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Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health Paperback – September 23, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (September 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400033462
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400033461
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (656 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Taubes's eye-opening challenge to widely accepted ideas on nutrition and weight loss is as provocative as was his 2001 NewYork Times Magazine article, What if It's All a Big Fat Lie? Taubes (Bad Science), a writer for Science magazine, begins by showing how public health data has been misinterpreted to mark dietary fat and cholesterol as the primary causes of coronary heart disease. Deeper examination, he says, shows that heart disease and other diseases of civilization appear to result from increased consumption of refined carbohydrates: sugar, white flour and white rice. When researcher John Yudkin announced these results in the 1950s, however, he was drowned out by the conventional wisdom. Taubes cites clinical evidence showing that elevated triglyceride levels, rather than high total cholesterol, are associated with increased risk of heart disease-but measuring triglycerides is more difficult than measuring cholesterol. Taubes says that the current U.S. obesity epidemic actually consists of a very small increase in the average body mass index. Taube's arguments are lucid and well supported by lengthy notes and bibliography. His call for dietary advice that is based on rigorous science, not century-old preconceptions about the penalties of gluttony and sloth is bound to be echoed loudly by many readers. Illus. (Oct. 2)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Noted science journalist Taubes probes the state of what is currently known and what is simply conjectured about the relationship among nutrition, weight loss, health, and disease. What Taubes discovers is that much of what passes for irrefutable scientific knowledge is in fact supposition and that many reputable scientists doubt the validity of nutritional advice currently promoted by the government and public health industry. Beginning with the history of Ancel Keys' research into the relationship between elevated blood-cholesterol levels and coronary heart disease, Taubes demonstrates that a close reading of studies has shown that a low-cholesterol diet scarcely changes blood-cholesterol levels. Low-fat diets, moreover, apparently do little to lengthen life span. He does find encouragement in research tracking the positive effects of eliminating excessive refined carbohydrates and thus addressing pernicious diseases such as diabetes. Taubes' transparent prose brings drama, excitement, and tension to even the most abstruse and clinically reserved accounts of scientific research. He is careful to distinguish the oft-confused goals of weight loss and good health. Given America's current obsession with these issues, Taubes' challenge to current nutritional conventional wisdom will generate heated controversy and create popular demand for this deeply researched and equally deeply engaging treatise. Knoblauch, Mark --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book is one of the most important health books I have ever read.
Jodi-Hummingbird
Gary Taubes is a science journalist, and this book is really about the science of diet.
J. A. Eastman
If you are interested in these subjects and you read very well, this book is the boss.
Palyne G

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

595 of 619 people found the following review helpful By Jodi-Hummingbird TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
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 this book, I think.)

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.
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449 of 467 people found the following review helpful By RSD48 on April 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've worked in hospitals or have been in a teaching position in health care since 1972. That entire time I marched to the unceasing drum of dietary-fat-and-cholesterol-lead-directly-to-heart-disease, now called the lipid theory of heart disease. It never occurred to me to ask "Where is the hard evidence?" I assumed it had been irrefutably proven. Then factors in my own life led me to eventually question that ever present mantra.

My own mother had her first heart attack when she was just 48 years old. In her seventies she was put on a statin for elevated cholesterol and became someone I barely recognized; argumentative, irritable, forgetful, poor coordination and very depressed. Nothing in my own medical care education lead me to blame any of that on statin drugs. What was even more puzzling was that she had never been one to eat fatty foods or things laden with cholesterol. But I never stopped to think about that. I did know she struggled with weight her entire life and hence was vigilant in eating things low-fat, as well as only using polyunsaturated oils for cooking. But it is also true she had a problem with carbohydrates - they always were the majority of her diet. I lost her to a heart attack in 1995.

Three years ago, as my own cholesterol nudged up a bit, but still within traditional normal range, I did not hesitate to comply with my doctor's suggestion to begin a statin (Lipitor). If anything, I felt I was getting ahead of the danger of losing my life as my mother had. But also like her, I struggle with my weight and like her I gravitate to carbohydrates. I was strictly avoiding all saturated fats and dietary cholesterol, cooking with the supposedly "healthy" polyunsaturated oils and always choosing fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
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873 of 932 people found the following review helpful By Tech Nut on November 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm a researcher by trade. Not a medical researcher, but an analyst nonetheless and I have been waiting for a very long time for this kind of work to come out. This isn't advocacy whatsoever. It's a look at what everyone says, and what the science says, and the politics that led us to ignore the science. The research level is staggering and evidence so overwhelming that portions of the book are downright infuriating.

I personally found reading the one-star reviews here interesting because there is not a single, negative review here that remotely suggests the reviewer actually read the material.

On to my own rating, here's what I think you should know when considering this purchase:

This is unlike any book you've ever read on the subject of diets. It is not a diet book. It is not a lifestyle book. It is not an advocacy book. It is a look at the science that has been ignored as our country has rolled toward the low-fat religion and what the consequences of this have been. It is a look at how and why overwhelming science and evidence was ignored.

Society has needed someone to do what Taubes did here -- to strip away what is popular, to dig into claims and recommendations, and see what the EVIDENCE shows us for claims on both sides of the diet argument. It will give you clarity where there has never been any, while explaining why it has been absent.

If you are looking for a book that lays out a diet plan and recipes and sample meals and such, this is not for you. This is a work of scientific journalism, not a diet plan.

On a final note, it is noteworthy that there have been no real rebuttals to this work whatsoever from the "experts" and "authorities" who have, because of politics and money and cowardice, advocated dietary guidelines that have driven our society into our miserable states of health and obesity.

That silence is shame.
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