July 31

Gary Taubes' new book


In going through the huge pile of mail confronting me when we got home from Europe, I found a prepublication copy of Gary Taubes’ new book Good Calories, Bad Calories.
taubesbook.jpgI’ve read the book in manuscript form when it was 800 plus pages, again when it was cut down to 700 or so pages, and now I’m going through it again at its new, svelte 600 or so pages. It is a remarkable book, and one that, I believe, will initiate a sea change in the way everyone looks at nutrition. Unless I miss my guess, Taubes will be on every talk show known to man, and his book will be reviewed everywhere, and talked about by everyone. Just think of the satisfaction you will have (those of you who are long-term low-carbers) in just a couple of months when you can go around with big smiles on your faces telling everyone I told you so.
Here is a review from Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Rhodes that I cribbed from Amazon.com:

Gary Taubes’s Good Calories, Bad Calories is easily the most important book on diet and health to be published in the past one hundred years. It is clear, fast-paced and exciting to read, rigorous, authoritative, and a beacon of hope for all those who struggle with problems of weight regulation and general health–as who does not? If Taubes were a scientist rather than a gifted, resourceful science journalist, he would deserve and receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

I pretty much agree with Rhodes. The book is phenomenal. Gary has been working on it for as long as I’ve known him, and he has left no stone unturned in his quest for a complete understanding of how things have gone so wrong with the nutritional establishment. He has interviewed – and sometimes engaged in screaming matches with – all (and I mean all) of the living (and some who have recently died) ‘experts’ who have put their stamp on today’s nutritional paradigm. He has sought out the big names at the major institutions and the lesser lights laboring in obscurity, but who have made major contributions. He has read countless books and medical papers, and has crafted a highly readable, fully documented, authoritative history of diet and physiological primer of how and why the low-carb diet works.
I’m making copious notes as I read through this time and will post a more complete review when I’ve finished. The book starts by showing that by the late 1950s the medical establishment had pretty much concluded that following a low-carb diet was the most efficacious way for overweight people to lose excess fat and for normal weight people to stay thin. This idea came about as a consequence of a whole lot of clinical and laboratory research and wasn’t really in dispute. The first part of Taubes’ book tells how that (correct, as it turns out) conclusion came about and what has happened since to get us to the point where it is now academic heresy to recommend a low-carb diet.
Order your copy early through Amazon or your local book seller and prepare yourself for a great read. The book should hit the shelves in early to mid-September.

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  1. I’ve been waiting for this book for at least a year. It sounds like the title has changed but I hope the integrity of his info has not been diminished.
    Not to worry.  The book comes with full integrity.

  2. Unless I miss my guess, Taubes will be on every talk show known to man, and his book will be reviewed everywhere, and talked about by everyone.
    Don’t underestimate the MSM’s ability to completely ignore an argument against their low-fat religion.
    I can already hear the crickets chirping.
    Hi BillyHW–
    I’ll be surprised if it happens in this case.

  3. Welcome back Dr. Mike. Thanks for the heads up and synopsis on Gary Taubes’ new book. We will no doubt order a copy for ourselves. Also looking forward to seeing the resumption of your normal blogging schedule. We were having withdrawal symptoms. 🙂
    W / J
    I was having withdrawal from not having internet reliability.


  4. Hi,
    You’ve got me excited about reading this book, but I’m curious about why you believe this “will initiate a sea change in the way everyone looks at nutrition.”
    Won’t it be largely ignored and/or disparaged, like most of the other counter-to-mainstream health books that have come before it?
    I’m not trying to be negative or cynical, it’s just that it seems like the mainstream anti-fat / pro-sugar viewpoint is still so entrenched that I can’t imagine a single book having such an impact.
    Hi Dave–
    I believe this book will get different treatment for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s published by Knopf, the most prestigious and powerful publisher in the US (if not the world).  Knopf paid a lot of money for the book and wants to recoup its investment so it will publicize it highly.  And Knopf is a real powerhouse.  Most Knopf books get tons of publicity.  Andrew Weil is a Knopf author, and you’ve seen the kind of publicity he gets on his fairly humdrum, touchy, feely books.  Second, Gary Taubes is a well-respected science journalist, not a doctor or a nutritionist.  The press seems to believe that doctors or nutritionists presenting their work in book form – as in Protein Power, for instance – are advocates for a particular diet or nutritional regimen and are blinded to opposing views.  Journalists, on the other hand, are supposed to be unbiased searchers for the truth.  Since Taubes isn’t trying to sell a diet book or doesn’t really have an axe to grind or a theory to champion – he’s simply a journalist interviewing everyone and trying to figure out what’s really going on – he has maximal credibility.  That’s why his New York Times article had such an impact.  He wasn’t touting a low-carb diet in the same way that MD and I and Atkins and all the other low-carb authors were – he came at it from the perspective of someone who was a tabula rasa and who evaluated ALL the diets and found the low-carb to be the most effective.
    Believe me, his book will get plenty of attention. And will piss off a whole lot of ‘scientists.’


  5. I just pre-ordered mine from Amazon. I’ve had it on my wish list since they first listed it…and decided tonight to order it. I can’t wait to read it!!
    And in the meantime, I bought another book…hope it’s a good one….”Staying Power : Maintaining Your Low-Carb Weight Loss for Good”.
    “you can go around with big smiles on your faces telling everyone I told you so”
    Oh I hope so!!
    Hi Cindy–
    I think you will be able to say I told you so.  And thanks for buying Staying Power.

  6. Awesome!
    I cannot wait!
    Although it will change nothing for me, I think it will add to the arsenal when combating ignorance out there!
    Hi Dave–
    If nothing else it will add to the armamentarium we can all use to fight the forces of ignorance and stupidity.

  7. Don’t forget to mention that people may also be able to check it out at their local library when it’s available. That’s how I read PPLP and enjoyed it so much!
    Library’s a great place for those of us on a budget!
    Better get your name on the list now.

  8. I just ordered Taubes’ new book at Amazon with the publishing date set for September 25, 2007. While at that site, I saw your book titled Thin so Fast. Did you write that in 2005? I’m definitely an Eadesophile but I was not aware of that title. Are you holding out on me?
    Hi Marly–
    I wrote Thin So Fast way back in 1988 – it was published in 1989.  It was my first book and the cover sports a photo of a much younger, darker headed me.  The book is out of print now, but you can find used copies on Amazon.  It ain’t a bad book for a first effort.

  9. Great news about the book! I had heard it was going to be out this past spring and I was wondering what happened to it.
    The title change is interesting and makes a lot of sense in that it sounds very UN-biased. It does not use any buzz-words like “low-this” or “high-that”, or even “fat” or “carbs” etc. It also does not directly accuse anyone of anything. It’s not something like “How the Corn Lobby, Big-Agro/Pharma/etc., and the AMA Ruined the American Diet and are Going to Kill You Too!”
    The word “Challenge” is a good choice because it speaks more of a debate, conversation, or something that a reader should draw their own conclusions from, instead of polarizing them one way or another before they even take the book off the shelf. I think it’s a good choice for keeping people somewhat open-minded as they open the book. After that, perhaps, all bets are off.
    Also, the cover art is a great choice. People will automatically look at it and see one relatively benign ingredient and one “bad” ingredient. I wonder how many will have changed their idea of which is the bad one and which is the good one by the end of the book?
    Hi Ogden–
    Nice analysis of the title, sub-title and cover art.  Gary, like all authors, struggled with a title.  Having read the book a number of times, I’m not a real fan of Good Calories, Bad Calories myself.  But that title along with the subtitle and cover art probably convey an intriguing message that won’t put people off of the book because of their preconceived notions of what it is about.

  10. I pre-ordered it, but how can I stand to wait till September? could you do me a favor and send me your copy? I’ll buy you a drink and steak, I promise!
    Hi mrfreddy–
    You’re in NYC; go to the Strand on 13th and Broadway where you can probably find a review copy like the one I have.  Knopf and other publishers send out zillions of these review copies to journalists hoping that they will do stories on the book.  Most of these journalists get hundreds of these review copies, and, if they’re not interested in reviewing the book, they sell them to the Strand.  Take a look; you might luck out.  I’ve found countless review copies of books there.

