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CURRENTLY $2.99 ON KINDLE: Gary Taubes’ The Case Against Sugar.

SO I ASKED ABOUT GARY TAUBES EARLIER, but in this post I’m asking people to share their experiences following Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength advice. Chime in in the comments. (Bumped).

SO YESTERDAY HELEN POSTED A LINK to Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, and some people commented on how it had changed their lives. But in this post I’m actually soliciting your experiences. Let us know how it worked out. (Bumped).

IN THE MAIL: From Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It.

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GARY TAUBES, CALL YOUR OFFICE: The Case Against Carbohydrates Gets Stronger. “Participants in the low (20%) carbohydrate group burned on average about 250 calories a day more than those in the high (60%) carbohydrate group, just as predicted by the carbohydrate-insulin model. Without intervention (that is, if we hadn’t adjusted the amount of food to prevent weight change), that difference would produce substantial weight loss — about 20 pounds after a few years. If a low-carbohydrate diet also curbs hunger and food intake (as other studies suggest it can), the effect could be even greater.”

GARY TAUBES, CALL YOUR OFFICE: New research could banish guilty feeling for consuming whole dairy products. “Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults. In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke.”

AMERICA FACES AN EPIDEMIC OF FATTY LIVER DISEASE, and it’s not because people are drinking too much.

Some 65 million Americans have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and that number will reach 100 million by 2030, according to Scott Friedman, MD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

And currently 16.5 million people have the most serious subtype of NAFLD, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a number that will rise to 27 million, he told reporters at the Liver Meeting, the annual conference of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

The numbers will drive — among other things — a 178% increase in the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), Friedman said during a media briefing aimed at raising a red flag over the issue.

“An epidemic is upon us that we have not fully recognized,” he said, adding “primary care providers don’t appreciate that many of their patients are harboring a silent disease.”

But it’s not just that doctors themselves don’t recognize the issue, commented Arun Sanyal, MD, of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. “This is a social problem” that needs greater awareness on the part of healthcare providers, the public and the politicians, he said.

Rising rates of obesity are the force behind the epidemic of NAFLD, an umbrella term covering a spectrum that begins with accumulation of fat in the liver, followed by ballooning, scarring, cirrhosis, and eventually liver failure, cancer, and death.

Try eating more eggs and going Gary Taubes.

GARY TAUBES, CALL YOUR OFFICE: Huge new study casts doubt on conventional wisdom about fat and carbs.

The latest evidence comes from data released Tuesday by the international Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study. Its research team recorded the eating habits of 135,000 adults in 18 countries — including high-income, medium-income, and low-income nations — and followed the participants’ health for more than seven years on average.

Among the PURE participants, those with the highest intake of dietary fat (35 percent of daily calories) were 23 percent less likely to have died during the study period than those with the lowest fat intake (10 percent of calories). The rates of various cardiovascular diseases were essentially the same across fat intake, while strokes were less common among those with a high fat intake.

Upending conventional wisdom, the findings for carbohydrate intake went in the opposite direction. PURE participants with the highest carbohydrate intake (77 percent of daily calories) were 28 percent more likely to have died than those with the lowest carbohydrate intake (46 percent of calories).

Not such a surprise for InstaPundit readers.

THIS ISN’T A HUGE SURPRISE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE FOLLOWED GARY TAUBES’ WRITINGS, ETC.: Study: Regular soda causes body to store more fat after high-protein meals. “Folks who had a sweetened drink with a high-protein meal stored more unused fat, compared to others who ate the same food with a sugar-free beverage, laboratory tests revealed.”

GARY TAUBES FANS WILL NOT BE SHOCKED: Eat fat to lose weight? Scientists say it’s the smart thing to do. “Nutrition experts and public health officials have been telling us for decades to eat less fat to lose weight. But it turns out a high-fat diet can actually help you lose weight, gain energy and fight obesity-associated conditions such as diabetes. Why did the experts lead us astray for so long? In short, weak science is to blame.”

