs without hunger or any discomfort.

Thank you Gary for this book and for your perseverance in dealing with the establishment and with the established Diet writers who seem to me to be more interested in defending their own fiefdoms than in solving the issues of weight, diabetes, heart disease and cancer that is the natural outcome of this work. I hope that politicians and the medical establishment will read the book with an open-mind and change the message to benefit us all. Now where's the Lard...

Update August 2013:
It is now three years since I stared my low carbohydrate diet. In that time I have been able to continue to lose weight gradually. I have improved my blood markers (I cannot remember them all - but all the ones that count, LDL, HDL,Triglycerides, blood pressure,etc.) . Over the three years I have lost 65 lbs and I feel better than I have in years. My doctor wanted to put me on Statins as I am over 50 but when he saw my blood test results decided that it was unnecessary.

I am very pleased that in these three years Gary Taubes and Peter Attea have set up NuSi ([...] I very much support this idea as it seems the only way we will build a consensus and people will stop looking down their noses at me when I reach for the salt / fatty foods / cream that I love! Hopefully in a further three years the conversation will have moved on - I am sure my wife will be relieved when that is the case :-)
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Showing 1-10 of 23 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Jan 2011 22:53:27 GMT
parky says:
In a nutshell a digest of the Diet Delusion, Gary makes the case, puts the evidence and lets you make up your own mind. For ove 2 years now i have been following this very advice. Its time for the Health Pro`s to wake up and smell the coffee.

Gary Taubes ....... thank you for taking the time and effort, all credit to you

Posted on 12 Jan 2011 20:16:51 GMT
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Posted on 5 Apr 2011 12:45:43 BDT
T. D. Welsh says:
I don't agree that "The Diet delusion" (originally published in the USA as "Good Calories, Bad Calories") requires any knowledge of science or mathematics. On the contrary, the main reason why it is so long is that the author patiently and painstakingly explains everything you need to know right from the ground up. Someone with a good knowledge of biology and nutrition could skim through much of it, and would finish it much faster than someone like me - with no scientific background, just common sense and determination. Of course, someone who is actually allergic to science - and there seem to be a few of them about - might well find it a tough, or even impossible, read.

Posted on 25 May 2011 20:43:48 BDT
I loved GCBC/TDD, but I would not deny it can be a tough read. Not the individual chapters, which read easily enough on the whole, but fitting it all together and making a coherent message out of the many pieces of detail (all of which are important if you really want to know what's going on).

I think WWGF is better in this respect. It is possible to take it all in one sitting (or a few sittings) which is much harder with GCBC/TDD (which I have re-read, fully and partially, many times).

At first I was disappointed that the word "Fat" appeared in the title, thinking that he should focus more on the health than the "diet" aspects (which is what GCBC does). However, the health message is there right enough; it is subtly done though.
The clearest message is: "What makes us fat also makes us sick".

One proviso, and another unanswered question: Simply dropping carbs probably isn't going to help if your hormonal system is seriously out of whack. This can happen to some people at any age but in particular, women often put on weight after the menopause. This is not caused by them over-eating or becoming sedentary, although as Gary explains they may possibly become sedentary, or "over-eat", because they are overweight.

Low-carb may not help these people with their weight, at least not dramatically, although it may still help with their health.

I think we need more research into the plight of post-menopausal women in the context of weight-loss; after all, around 50% of the population will eventually be in this state. Maybe this is a future project for Gary one day.

Men are also affected by reduced testosterone as they get older, but the change seems to be less dramatic, and can possibly be modified by building (or maintaining) muscle.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 May 2011 20:55:17 BDT
T. D. Welsh says:
Maybe my view of TDD was coloured by a good education (not at all scientific though) and a lifelong interest in science fact and fiction. Plus a near-lifelong inability to shed weight, which gave me very strong motivation.

That said, I found that Taubes very patiently explained everything, starting with facts that any non-scientist should be able to grasp. That's why it is such a long book, IMHO. It does take a lot of concentration - ideally most of your attention for 3-4 days - but if you stick with it you will learn a lot surprisingly quickly.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Oct 2011 01:57:46 BDT
These articles are worth reading for some criticisms of some of the arguments in the book:

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Oct 2011 10:39:13 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Oct 2011 10:40:20 BDT
T. D. Welsh says:
I read the Weighty Matters review, but was unfavourably impressed. The reviewer accuses Taubes of relying on "observational data, straw men, and logical fallacies". That already set my teeth on edge: surely a reliance on observational data can only be good. And the "straw man" technique is a kind of logical fallacy, so it's redundant to mention both. On scanning the rest of the very long review, I found the writer very keen to debunk Taubes. The signs are unmistakable: lots of nitpicking and sniping from ambush, finding fault with things Taubes writes that are obviously shorthand. That is, Taubes has left out a lot that he could have said, in the interests of keeping his argument simple and easy to follow. For instance, at one point the reviewer quotes Taubes as saying that the First Law of Thermodynamics does not apply to human metabolism. Now, only a simpleton would suppose this means that Taubes - a science graduate - does not agree with the First Law! Or that he thinks it somehow does not apply to human beings. What Taubes means is that human metabolism is much more complex than a simple heat engine, and so cannot be analyzed as if it were one.

Posted on 2 Oct 2011 10:43:53 BDT
T. D. Welsh says:
Taubes is in a dilemma. His original book was criticized as too long and complicated. So he wrote this one, which is shorter and hides much of the technical detail. So now he is criticized for advancing simplistic arguments without sufficient evidence!

Fortunately there is a way to cut the Gordian knot. Just try removing the carbohydrates he mentions from your diet, and see what the effect is on your health after a month or two (you really need to give it that long). I'm afraid the effect on your bank account will be negative, because proper food is becoming so rare that it is almost beyond the reach of the average person.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Oct 2011 19:46:50 BDT
C. Hilder says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Oct 2011 18:00:06 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 Oct 2011 18:04:05 BDT
Mr(?) Welsh, I read The Diet Delusion when it was new and only got half way through before I got bogged down on the surplus of research and the morass of technical 'mumbo jumbo'. I thought the book was a great idea but it lacked grip in reading. It began to feel as if he didn't so much have a point but rather was terrified that he might be criticised for it and was throwing in enough armour to ward off evil, but also, unfortunately, to sink his arguments unread - which is what happened to me. (And I agreed with him; I was on his side!)

For the record, I have a lifelong interest in biology and hoover up books on diet and nutrition, especially if they are backed by solid research, rather than fads. I am also posessed of 'a good education', some of which was, indeed, science based. Given this, I am not at all sure why you keep taking sly digs at those readers that found the book difficult and rather mountainous to climb through. A book being unweildy or overwrought is not necessarily a sign of stupidity or ignorance in the reader; sometimes it just means the book is unweildy and overwrought.

This one sounds like it may be more accessible, and I am certainly more than happy to give Taubes a second chance.
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