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Good Calories, Bad Calories    by Gary Taubes Amazon.com order for
Good Calories, Bad Calories
by Gary Taubes
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Lisa Respers France

In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I am currently on a low carbohydrate diet. As one who has struggled with a weight issue most of my life, I understand the fervent desire to discover the magic bullet that will make me svelte forever.

Good Calories, Bad Calories is not the key to the instant shedding of pounds, but rather an incredibly thoughtful, very well researched tome that is sure to put Taubes in the crosshairs of many a dietician. Challenging the long held belief that a low fat/high carb diet is the road to weight loss and good health, Taube instead points to the over consumption of refined carbohydrates and their effect on insulin as a more likely candidate for the high rates of obesity currently plaguing America. While his findings are hardly new news, Taubes is less vulnerable to the overt attacks leveled at low carb proponents such as Dr. Robert Atkins and those of his ilk because Taube's book weighing in at an impressive 601 pages including bibliography and index is filled with quite a bit of scientific research to back it up.

Beginning his prologue with the case of fat man William Banting in 1862, Taubes lays the ground work for his argument. At the age of sixty-five, Banting desired to lose weight and nothing he attempted, not exercise, not diet, nor purgatives and diuretics, helped. Turning to the advice of a surgeon who had recently heard a lecture on the effect of glucose, Banting began a regimen of three meals a day consisting of meat, fish or game while avoiding sugar and starch. The result was a fifty pound weight loss and restoration of good health.

From there Taubes delves into various research, going beyond the anecdotal evidence offered in other books. Divided into three parts: The Fat-Cholesterol Hypothesis; The Carbohydrate Hypothesis; and Obesity and the Regulation of Weight, Taubes takes the reader on a journey through a staggering amount of information on everything from how most health professionals came to embrace the idea that low fat diets are the healthiest to the possible role of carbohydrates in the formation of diseases.

Good Calories, Bad Calories makes for compelling reading. Even his cover grabs interest a piece of toast with a melting pat of butter. It doesn't take the reader long to figure out that the butter is the good calorie and the toast the bad. Taubes is currently making the rounds on the publicity machine that has placed him squarely in the public eye and will probably lead to a resurgence of interest in low carb lifestyles that has waned as of yet. The debate over what is the most effective road to weight loss and management will probably continue to rage on, but Taubes has certainly given us all some food for thought.

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