We’re uncovering a lot of weak science these days.

GARY TAUBES WILL NOT BE SURPRISED: Researchers find link between sugar, some cancers.

IN THE MAIL: From Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It.

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GARY TAUBES, CALL YOUR OFFICE: The First Signs of Obesity in Certain Arctic Groups Have Been Linked to Instant Noodles. “Obesity has not previously existed in these indigenous populations, but the first cases are now being reported, and a marked change in diet – including instant noodles and pasta – appears to be responsible.”

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Government can’t get us off sugar: Policies promoting sugar, in no small part, got us into this mess.

Inspired by my reading of Gary Taubes’ The Case Against Sugar.

YES. WHY SUBSIDIZE AMERICA’S OBESITY AND DIABETES EPIDEMICS? Food stamps and sweets: Should they be kept apart?

The debate aligns two sides that may not appear to have much in common: critics on the right of government overspending and public health advocates. Debate about how food-stamp benefits are spent was sparked by a November report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which found that households receiving SNAP benefits used 20 cents of every dollar to buy soda, candy, desserts and other unhealthy foods.

“Almost half of added sugars consumed by the U.S. population come from sweetened beverages,” said Angela Rachidi, research fellow in poverty studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, during testimony at the House committee hearing. “This is why it is so alarming that such a notable percentage of food/beverage purchases in American households are for sweetened beverages.”

She added, “Supporting such purchases, especially at levels suggested in the data, directly contradicts the stated goals of the program,” which say the money should be used for “improved levels of nutrition among low-income households.”

I’ve been reading Gary Taubes’ The Case Against Sugar, and, well, he makes a pretty strong case. And if nanny-staters want to ban Big Gulps for people who are spending their own money, I don’t see how you can oppose limits on what people buy with taxpayers’ money.

IN THE MAIL: From Gary Taubes, The Case Against Sugar.

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Here’s a review: “Taubes’s writing is both inflammatory and copiously researched.”

TRUE: One Weight-Loss Approach Fits All? No, Not Even Close.

Dr. Frank Sacks, a professor of nutrition at Harvard, likes to challenge his audience when he gives lectures on obesity.

“If you want to make a great discovery,” he tells them, figure out this: Why do some people lose 50 pounds on a diet while others on the same diet gain a few pounds?

Then he shows them data from a study he did that found exactly that effect.

Dr. Sacks’s challenge is a question at the center of obesity research today. Two people can have the same amount of excess weight, they can be the same age, the same socioeconomic class, the same race, the same gender. And yet a treatment that works for one will do nothing for the other.

The problem, researchers say, is that obesity and its precursor — being overweight — are not one disease but instead, like cancer, they are many. “You can look at two people with the same amount of excess body weight and they put on the weight for very different reasons,” said Dr. Arya Sharma, medical director of the obesity program at the University of Alberta.

The more we know about nutrition, weight, and exercise, the less we know in some ways. Though you won’t go far wrong following Gary Taubes and Mark Rippetoe.

ADVICE: Before You Spend $25,000 On Weight-Loss Surgery, Try A Low-Carb Diet.

Gary Taubes could’ve told you this.

WITH THE CONNIVANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT: How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat. “The documents show that a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. The studies used in the review were handpicked by the sugar group, and the article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat.”

If you can’t trust Harvard scientists. . . Gary Taubes had something to say about this.

EVERYTHING IS A PROBLEM: Guys and the pressure to be beach body perfect.

Beach season is here and more guys are pumping iron at the gym and running shirtless at lunch hour. Men’s Health just featured another guy with ripped abs and biceps on their cover. And Instagram is overflowing with perfectly sculpted dudes surfing waves, climbing mountains and running on soccer fields.

It can make regular guys feel downright depressed.

