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Old 12-30-2007, 07:17 PM   #1
LucienNicholson
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Default Good Calories, Bad Calories

Hi, everyone. I've been lurking on these boards for a while, but after reading Taubes' writing after learning about him here, I have felt the need to actually post something.

So I recently finished Good Calories Bad, Calories and I found it a very interesting and engaging read. He makes some provocative and well-reasoned assertions. Some of the most provacative include:

1. Obesity is a form of malnutrition;
2. Over-consumption causes "internal starvation" by driving glucose into fat cells and that
3. It isn't that people are obese because they aren't active, but that they aren't active because they are obese.

I agree with his overall thesis, but that might be because I found that low-carb eating works for me and I frequent this message board.

I was wondering what people on this board think of his book. Has anyone read any substantive criticism of Taubes or carb-restriction at all that actually raises solid questions as to the validity of the carb-restriction hypothesis? All I've seen is that a diet low in carbohydrates can raise the risk of heart disease, which is probably wrong and I think Taubes did a good job of dispatching that idea in his book.

He builds his case on endocrinology and numerous clinical studies. While I do agree with him and have seen the results on myself, I would like to see a similarly researched and thought-out critique of his book based on the same things. Unfortunately, what I did find in terms of criticism doesn't seem to.
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Old 12-30-2007, 08:47 PM   #2
Allen Yeh
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On my to read list, the overall premise of the book does seem interesting though.
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Old 12-31-2007, 09:34 AM   #3
Patrick Donnelly
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I'm #39 on the hold-list in the Fairfax public library system...


At least this means there are 39 other health freaks in the county!
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Old 12-31-2007, 08:31 PM   #4
Mohamed F. El-Hewie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LucienNicholson View Post
1. Obesity is a form of malnutrition;
2. Over-consumption causes "internal starvation" by driving glucose into fat cells and that
3. It isn't that people are obese because they aren't active, but that they aren't active because they are obese.

...I found that low-carb eating works for me and I frequent this message board.

..All I've seen is that a diet low in carbohydrates can raise the risk of heart disease,
I admit that I have not read the book but I have reviewed enough books on the subject.

First, I could not figure out what the claim that “obesity is a form of malnutrition” serves? People become obese because they consume more than they burn. That is malnutrition. That does not add any new fact.

Second, in overconsumption of food, the body does not burn stored fat, since there is abundance of glucose to fuel cells. That is not starvation. I could not figure out what "internal" means, in that context. Any way, in starvation, the body relies on stored fat to synthesize glucose in the liver.

Third, how would the author or any research guess what makes people inactive? Activity is determined by many factors, one of those is the individual physical status of the person. That is the quibble of which comes first, the egg or the hen?

As for the low carb diet, it is well known that low intake of carbohydrates does not disturb the insulin production, which is responsible for anabolic reaction and fat deposition. Again, heart diseases are caused, among other factors, by lack of activity and over consumption of calories. Since fat contains more than double the calories of cabs and proteins, by weight, therefore intake of high fat content is responsible for high percentage of heart diseases.

As you see, we made a full turn back to the basic that proper caloric intake in the healthiest way for heart longevity. As far as the good and bad, in calories, I assume that if you were a vegetarian before the age of twenty and live an active life you might never suffer from any heart disease. High cholesterol intake and saturated fat intake have been proven to associate with coronary heart disease. Furthermore, most coronary heart disease start at the twenties of age yet present clinically in the forties or fifties of age. That a good 30 years of dormant pathological development.
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Old 12-31-2007, 09:40 PM   #5
LucienNicholson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mohamed F. El-Hewie View Post

First, I could not figure out what the claim that “obesity is a form of malnutrition” serves? People become obese because they consume more than they burn. That is malnutrition. That does not add any new fact.
From my reading of it, the common perception is that people become obese because, as you said, they eat more calories than they burn. Modern experts say this is because Westerners have become rich and inactive, alowing us to eat more than we burn. However, Taubes makes the argument--quite well--that the malnutrition isn't a function of how many calories they eat, but what kind of calories they are. The malnutrition that he gives examples of deal with people in all socio-economic classes. His argument is that it is carbohydrate that makes people obese, not just total calories. I think he did a really good job of dispatching the "calories-in minus calories-out = weight gain/loss" hypothesis. He cites numerous examples of people eating up to 5,000 calories a day of fat and protein, but not becoming obese. On the other hand, people on low-carb find it hard to lose weight. Do you know of any rival hypotheses based on the hormonal effects of food, or any clinical trials? I really would like to get a balanced opinion on this.

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Second, in overconsumption of food, the body does not burn stored fat, since there is abundance of glucose to fuel cells. That is not starvation. I could not figure out what "internal" means, in that context. Any way, in starvation, the body relies on stored fat to synthesize glucose in the liver.
That is another thing I found so interesting about his hypothesis and it links into the "inactive because they are obese hypothesis." From my understanding of what he said, it is that because of the dramatic insulin response from high carbohydrate intake, the body pushes glucose into fat and away from other cells, thus depriving other cells of glucose. Thus there isn't an abundance of glucose for cells.

