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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 10 June 2017
I should say at the start that I have a background in science (physics) and so was surprised at the lack of scientific rigour used in the field of neutrition revealed by this book.

I have read Gary Taubs other book "Why we get fat" and wanted to know more about the background to the "carbohydrate hypothesis" and why dietary advice in the UK for people with high cholesterol and obesity is as it is (that is to go on a low fat high carbohydrate diet, and/or take statins).

My reason for needing more information was initiated by being told by my doctor that, as a woman aged 60, I am at a raised risk of heart disease because I have high "cholesterol" and am over weight. The reason I am overweight is that I was told in 2002 I needed to go on a high fiber diet. The problem is that fiber comes with starch and so I have put a lot of weight on. So it did not make sense to me to increase the proportion of carbohydrates in my diet in order to loose weight.

These two books opened my eyes to the lack of science behind the current national guidelines. Historically the subject seems to have been crippled by dogma verging on religious ideology rather than science. Having read both books I would highly recommend them as a well researched overview of the field. My Taubes does sometimes come over as having a bee in his bonnet, but considering what he has uncovered it is little surprise. Having read the history behind how national nutritional guidelines are formed I now have little confidence in them. The sad thing is that there is only scant scientific evidence to support the "carbohydrate hypothesis" of obesity. However, the evidence such as it is seems more compelling than used to support the current advice. This advice is being given to us via our overworked GPS who wonder why their patients fail to loose weight using the current advice (the latter statement is based on what my GP said to me when I indicated that I was not keen to have to swallow pills for the remainder of my life for a disease I do not have and may never have.)

Maybe the people who make up these national nutritional guidelines should read these books and think more critically about the scientific validity of the advice they are providing,
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on 26 April 2017
Very well written and researched. Blows the whistle on the last 40-50 years of the big food suppliers making loads of cash at the expense of our health.
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on 15 August 2015
Every doctor should read this book! I changed my views after it, cut out the carbs, and lost a stone in 6 weeks and never felt hungry. My cholesterol is spot on and my blood pressure normalised with no medication. I now encourage all my colleagues to read it, and recommend the "air plane" version (why do we get fat) to my patients and friends.
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on 12 April 2014
A great book. I hadn't a clue that I shouldn't be eating carbohydrates to lose weight and get healthier. It has taught me so much. Everyone should read this book.
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on 16 December 2014
Brilliant
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on 2 July 2011
...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!
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VINE VOICEon 22 November 2009
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.
Great book.
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on 2 October 2009
This is not your typical diet book. In fact, if you are looking to loose weight/get healthy then this book alone is probably not going to help (I'd recommend buying the Paleo diet or Protein Power), but it is still definitely worth reading.

The field of nutrition is full of misinformation/conflicting viewpoints - Should we be eating a low fat diet with plenty of wholegrains, avoiding eggs and red meat for fear of heart disease, or should we be cutting out carbs and ditching the margarine in favour of good old fashioned butter?

Unfortunately most books on diet and nutrition seem to be based mainly on personal opinion and conjecture (or a catchy gimmick). The diet delusion on the other hand actually looks at the available scientific evidence and to a large extent allows you to draw your own conclusions.

Through personal experimentation and experience, plus a bit of common-sense I came to the conclusion some time ago that saturated fat is not the enemy, and that the key to health and a good physique is cutting out starch and sugar and following a diet similar to that of our hunter gatherer ancestors. It has long been a puzzle to me however, where this myth of healthy wholegrains and evil fats ever came from. The diet delusion answers this question, and its fairly shocking!

A fascinating (though fairly heavy) read.
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on 27 February 2008
Have you ever wondered about the advice on healthy eating we get?
First it was, Cholesterol is deadly, no eggs! Then it was, You only have to avoid the bad cholesterol. And finally it became, Actually, dietary cholesterol isn't really the problem: dietary fat is the problem.

First it was, margarine is healthier than butter. Then it was, Ermm, actually, guys, butter is healthier than margarine.