“The summer can for some people increase the anxiety associated with body image concerns because your body is more exposed,” said Dr. Katharine Phillips, director of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Program at Rhode Island Hospital, and professor of psychiatry at Brown University.

Some of her male patients with body image concerns even get blue about the extra hours of daylight summer brings, Phillips told CBS News. “They really don’t like their body to be seen.”

If you don’t like the way you look, change it. You can get help from Gary Taubes, from Mark Rippetoe, and — if you really care about how you look — from Arnold.

UPDATE: In the comments, a reader recommends this as a less science-heavy, more focused version of Taubes’ advice.

NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF SCIENCE: Women DO judge men on their penis size: Researchers say it is ‘as important as a man’s height.’

But while there’s not much you can do about height or penis size, there’s this: “Torso shape was by far the most important determinant of attractiveness.” So get with the Rippetoe and Taubes if you want to improve that.

ON THE ONE HAND, A DISASTER. ON THE OTHER HAND, A TRIUMPH OVER THE PROBLEMS OF PRETTY MUCH ALL OF HUMAN HISTORY: Diabetes was once a problem of the rich. Now it belongs to the poor.

Want to be healthy? Try following Taubes and Rippetoe.

THE GOVERNMENT WAS CONTROLLED BY SPECIAL INTERESTS, AND PUSHED “SETTLED SCIENCE” THAT WAS FAKE AND DAMAGING: In 1972, a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined. How did the world’s top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long?

In 1980, after long consultation with some of America’s most senior nutrition scientists, the US government issued its first Dietary Guidelines. The guidelines shaped the diets of hundreds of millions of people. Doctors base their advice on them, food companies develop products to comply with them. Their influence extends beyond the US. In 1983, the UK government issued advice that closely followed the American example.

The most prominent recommendation of both governments was to cut back on saturated fats and cholesterol (this was the first time that the public had been advised to eat less of something, rather than enough of everything). Consumers dutifully obeyed. We replaced steak and sausages with pasta and rice, butter with margarine and vegetable oils, eggs with muesli, and milk with low-fat milk or orange juice. But instead of becoming healthier, we grew fatter and sicker.

Look at a graph of postwar obesity rates and it becomes clear that something changed after 1980. In the US, the line rises very gradually until, in the early 1980s, it takes off like an aeroplane. Just 12% of Americans were obese in 1950, 15% in 1980, 35% by 2000. In the UK, the line is flat for decades until the mid-1980s, at which point it also turns towards the sky. Only 6% of Britons were obese in 1980. In the next 20 years that figure more than trebled. Today, two thirds of Britons are either obese or overweight, making this the fattest country in the EU. Type 2 diabetes, closely related to obesity, has risen in tandem in both countries.

At best, we can conclude that the official guidelines did not achieve their objective; at worst, they led to a decades-long health catastrophe.

But despite all the talk about going after tobacco companies and “climate deniers,” the culprits here will face no consequences at all. Meanwhile, note the record of dermatologists in actively persecuting colleagues who suggested that sunlight might have benefits. How many people have sickened or died because of their lousy, but unbending, advice?

Then there’s the whole salt thing. . .

How much healthier would Americans be, if we’d followed the principles espoused by Gary Taubes and Mark Rippetoe — principles that were well-known 50 years ago, but discarded because they didn’t serve the interests of scientists and activists?

UNSETTLED SCIENCE: Foods High in Cholesterol Don’t Raise Heart Risks.

Want to be healthy? Try following Taubes and Rippetoe.

STUDY: GARLIC EXTRACT CUTS SOFT PLAQUE IN ARTERIES. Catch: “The research was funded by a garlic extract maker.” Plus: “My advice: fix your diet first. Cut out sugar and refined foods. Eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Maybe garlic extract helps. But it is not a substitute for healthy eating. Also, do weight lifting. More muscle mass will raise the rate at which you burn calories even when sitting still. Pumping iron provides other benefits too. Pills aren’t a substitute for a healthy lifestyle.”

