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Good Calories, Bad Calories

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,116 Ratings  ·  598 Reviews
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 ...more
ebook, 523 pages
Published September 25th 2007 by Anchor (first published August 5th 2004)
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Aug 02, 2008 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: important, science, health
It is fitting that I finished this book while descending for landing over Newark airport in the middle of intense turbulence. It was the airsickness that the turbulent descent caused that I consider fitting. The sickening feeling one is left with after reading this book is similar: it starts slowly, it rises almost imperceptibly, but eventually, it seizes you almost entirely and renders you incapable of perceiving anything else.

Such is Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, a book of such s
Oct 16, 2007 Dianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with weight or other health issues
This book is like the Copernican Revolution of diet advice: reverse one key assumption, and suddenly all the evidence that didn't fit the previous hypothesis suddenly makes sense. Taubes suggests that we've mixed up cause and effect: we don't get fat because we eat too many calories and don't get enough exercise. It's the other way around: we eat too many calories and don't have the energy to exercise because we're fat. That is to say, obesity is a medical condition caused by our body channeling ...more
Mar 02, 2009 Belinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Holy RESEARCH, Batman. Wow. It seems like Gary Taubes maybe took a lot of guff after his controversial piece in the New York Times, and decided to just let all his critics have it by burying them in tons and tons of data.

I have read about low-carb diets before, but nothing really convincing (to me, anyway, because I loves my bread). This 600+ page whopper really drives the point home that of all the variables in our diets, the one thing that affects the most change when it's reduced, increased,
Jul 15, 2012 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ill miss you, pasta, but i think it's for the best.
Duffy Pratt
Jul 31, 2011 Duffy Pratt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I've often been asked what's the best way to lose 10 lbs quickly, usually by someone who is getting ready for some major event. A few times, I've answered: "You could cut off one of your legs." For some reason, this answer never goes over that well. And yes, its not as funny as I first thought, but it does have a point.

Of course, most people mean they want to lose some subcutaneous fat. That is why most people ridicule the early weight loss on a low carb diet: it's only water that you lost, so i
Lala Hulse
Feb 26, 2008 Lala Hulse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First the bad - this book is a slog, especially the first third of it. It definitely takes some effort to read.
That said, if you're interested in nutrition, or fitness, or biology or, as I am, debunking and exposing bad science, you should read this book.
Taubes makes a convincing case for the idea that the dietary guidelines we Americans have been getting for the last forty years are not healthy and are making us fatter and less fit. He shows how obesity is considered a moral failing (laziness
Mar 01, 2008 Stephan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Required reading for all US citizens.

Get off the low-fat, high-carb train because it's killing you. Why is it that we've been following the nutrition "experts'" advice for three decades now in the US, yet diabetes and obesity are skyrocketing? Why does their advice tell us to eat things that are very different from what our bodies evolved to thrive on? Hmmm, maybe because they're WRONG?