  11. I too am about done with the uncorrected proof. After spending 30 years working with Dr. Robert Atkins in his practice, tt is wonderful to read such a well written and well researched book supporting the safety, effectiveness and common sense of a low carb approach. He takes complex material and presents the info in such a way as to make it an interesting book to read.
    Many times I found myself getting angry that the powers that be are unwilling to tell the truth about what is needed to address the health crisis we are facing.I can remember so many patients in our practice that were hurt by the misinformation they were given in the media and by health care providers who were often afraid to go against the standard advice even when it failed to help their patients.
    Hi Jacqueline–
    How well I know.  As I’m sure you’ve discovered long ago, most doctors are like sheep, especially with dietary issues.  And most of them think they know everything when they don’t know diddly.

  12. For a while now, I have been wanting to write to you and say that you should write a textbook on nutrition for use in medical school. This has now given me the opportunity to do so.
    Your training, medical degree, and clinical practice would give you the “credentials” to have such a book accepted by the scholastic system for use as a textbook where Taubes’ book would not, well written and accurate as you say it is. However, I would think that his book would be a good starting off point. I would think he would be honored to help you with the research he has done for his book.
    As a textbook, it would need to have references, citations, and footnotes through out it, something that you have said was not an option in books for the general public like PP or PPLP. And since Guyton’s “Textbook of Medical Physiology” is 1014 pages (in the 8th edition), you should not be worried about how long the textbook is, just that it be complete in however many pages it takes.
    I am not sure how much of the “bad” science that has been done needs to be addressed, but certainly Ancel Keys would need to dealt with. Then the more “popular” studies such as the Framingham Study would need to be commented on.
    I hope you will give serious consideration to writing a textbook suitable for use in the nations medical schools. It might even let Guyton shorten his textbook by eliminating his sections on nutrition, that often parrot the establishment’s position.
    Hi Larry–
    Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I don’t think I have the time or energy to do a nutritional textbook.  Textbooks are published by academic publishing companies, and since textbooks are by definition almost mainstream approaches to a subject, these companies aren’t interested in a maverick take on an academic subject.  Most textbooks are sold because professors require them of students in their classes.  Since most professors are mainstream, most probably wouldn’t recommend a book with a low-carb approach (at least at this time), so the publishers would have no motivation to publish such a book.

  13. thanks for the strand tip, they also have a strand here in lower manhattan, I’ll go take a look!
    That’s the very Strand I was talking about – there is only one.  If you’ve never been there, you’re in for a great experience.  It’s hot in the summer, though.
    Let me know if you score. I hope you do so that you’ll stop whining for mine.


  14. actually, there are TWO strands, one on Fulton street, and one at 12th and Broadway… I just went to both (slow day at work…). It looks like all the review copies are at the 12th and Broadway shop, but alas, no Taubes book… whaaaaa….
    I did put my name down in case one comes in, so maybe I’ll get lucky, otherwise, how about two drinks, an appetizer, and a steak???
    still whining…
    I didn’t know there were two Strands; I only know about the big on at 12th and Broadway.
    Two drinks, an appetizer, and a steak at Peter Luger’s…

  15. You’re on, bring the book!
    Sadly, I won’t be in NYC to take you up on your generous offer until the real book is already published.  Plus, a the rate I’m going with all the other stuff that I’m having to deal with right now, I might not have the review edition read myself before the book comes out.

  16. Hey Dr. Mike,
    Actually, I’m not a real fan of “Good Calories, Bad Calories” either. I just think it’s a clever, presumably deliberate, choice of words that won’t predjudice readers before they get to the meat of the book.
    After all, everyone knows what good calories and bad calories are, we just don’t agree on which is which.

