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Good Calories, Bad Calories [Format Kindle]

Gary Taubes
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Prologue: A Brief History of Banting

Farinaceous and vegetable foods are fattening, and saccharine matters are especially so….In sugar-growing countries the negroes and cattle employed on the plantations grow remarkably stout while the cane is being gathered and the sugar extracted. During this harvest the saccharine juices are freely consumed; but when the season is over, the superabundant adipose tissue is gradually lost.
–Thomas Hawkes Tanner, The Practice of Medicine, 1869

William Banting was a fat man. In 1862, at age sixty-six, the five-foot-five Banting, or “Mr. Banting of corpulence notoriety,” as the British Medical Journal would later call him, weighed in at over two hundred pounds. “Although no very great size or weight,” Banting wrote, “still I could not stoop to tie my shoe, so to speak, nor attend to the little offices humanity requires without considerable pain and difficulty, which only the corpulent can understand.” Banting was recently retired from his job as an upscale London undertaker; he had no family history of obesity, nor did he consider himself either lazy, inactive, or given to excessive indulgence at the table. Nonetheless, corpulence had crept up on him in his thirties, as with many of us today, despite his best efforts. He took up daily rowing and gained muscular vigor, a prodigious appetite, and yet more weight. He cut back on calories, which failed to induce weight loss but did leave him exhausted and beset by boils. He tried walking, riding horseback, and manual labor. His weight increased. He consulted the best doctors of his day. He tried purgatives and diuretics. His weight increased.

Luckily for Banting, he eventually consulted an aural surgeon named William Harvey, who had recently been to Paris, where he had heard the great physiologist Claude Bernard lecture on diabetes. The liver secretes glucose, the substance of both sugar and starch, Bernard had reported, and it was this glucose that accumulates excessively in the bloodstream of diabetics. Harvey then formulated a dietary regimen based on Bernard’s revelations. It was well known, Harvey later explained, that a diet of only meat and dairy would check the secretion of sugar in the urine of a diabetic. This in turn suggested that complete abstinence from sugars and starches might do the same. “Knowing too that a saccharine and farinaceous diet is used to fatten certain animals,” Harvey wrote, “and that in diabetes the whole of the fat of the body rapidly disappears, it occurred to me that excessive obesity might be allied to diabetes as to its cause, although widely diverse in its development; and that if a purely animal diet were useful in the latter disease, a combination of animal food with such vegetable diet as contained neither sugar nor starch, might serve to arrest the undue formation of fat.”

Harvey prescribed the regimen to Banting, who began dieting in August 1862. He ate three meals a day of meat, fish, or game, usually five or six ounces at a meal, with an ounce or two of stale toast or cooked fruit on the side. He had his evening tea with a few more ounces of fruit or toast. He scrupulously avoided any other food that might contain either sugar or starch, in particular bread, milk, beer, sweets, and potatoes. Despite a considerable allowance of alcohol in Banting’s regimen–four or five glasses of wine each day, a cordial every morning, and an evening tumbler of gin, whisky, or brandy–Banting dropped thirty-five pounds by the following May and fifty pounds by early 1864. “I have not felt better in health than now for the last twenty-six years,” he wrote. “My other bodily ailments have become mere matters of history.”

We know this because Banting published a sixteen-page pamphlet describing his dietary experience in 1863–Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public–promptly launching the first popular diet craze, known farther and wider than Banting could have imagined as Bantingism. His Letter on Corpulence was widely translated and sold particularly well in the United States, Germany, Austria, and France, where according to the British Medical Journal, “the emperor of the French is trying the Banting system and is said to have already profited greatly thereby.” Within a year, “Banting” had entered the English language as a verb meaning “to diet.” “If he is gouty, obese, and nervous, we strongly recommend him to ‘bant,’ ” suggested the Pall Mall Gazette in June 1865.

The medical community of Banting’s day didn’t quite know what to make of him or his diet. Correspondents to the British Medical Journal seemed occasionally open-minded, albeit suitably skeptical; a formal paper was presented on the efficacy and safety of Banting’s diet at the 1864 meeting of the British Medical Association. Others did what members of established societies often do when confronted with a radical new concept: they attacked both the message and the messenger. The editors of The Lancet, which is to the BMJ what Newsweek is to Time, were particularly ruthless. First, they insisted that Banting’s diet was old news, which it was, although Banting never claimed otherwise. The medical literature, wrote The Lancet, “is tolerably complete, and supplies abundant evidence that all which Mr. Banting advises has been written over and over again.” Banting responded that this might well have been so, but it was news to him and other corpulent individuals.