Well, not yet, anyway. I recommend following Taubes and Rippetoe in the interim.

UPDATE: Link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry!

POTATOES AND PREGNANCY: “A new study suggests that the more potatoes in a woman’s typical diet, the more likely she is to develop gestational diabetes, a serious complication of pregnancy.”

Gary Taubes, call your office.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How To Get Rid Of Your Man Boobs.

My advice: If you follow Gary Taubes and Mark Rippetoe, you’ll do pretty well.

GARY TAUBES, CALL YOUR OFFICE: Man drops 75% of his body fat in just 12 weeks by swapping cereal for steak. Though that wasn’t the only change he made.

THIS IS ACTUALLY BETTER: Consumers Are Embracing Full Fat Foods. “Public health authorities have long urged Americans to cut back on foods high in saturated fat like butter, meat and whole milk. But a new report on dietary-fat consumption suggests that the public is increasingly eating more, not less, of these foods.”

Just ask Gary Taubes.

SOUND SCIENCE: Next Time Government Gives You Dietary Advice, Consider Doing the Opposite. From scares over skipping breakfast to too much salt, the government’s been wrong a lot.

Often wrong, but never in doubt. I’m sticking with Gary Taubes myself.


The National Institute of Health’s We Can! program, which aims to help children maintain a healthy weight, steers families toward low-fat foods. The program lists diet soda and ketchup as foods to eat “almost anytime,” but says low-fat milk should be consumed only “sometimes.” The NIH program puts whole milk in the most restricted category as cookies, doughnuts and French fries, to be consumed only “once in a while.”

Soda good, whole milk bad. Because the Evil Fatz. Somebody send them a copy of Gary Taubes’ book, stat!

WELL, YES: Diet More Important Than Exercise For Weight Loss. That said, though, I think exercise plays a more important role than is generally appreciated — especially weight training, of course. That’s not only because of calories burned, but also because I think it causes you to take responsibility for your body and how it looks, which encourages you to be more careful about what you eat.

Meanwhile, my advice is if you’re going to do diet, try the Taubes approach. If you ‘re going to exercise, try the Rippetoe approach.


Glenn: Three 1/2 week update: 17# wt. loss, wearing medium scrubs for the first time in 30 years, two notches on every belt, even my shoes are looser. Interestingly, my GI tract has calmed down, much less volume of stool with volume of leafy greens and veggies up. Urine is really concentrated and stinks with the ketotic state. Have gone from bourbon and coke to “on the rocks” and learning to like it. Have been busy at work, traveling, and only managing two workouts/week, and still the weight falls off. Drinking lots of Lacroix flavored water, and avoiding any sugary drinks. Backslid tonite though, I made steak fajitas from scratch, and there is no such thing as a low carb tortilla ! (They were fantastic) First time in three weeks that I’ve felt “stuffed” even though I’ve been shoveling down steaks, fish, shrimp, eggs, bacon, sausage for breakfast and dinner. Typical breakfast after a workout is three eggs over easy with five pieces of bacon or three pieces of sausage. Have finally gotten into Rippetoe’s “Starting Strength” and will begin lifting with my workout tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration to jumpstart my weight loss, and I’ll keep you updated. Thanks again.

I’m not as strict on the low-carb thing as Taubes suggests, though I generally keep them down. But I’m not really trying to lose weight.

GARY TAUBES, CALL YOUR OFFICE: Why diets don’t actually work, according to a researcher who has studied them for decades. “Dieting is actually a lot like starving, physically. It’s living like you’re starving. A lot of people do it, but what they’re actually doing is living as if they’re starving. They’re putting their body into that exact same state that it would be in if they were literally starving to death.”


BTW, in case you missed it, here’s the post where readers shared their experiences.

SO, I’VE WRITTEN ABOUT GARY TAUBES AND MARK RIPPETOE in terms of diet and fitness. If you’ve tried either, or both, please report your experience in the comments. Thanks!

