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Publisher's Summary

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. 

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.

©2007 Gary Taubes (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“If Taubes were inclined to sensationalism, he might have titled this book The Great Low-Fat Diet Hoax. Instead, he tackles the subject with the seriousness and scientific insight it deserves, building a devastating case against the low-fat, high-carb way of life endorsed by so many nutrition experts in recent years. With diabetes and heart disease at stake as well as obesity, those ‘experts’ owe us an abject apology.” (Barbara Ehrenreich)

Good Calories, Bad Calories is a remarkable accomplishment. From a mountain of diverse scientific evidence Gary Taubes has drawn an amazingly detailed and compelling picture of how diet, obesity, and heart disease link together–and how some of the world’s most important medical researchers got the story colossally wrong. Taubes proves, I think beyond doubt, that the dietary advice we’ve been given for the last three decades by the federal government and the major medical bodies rests on, shall we say, a slender empirical base.” (Charles C. Mann, author of 1491)

“A brave and bold science journalist . . . Taubes does not bow to the current fashion for narrative nonfiction, instead building his argument case by case . . . much of what Taubes relates will be eye-opening.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“Fascinating . . . Mr. Taubes has a gift for turning complex scientific principles into engaging narrative.” (The Wall Street Journal)

What listeners say about Good Calories, Bad Calories

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-08-2021

Wish I heard this sooner

This book is so enlightening. I feel like I’ve been dupe by the medical society. As a physician I have been advising my patients incorrectly because I was taught incorrectly. I have been adjust my nutrition to resemble more like your research suggests and I see a difference in my energy level focus and waistline. It’s hard to unlearn something that you have been taught for over fifty years… I guess better late than never. Thank You Mr. Taubes You deserved some type of literary award!!!!

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  • Ruby Spinner
  • 29-06-2021

Long, Detailed, Useful

This was a long, involved, detailed report, and very useful. However, it is much closer to the end, in the additional section for the Anchor Publication, that the whole thesis is perfectly expressed:

Our government has spent time, effort and money to create a religion. It is clear it is meant for us to believe that carbohydrate rich, low fat diets are the only correct way to eat. The government coddles and supports industrial carbohydrate production and sale; it even takes documentation out of context purposefully with the intention of deception.

Ask yourself one question: Why are poor people fat? The opposite is, why are wealthy people thin?

In both cases, the answer is simple. Programs which provide energy to the impoverished masses provide no nutrition. Refined white flour, oleomargerine, and industrial chemicals packed into bags and boxes are the mainstay of these programs. Juice, yogurt and starch like boxed cereal are staples of the WIC program. Rather than provide financial support to enable mothers to stay home and raise their children, breastfeeding is discouraged, infant formula is given in the hospital, and before the baby is two, he's being fed applesauce, puree peaches, and baby cookies if mom has extra pennies, but, often, Graham crackers, which are actually cookies, and in no way the healthy food intended by its inventor. Even hot dogs are loaded with starch to make them cheap.

The wealthy, on the other hand, eat much more meat, and far more vegetation. Juice, soda and faux food is much less a factor. And the proof is in the compared waistlines.

A very long book to get to that point, but the narrative was at least mildly interesting.

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  • Jason Harkness
  • 30-01-2021

Wordy but good info

Very wordy for an audible. This book could conveyed same information in half the time. However this book did provide good content and compelling issues!

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  • Nathan Shapiro
  • 30-12-2020

Way to detailed

Book has good information but it takes the author so long to get to the point every time he is sharing history or a study. This book is 23 hours but could have been done in half the time. It might be a great book for experts but not at all the casual reader or general public. I gave up after about 5 hours and skipped to the end

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  • kookyquinn
  • 28-04-2021

DNF

This is the most boring book I have ever listed to outside of college.

It’s just the (nasally) narrator reading what the author considers bogus study after bogus study. Over and over again.

Listening to this felt like being stuck in traffic. I wanted to scream “hurry up” or “move”.

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  • Tom
  • 12-02-2021

Great book!

Loved this book. It is very informative and well written and the narrator is excellent. I highly recommend this book to anyone new to keto or anyone struggling with metabolic syndrome.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Richard L.
  • 30-05-2021

Great book

Understanding my insulin levels and living that way has made me leaner, period. I hope this becomes common knowledge.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-10-2021

Great read and Insightful.

This really is a great book with tons of evidence to back up the claims.
It is very insightful for readers that agree and disagree with the information covered.
Only thing I would have liked is for the Author to read their own work, but I understand this cannot always happen.

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  • Oscar
  • 07-09-2021

Must read if you care about health

Deep dive into the different researches and reasons why scientists didn’t agree on best ways to eat leading to the nowadays successful low carb diet. Must read. Great insights. This book can literally change your life.

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  • Trucker Ed
  • 15-01-2022

Old news and history of dietary advice

Beware this was written in 2008 and contains outdated information. We all should be eating a high fiber diet which protects our liver from sugars and feeds our gut microbiome.

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  • Peter Chan
  • 14-01-2021

Robust evidence

Thank you for the most informative and objective explorations around evidence, and justifiably criticised expert behaviour which might have contributed towards worse health outcome contrary to believe and expert opinion.

For critical thinkers and impartial decision makers, this literature is a valuable companion and invaluable guide.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-06-2021

the no 1 must read

The summery of our food policy history is the best ever eye-opener. To know this all comes first. To get the powerful food-industries to move on this will be a different battle. Die soon or read this book!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-05-2021

A difficult book to review

Hard going, but worth it. Thought provoking at least. Complex and confusing in places. Excellent.

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  • Freneticmonk
  • 07-01-2022

Brings to light some controversial questions

I decided to listen to this book after listening to “Why We Get Sick” by Benjamin Bikman. Both of my parents were diabetic and I was well on my way to becoming one as well. This really has opened my mind to the nuances of weight control, insulin and the conventional ideology.

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  • .
  • 06-11-2021

comprehensive, contextual, informative

An excellent history and review of the literature and scientific development of our understanding of fat metabolism and the hormonal influence on how the body deals with calories. Much more interesting than the title suggests.

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  • Drew
  • 04-11-2021

One of the best science books I’ve ever read.

For the layman such as myself, it gets quite ‘chewy’ in places but this book nearly sews up many previous assumptions about diet, obesity, health & nutrition into a single, unified hypothesis that makes them all make sense.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gregg couper
  • 23-07-2021

Good book enjoyed while driving for work

Good book I enjoyed it , book was recommended to me .
and it sort of answers the questions I have , although I do wonder what ultimately has killed more people war or bad diet advice .
this unbiased book uncovers the facts and the motivation of so called diet experts .
ie funding of there cause by junk food industries, I would recommend.

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