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Third, how would the author or any research guess what makes people inactive? Activity is determined by many factors, one of those is the individual physical status of the person. That is the quibble of which comes first, the egg or the hen?
I think I'd have to look that up again, but I remember that he cited a number of studies regarding homeostasis whereby the body strives to keep a constant mass, so if it gets too many calories, it will burn off the extra through heightened temperature or increased activity, and if it gets too little animals and people tend to be inactive.

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As for the low carb diet, it is well known that low intake of carbohydrates does not disturb the insulin production, which is responsible for anabolic reaction and fat deposition. Again, heart diseases are caused, among other factors, by lack of activity and over consumption of calories. Since fat contains more than double the calories of cabs and proteins, by weight, therefore intake of high fat content is responsible for high percentage of heart diseases ... High cholesterol intake and saturated fat intake have been proven to associate with coronary heart disease.
He addresses that, too, by explaining through a lot endocrinology that the cause of heart disease is not fat and total cholesterol, but rather it has been linked to carbohydrates, which cause the production of triglycerides and something, which I just heard of, called very low density lipoproteins (VLDL). He also links atherosclerosis to insulin levels. Again, because of the hormonal effects, higher caloric contents don't contribute to the production of more adipose tissue.

Thanks for the response. I've just been trying to get a feel for other hypotheses out there, since I really haven't cared about this stuff for long.

For anyone who hasn't read the book, I'd suggest buying it, as it is pretty useful for referencing all sorts of studies and getting a differing view from the dominant view, if that floats your boat.
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Old 12-31-2007, 10:13 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Patrick Donnelly View Post
I'm #39 on the hold-list in the Fairfax public library system...


At least this means there are 39 other health freaks in the county!
I'm #30!
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Pain is your companion, don't go hide from it."
-Kelly Starrett
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Old 12-31-2007, 10:39 PM   #7
Mohamed F. El-Hewie
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1) He cites numerous examples of people eating up to 5,000 calories a day of fat and protein, but not becoming obese. On the other hand, people on low-carb find it hard to lose weight.
That would violate the laws of conservation of energy and upset the biochemists and physiologists on the author. Excess calories must get somewhere for storage.

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2) the dramatic insulin response from high carbohydrate intake, the body pushes glucose into fat and away from other cells, thus depriving other cells of glucose. Thus there isn't an abundance of glucose for cells.
Insulin is excreted in proportion to excess glucose level. As soon as the excess glucose is lowered in circulation to basic level, insulin level will also drop. Only in insulinoma, where there is pathological secretion of insulin, that when glucose drops to hypoglycemic level.
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Originally Posted by LucienNicholson View Post
3) that the cause of heart disease is not fat and total cholesterol, but rather it has been linked to carbohydrates, which cause the production of triglycerides and something, which I just heard of, called very low density lipoproteins (VLDL).
Fat and total cholesterol are synthesized from excess carbohydrates or from fat or protein intake. The body possesses the ability to manufacture fat or glucose from each other. In other words, excess calories, whether carb, fat, or protein will lead to excess VLDL. Exercise lowers the VLDL.

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4) He also links atherosclerosis to insulin levels. Again, because of the hormonal effects, higher caloric contents don't contribute to the production of more adipose tissue.
Adipose tissue must come from higher caloric content by the laws of conservation of energy. Hormonal control of homeostasis does not breach the laws of energy conservation. There is now doubt that if you consume 5000 calories of fat or protein or both, with limited activity, you will get fat in short time.
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Old 01-01-2008, 09:39 AM   #8
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I'm #30!
Bastard! Hahahah.

I may just buy it... Only $21.51 here:
http://www.buy.com/prod/good-calorie...204182300.html
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Old 01-02-2008, 09:13 AM   #9
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[/sarcasm]I hope all of you are paying attention to the pearls of wisdom being shared on this forum!

I'm so totally going back to my vegetarian, calorie-counting, 6-meal-a-day, low-fat, low cholesterol diet and my light aerobics/Pilates workouts! I have seen the light! [/end sarcasm]
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Old 01-04-2008, 11:37 AM   #10
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This is the best "rebuttal" to Taubes that I have seen. It is a response to a magazine article (an excerpt from the book, I expect).

http://www.cspinet.org/nah/11_02/bigfatlies.pdf

I'm still hoping to see a more complete response to the book, which, like a contemporary meal, is composed of overlarge portions.

Modern civilization was built with carbohydrates. It seems to me that the carbophobes sometimes blur the distinctions between various forms of carbs (notably whole grains versus processed) and some of the anti-carb crowd argue with an almost theological zeal, which, like all theology, I find unpersuasive.

I also enjoy endurance workouts (which are not nearly so catabolic as some would have you believe) and dump refined sugar in my coffee. I try to remain cheerful about my shortcomings, while continuing to take teensy steps to improve myself.
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