Good Calories, Bad Calories

Good Calories, Bad Calories

Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease

Book - 2007
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In this groundbreaking book, the result of seven years of research in every science connected with the impact of nutrition on health, award-winning science writer Gary Taubes shows us that almost everything we believe about the nature of a healthy diet is wrong.

For decades we have been taught that fat is bad for us, carbohydrates better, and that the key to a healthy weight is eating less and exercising more. Yet with more and more people acting on this advice, we have seen unprecedented epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Taubes argues persuasively that the problem lies in refined carbohydrates (white flour, sugar, easily digested starches) and sugars--via their dramatic and longterm effects on insulin, the hormone that regulates fat accumulation--and that the key to good health is the kind of calories we take in, not the number. There are good calories, and bad ones.

Good Calories
These are from foods without easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. These foods can be eaten without restraint.
Meat, fish, fowl, cheese, eggs, butter, and non-starchy vegetables.

Bad Calories
These are from foods that stimulate excessive insulin secretion and so make us fat and increase our risk of chronic disease--all refined and easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars. The key is not how much vitamins and minerals they contain, but how quickly they are digested. (So apple juice or even green vegetable juices are not necessarily any healthier than soda.)
Bread and other baked goods, potatoes, yams, rice, pasta, cereal grains, corn, sugar (sucrose and high fructose corn syrup), ice cream, candy, soft drinks, fruit juices, bananas and other tropical fruits, and beer.

Taubes traces how the common assumption that carbohydrates are fattening was abandoned in the 1960s when fat and cholesterol were blamed for heart disease and then --wrongly--were seen as the causes of a host of other maladies, including cancer. He shows us how these unproven hypotheses were emphatically embraced by authorities in nutrition, public health, and clinical medicine, in spite of how well-conceived clinical trials have consistently refuted them. He also documents the dietary trials of carbohydrate-restriction, which consistently show that the fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.

With precise references to the most significant existing clinical studies, he convinces us that there is no compelling scientific evidence demonstrating that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease, that salt causes high blood pressure, and that fiber is a necessary part of a healthy diet. Based on the evidence that does exist, he leads us to conclude that the only healthy way to lose weight and remain lean is to eat fewer carbohydrates or to change the type of the carbohydrates we do eat, and, for some of us, perhaps to eat virtually none at all.

The 11 Critical Conclusions of Good Calories, Bad Calories :

1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, does not cause heart disease.
2. Carbohydrates do, because of their effect on the hormone insulin. The more easily-digestible and refined the carbohydrates and the more fructose they contain, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.
3. Sugars--sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup specifically--are particularly harmful. The glucose in these sugars raises insulin levels; the fructose they contain overloads the liver.
4. Refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are also the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer's Disease, and the other common chronic diseases of modern times.
5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating and not sedentary behavior.
6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter any more than it causes a child to grow taller.
7. Exercise does not make us lose excess fat; it makes us hungry.
8. We get fat because of an imbalance--a disequilibrium--in the hormonal regulation of fat tissue and fat metabolism. More fat is stored in the fat tissue than is mobilized and used for fuel. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this imbalance.
9. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated, we stockpile calories as fat. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and burn it for fuel.
10. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.
11. The fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be.

Good Calories, Bad Calories is a tour de force of scientific investigation--certain to redefine the ongoing debate about the foods we eat and their effects on our health.
Publisher: New York : Knopf, c2007
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400040780
Branch Call Number: 613 .263 TAU
Characteristics: xxv, 601 p. :,ill. ;,25 cm


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Sep 07, 2018

This book offers a very thorough examination of the science and politics of nutrition in the past century. It has a lot of detail, some of which was difficult for me to follow, even with a college-level background in science. The information makes a lot of sense and offers scientific explanations for why low carbohydrate diets seem to work. I learned a ton! Highly recommend, but probably more-so for those with a science background and strong interest.

Feb 25, 2018

There is a lot of writing about the history of food and nutrients. That was pretty good. However, the author draws some erroneous conclusions. Like, hunter/gatherers would kill the biggest and fattest animals and feast. If you think about animals that hunt prey, they get the smallest, slowest, oldest and sickest. Primitive man would be no different. He touts the benefits of a heavy animal product diet, sighting things like the Atkin's diet. Atkin's diet of a heart attack. Just because a person looses weight, doesn't mean they are healthy. The only way to reverse heart disease is with a plant based diet. Dr. Dean Ornish proved this more than 2 decades ago. The book does mention people/cultures that eat a heavy animal product diet and seem to do well. Gary Taubes does not mention well know plant based people who not only are fit but have lower rates of disease and live longer (commonly know as the Blue Zones). A good book with lots of information about the hazards of too much protein is Proteinaholics. It is based entirely on science and written by a Dr. Garth Davis. If you want to learn the history of diet/nutritional thinking then there is a lot of info. in Good Calories.Bad Calories. If you want to loose weight and be healthy, do not listen the what this book says. You would do better to go to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's web sight and read the science behind a healthier lifestyle.

Jul 02, 2016

This book should by read by everybody who has an interest in nutrition and health. It is not an easy read, but definitely worth it.

LRS1969 Jul 23, 2015

Excellent book, very extensive and detailed.

A better book for laymen would be his "leaner" version of this called "Why We Get Fat, And What To Do About It".

For those who complain about its detail and extensiveness and lack of specific solutions and recommendations, then the author's "Why We Get Fat" is for you (AND should be read as a companion to this book in any case).

I can only imagine that Nay Sayers are firmly entrenched in the Low Fat and Saturated-Fat-Is-Evil dogma that we were lied to about for many decades (at least five... during which hydrogenated and partially plant oils were HEALTH foods supposedly - the same fats that are now known as Trans Fatty Acids and according to the FDA - now - are deadly and they recommend ZERO GRAMS daily consumption).

The Low Carb High Fat Diet (LCHF) lifestyle is NOT just for overweight people, but for almost everyone. It is much healthier, is a step deeply into the diet that we evolved to eat, and can just as readily be used for those desiring to gain lean muscle mass.

JMP7 Aug 01, 2014

This book is an extensive review of the information on high carb and low carb diets. It is long but interesting. I can't believe that despite over 100 years of research that showed the benefits of low carb diets, a few people were able to swing public opinion toward high carb, low fat diets in the 1970's, and Americans have been gaining weight ever since.

May 28, 2013

Fascinating. If you're curious about science, public policy, and nutrition, and can handle some basic college-level biology, take a look at this book before you make up your mind about the causes of the obesity epidemic.

Feb 12, 2013

This book changed my life! Taubes examines the science and shows how so much of what we've been taught about nutrition, like the food pyramid, is false. What's the best way to lose weight, sleep better and have more energy? Stop eating grains and sugar. It's really that simple, and Taubes presents the evidence to back it up.

Feb 09, 2013

khmullen is correct. That is why Taubes has published "Why We Get Fat" I highly recommend that book for the crux of the argument.

Kobetsky Mar 26, 2012

Copyright 2007, a modern book saturated with ancient history.
Useless and impossible to read.
No conclusions, no recommendations, and no solution offered.
Don't bother looking at it.
26 March 2012

Feb 06, 2012

This is a book with a lot of potential but way too much information unless you are a scientist or nutrition scholar. I think he would have reached a much greater audience with a slimmer volume.

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