Author Topic: Good Calories, Bad Calories - Gary Taubes - the good science & the bad science  (Read 986 times)

MustachioedPistachio

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...of dieting and nutrition. The book reads more like a medical journal (with a 65-page bibliography to boot).

Taubes is highly critical of the religious-like zealotry of certain health "experts", who brush actual science to the wayside in favor of pushing their own agendas, research, and long-disproved hypotheses - much to the detriment of society as a whole, it seems. The author examines myriad studies performed over the past century and a half and identifies major holes in the research that didn't quite make it to the headlines. Or were just plain ignored. He addresses many "common sense" dieting adages/conventional wisdom. Each step of the way he delves in to the actual science, as it was known during specific eras as well as the most recent developments (circa 2008), and juxtaposes it with the prevailing popular opinion.

A fantastic, must-read.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2017, 07:50:46 PM by MustachioedPistachio »

rpr

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...of dieting and nutrition. The book reads more like a scientific journal (with a 65-page bibliography to boot).

Taubes is highly critical of the religious-like zealotry of certain health "experts", who brush actual science to the wayside in favor of pushing their own agendas, research, and long-disproved hypotheses - much to the detriment of society as a whole, it seems. The author examines myriad studies performed over the past century and a half and identifies major holes in the research that didn't quite make it to the headlines. Or were just plain ignored. He addresses many "common sense" dieting adages/conventional wisdom. Each step of the way he delves in to the actual science, as it was known during specific eras as well as the most recent developments, and juxtaposes it with the prevailing popular opinion.

A fantastic, must-read.

The TL;DR:
  • Caloric surplus or deficit is largely irrelevant to weight regulation
  • Dietary fat is not the cause of heart disease or diabetes; hyperinsulinemia is (too much insulin produced due to too many carbs)
  • Carbohydrates increase insulin increase fat storage
  • Insulin flooding the circulation doesn't allow fat in adipose tissue to be removed (aka, lose weight)
  • Occam's razor - the metabolic syndrome disorder caused by too many highly-refined carbs explains the developed world's ailments (diabetes, obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and some cancers)
  • Taubes ends with essentially a plea for more well-controlled studies and research on all of this

This is just one point of view. Current scientific consensus disagrees with the views presented in the above book. The author may be right OR more likely, this may just be another passing fad. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I will limit and saturated fats, and eat a diet with more whole plant foods including whole grains, whole fruits and veggies. My lipid and sugar levels are all well in the normal range even though I eat a shit ton of carbs.

PS: The one thing I do agree with the author is that we should drastically limit sugar consumption.  This is not anything new. We have known this for decades.

MustachioedPistachio

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Yep, I agree with you that is one interpretation. Do you have a recommendation for the latest developments?

Ynari

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I don't follow Taubes's work directly, but those conclusions are at best, overly simplistic, and at worst, mildly misleading. (Though I love anything that gets people talking about nutrition, especially because I feel like it's been an area where research techniques have been developing in a good way over the past few decades.)

I recently read Stephan Guyenet's "The Hungry Brain" (after following his blog for a while) and I'm really impressed with this brain-based take on diet. A lot of the take aways come from a food-reward perspective, not the weird recent cultural idea that foods/macronutrients/etc are somehow intrinsically 'bad' or 'good'. It's not a diet book (though it has some recommendations), but more an overview of the cross section of neuroscience and nutrition research, which is a good lens to view other books and information from, IMO.

I also occasionally check in with Denise Minger's blog. She has a statistics background, so her reviews of papers are cool. She has a book called "Death by food pyramid" that is an interesting, somewhat historical view of our society's weird ideas about nutrition. Not as intense as the Guyenet book, but still good. :)

MustachioedPistachio

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Just to be clear...the bullet points I listed are my main, personal take-aways...which are indeed overly simplistic and could be seen as misleading. I'm going to remove them as they clearly are doing more harm than good.

Thanks for sharing the blogs and other resources! I am going to check them out.

Ynari

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Ah, I see. I didn't mean to call you out or anything. The focus on carbs and insulin resistance is an interesting response to the low-fat 'phase' of American nutrition. But while recognizing that there were flaws in previous ways of thinking is a good thing, the response in popular culture tends to be a "That was bad? Let's do the opposite!" leading to the current climate of carb-phobia. Both Guyenet and Minger touch on this, in their own ways. Guyenet points out that the meter in our brain (I forget what he called it, but basically a 'thermostat' that responds to hormones emitted by fat cells) that determines our body's favored adiposity level responds to high protein - researchers studying low-fat or low-carb diets often rebalance with higher protein levels, leading to what looks on the outside to be conflicting information about fat vs carb, but is really more about protein.

Minger has a long post (supposedly first in a series, but 2nd hasn't come out yet) "In Defense of Low Fat". She points out research incoherence (like studies that call 30% caloric intake of fat "low-fat"), but also some interesting pieces of evidence like a medical diet of 95% rice and fruit that lead to large weight loss and increased insulin resistance/lower rates of diabetes. It reminds me a little of the "mediterranean paradox" during the low-fat phase when people seemed to be confused by how healthy europeans who ate tons of butter and olive oil were. This is the paradox on the low-carb side of the fence. A lot of the evidence seems to show you can half your sugar, or you can have your fat, but combining both in intensely cravable foods like cake doesn't work out well.

So far the neuroscience outlook makes the most sense to me. For anyone who wants the takeaways without reading Guyenet's book, here's my summary-of-his-summary of tips. Most of them work through multiple pathways, and can be linked in some way to that adiposity-thermostat in the brain, but that's also why you get so much variety in how people respond to dieting and exercise.

1. Increasing how much protein you eat
2. Eating less rewarding foods (sorry, boring food wins out) and limiting exposure to junk food advertisements
3. Exercising
4. Managing stress
5. Sleeping enough
6. Make eating less convenient (food should take some effort to prepare, even if it's just having to peel the orange first)

Anatidae V

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These book sound like an interesting read. Do they address the spectrum of people (those who struggle with being overweight, those who maintain their weight easily, and those who struggle with being underweight) or just focus on the overweight people, leaving a gap in their data?
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MustachioedPistachio

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He talks about the entire spectrum, including the Inuit, native tribal Africans, and the Japanese. Starved, semi-starved, "normal", overweight, obese, etc.

Rubic

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Cromacster

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He was on Joe Rogan as well not too long ago.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0ffswUVoxA
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