Anvil or Hammer

Book Review: Finally

Posted in Rant by Mike on March 3, 2008

That was about the longest I have ever taken to read a book of this length or type.

Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes

I want to start by saying: to all the reviewers who said this is not a heavy, fact filled, detailed book, “You didn’t read the book!” This is a heavy, fact filled, scientifically oriented book. It covers digestions, metabolism of different macronutrients (including some of their divisions like fructose versus glucose), the history of dietary science and some of the social scene of science.

The easiest way to summarize the idea of this book is, when you consume carbohydrate you cause a biological process to occur that temporarily halts fat metabolism. When you do this repeatedly, you cause the process to halt longer each time, to a point that you may stop it almost completely. That is why you get fat and stay fat with carbs. I could go on to summarize that this process is the building blocks of diabetes, dietary fat does not cause bodily fat (something I have always believed) and that heart disease is often blamed on fat but that is only because of the tools we have used to diagnosis it, a better tool (which exists, has been tested but it terribly expensive) shows that it’s not fat and that insulin and blood sugar plan as much or more of a role in these processes.

I started reading this book as a skeptic. I still find myself skeptical of the whole low carb thing on some levels. Certain things really appealed to me. First, he is the first low carb enthusiast who has said what I felt one of them needed to say if they were serious, the mass production of grains for human consumption is the single biggest health mistake we have made. It also appeals to me because of the amount of science he put behind it, for once it wasn’t simply a belief system but a series of tested (although not adequately) hypotheses and it encompassed an understanding of biology and metabolism. I like that kind of stuff.

I’d like to get into more detail as to exactly how his arguments are constructed but I lack the 10 hours it would take to give it a fair chance. I’m also not going to recommend that everyone read it. It is heavy. If you don’t like reading about lipid metabolism versus how the liver metabolizes fructose, stay away. Vegetarians, this book has nothing to offer you, it’s going to recommend a lot animal fat. The small subset of people who eat meat and like BioGeek reading, this is for you.

4 Responses to 'Book Review: Finally'

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  1. speedstudio said,

    Mike, thanks for the review.

  2. Mike said,

    Thanks Steve, I don’t feel like I did it any justice.

    Also, your diet would be of extreme interest to this guy. He considers Fructose and Glucose to be a nearly deadly cocktail. He calls fructose “The most lipogenic of the sugars” but goes on to explain that it will not fulfill this role with out some glucose to get it started.
    In short, your diet, which has considerable fructose but no glucose, would be a way to circumvent the lipogenisity of fructose while enjoying the benefits of the accompanying nutrients.

  3. speedstudio said,

    Thanks for the information. I know when I eat starches now (potato, pasta, bread/ grains)the next morning I feel like I’ve down a liter of bourbon.

    I’m able to tolerate as much fruit and berries as I can get my hands on – no ill effects.

  4. Mike said,

    After working with the low carb diet, I know exactly what you mean, it does feel like a hang over.

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