I was recently asked to take a look at Gary Taubes work ” the case against sugar – good calories bad calories – what makes us fat”
In a way, he wrote several books that are all the same with different titles. The synapsis is this: sugar is bad for you, the FDA makes you eat sugar, you being overweight is a hormonal issue not a matter of calories in vs calories out, insulin makes you fat.
Taubes is a bit like Malcom Gladwell in the sense that he sounds really good without actually understanding the subject. He is a journalist, not a researcher or nutritionist The main issue with all his books is that he starts with a belief system and foregoes all evidence to the contrary.
Let’s go to the videotape
btw the video is here
1. Sugar is bad for you and it is the sole cause of obesity and diabetes. No, it is not. Excess calories cause obesity, the insulin levels have nothing to do with it. You can eat 6k calories from butter and have low insulin while still getting fat. The opposite would be eating 600 calories from gummy bears which would not cause any weight gain. In terms of insulin resistance, high sugar high fat diet will get you there fastest aka junk food.
Taubes also does not mention that protein such as chicken or whey spike insulin levels as well.
2. The FDA is behind all this, giving sugar the GRAS label. Generally accepted as safe such as ( substances that have been consumed for a long time and are not overly toxic) such as vinegar etc. If you take away that label you make it impossible to sell any sugar. but you could sell.. cheese, lard, cigarettes and vodka?
3. The US senate set up the food pyramid, giving excessive room for starchy carbs. Somewhat true but the milk/egg/ meat lobby is just as powerful. Some of these products are blamed for heart attacks as well. Basically both sides presented faulty science along the lines ” eat our food and you will be great, eat the other guys food and you will die.!”
The US Senate also did not say overeat anything. From a military independence standpoint, it makes sense to focus on starches. easier to produce and you can feed more people, good idea during the cold war.
3. Insulin makes you fat. It does not . Insulin is a messenger hormone which sends the impulse to store nutrients in a cell . Taubes says that the consumption of fructose causes obesity since it messes with insulin . Simply nonsense. If your liver glycogen stores are full, then yes you will store fat. If not, you will not. which is why triathletes drink 6 gatorades a day or consume plenty of honey= they burn through the sugar.
4. Nobody is researching the hormonal aspect of obesity, Taubes claims. People are looking into hormones upside down and sideways, but insulin does not play a role. Obese people have a leptin/ ghrelin imblaance, leptin being a satiety hormone that is often missing.
5. Good calories vs bad calories . That concept makes zero sense since a calories is simply a unit of heat, meaning the amount of heat you need to increase the temperature of one liter of water by one degree celsius. That isn’t to say that certain foods are healthier than others but Taubes claim that you can gain fat while eating sugar even if you are in a caloric deficit is simply ludicrous.
6. Only going low carb will save you. No. Any calories reduction along with exercise will improve insulin levels and cause weight loss.
Why does he have an audience?
He spins a good yarn, it is almost. like reading a Tom Clancy novel. The history of sugar is very interesting, a lot of details I did not know about. Government conspiracy, evil hormones .. it all comes together.
Taubes gives you absolution. Basically he is telling you that it is not your fault that you are overweight but the government and your hormones. No need to count calories, just go on the keto diet. In a way, I give him credit; he milked the Adkins diet for five books already.
However, all things considered he presents things in a one sided way in order to drive his point across.
NYC Best Personal Trainer
Scientific coaching for great results