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13 November, 2008

book review: Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes

Read and reviewed for Armchair Interviews.
Have you ever wondered what drives the health industry in touting what is correct to eat for a good healthy lifestyle? Have you ever wondered why common knowledge tells us that fat is bad, carbohydrates are good, and that to have a healthy weight you should eat less and exercise more? In Good Calories, Bad Calories author Gary Taubes tried to give readers answers to these questions, as well as showing them how this advice may not be right.
The book is split into three parts. Part one, The Fat-Cholesterol Hypothesis, looks at the effects of reducing fat and the rise of awareness of cholesterol and heart disease has played on diet in the last few decades. Part Two, The Carbohydrate Hypotheses, shows readers how the western diet slowly moved from one with more meat and fat in the late nineteenth century to one with more of an emphasis on breads and other carbohydrates. In this section, the author discusses the rise of refined carbohydrate use in meals, and how those are causing problems with both a rise in diabetes and obesity. The third section, Obesity and the Regulation of Weight, talks about hunger, different diets, and how they work or don’t with a person’s metabolism to help them lose weight or to hinder weight loss.
As a layperson, I had a hard time getting into this book. Author Gary Taubes gives his readers a whole lot of information on food, on nutrition, on different health concerns such as heart disease, diabetes, and the rise in obesity. His background as a science writer shows with the completeness of the information given. I did find that the information given aimed at a lower glycemic diet with its higher protein and less refined carbohydrates very interesting, as well as the fact that diets promoting such eating habits were not new in the sixties when Dr. Atkins first started promoting his diet.

I believe this would be an excellent book for anyone interested in finding out more about the various diet trends and advice given through the past decades