Good Calories

Five years ago, Gary Taubes wrote a stunning piece for the Sunday NYT magazine called, “What If It’s All A Big, Fat Lie?”

His real question: “What if fat doesn’t make you fat?” 

Yeah, I’m sure Susan Powter’s head was spinning at that.

It’s almost like asking, “What if  cholesterol in food is unrelated to cholesterol in your blood?” Or, “What if French people eat way more saturated fat than we do and have fewer heart problems?” Or, “What if nutrition is roughly as much of a science as economics?”

I’ll stop.

Taubes has a new book called “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” It is the story of how America’s obsession with low-fat took hold, starting with the lawyers on George McGovern’s committee who invented the first U.S. government food pyramid.

Here is Taubes’ own summary.

“As I emerge from this research, though, certain conclusions seem inescapable based on the existing knowledge:

“1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization.

“2. The problem is the carbohydrates in the diet, their effect on insulin secretion, and thus the hormonal regulation of homeostasis-the entire harmonic ensemble of the human body. The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.

“3. Sugars-sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup specifically-are particularly harmful, probably because the combination of fructose and glucose simultaneously elevates insulin levels while overloading the liver with carbohydrates.

“4. Through their direct effect on insulin and blood sugar, refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary heart disease and diabetes. They are the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and the other chronic diseases of civilization.

“5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating, and not sedentary behavior.”


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