Have you ever wondered about the healthy diets we've been told to go on? The ones you've watched your overweight colleagues, friends or lover struggle with, to no avail? We all know they don't work. Even the authorities that recommend them admit they don't work.

Why is it that when the standard low-fat, restricted-calorie diets don't work -- and they almost never do --, it's politically incorrect to question the efficacy of the diet? It's always, the dieter is to blame; they lack willpower, they cheat, they're just plain lazy and gluttonous. And this, even when you can not lose weight on a diet that your lean friends would call meagre, and you're hungry and tired much of the day?

Have you ever wondered if the scientific foundation on which all these perpetually shifting and retreating and ineffective recommendations were made wasn't all that sound to begin with?

So, OK, I admit, I was already prepared to believe that there was something not quite right about the current dogma for low-fat diets with lots of exercise being the only way to lose weight. I followed this advice myself for much of my adult life, and, being fortunately lean, guess what? it worked, for me. But not for many other people. You might say I came to this book with an open mind.

I was not prepared for the revelations in this book. About how there are no large-scale epidemiological studies underlying the standard recommendations (and never will be because it would cost billions to do it properly). About how some of the science is not only dodgy but dreadful. About how some key recommendations rest on tiny studies. About how even the well-conducted studies support more than one hypothesis. About the large and well-conducted dietary studies that were quietly filed away because they failed to confirm earlier, smaller, less rigorous ones.

I urge you to read this book. It is not always easy going, because despite the author's narrative skill there is a lot of science to be explained. It is not a rant or a polemic, and so there is little rhetoric to get carried away by. In the interests of evenhandedness, Mr Taubes relegates some of his keenest barbs to footnotes, as when he cites an American Medical Association critique of a low-carb, unrestricted-calorie diet (despite the fact that it worked) as having the "untoward side-effect" that the subjects weren't hungry. Even then, he doesn't call this critique perverse or bizarre: simply 'peculiar'.

I am married to a hobby-chef who cooks virtually everything from scratch. No tins, no frozen food, no packages of MSG-laden powder. We know with clarity what is in the food that we eat. When she started putting on weight at a rate of a kilogram (over 2 pounds) a month, she went to her GP. Fortunately, we live in The Hague, and not in New York, so she was referred to a European-trained endocrinologist, who diagnosed the weight gain as a metabolic problem, not an addiction to fatty foods. But in the accepted public-health wisdom, as Mr Taubes explains, unexplained weight gain is not a metabolic problem, but a failure of willpower. Biochemists and endocrinologists know better. In the US, they also know better than to say so in public.

It is very possible that the medical and public-health establishment will succeed in burying this book, just as they have succeeded in burying books with a similar message over the past 40 years. These books weren't perfect: they got sometimes important details of the science wrong (as we now understand it); just as there may be details of the science in Mr Taubes's book that in the future turn out to be wrong. Mr Taubes is a scientific journalist, not a scientist. He reports the science as it is known, he draws attention to where he consciously oversimplifies, and he quite clearly knows about the issues he writes about.

This book should earn him a doctorate: it is a masterful tour of a century-plus of science, and in its way as least as impressive as the PhD dissertations and journal articles he so clearly (and sometimes ruthlessly) describes.

I don't agree with another reviewer who says that this book ought to earn its author a Nobel prize. Nobel prizes are for new discoveries. Mr Taubes describes biochemistry that, however groundbreaking in its day, is no longer controversial: it's textbook stuff. Only problem is, it's texbook stuff for biochemists, and the public-health gurus haven't got around to reading it.

So, a Nobel prize, no. A Pulitzer prize, though: that's another matter entirely.

Please read this book, if you struggle with your weight. Once you've read it, you'll at least be able to make a rational decision about what body of diet dogma to believe.

Please read this book, if you don't struggle with your weight. It may help you to understand what someone you love, who is overweight, has to go through.

Especially please read this book if reviews have predisposed you to believe that it's wrong. Before you swallow the criticism, ask yourself if you believe the critics have studied the literature as deeply as Mr Taubes has.
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This book did massively well in the US under its original title "Good Calories, Bad Calories", but 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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