on May 24, 2011
This book is one of the most important health books I have ever read.
(My copy was called 'The Diet Delusion' which is the UK and Australian etc. title of the book 'Good Calories, Bad Calories'.)
The author is incredibly intelligent and that this book took the author more than five years to write, shows. I've read few health books so intelligently written as this one.
I thought I was quite well educated about diet and the need to restrict refined carbohydrates (for good health and to stop weight gain) but I learned so much from reading this book.
This book is not a simple book offering practical advice and a diet sheet but a detailed analysis of why low calorie diets don't work and why restricted carbohydrate/high fat diets do.
The book explains that:
1. The 'calories in, calories out' mantra is a myth
2. 'A calorie is a calorie is a calorie' is a myth
3. The 'just eat less and do more exercise to lose weight' message seems to be logical but is actually wrong and unhelpful
4. Overweight and obese people often eat no more calories, or even less, than their thinner counterparts
5. Low calorie diets also reduce the amount of nutrients in the diet
6. It is a myth that the brain and CNS needs 120 - 130 grams of carbohydrate as fuel in order to function properly, as the body can use fat and protein equally as well, and these fuels are likely the mixture our brains have evolved to prefer.
7. Restricting calories with a low fat/high carb diet just makes you hungrier and more lethargic and slows your metabolic rate. Weight loss is only maintained if the patients stays on a semi-starvation diet forever, which is impossible for most people and also undesirable. Being far more active just makes you far more hungry.
8. It is a myth that reducing calories slightly or increasing activity slightly will lead to weight loss.
9. It is a myth that we evolved through periods of feast and famine to be very good at holding onto fat. Fat gain is due to excessive insulin levels caused by high dietary refined carbohydrate intake. It is a sign of something in the body going wrong, not a healthy adaptation.
10. Fructose is not much better than glucose and the two together may cause more harm than either individually.
11. The idea of a weight 'set point' is a myth
12. Insulin is the overall fuel control for mammals. High insulin levels cause the body to store fat and stop the body from using fat as fuel. This means that high carbohydrate foods make you put on more fat, and also leave you still feeling very hungry and unsatisfied.
13. Our bodies have evolved to do best on a diet of plentiful fat and protein (including saturated fat), lots of greens and minimal fruits and starchy vegetables. This diet is the best for health and also for losing weight and stopping weight gain.
14. Dietary fat, including saturated fat, is not a cause of obesity. Refined and easily digestible carbs causing high insulin levels cause obesity.
15. To say that people are overweight due to gluttony and slothfulness is just not correct and it is very unfair. Overeating and a sedentary lifestyle are often CAUSED by eating a high carbohydrate diet! This association has wrongly been interpreted as a cause of weight gain, rather than an effect.
16. Hunger caused by eating a high carbohydrate diet (or excessive exercising while on a low calorie diet) is a very strong physiological drive and should not be thought of something mild and psychological that can be overcome with willpower. This is something serious occurring in the body, not the brain!
Thus psychological 'treatments' for obesity are inappropriate and cruel. Most people are overweight due to bad medical advice, NOT a lack of willpower, greed, laziness or because they lack 'moral fibre'
17. People have different insulin secretory responses. Even if insulin secretion is slightly off, weight gain can occur.
18. Eating large amounts of a high sugar and high fat food like popcorn is easy because the body will not use most of the carbohydrate and fat for immediate fuel but will store much of it as fat - leaving you able to eat a lot of it and still be hungry a short time later as well.
19. Eating foods with a large bulk or high in fibre wont fill you up, you need the correct proportion of macronutrients and will stay hungry until you get them.
20. Those advocating the low calorie and high carb diets for health and weight loss are not involved in legitimate science. These approaches are not supported by the evidence.
I have still not covered so many other great points!
The bottom line is that we have evolved to eat a diet that contains enough fat and protein to cause satiety, lots of green vegetables and minimal amounts of fruits and starchy vegetables. Our bodies really can't cope with huge levels of refined carbohydrate as have recently been added to the modern diet.
More detailed information about this type of diet (and the benefits of traditional foods as well such as raw milk, organ meats, bone broths and fermented foods) can be found in books such as 'Nourishing Traditions' and 'Eat Fat, Lose Fat' by Sally Fallon (of the Weston A. Price Foundation) and Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan and Luke Shanahan, among others.
This book is a *very* dense read. (Those that are very ill and can't read such a long and complex book may do best to read just the first chapter and the last 2 chapters as these provide a summary to some extent.)
My only criticisms of the book are that a brief, maybe half page summary, of each chapter at the end of each chapter may have been very helpful for those of us that struggled taking in so many new facts at once due to illness or any other reason. I'd also have liked the ideas of Weston A. Price to be featured a bit more prominently than just on the acknowledgments page! But I accept that space was a concern for the author, as he states.