Taubes is a correspondent for "Science" magazine, one of the most highly respected science journals in the wor
Jan 16, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in how what we eat affects our bodies.
This is by no means an "easy read" nor an easy argument. Taubes reviews the scientific literature relating to diet, obsesity and chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. He tells us why the recent focus on low-fat, high carbohydrate diets is not based on credible scientific evidence. The argument has been that high fat diets cause heart disease. Taubes argues that consuming sugar and refined carbohydrates causes the body to produce excessive insulin which causes fat retention. This h ...more
Jul 16, 2008 Pcallist rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this 500 page tome in 2 days. Resisted starting to re-read because I promised it to others. This is by outstanding science journalist Gary Taubes. I had so many light bulbs going on while I read this that I was almost blinded. I'm a chemist and I have taken a course in chemical thermodynamics. His treatment of 'all calories are not created equally' was revelatory. For a long time the nutritionists argument that because you can extract (by testing with a bomb calorimeter in a lab) 9 calori ...more
Richard's Bibby
Dec 22, 2014 Richard's Bibby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: General publix
I had thought about the theme of this book for awhile -- what explicit scientific research supports our knowledge of nutrition. Taube answers these questions particularly in his contention that refined carbohydrates lead to a myriad of "diseases of civilization". What differentiates this book from the endless advice of health magazines, doctors and pop nutritionists is the specific scientific studies he uses in the construction of his argument and the historical research concerning how our curre ...more
Oct 24, 2007 Karin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is NOT a diet book (as one might imagine from looking at the cover)... it's an quietly revolutionary treatise by a very accomplished science journalist. It's a very dense book that requires a lot of thought, especially from somebody like me with only cursory background in biology. Nevertheless, I find it absolutely fascinating. Taubes not only undermines a lot of the basic nutritional wisdom we all grew up with, he details the historical evolution of scientific thought about nutrition in a ...more
Glenn Dixon
Dec 11, 2008 Glenn Dixon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still in the first part of this book, but so far it is a thorough overview of the history of medical research into diet. It has almost completely shattered my view of the state of government-funded research in America. It is disturbing to discover that everything you have heard about healthy eating your whole life might be totally wrong.
Jan 16, 2008 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
It's difficult to recommend this book highly enough. There are at least three topics about which the common wisdom is completely overturned by the author in this book: the physiology of fat accumulation and obesity, the causes of the "diseases of civilization" such diabetes and heart conditions, and the nature of a healthy diet which will produce weight loss along with physical and mental well-being. Pretty much everything we have been brought up to believe regarding these subjects is fundamenta ...more
Sarah Voth
Aug 13, 2013 Sarah Voth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Physicist Gary Taubes “makes the case” (a rather feeble case, actually) that carbohydrates (and not excess total calories) are guilty for the increasingly prevalent obesity epidemic. His basic theory is that weight loss has nothing to do with overeating: “obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating and not sedentary behavior.” Carbohydrates (wheat, fruits and berries, legumes, milk and sugar in all forms) are to blame!

His arguments have certainly started a lively conversati
Tucker Carney
Honestly, I never finished the book. At first I thought it was incredible, and the explanation of how our culture came to embrace the food pyramid and the switch to processed carbo-loaded foods was fascinating and infuriating. But like any good contrarian, as I got further into the book I started to question many of the authors sources too. It's too one sided. I'd like a little more give and take even if it ultimately ended up with the same conclusion. With the one sided format you start to ques ...more
Chrissy Wissler
Jun 23, 2010 Chrissy Wissler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nothing is more frustrating than following all the right steps, sticking to your good eating and exercise habits, getting on the scale and seeing absolutely no drop. Or worse, you've gained.

But what if they were wrong? You know, all those rules your mother or father instilled into your young mind about staying away from cheese and butter, eating low-fat and limiting red meat. What if the government's famous food pyramid was actually based on incomplete data, that when actually looked at closely,
Greg Linster
What makes people fat? Is red meat unhealthy? Will a diet low in saturated fat reduce your risk for heart diseases? It’s fair to say that most of us have grown accustomed to the conventional wisdom that is often used to answer these questions, i.e., being lazy makes people fat, red meat is unhealthy, and, of course, a diet low in saturated fat is better for you than one high in saturated fat. Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, asks us to consider one more question though: have a ...more
Jeff Van Campen
I read Good Calories, Bad Calories over several months. This book is incredibly well researched (Gary Taubes says he's spent over fifteen years researching the book), and very well written.

It examines the science behind the "carbohydrate hypothesis." The hypothesis is that excess carbohydrate consumption, specifically sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other refined carbohydrates (e.g. white bread and white rice) is behind the rise in obesity over the last twenty years.

In order to make this ar
Jan 10, 2010 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book changed the way I thought about food. Taubes' analysis of existing studies is convincing and I'm relieved that he has done all the reading for me. To summarize, sugar will kill you and you should cut back on carbs. At times, it is exhausting to read through endless verbal descriptions of graphs and tables. I'll also point out that he lambastes scientists for having biases and agendas, while the book has a very dominant agenda throughout.
Jun 27, 2008 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of science, lots of suggestion that the hypotheses have driven the interpretation of the evidence, rather than the evidence supporting or refuting the hypotheses.

I don't know what to think about the overall book yet--I still have some pages to wade through. It almost feels like being persuaded that the world is flat.
Sep 28, 2011 Cathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book turns everything we thought we knew about good nutrition on its ear. For starters, the idea that you have to burn the same number of calories that you eat every day to avoid gaining weight is a myth. You think you can burn off that 500-calorie dessert you just ate? You would have to run for miles..and miles...and miles-- in a word, it's impossible. So is it hopeless? No. It's not the number of calories (though I suppose it's possible to overdo), it's the KIND of calories.