In fact, Banting properly acknowledged his medical adviser Harvey, and in later editions of his pamphlet he apologized for not being familiar with the three Frenchmen who probably should have gotten credit: Claude Bernard, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, and Jean-François Dancel. (Banting neglected to mention his countrymen Alfred William Moore and John Harvey, who published treatises on similar meaty, starch-free diets in 1860 and 1861 respectively.)

Brillat-Savarin had been a lawyer and gourmand who wrote what may be the single most famous book ever written about food, The Physiology of Taste, first published in 1825.* In it, Brillat-Savarin claimed that he could easily identify the cause of obesity after thirty years of talking with one “fat” or “particularly fat” individual after another who proclaimed the joys of bread, rice, and potatoes. He added that the effects of this intake were exacerbated when sugar was consumed as well. His recommended reducing diet, not surprisingly, was “more or less rigid abstinence from everything that is starchy or floury.”

Dancel was a physician and former military surgeon who publicly presented his ideas on obesity in 1844 to the French Academy of Sciences and then published a popular treatise, Obesity, or Excessive Corpulence, The Various Causes and the Rational Means of Cure. Dancel’s thinking was based in part on the research of the German chemist Justus von Liebig, who, at the time, was defending his belief that fat is formed in animals primarily from the ingestion of fats, starches, and sugars, and that protein is used exclusively for the restoration or creation of muscular tissue. “All food which is not flesh–all food rich in carbon and hydrogen–must have a tendency to produce fat,” wrote Dancel. “Upon these principles only can any rational treatment for the cure of obesity satisfactorily rest.” Dancel also noted that carnivores are never fat, whereas herbivores, living exclusively on plants, often are: “The hippopotamus, for example,” wrote Dancel, “so uncouth in form from its immense amount of fat, feeds wholly upon vegetable matter–rice, millet, sugar-cane, &c.”

The second primary grievance that The Lancet’s editors had with Banting, which has been echoed by critics of such diets ever since, was that his diet could be dangerous, and particularly so for the credibility of those physicians who did not embrace his ideas. “We advise Mr. Banting, and everyone of his kind, not to meddle with medical literature again, but be content to mind his own business,” The Lancet said.

When Bantingism showed little sign of fading from the scene, however, The Lancet’s editors adopted a more scientific approach. They suggested that a “fair trial” be given to Banting’s diet and to the supposition that “the sugary and starchy elements of food be really the chief cause of undue corpulence.”



Banting’s diet plays a pivotal role in the science of obesity–and, in fact, chronic disease–for two reasons. First, if the diet worked, if it actually helped people lose weight safely and keep it off, then that is worth knowing. More important, knowing whether “the sugary and starchy elements of food” are “really the chief cause of undue corpulence” is as vital to the public health as knowing, for example, that cigarettes cause lung cancer, or that HIV causes AIDS. If we choose to quit smoking to avoid the former, or to use condoms or abstinence to avoid the latter, that is our choice. The scientific obligation is first to establish the cause of the disease beyond reasonable doubt. It is easy to insist, as public-health authorities inevitably have, that calories count and obesity must be caused by overeating or sedentary behavior, but it tells us remarkably little about the underlying process of weight regulation and obesity. “To attribute obesity to ‘overeating,’ ” as the Harvard nutritionist Jean Mayer suggested back in 1968, “is as meaningful as to account for alcoholism by ascribing it to ‘overdrinking.’ ”

After the publication of Banting’s “Letter on Corpulence,” his diet spawned a century’s worth of variations. By the turn of the twentieth century, when the renowned physician Sir William Osler discussed the treatment of obesity in his textbook The Principles and Practice of Medicine, he listed Banting’s method and versions by the German clinicians Max Joseph Oertel and Wilhelm Ebstein. Oertel, director of a Munich sanitorium, prescribed a diet that featured lean beef, veal, or mutton, and eggs; overall, his regimen was more restrictive of fats than Banting’s and a little more lenient with vegetables and bread. When the 244-pound Prince Otto von Bismarck lost sixty pounds in under a year, it was with Oertel’s regimen. Ebstein, a professor of medicine at the University of Göttingen and author of the 1882 monograph Obesity and Its Treatment, insisted that fatty foods were crucial because they increased satiety and so decreased fat accumulation. Ebstein’s diet allowed no sugar, no sweets, no potatoes, limited bread, and a few green vegetables, but “of meat every kind may be eaten, and fat meat especially.” As for Osler himself, he advised obese women to “avoid taking too much food, and particularly to reduce the starches and sugars.”

