Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health
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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 argues that the problem lies in refined carbohydrates, like white flour, easily digested starches, and sugars, and that the key to good health is the kind of calories we take in, not the number. In this groundbreaking book, award-winning science writer Gary Taubes shows us that almost everything we believe about the nature of a healthy diet is wrong.
carbohydrates. According to Barbara Hansen, who studies diabetes and obesity and runs a primate-research laboratory at the University of Maryland, perhaps 60 percent of middle-aged monkeys in captivity are obese by monkey standards. “This is on the kind of diet recommended by the American Heart Association,” she says, “high-fiber, low-fat, no-cholesterol chow.” The world is full of species that do fatten regularly, always to serve a purpose—long-distance migrations, reproduction, or survival
can be prevented by reductions in caloric intake and/or increases in physical activity, are both based on an assumption about how the three variables in the energy-balance equation—energy storage, energy intake, and energy expenditure—relate to each other. They assume that energy intake and energy expenditure are what mathematicians call independent variables; we can change one without affecting the other. “We cannot get away from the fact that, given no change in physical activity [my italics],
addressed the efficacy of low-fat diets in weight loss. What they did have was the diet-heart hypothesis, which proposed that the excessive consumption of fat in our diets—particularly saturated fats—raises cholesterol levels and so causes atherosclerosis, heart disease, and untimely death. The proponents of this theory believed that Americans—and later the entire developed world—had become gluttons. Americans ate too much of everything—particularly fat—because we could afford to, and because we
The degree to which starch is refined in diets, particularly when the intake of starch is high, may itself be an important factor in cancer risk, as may the volume of refined starches and sugars in diets. Epidemiological studies have not, however, generally distinguished between degrees of refining or processing of starches, and there are, as yet, no reliable epidemiological data specifically on the effects of refining on cancer risk. Cleave’s saccharine-disease hypothesis may be intuitively
through the circulation in particles called lipoproteins, and these could also be players. The amount of cholesterol and triglycerides varies in each type of lipoprotein. So, when physicians measure total cholesterol levels, they have no way of knowing how the cholesterol itself is apportioned in individual lipoproteins. It is possible, Gofman noted, that in heart disease the problem may be caused not by cholesterol but by a defect in one of these lipoproteins, or an abnormal concentration of the