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Good Calories, Bad Calories
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Manufacturer: Knopf
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5

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Binding: Hardcover
Dewey Decimal Number: 613.283
EAN: 9781400040780
Format: Roughcut
ISBN: 1400040787
Label: Knopf
Manufacturer: Knopf
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 640
Publication Date: 2007-09-25
Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: 2007-09-25
Studio: Knopf

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Editorial Reviews:

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 with more and more people acting on this advice, we have seen unprecedented epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Taubes argues persuasively that the problem lies in refined carbohydrates (white flour, sugar, easily digested starches) and sugars-via their dramatic and longterm effects on insulin, the hormone that regulates fat accumulation-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
These are from foods without easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. These foods can be eaten without restraint.
Meat, fish, fowl, cheese, eggs, butter, and non-starchy vegetables.

Bad Calories
These are from foods that stimulate excessive insulin secretion and so make us fat and increase our risk of chronic disease—all refined and easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. The key is not how much vitamins and minerals they contain, but how quickly they are digested. (So apple juice or even green vegetable juices are not necessarily any healthier than soda.)
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-were seen as the causes of a host of other maladies, including cancer. He shows us how these unproven hypotheses were emphatically embraced by authorities in nutrition, public health, and clinical medicine, in spite of how well-conceived clinical trials have consistently refuted them. 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, he 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.

The 11 Critical Conclusions of Good Calories, Bad Calories:

1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, does not cause heart disease.
2. Carbohydrates do, because of their effect on the hormone insulin. The more easily-digestible and refined the carbohydrates and the more fructose they contain, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.
3. Sugars—sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup specifically—are particularly harmful. The glucose in these sugars raises insulin levels; the fructose they contain overloads the liver.
4. Refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are also the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and the other common chronic diseases of modern times.
5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating and not sedentary behavior.
6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter any more than it causes a child to grow taller.
7. Exercise does not make us lose excess fat; it makes us hungry.
8. We get fat because of an imbalance—a disequilibrium—in the hormonal regulation of fat tissue and fat metabolism. More fat is stored in the fat tissue than is mobilized and used for fuel. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this imbalance.
9. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated, we stockpile calories as fat. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and burn it for fuel.
10. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.
11. The fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be.

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.

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Bad Science/Bad Food
Comment: The text is not an easy read, given the plethora of research citations.
I found it helpful to read the prologue and epilogue prior to reading
the meat and potatoes between the two. Taubes'conclusions appear to
reflect his review of the relevant literature on the subject. If you
accept his conclusions your food choices would change, unless you have
been following Atkins already. I feel the book is a must read for
anyone concerned about food consumption and its impact upon health.
It is not a diet book per se, but rather an examination of research,
good and bad, on the effects of ingesting varied food products.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5
Summary: Good Book, Bad Book
Comment: PROS: Meticulous research. Well argued. Data rich.

* Dated data: Most of the studies Taubes cites are from before 1960. He implies that in the 1960s there was a vast conspiracy led by a few researchers with a low-fat/high carb agenda. Taubes argues that they crushed all research into the utility of low-carb diets.

* Verbose: Taubes takes a long time to make a point. The book didn't get interesting until page 250. And even then, it was tedious getting through it.

* Little mention of exercise: He rarely cites the impact exercise has on weight loss. He implies it has little impact.

* Short on concrete advice: Taubes never says this is a diet book, but after all the amazing research he did, it's a shame he didn't give more practical dieting advice. The few words in the Epilogue leave you wanting more.

WHO WOULD LOVE THIS BOOK: Those who want to know all the nitty gritty details about dieting research prior to 1960. Those who like conspiracy theories. Those who like heavy, data rich academic tomes.

CONCLUSION: I wouldn't recommend this book to most people. It's not terribly readable or practical. The argument is interesting, but not convincing since he ignores most research done after 1960.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Comment: Thank you for exposing much of what goes on in science. This book is filled with valuable information obviously painstakingly researched. The author illuminates what has transpired in nutrition research, which is a reflection of what occurs in just about every other field: a theory develops and many other scientists, nutritionists, and "experts" jump on the bandwagon.

In this book, the author makes certain arguments and backs them with research. One of his points is that we gain weight when we eat foods (sugars and carbs) that elevate insulin, and we lose weight when we avoid these foods and allow our insulin levels to fall. It is not the calories we eat that make us fat, but the accumulation of fat which occurs when we stimulate insulin secretion by eating carbohydrates and sugars. Therefore, when insulin levels rise, we accumulate fat, and when insulin levels fall, we release fat from fat tissue and burn it for fuel. He also says that many diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's disease are caused by the effects of eating carbohydrates due of their impact on insulin levels. He says that simple sugars (sucrose, fructose, and high fructose corn syrup) are especially harmful. He also points out that exercise does not make you lose fat.

This book is well-researched and worth reading. Even if you do not strictly follow the book's recommendations, there is much useful information in this book. I also recommend a possible companion book THE 3:00 PM SECRET: Live Slim and Strong, Live Your Dreams.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Very informative
Comment: Unbelievably rich with convincing information about the evils of carbohydrates. It is a bit think with scientific jargon but learning it is quick. As a self-proclaimed "foodie," I found some of the information about carbs depressing but I'm so glad I read this while I'm still young and can make adjustments to my diet.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: This book changed my life.
Comment: Good Calories Bad Calories is a book about science, not a diet book. But armed with Taubes' insights and research, I made some obvious changes to my eating habits, and dropped 30 pounds in 5 months. With not so much effort and, with the help of Pollan et al, with fine, diverse, tasty food.

One criticism that Michael Pollan makes (in In Defense of Food) is that the critical skepticism Taubes brings to the low-fat/low-calorie hypotheses that have become conventional wisdom is not as evident in his treatment of the "carbohydrate question." A real criticism, but one that doesn't detract from the value of the book for me personally.

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