The two constants over the years were the ideas that starches and sugars–i.e., carbohydrates–must be minimized to reduce weight, and that meat, fish, or fowl would constitute the bulk of the diet. When seven prominent British clinicians, led by Raymond Greene (brother of the novelist Graham Greene), published a textbook entitled The Practice of Endocrinology** in 1951, their prescribed diet for obesity was almost identical to that recommended by Banting, and that which would be prescribed by such iconoclasts as Herman Taller and Robert Atkins in the United States ten and twenty years later.

Foods to be avoided:

1. Bread, and everything else made with flour . . .
2. Cereals, including breakfast cereals and milk puddings
3. Potatoes and all other white root vegetables
4. Foods containing much sugar
5. All sweets . . .

You can eat as much as you like of the following foods:

1. Meat, fish, birds
2. All green vegetables
3. Eggs, dried or fresh
4. Cheese
5. Fruit, if unsweetened or sweetened with saccharin, except bananas and grapes

“The great progress in dietary control of obesity,” wrote Hilde Bruch, considered the foremost authority on childhood obesity, in 1957, “was the recognition that meat . . . was not fat producing; but that it was the innocent foodstuffs, such as bread and sweets, which lead to obesity.”

The scientific rationale behind this supposed cause and effect was based on observation, experimental evidence, and maybe the collected epiphanies and anecdotes of those who had successfully managed to bant. “The overappropriation of nourishment seen in obesity is derived in part from the fat ingested with the food, but more particularly from the carbohydrates,” noted James French in 1907 in his Textbook of the Practice of Medicine. Copious opinions were offered, but no specific hypotheses. In his 1940 monograph Obesity and Leanness, Hugo Rony, director of the Endocrinology Clinic at the Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, reported that he had carefully questioned fifty of his obese patients, and forty-one professed a “more or less marked preference for starchy and sweet foods; only 1 patient claimed preference for fatty foods.” Rony had one unusual patient, “an extremely obese laundress,” who had no taste for sweets, but “a craving for laundry starch which she used to eat by the handful, as much as a pound a day. . . .” So maybe carbohydrates are fattening because that’s what those with a tendency to gain weight eat to excess.

To others, carbohydrates carry some inherent quality that makes them uniquely fattening. Maybe they induce a continued sensation of hunger, or even a specific hunger for more carbohydrates. Maybe they induce less satiation per calorie consumed. Maybe they somehow cause the human body to preferentially store away calories as fat. “In Great Britain obesity is probably more common among poor women than among the rich,” Sir Stanley Davidson and Reginald Passmore wrote in the early 1960s in their classic textbook Human Nutrition and Dietetics, “perhaps because foods rich in fat and protein, which satisfy appetite more readily than carbohydrates, are more expensive than the starchy foods which provide the bulk of cheap meals.”

This belief in the fattening powers of carbohydrates can be found in literature as well. In Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, for instance, written in the mid-1870s, Anna’s lover, Count Vronsky, abstains from starches and sweets in preparation for what turns out to be the climactic horse race. “On the day of the races at Krasnoe Selo,” writes Tolstoy, “Vronsky had come earlier than usual to eat beefsteak in the officers’ mess of the regiment. He had no need to be in strict training, as he had very quickly been brought down to the required weight of one hundred and sixty pounds, but still he had to avoid gaining weight, and he avoided starchy foods and desserts.” In Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s The Leopard, published in 1958, the protagonist, Prince Fabrizio, expresses his distaste for the plump young ladies of Palermo, while blaming their condition on, among other factors, “the dearth of proteins and the overabundance of starch in the food.”

