Most of us have definite ideas of what makes people fat. For some, it is the number of calories consumed, others believe that it is due to the intake of toxin-laden food while still others blame it on sugars. In Good Calories, Bad Calories author Gary Taubes churns the murky waters with his bold-faced question, ‘What if all these popular assumptions are lies?”
Gary Taubes challenges the conventional wisdom regarding obesity. For years, it was believed that the intake of fats causes obesity. Thus, many advocated reduction of fats to lose weight. However Taubes points out that most of our beliefs regarding what we eat and how it affects obesity is based on a ‘pigheaded insistence’ of a few researchers. It is not based on true scientific research. In a way, Taubes says we’re surrounded by weight loss myths which we accept as facts.
An example is the concept of gaining or losing weight. According to Taubes, there is this notion that taking in a few extra calories every day makes a person fat in the long run. In the same way, eating a little less every day or extra activity each day could lead to weight loss in the long run.
According to the book, this concept first came to the scene through a single paper published in 2003. While the paper postulates this theory, it clearly cautions readers that this concept is based on several assumptions. But despite the uncertainties surrounding this concept and the lack of proper research, it has somehow become the official proposal for the prevention of obesity.
This is just one example. According to the author, most of the prevalent “facts” on weight loss and burning of fat are based on such flimsy reports.
Taubes goes against such popular concepts in his book. He then lays down certain weight loss principles of his own which can be summed up as follows:
- People gain weight if they are deprived of positive energy balance
- All calories are not equal. There are good calories and bad calories. To lose weight, one must avoid the bad calories.
- Refined carbs are behind the weight gain epidemic faced by the world
- Dietary fat has no impact on obesity.
Good Calories Bad Calories: A review
Good Calories Bad Calories is a long read at over 600 pages in the paperback addition. However, Taubes took more than 5 years to write the book and due to the sheer amount of research packed within its pages, the book does produce many moments of enlightenment in people who have little to no idea of what causes obesity.
However, this book does have some flaws. For example, Taubes takes a view against exercise, saying that daily exercise makes people feel hungry, which in turn, makes them fat in the long run. Views such as these are against conventional wisdom and I just don’t agree with them at all.
- Questions many conveniently accepted concepts of weight loss
- Defies and dispels many myths related to weight loss
- Filled with data and research
- Contains many useful concepts pertaining to weight loss
- The book is lengthy, heavy handed at times and quite a difficult read
- It does not really give any practical advice although it does point out that carbohydrates are best avoided.
- The author is against exercise, and any weight loss achieved without exercise is unhealthy and temporary
This is not a diet plan. Nor is it a guide to weight loss. For those folks who like to know more about different theories and possibilities regarding how the body could put on or lose weight, it is a good – though difficult – read. On the other hand, if you just want to lose some pounds, an easier, more straightforward guide is what you need.
Check out this CNN interview with Gary Taubes for more on his nutrition approach: