The book every low carber, paleo or primal lifestyle follower should read is Good Calories, Bad Calories? Gary Taubes

Why?  Because it will really shock you, and, if you have children maybe frighten you with the realisation that a modern diet will kill your children much faster than need be.  I found the evidence in the book extremely compelling.

So for your body’s sake and the sake of your children, beg borrow or steal a copy of the book and read it right now!.

Taubes credentials are impressive, he started out studying applied physics at Harvard as an undergraduate, holds a MSc in engineering from Stanford University (1978) and a MArts journalism from Columbia University (1981). As a free-lance journalist, he’s written for Science as a contributing correspondent since 1993, for The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Playboy and a host of other publications.  He’s also won numerous awards for his reporting including the International Health Reporting Award from the Pan American Health Organization and the National Association of Science Writers Science in Society Journalism Award, which he won in 1996, 1999 and 2001. (The only print journalist to win this award three times.) Since the mid 1980s, he has focused his reporting on controversial science, on the excruciatingly difficult job of establishing reliable knowledge in any field of inquiry, and on the scientific tools and methodology needed to do so. Books include Nobel Dreams (Random House 1987), and Bad Science, The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion (Random House, 1993), a New York Times Notable Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Awards, as well as GC, BC.

He says all his books are about the same thing – the sociology of science and what happens when the researchers involved are less than rigorous about how they pursue that science.

But the conclusions reached in GC, BC are frightening, and his 100+ pages of references do support them.  I have read the book 2 or 3 times.  It is not an easy read – it covers some complex scientific concepts, but it is worth persevering to the end.

Because the big thing that comes through from the book is that it is excess carbohydrates that are the underlying cause of many of our modern medical woes.  Cancer, Alzheimers, diabetes, obesity, heart disease – ALL are exacerbated terribly by today’s medically encouraged low fat / high carb diet.

The first third of the book explains how the scientific world came to believe saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease, then describes how this came about by selective interpretation of the evidence.  The second third provides an alternative hypothesis – that most chronic diseases: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, even Alzheimer’s; are caused by the effect of easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars on our blood sugar, insulin and fat accumulation. Taubes himself says he never thought going into this that he’d actually find an alternative hypothesis that was compelling; he thought he’d just be debunking the conventional wisdom. However, there turned out to be an obvious alternative hypothesis and a consistent line of evidence supporting it from the 19th century through to the latest research in science journals today.  The last third of the book is about obesity and what makes us fat, arguing that it’s not this simplistic and effectively meaningless calories-in-calories-out, but the effect of carbohydrates specifically on insulin and insulin on fat accumulation.

His list of 10 conclusions:

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 so 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 elevate 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 the 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 the fat tissue 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 for fuel.

9. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. The less 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.