This was what Dr. Spock taught our parents and our grandparents in the first five decades, six editions, and almost 50 million copies of Baby and Child Care, the bible of child-rearing in the latter half of the twentieth century. “Rich desserts,” Spock wrote, and “the amount of plain, starchy foods (cereals, breads, potatoes) taken is what determines, in the case of most people, how much [weight] they gain or lose.” It’s what my Brooklyn-born mother taught me forty-odd years ago. If we eat too much bread or too much spaghetti, we will get fat. The same, of course, is true of sweets. For over a century, this was the common wisdom. “All popular ‘slimming regimes’ involve a restriction in dietary carbohydrate,” wrote Davidson and Passmore in Human Nutrition and Dietetics, offering this advice: “The intake of foods rich in carbohydrate should be drastically reduced since over-indulgence in such foods is the most common cause of obesity.” “The first thing most Americans do when they decide to shed unwanted pounds is to cut out bread, pass up the potatoes and rice, and cross spaghetti dinners off the menu entirely,” wrote the New York Times personal-health reporter, Jane Brody, in her 1985 best-selling Good Food Book.



* When the first American edition of The Physiology of Taste was published in 1865, it was entitled The Handbook of Dining, or Corpulence and Leanness Scientifically Considered, perhaps to capitalize on the Banting craze.
** Endocrinology is the study of the glands that secrete hormones and the hormones themselves.


From the Hardcover edition.

Revue de presse

“A vitally important book, destined to change the way we think about food.” —Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food“Gary Taubes is a brave and bold science journalist who does not accept conventional wisdom.” —The New York Times“A very important book.” —Dr. Andrew Weil “Brilliant and enlightening. . . . Taubes is a relentless researcher.” —The Washington Post“Easily the most important book on diet and health to be published in the past one hundred years. It is clear, fast-paced and exciting to read, rigorous, authoritative, and a beacon of hope for all those who struggle with problems of weight regulation and general health.” —Richard Rhodes“A watershed. . . . Lucid and lively. . . . It could literally change the way you eat, the way you look and how long you live.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune“Taubes tackles the subject with the seriousness and scientific insight it deserves, building a devastating case against the low-fat, high-carb way of life endorsed by so many nutrition experts in recent years.” —Barbara Ehrenreich

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En savoir plus sur l'auteur

Gary Taubes est le plus célèbre journaliste scientifique américain. Il écrit pour le New York Times et le journal Science.

Ses articles et ses livres ont été récompensés par de nombreux prix, dont trois de l'Association des écrivains scientifiques.

Il intervient à l'Ecole de santé publique de l'université de Californie (Berkeley). FAT - pourquoi on grossit est bestseller aux États-Unis.

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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Un récit historique précis 10 avril 2014
Par Citoyen
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Ce livre a un avantage irremplaçable : il décrit minutieusement et avec précision l'histoire du "cholestérol". Ce mythe est à l'origine de la plus grande arnaque médicale de ce millénaire.
Et l'auteur, journaliste scientifique, a réussi à retracer la naissance de cette mystification géniale, qui a rapporté 300 milliards aux labos Pharma et des millions à l'industrie agro-alimentaire, qui vend ses margarines infâmes et coûteuses pour "combattre le cholestérol".
La première partie est donc indispensable à lire.

La seconde partie est intéressante, mais beaucoup plus discutable et sujette à controverse. L'auteur simplifie à l'extrême la thématique de l'insuline et des glucides. Sa thèse mérite néanmoins un détour, critique et analytique.

Ce livre aurait été PARFAIT, s'il n'avait été basé que sur le thème des "graisses et du cholestérol".
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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Well worth a read 5 mai 2011
Format:Broché
If you enjoyed but felt a bit unsatisfied with 'Why we get fat - and what to do about it" by Taubes, then this is just the in depth read for you.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  721 commentaires
510 internautes sur 529 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Reformed Health Care Worker 27 avril 2010
Par RSD48 - Publié sur Amazon.com
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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. In all that time in hospitals and health education we had a two other mantras - "a calorie is a calorie" and its corollary "calories in calories out" as the only approach to weight management. But every calorie restrictive program I tried just left me hungry and with only short term weight loss.

I developed, in those three years, various aches and pains, initially too varied to form a pattern. I was aware that I was having a marked increase in short term memory problems, and my joints were getting so troublesome I was unwilling to do the exercise my doctor kept harping about to keep my weight under control. I found myself getting irritable, less interested in life and feeling O.L.D. @ 60. Out of frustration with both weight and how crummy I was feeling, I read a couple of food advice books, and one, "In Defense of Food" started making sense to me. Two other books were mentioned within that one, so I moved on to one of them - "Good Calories, Bad Calories." The author already had an excellent track record of science journalism.