  17. Terrific! I’ve been waiting for this book to come out. I’ve put my name on the hold list at the library and since I’m #2, I should get it straight away after it’s received and processed.
    I think you are correct in why Gary’s book might create a sea change in people’s thinking about nutrition. I can attest that it was his article “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?” that started me down the path towards LC. He was very convincing and as a former believer in the low-fat theory, that took some doing. The fact that he wasn’t a doctor or nutritionist advocating a specific diet with a book (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) helped to sway my way of thinking. I owe a lot to Gary. Of course, I don’t think his book is going to change Michael Fumento’s mind, though. 🙂
    And I do remember the good old days when a diet plate on the menu was usually a hamburgar patty with cottage cheese and some salad.

  18. If this book is as good as you say then Krispy Kreme may go out of business!. Then again, most people will have a difficult time kicking their sugar habit. Also, don’t forget that this is the same author who stirred the pot with his NY Times Sunday magazine article featuring the Atkins diet and low-carb in general – http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F04E2D61F3EF934A35754C0A9649C8B63&sec=health or http://tinyurl.com/fhu2b
    Yep, he pretty much launched the last round of the real low-carb frenzy.  Then when the masses discovered that one couldn’t really follow a low-carb junk food diet, the craze went away along with most of the manufacturers that produced the low-carb junk food.

  19. Thanks for the heads up Mike!
    I’ve also been waiting for this book and I’m sure I’ll devour it!
    It’s funny how the word of a scientists doesn’t get credibility if he/she writes a book but it almost becomes religion if the same scientist writes scientific paper. That also goes for physicians who write more books based on their observations instead of scientific papers. A few years ago I defended Protein Power (and their authors) with respect to the validity of the science behind it. Basically, this person was trying to persuade me that your book had no credibility because neither you nor MD had papers published on the subject at that time (before the paper on the diseases of civilization that you coauthored with Cordain). That was her big mistake! 🙂
    Bt the same token, and no disrespect to Mr. Taubes who REALLY knows what he writes about, unlike others, is funny how some journalists who know nothing about the science behind nutrition, manage to put their word out with no problem… and even worse, they manage to convince a lot of people of their same nonsense. And to add insult to injury, they are the ones that appear in talk shows!
    I really hope Mr. Taubes is invited to talk about his book and hopefully also to debate his point with other equally famous but sadly mistaken about nutrition.
    Hi Gabe–
    Journalists have a different role in the process of information dissemination, and, as a consequence, get a different kind of publicity.  I have spent the last 20 years plus of my professional career putting dealing with patients on low-carb diets and publishing about it.  I’m viewed as an advocate of low-carb diets who has an agenda – which, in their eyes is to sell diet books.  Journalists are viewed as non-biased seekers for the truth, so their word is given more credence than the writing of an avowed advocate who isn’t seeking the truth, but is pushing an agenda.  The idea that I was a seeker for the truth when I made the determination that the low-carb way was the best falls by the wayside.
    I think Gary will make a major impact.  He’s bright and articulate and won’t back down, and he doesn’t particularly suffer fools gladly.  It will be fun to see how this all works out. 

  20. I hate, hate, hate the title for this book. I’m philosophically opposed to any language that imparts moral value to food.

  21. I too have preordered the book from Amazon. Thanks for the tip. So many of my friends, fat friends and diabetic friends, are so convinced by “the low fat diet is the healthy diet” that it will be nice to have a book to send them as a gift that might, just might, shake up their point of view. I am so convinced about low carb nutrition and am so worried about my friends who are killing themselves on high carb diets thinking they are eating a healthy diet. So thanks again.

  22. Hi Mike,
    Does the book contain much in the way of pragmatic information?
    I couldn’t be much more convinced already about false conventional dogma, so I have no real interest in reading that again.
    Hi Paul–
    It doesn’t contain any info on how to do a low-carb diet.  It’s mainly a treatise on how we got to where we are in terms of today’s nutritional science.  If you’re looking for a book to give you recipes or tell you how to fine tune your low-carb diet, this isn’t the one.

