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Good Calories, Bad Calories
Cover of Good Calories, Bad Calories
Good Calories, Bad Calories
Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health

In this groundbreaking book, the result of seven years of research in every science connected with the impact of nutrition on health, award-winning science writer Gary Taubes shows us that almost everything we believe about the nature of a healthy diet is wrong.

For decades we have been taught that fat is bad for us, carbohydrates better, and that the key to a healthy weight is eating less and exercising more. Yet despite this advice, we have seen unprecedented epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Taubes persuasively argues that the problem lies in refined carbohydrates, like white flour, sugar, and easily digested starches, and sugars, and that the key to good health is the kind of calories we take in, not the number. There are good calories, and bad ones.

Good calories are from foods without easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. These foods, such as meat, fish, fowl, cheese, eggs, butter, and non-starchy vegetables, can be eaten without restraint.

Bad calories are from foods that stimulate excessive insulin secretion, thereby making us fat and increasing our risk of chronic disease—all refined and easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. The key is not how many vitamins and minerals they contain but how quickly they are digested. Therefore, apple juice or even green vegetable juices are not necessarily any healthier than soda. These foods include bread and other baked goods, potatoes, yams, rice, pasta, cereal grains, corn, sugar (sucrose and high fructose corn syrup), ice cream, candy, soft drinks, fruit juices, bananas and other tropical fruits, and beer.

Taubes traces how the common assumption that carbohydrates are fattening was abandoned in the 1960s when fat and cholesterol were blamed for heart disease and then—wrongly—seen as the causes of a host of other maladies, including cancer. He also documents the dietary trials of carbohydrate restriction, which consistently show that the fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.

With precise references to the most significant existing clinical studies, Taubes convinces us that there is no compelling scientific evidence demonstrating that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease, that salt causes high blood pressure, and that fiber is a necessary part of a healthy diet. Based on the evidence that does exist, he leads us to conclude that the only healthy way to lose weight and remain lean is to eat fewer carbohydrates or to change the type of the carbohydrates we do eat, and, for some of us, perhaps to eat virtually none at all.

Good Calories, Bad Calories is a tour de force of scientific investigation—certain to redefine the ongoing debate about the foods we eat and their effects on our health.

In this groundbreaking book, the result of seven years of research in every science connected with the impact of nutrition on health, award-winning science writer Gary Taubes shows us that almost everything we believe about the nature of a healthy diet is wrong.

For decades we have been taught that fat is bad for us, carbohydrates better, and that the key to a healthy weight is eating less and exercising more. Yet despite this advice, we have seen unprecedented epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Taubes persuasively argues that the problem lies in refined carbohydrates, like white flour, sugar, and easily digested starches, and sugars, and that the key to good health is the kind of calories we take in, not the number. There are good calories, and bad ones.

Good calories are from foods without easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. These foods, such as meat, fish, fowl, cheese, eggs, butter, and non-starchy vegetables, can be eaten without restraint.

Bad calories are from foods that stimulate excessive insulin secretion, thereby making us fat and increasing our risk of chronic disease—all refined and easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. The key is not how many vitamins and minerals they contain but how quickly they are digested. Therefore, apple juice or even green vegetable juices are not necessarily any healthier than soda. These foods include bread and other baked goods, potatoes, yams, rice, pasta, cereal grains, corn, sugar (sucrose and high fructose corn syrup), ice cream, candy, soft drinks, fruit juices, bananas and other tropical fruits, and beer.

Taubes traces how the common assumption that carbohydrates are fattening was abandoned in the 1960s when fat and cholesterol were blamed for heart disease and then—wrongly—seen as the causes of a host of other maladies, including cancer. He also documents the dietary trials of carbohydrate restriction, which consistently show that the fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.

With precise references to the most significant existing clinical studies, Taubes convinces us that there is no compelling scientific evidence demonstrating that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease, that salt causes high blood pressure, and that fiber is a necessary part of a healthy diet. Based on the evidence that does exist, he leads us to conclude that the only healthy way to lose weight and remain lean is to eat fewer carbohydrates or to change the type of the carbohydrates we do eat, and, for some of us, perhaps to eat virtually none at all.

Good Calories, Bad Calories is a tour de force of scientific investigation—certain to redefine the ongoing debate about the foods we eat and their effects on our health.

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About the Author-
  • Gary Taubes is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine and a contributing editor at Technology Review. He has written about science, medicine, and health for Science, Discover, the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Fortune, Forbes, and GQ. His articles have appeared in The Best American Science Writing three times. He has won three Science in Society Journalism Awards, given by the National Association of Science Writers—the only print journalist so recognized—as well as awards from the American Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society. His book Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He was educated at Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 27, 2007
    Taubes's eye-opening challenge to widely accepted ideas on nutrition and weight loss is as provocative as was his 2001 New
    York 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.

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Good Calories, Bad Calories
Good Calories, Bad Calories
Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health
Gary Taubes
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