Just imagine how startled I was while reading Gary Taubes book to find out there never has been definitive reproducible studies to prove the connection between consuming dietary saturated fat and cholesterol to the development of high blood cholesterol, nor to cholesterol numbers being a directly predictive factor in heart disease mortality. This was a jaw dropping revelation to me. Then I went on to read about the abundance of information revealing "healthy" seed oils, such as corn, safflower, sunflower, soy and canola, showed no evidence of lowering either heart disease itself or the mortality rate from heart disease. Then the came the real shocker.......the most consistent risk factor for developing heart disease, as far as diet is concerned, is the intake of carbohydrates. I was dumb struck. He also challenges, then destroys, the assumption that all calories are created equal and that saturated fat is harmful. One whole chapter is devoted just to how our bodies manufacture and use insulin and the stress that excess carbohydrate puts on our system, leading eventually to insulin resistance and finally type 2 diabetes.

I am not easily swayed, so it is important to me that when someone makes such revolutionary counter-to-accepted-belief statements, they had better be able to back it up. Taubes book has over 60 pages of just reference sources. It is exhaustively researched, going back through dietary research for the past century. His book led me to a few others that focused on carbohydrate dangers. cholesterol, fats and the harmful effects of statins. For those interested, here are some recommendations: Natural Health & Weight Loss, Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, The Statin Damage Crisis, The Modern Nutritional Diseases: And How to Prevent Them : Heart Disease, Stroke, Type-2 Diabetes, Obesity, Cancer, Cereal Killer, The Great Cholesterol Con: The Truth About What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid It and The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy Four of these are written by MDs - informed, well educated, science background people working with current research information.

Information I uncovered left me shocked about how manipulative Big Pharma is as far as pressuring doctors to use their drugs, (complete with "incentive" packages that can only be compared to flat out bribery) about how they fund their own studies and then get to interpret their own results to be sure they are favorable, and/or they can choose to fail to publish anything negative. Agribusiness is also enormously influential in getting studies done, with their own highly lucrative contracts with research groups, to "prove" that oils made from their excess harvest, that are cheap and highly profitable, must be part of our daily diet at the expense of traditional fats. The power the pharmaceutical industry and the agribusiness has on such supposedly trustworthy institutions such as the American Heart Association, the FDA and the NIH is not to be believed. So sad for all of us.The food pyramid is absolutely wrong for heart health, weight management and avoiding type 2 diabetes.

As I read these books, I began to have hope about finally managing my own weight. Taubes book is all about arming you with proper facts, about making intelligent choices for your own dietary direction. It is not focused on the use of statins (I found that informations in other related books listed above) - rather, he is making the point that while we have been concentrating on fats as the cause of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, it has really been the shift toward more carbohydrate and seed oil consumption for the last 60 years.

But Taubes is NOT offering "program" as such. Rather, for someone like me, who really wants to understand WHY things are the way they are, this is a wealth of information about how we went down the wrong path as far as national nutritional health advice and who was behind it all. He lets you connect the dots for yourself. If instead you would rather have help with a program for redesigning your nutrition, two of the books I listed are better for that, specifically "Deep Nutrition" by Dr. Shanahan, or Mark Sisson's "Primal Blueprint". Both books have at their core a target of total carbohydrate in a day of about 70 mg if you need to lose weight. Using these guidelines, I dropped 25 pounds in 11 weeks, without feeling hungry, and I feel excellent. I have also slowly tapered off, then stopped my Lipitor. I will not know my lab numbers for several months until my next check up, but I can report that my body aches have lessened, I have more energy, my short-term memory is better and my depressed mood has vanished.

I bought two extra copies of Taubes book and will be giving them to both my Family Practice doctor and my Endocrinologist. This information is vital. I believe my mother would have remained her normal self until her passing if she had not been given a statin and I also believe we may have had the joy of having her longer if any of us (including her doctors) had fully understood the implications of the carbohydrate laden low-fat diet she consumed for years.

Good luck to you. Be well.