To the author, thank you so much for all your hard work. This is such an impressive body of work. I wish we had more investigative jounalists writing about 'controversial' topics to such a high standard.
I highly recommend this book. Check your library for a copy, at least!
Jodi Bassett, The Hummingbirds' Foundation for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
on April 5, 2009
This is the British title for "Good Calories, Bad Calories", a wonderful and thorough report of the ways that science and medicine have supported faulty and dangerous advice for controlling obesity and maintaining a healthy body. It's NOT a diet book, but it explains in detail why most diet books are apparently reasonable but actually dead wrong. I use that phrase because if you do follow the conventional diet advice, you are more likely to lose your health and even your life much sooner than you would like. The subject is important and the book is fascinating.
on January 14, 2011
This is more than a great piece of investigative journalism - it is a fascinating and revealing expose on the state of science itself and how it is (not) managing the impact of politics, belief systems and sociology. Throughout the book, I was continually reminded of other great scientific controversies of the age - (global warming comes to mind), the same ingredients are there - the rush to judgement; the quashing of dissent; the concealing of contrary evidence and the almost religious fervour of believers.
My father and I despite being avid walkers and exercising every day, are overweight and have been since birth. We have commenced making the dietary changes suggested by the book and we have continued reading on this topic - in 2 weeks we have lost a combined 9 kilograms.
We are never hungry, general aches and pains are diminishing and we feel better each day. This may be placebo or it may be from weight loss. While not morbidly obese, we have both felt guilty and judged throughout our lives - fat is a weapon to beat people with and while you would not pick on a blind person or a deaf person it is always open season on "lazy" and "greedy" overweight people. As a (thin)doctor once said to me "no fat people came out of Auschwitz"; you must have a "hand to mouth" problem - no naturally thin person can truly understand the cruelty of the casual judgements that they make every day on people who are genetically programmed to be more solid.
Thanks to this book, we are taking even more control of our lives and our weight.
on May 26, 2012
I am medical practitioner who has been obliged to rethink all that I thought I knew about diet and obesity after reading this exhaustive, user-friendly examination of the diet literature over the past 130 years. This is the first text I have bought and I didn't realise that ebooks come in various versions - with pages numbered or un-numbered. I unwittingly bought the version without page numbers and haven't been able to refer back from the author index to a page in the text. The text is a model of clear thinking and concise expression about a complex topic. The author's conclusions have tremendous implications for the epidemics of overweight and obesity emerging in so many societies. Read, re-read and take note if you are at all interested this engaging topic.
on April 17, 2010
I have never been interested enough to write a review of a book online but I feel the information in this book is important for people to read.
If someone had told me about the conclusions it draws before I had read it I probably would have been sceptical, however, it is compelling in its indepth research and logical conclusions. It is not a diet book, it is far more than that, it provides you with all the information about the processes that occur when you eat.
Also I have read the one negative review of this book(at the time of writing this review anyway) and it is quite clear that he has not read the book.
If you are a scientific person with any interest in either health or nutrition, I cannot emphasise how important this book is.
on December 25, 2009
Calories in/ Calories burned does not mean that all diets are created equal, because the calories burned part of the equation is not a constant. Some foods (at least for some people, as well as other factors (of course, exercise - but also sleep patterns, internal processes like body temperature...) affect the calories burned part of the equation. Some foods (and other things) make our furnace burn faster - so where the calories are coming from, very much does matter.
I don't know why, exactly - but I lose a LOT more weight on 1800 calories of low-carb eating compared to 1800 calories of high-carbohydrate eating.
People who believe a calorie is a calorie, may not believe this, but it's true - so I'd suggest people try it for themselves. All you need is a food journal. Write down everything you eat (tally the carbs and the calories) eat low-carb for several weeks (at least six). Then eat high-carb for the same amount of time (but eat the same number of calories you did for your low-carb eating). Repeat both plans (want to make sure coincidence can't be blamed).
With each, also right down your energy level, your sleep patterns, and generically how you feel (mentally, physically, and moods as well).
Decide for yourself whether your body treats all calories equally.
on March 24, 2012
The content of this book was excellent. However, the Kindle version could be improved by proofreading. It contains many optical character recognition errors. In other words, errors introduced when creating an electronic version by scanning a paper version then converting the scanned image to text.
The Kindle version would also be improved by having links instead of page number references when guiding readers to parts of the book within the text. Page numbers don't exist in Kindle books and so are meaningless as references.
If not for these shortcomings, I would have awarded five stars to this book.