Good Calories, Bad Calories in a nutshell

I’m surprised how long it has taken me to get through Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. After 2 and half weeks, I’m still not done. I’m on the last chapter though. Maybe I’m just a slow reader.

The book is dense, bringing together a huge number of scientific studies that date back to the beginning of the the 20th century. His goal seems to be to overwhelm the reader with evidence that many of the assumptions about diet, obesity and disease are wrong. He isn’t content to give you one or two examples of studies that suggest that carbohydrates are the primary factor behind obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a range of other modern illnesses that were rare before the 20th century. He piles it on, determined to make sure that someone can’t read his book and dismiss it as “some fad diet book.” If you say he is wrong, you better bring your citations with you.

I’ve enjoyed the ride, but I wonder how many readers get bogged down and don’t finish it, or don’t care so much about the reams of evidence that Taubes has compiled and want to skip to his conclusions. One passage near the end that jumped out at me as something that people need to know:

By the mid-1960s, four facts had been established beyond reasonable doubt: (1) carbohydrates are singularly responsible for prompting insulin secretion; (2) insulin is singularly responsible for inducing fat accumulation; (3) dietary carbohydrates are required for excess fat accumulation; and (4) both Type 2 diabetics and the obese have abnormally elevated levels of circulating insulin and a “greatly exaggerated” insulin response to carbohydrates in the diet

He has done a good job. His book is why I’m trying a low carb diet. I’m taking a gamble, even going directly against my doctor’s orders to lower my already low cholesterol, hoping that would help my ailing gallbladder (after all, my first three gallbladder attacks all came after large restaurant meals full of carbs).

I’m going to give it a try. I’ll see how I feel in a month. Will I feel better? Will I lose the 20 pounds I have left to lose? Will I have another gallbladder attack? I’ll let you know.

UPDATE: I blogged too soon. I’m now in the epilogue and he has 7 main points he was trying to communicate in the book. I’ll add them here later.

2 thoughts on “Good Calories, Bad Calories in a nutshell

  1. sss

    so now cholesterol is responsible for a bad gallbladder – they medical industry just can’t give it up

  2. mullaney Post author

    @sss, Well, it’s not so crazy as it sounds. A lot of cholesterol passes through your gallbladder and gallstones are something like 80% cholesterol, so it is a reasonable hypothesis to think that reducing cholesterol might help.

    However, my cholesterol is already on the low side and my HDL is particularly low. Also, my first few gallbladder attacks were after large meals with lots of carbohydrates (the first one was after a large plate of lentils and brown rice). This is enough for me to try a low carb diet instead.

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