P.S. - An eye-opening DVD is "Food Inc." that lays out the case for how we as citizens are at the mercy of only a handful of agribusiness companies. Profit, not our well being or the the survival of family farms matters to them. Their influence on our government's policies at all levels is truly shocking.
652 internautes sur 678 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 10 out of 5 24 mai 2011
Par Jodi-Hummingbird - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
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. 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 M.E. (HFME) and Health, Healing & Hummingbirds (HHH)
911 internautes sur 970 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Sorely needed because it finally puts low-fat vs. low-carb to rest. 5 novembre 2007
Par Tech Nut - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
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.
117 internautes sur 122 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 It's tough to argue with reality... 3 janvier 2011
Par Kenneth R. Hampshire - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I am a product formulator for a company that specializes in blood glucose normalization. I've talked and worked with thousands of chronic T2 diabetics over the last 12 years. I have researched the central question of diabetes (obesity, hyperinsulinemia, proper nutrient intake, exercise, etc.) for many years to arrive at the most beneficial recommendations for our customers, and I can say that after reading hundreds of books and research articles, I found Mr. Taubes' book to be the most comprehensive discussion of how and why we, in the U.S., ended up with what is, by all accounts, the most irrational and ineffective set of dietary recommendations on the planet. That what we are doing is not working is without question. The real question up to this point for most people has been, "What is the truth about the role of diet for our health?"

This topic is far from new. It's been a battleground between the "low-fat" people and the "low-carbohydrate" people for decades now, but the low-fat camp has always had the upper hand in spite of dozens of credible books (Food and Western Disease, Lindeberg; Insulin: Our Silent Killer, Smith; Genocide!, Carlson; The Leptin Diet, Richards) discussing the effectiveness of the the low-carbohydrate approach. This book does much more than just tell you why a low-fat diet doesn't work, it tells you why it doesn't, and in fact, cannot work long term. Further, it explains in great detail how this misguided low-fat belief, and the whole set of federally-mandated recommendations that it spawned, came to be. It is hard to walk away after reading this book without realizing that you have just read an incredible and admirable work that answers the question, "What is the truth about the role of diet for our health?"

I've seen hundreds of people normalize their blood glucose levels and lose greater amounts of weight than ever before following the low-carbohydrate diet, and this book explains why. It simply is the best book available on this topic.
726 internautes sur 788 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great info, fascinating history, a new view on why we gain weight over time 21 octobre 2007
Par Timothy D. Lundeen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
This book is an impressive review of the science and the politics behind our ideas about good nutrition and healthy diets. Taubes took 5 years to write this, and says it wouldn't have been possible without the ready access to original resources that the Internet makes possible. It does indeed have an incredible amount of information about the subject.

One of the sad and infuriating themes of this book is that much of the currently accepted wisdom about healthy diets has a political basis, that recommendations were made and marketed before the science was solid, or in many cases before the science was even done. The people pushing their ideas strongly believed that they were doing the right thing, that their recommendations would save lives and wouldn't hurt anyone. Unfortunately, as the science gets better and better, it looks like they were wrong -- they may have helped a small percentage of people, but at the expense of greatly increased risk of diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer for large numbers of us.

Taubes opens his book by reminding us of the "diseases of Western civilization", that diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and cancer were relatively unknown in the third world until they adopted a more Western diet. Albert Schweitzer didn't treat many cases with these problems when he started practicing in Africa, but at the end of his service was seeing a lot of them, as local diets changed during his practice.

One hypothesis for why a typical Western diet is so unhealthy is that we eat a high level of refined carbohydrates: sugars, white flour, polished white rice. Taubes does an excellent job of supporting this hypothesis.

The basic model is that refined carbohydrates are absorbed very quickly by the gut and result in large blood sugar (glucose) spikes that require large insulin surges to keep blood sugar in a healthy range. Over time, many people develop metabolic problems and are not able to cope with these repeated glucose surges and keep their blood sugar under control. As average blood sugar and insulin level levels go up, they cause a cascade of increasing metabolic problems, leading to higher weight or obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, inflamation, and increased risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, and dementia.

Taubes looks at a number of other explanations for "Western diseases".

* Cholesterol and saturated fat. This theory was championed by Dr Ancel Keys, who succeeding in turning it into dogma. The idea was that people with extremely high total cholesterol (265 and up) had higher risks of heart attacks, so lower cholesterol must be good for everyone, even though only a very small percentage of people have total cholesterol over 265. Eating saturated fat increases total cholesterol, so it must be bad. Eating polyunsaturated fat reduces total cholesterol so it must be good. Eating less saturated fat means that you need to make up the calories that were coming from it, so you needed to eat more polyunsaturated fat or reduce fat and eat more carbohydrate (e.g. a "low fat" diet).

The problem with Keys' theory is that further research did not support it: the epidemiological studies showed a modest risk of increased heart attack for men with total cholesterol over 240, and no increased risk for women. Low levels of cholesterol, under 160, are associated with increased risk of cancer, so you don't want to get too low. High levels of polyunsaturated fat are associated with increased risk of cancer, so you don't want to eat too much polyunsaturated fat.