Believe it or
David K
Apr 11, 2012 David K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you have any interest in the history of modern nutritional recommendations or are bothered by the continual contradictions of those same recommendations, this is a book you need to read. Gary Taubes is a science journalist and he's done some serious digging into the background of the numerous studies and papers that have proffered a nutritional orthodoxy on the basis of 'reasonable conjectures' that continue to run counter to actual evidence.

•Does eating fat make you fat?
•Does exercise make y
Mindi Bennett
{This is a long review, but I wanted to quote from the Epilogue because I think it sums up with whole book in fairly simple language. So if you read this you can pat yourself on the back and say "I just read a 601 page book today, summed up". I think Gary Taubes findings will surprise you, it seems to go against everything I thought I knew about nutrition. And since I have a tendency to believe everything I read, I'm very confused right now.}
The whole time I was "reading" this book (I read two
Feb 04, 2011 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My new motto is "145 by July," meaning I would like to trim 50 pounds of fat accumulated over 20 years in approximately six months. In the process, I am hoping to see a reduction in my blood pressure and the level of triglycerides in my bloodstream to a more acceptable level. For anyone who subscribes to the conventional wisdom about dieting, this is a truly Quixotic aspiration.

Gary Taubes, in Good Calories, Bad Calories, attempts to turn the conventional wisdom on its a head. A historian of sci
Philip Mcclarty
Sep 12, 2011 Philip Mcclarty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Taubes is an unbelievable researcher. Obviously with any book quoting studies, data and conclusions can be manipulated, however his ability to pull examples and studies from many different disciplines and time periods have thoroughly convinced me that sugar in more than small amounts is very, very bad.....tobacco smoking least when is comes to chronic disease. It also convinced me to substitue fat calories for sugar/carb calories. I have lost 15 lbs so far and feel great.....just from ...more
Dec 22, 2008 Justine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 the book 'Good Calories, Bad Calories'.)

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 ga
Elaine Mcdonald
Way to many studies to wade through. Atkins was vilified for suggesting that low carb, high protein and fat was the way to go. Now there are so many books that basically say the same thing and present so many studies like this is something new. It has all been said before. So many "new" books are being written to justify their form of Atkins. If you have read and followed Atkins you might as well continue to follow it. I'm sorry but Atkins was much more interesting to read.
Apr 28, 2015 Edgars rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Klausījos audiogrāmatu.

Standarta scenārijs laikam ir noklausīties (izlasīt) šo grāmatu un tad pievērsties LCHF vai keto diētai. Manā gadījumā bija otrādi - jau labu laiku esmu šīs diētas piekritējs, esmu daudz ko lasījis par ogļhidrātiem, taukiem, to vielmaiņu un cilvēka fizioloģiskajiem procesiem, bet kaut kā vēl nebija sanācis tik līdz šai grāmatai. Tagad, kad līdz tai esmu ticis, varbūt man nedaudz mazinājies prieks par tajā stāstīto, ko lielu daļu no tā visa jau zinu. Nu nekas, grāmata jau n
May 13, 2009 Valerie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Super-smart, annoyed, contrarian, intense Jewish guys are HOT!!!

Gary Taubes rocks the house with an awesome book about food, nutrition, and (most importantly) the politics of food journalism that will turn your preconceived notions upside down and force you to stop and think for yourself (what a concept!). If you can't take the heat of the 600-page onslaught, google him and read his NYT article that started him off on this journey in 2002 or you can find online his recorded webcast from Berkele
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What lightbulbs went off for you in reading this book? 4 106 Jan 22, 2015 12:03PM  
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Gary Taubes is an American science writer. He is the author of Nobel Dreams (1987), Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion (1993), and Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007), titled The Diet Delusion (2008) in the UK and Australia. His book Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It was released in December 2010. In December 2010 Taubes launched a blog at to promote the ...more
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“The laboratory evidence that carbohydrate-rich diets can cause the body to reain water and so raise blood pressure, just as salt consumption is supposed to do, dates back well over a century” 10 likes
“[T]he salient question is whether the increasing awareness of [heart] disease beginning in the 1920s coincided with the budding of an epidemic or simply better technology for diagnosis.” 2 likes
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