  23. Hello!
    I just got your book, Thin So Fast at a used book sale. I hate diet books and have never wanted to follow one till now after reading the first two chapters (I usually don’t even get that far!). Something in the way you presented the PSMF and the quickness of the diet probably did it for me. I started the plan today. Since this is a old plan, is there anything that I should or should not do now that there have been years to experience the outcome?
    Also, I didn’t think drinking diet-soda was good for us but mixing the basic powder w/diet pepsi is pretty good. Can I still use the diet drinks?
    I am a 46 year old women. 5′ 5 1/2″ 195 lbs. My body is use to being 150 lbs when healthy (which is what I’ve been except for the last 2 1/2 years).
    Thank you,
    Hi Dru–
    The big difference between now and when the book was written is that now there are countless good protein shakes available commercially. It’s hard to believe, but when I wrote that book in the late 80s there were no commercially available protein powders that were fit to drink, so I had to show people how to make them themselves.
    I would limit my diet sodas to those made with Splenda.
    Keep me posted. Good luck.

  24. Hello Dr. Eades
    How important is walking in your professional medical opinion to compliment my lifting 2 times a week like Fred Hahn recommends. If it is how far, how long and times a week ? What do you do “cardio” wise? Thanks.
    Best Wishes,
    Hi Michael–
    If you read the book Slow Burn you will learn that strength training actually conditions “cardio” wise. I don’t think walking does much, if anything, compared to a good strength workout.

  25. Hello Dr Eades,
    Protein Power is a great health book and sits along with Drs Atkins’ and D’adamo’s additions to my library. Now comes Gary Taubes epic and I can’t think of another book on nutrition I will ever need.
    I purchased my copy of Good Calories, Bad Calories as an e-book for my Palm and I have not in a long time enjoyed such a good read. It is a slow, methodical read made longer as I add notes to my Palm. Some of the information Mr Taubes outlines is startling in revelation. But, I have to agree with David Martin who suspects that the book will largely be ignored.
    If Mr Taubes book were to be taken seriously and lauded through all media services its ramifications would be staggering. If taken seriously it could have devastating consequences for the food industry all the way up the food production chain from the farmer through every step to our mouths. The pharmaceuticals industry could be severely affected as people throw away their statins and blood glucose monitors. The economic impact would play havoc on whole economies of nations.
    But all would be for the greater good and Gary Taubes would indeed deserve the worship and accolades worthy saints and folk heroes. However, I fear that the media is so tightly controlled by interests of economic power that the kybosh will be put on interviews and public discussion over every media.
    My hope, however, is that the information Mr Taubes has culled from so many reputable sources has to make its way to the general public. It will take time but it is the responsibility of every person who reads this important book to disseminate the facts and truths to his/her family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances. Only honest and open public discussion can free us from this thirty year reign of lies, deceptions and fears espoused by medical, nutritional, industrial and political interests that have harmed, regardless their intent, the health and lives of so many human beings.
    I agree with you on almost all counts. I think that over time Taubes’ book will become the standard reference book on the idiocy that led to the lipid hypothesis and the idea that fat in the diet is a bad thing. I hope it happens sooner rather than later.

  26. I must say that altho I’ve read Taubes’ book twice & rerad some parts over & over, this did not help his theories to work for me. I have been eating low carb for over 6 yrs (under 50 per day) & have never used sulphs or insulin–only a minimal dose of Metformin. My A1c is mostly 5% or very near it & I have lost over 150 lbs. STILL I cannot lose another oz & am still about 50 lbs more than I should be. I actually gain 10 lbs very quickly (one mmmonth) while trying Taubes theories. I don’t know what else to do.
    I plan on posting on this situation very soon. Stay tuned.

  27. Need to add that I am limited in my ability to exercise by physical disability. I am 70 yrs of age & do walk daily with a rollator but upper body exercise is verboten because of disc problems in my upper neck.

  28. Cappie,
    Please look into water aerobics. Check with your local hospital for classes ran by trained physical theropist. You would benifet greatly in deeper water and get twice the excercise in 1/2 the time. Talk it over with your Dr. You may be able to use your insurance to cover it too.
    Have a great day!

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