Cholesterol is carried around in your blood in small globules of fat and cholesterol with a protein backbone, known as "lipoproteins". These globules range in size from very large (VLDL for very low-density lipoprotein) to medium sized (LDL for low-density lipoprotein) to small (HDL for high-density lipoprotein). When you get a blood test for total cholesterol, what is really measured is the cholesterol carried in all of these different sized globules.

It turns out that lipoprotein globule size is correlated with heart attack risk. Having more HDL is good (so your total cholesterol can go up and you have a lower risk of heart attack, if the increase comes from HDL). For LDL, there is a wide range of sizes, and the large ones are innocuous (e.g. "pillows floating around in your blood"). The smaller LDL particles are indeed correlated with an increased risk of heart attack. So if your total cholesterol goes up but it is because you have more large LDL globules, that is fine. If it goes up because you have more small LDL globlues, that is bad. But when you get a total cholesterol number, you have no way to tell which is which.

Eating saturated fat does increase total cholesterol, but it increases the large LDL particles, which appears to be harmless. Eating more carbohydrate increases the small LDL particles, which is likely dangerous. So saturated fat doesn't appear to increase risk of heart attack, but eating high carb diets might.

* Fiber. The theory that low fiber was the problem with Western diets was advanced by Dr Denis Burkitt, and held sway for quite a while. It was gradually disproved, and today the science is that fiber helps with constipation, but that's it.

* Overabundance and lack of willpower. This theory is that the various problems of a Western diet stem from an overabundance of good things, and our lack of willpower to resist them. As a result of our gluttony and overeating over time, we gradually put on weight, leading to the various Western health problems.

This theory is also called the "a calorie is a calorie is a calorie" theory of weight gain and resulting metabolic dysfunction.

Taubes makes an overwhelming case that weight problems are due to metabolic dysfunction, not the other way around. The obvious cases are people with diabetes type I, whose pancreas doesn't make insulin at all. These people cannot put on weight without insulin injections. On the other side of the spectrum, heavier people have higher-than-average insulin levels. People who eat diets that lower their average insulin levels lose weight without being hungry (e.g. low-glycemic index diets or extremly-low carb ketogenic diets such as Dr Atkins).

Also, eating high-carb diets makes you hungry, and makes you want to eat more, and makes it very hard to lose weight or stay at a lower weight. Eating a low-glycemic-index diet, you lose weight and are not hungry (where most people go wrong is to gradually add back in more refined carbs, which are literally addictive, increasing dopamine levels in the brain, and give you a craving for more and more once you eat any). It is also interesting that the only way to get normal rats to put on weight is to feed them more carbs, less fat and protein.

So, all in all, it looks like it is the highly refined sugars and carbs that cause us to gain weight.

The book has a lot of useful information about where the current science stands, and led to a lot of new threads for me, to try to figure out how to be healthier and feel better.

I did have some issues with it, however.

* Taubes doesn't discuss one of the major difference between Western and other diets, which is the level of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. The Western diet is significantly deficient in omega-3s, with too much omega-6 fats. Research shows that DHA (an omega-3 fat) is a critical part of having insulin work as it should, so over time the typical Western DHA deficiency could be the mechanism that starts the cascade of damage from insulin resistance to higher average levels of insulin, higher average blood sugar, higher levels of damage with time, etc.

* There is recent research that shows extremely low carb (ketogenic) diets such as Dr Atkins increase methylglyoxal levels. Methylglyoxal is extremely reactive, and could cause much more rapid aging on a long-term ketogenic diet than on a glucose-based metabolism. So my take is that you shouldn't be in ketosis by choice.

* I think Taubes is too hard on some of the people involved in this story, and doesn't appreciate how hard it is to recognize bias at the time. From our vantage point, it is easy to point fingers. I think a lot of the people he talks about had reasonable, defensible perspectives at the time. Where I do think Taubes is right is when he protests that they shouldn't have been so sure that their recommendations would do no harm. Recommending major changes in everyone's diet is not something that should be done without stronger evidence!

* Taubes doesn't seem to appreciate some of the value of epidemiological studies, and overrates the value of controlled studies, which have their own risks and errors.

* I would have liked the history and the current science to be more clearly separated. As it is, you have to wade through a lot of history to get a clear picture of where we are today.

All in all, though, it is absolutely outstanding, fascinating and highly recommended!
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