10 Things Your Doctor Doesn’t Know (or Won’t Tell You)

Happy Calories and Sad Calories

In an earlier post, Is Your Doctor Killing You? , I mentioned Gary Taubes’ excellent book “Good Calories, Bad Calories”. I just finished it and it is one of the most important books I have ever read. It’s a fairly deep and dense book,  filled with large amounts of scientific and epidemiological information. Rigorously researched,  full of citations and foot notes, it’s still a good read. Taubes is a skilled writer and knows how to keep things moving. In his epilogue, he lists the ten most important conclusions that his research has revealed, conclusions that he never expected to find.  In the spirit of “if only I had known then what I know now”,  I ‘d like to share this with you:

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 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.

6. Consuming excess calories does not CAUSE us to grow fatter, any more than it causes a child to grow taller. Expending more energy than we consume does not lead to long-term weight loss; it leads to hunger.

7. Fattening and obesity are caused by an imbalance-a disequilibrium-in the hormonal regulation of adipose tissue and fat metabolism. Fat synthesis and storage exceeds the mobilization of fat from the adipose tissue and its subsequent oxidation. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of fat tissues reverses this balance.

8. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated- either chronically or after a meal- we accumulate fat in our fat tissue. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and use it as fuel.

9. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. The fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.

10. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.

(page 454 “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes)

The most convincing evidence for these conclusions is the fact that so many of us are fat, hungry, and even sick, no matter how hard we try to follow our doctor’s advice concerning diet and exercise.  Or if we are at times successful, why does it never seem to last? Is this an issue of physiology or psychology? Are we really all that lazy and gluttonous, as the nutritionists and doctor’s would have us believe?  Really?

As for me, I worked my ass off (and on) for over 15 years trying to stay healthy by following the conventional medical establishment’s advice.  Now that I’ve decided to ignore the ‘experts’ and return to a diet more like our hunter-gatherer bodies are designed for, I’m finally seeing significant success.  And guess what? It’s EASY!

To those skeptics out there (and skepticism is good, or else I would still be convinced of the benefit of following the USDA  dietary paradigms) I give you one word of advice: QUESTION YOUR DOCTOR! And then ask him to read this book

Think about it.


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  1. #1 by logiopath on May 19, 2009 - 4:37 pm


  2. #2 by MoreData on May 20, 2009 - 8:15 am

    logio, why “Bah”? What?

    Christian, that is exactly what we need. I explained to my son that grocery stores only relatively recently dedicated an entire aisle to junk food. He looked me in the face to see if I was kidding.

  3. #3 by Christian Beyer on May 20, 2009 - 8:57 am

    Yep. Right now I’m reading Michael Pollan’s ‘follow -up’ book to “Omnivore’s Dilemma” – “In Defense of Food”. He takes a more balanced approach to this issue than other’s (such as Taubes). He says the food industry introduces 17,000 new items a year – food products, not really food.

    A couple of his rules of thumb; if your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, then don’t eat it. Another good one is that if it doesn’t spoil, don’t eat it. But my favorite is that if the words ‘low-fat’, ‘low-calorie’ or even ‘heart’ are displayed on the labels then don’t buy it. If it says that it’s healthy it almost assuredly is not. Instead it’s just another way for the industry to sell new items by jumping on the latest food fad.

  4. #4 by MoreData on May 20, 2009 - 12:28 pm

    Food “products”. That one gave me a chuckle.

    I’ve even taken to making my own genuinely whole grain fiberful crackers. It’s too hot in summer to bake them, though. And since they don’t have preservatives or an abundance of salt, can’t keep them too long.

  5. #5 by logiopath on May 20, 2009 - 5:37 pm

    Bah means Bah.

    Christian is one of those people who grab onto trends–I am much more careful with what I support.

    So Bah

  6. #6 by logiopath on May 20, 2009 - 5:38 pm

    Just kidding.

    Christian is Okay (a little short, but Okay).

    He has a hard job–let’s just say people are crazy about his food.

  7. #7 by Christian Beyer on May 20, 2009 - 7:29 pm

    You think that calling for a return to the diet that our ancestors ate over 150 years ago is a ‘trend’? If only.

    Psst! Hey, Buddy! Wanna buy a budda choin?

    Seriously though. I think you should be just as careful about what you eat as to what you support. The ‘trend’ is to eat processed and fast foods.

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