UPDATE: A lot of nice stories from folks. Glad you’re doing well!

SCIENCE MARCHES ON: FDA OKs Shot to Zap Your Double Chin. It’s just a fat-dissolver, though, and won’t do anything for simple sagging.

But before you rush out to try this, how about giving the Gary Taubes / Mark Rippetoe approach a try?

VIGOROUS EXERCISE for people with bad knees. I do intervals, and they don’t seem to bother my knees. Machines (like the elliptical) do, though. Squats seem to make everything better. But my knees don’t have anything physically wrong, like torn cartilage. When they hurt, it’s usually some sort of muscle imbalance. My knees used to hurt whenever I got tired (my dad has always experienced that too). I think it was because one muscle gave out before others so that my kneecap was pulled out of place. Since I started doing squats, that has gone away, presumably because all the muscles are now strong enough.

On a related note, yesterday I was approached by an NRA lawyer who I’ve met numerous times over the years, but I totally didn’t recognize her until she got close enough to read her nametag. That was because she’d lost a lot of weight, which she explained was because she’d seen my reference to Gary Taubes, followed his instructions, and the pounds just melted away. Another satisfied InstaPundit customer!

DO TELL: New Dietary Guidelines: The Real Bad Egg Is Sugar. “A nutrition advisory panel that helps shape the country’s official dietary guidelines eased some of its previous restrictions on fat and cholesterol on Thursday and recommended sharp new limits on the amount of added sugar that Americans should consume.”

This is, of course, what we’ve been hearing from Gary Taubes for years.

Plus, note that the new guidelines are still politicized: “The advisory panel included the vegetarian diet as an example of what it called a healthy eating pattern, noting that a plant-based diet is also more sustainable, with less of an impact on the environment. But critics questioned whether the guidelines might overstep the mandate to focus on health and nutrition.”

Also: “Since the 1980s, Americans over all have been eating more grains, produce, cereals and vegetable oils, while generally lowering their intake of red meat, whole milk and eggs, Ms. Hite said, and yet the population is fatter and sicker than ever.”

GARY TAUBES, CALL YOUR OFFICE: Can High-Fructose Corn Syrup Make You Hungrier?

Distinct from sugar known as glucose (produced by the natural breakdown of complex carbohydrates), fructose is also a “simple” sugar and a natural component of fruit.

However, “in a series of studies we have found that when compared to glucose, the simple sugar, fructose, is a weaker suppressor of brain areas that help control appetite and the motivation to eat,” said study co-author Dr. Kathleen Page, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

In other words, people are more likely to remain feeling hungry after a meal with lots of fructose versus one with lots of glucose.


WELL, YES: The Government’s Mandatory Calorie Counts May Be Hazardous to Your Health.

In a Reynolds Administration, the position of Food Czar will be held not by Michelle Obama, but by Gary Taubes.

UPDATE: Really? Really? People are giving me crap in the comments over an imaginary Reynolds Administration having imaginary czars? Well yes, yes they are.

CHANGE: Long-awaited diet pill gets U.S. approval. “Made by Orexigen Therapeutics Inc, Contrave is a combination of the antidepressant bupropion and Orexigen’s formulation of naltrexone, designed to prevent drug dependence.”

Personally, I’d try the Gary Taubes approach first, leavened with some Mark Rippetoe. But that’s just me.


People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study shows.

The findings are unlikely to be the final salvo in what has been a long and often contentious debate about what foods are best to eat for weight loss and overall health. The notion that dietary fat is harmful, particularly saturated fat, arose decades ago from comparisons of disease rates among large national populations.

But more recent clinical studies in which individuals and their diets were assessed over time have produced a more complex picture. Some have provided strong evidence that people can sharply reduce their heart disease risk by eating fewer carbohydrates and more dietary fat, with the exception of trans fats. The new findings suggest that this strategy more effectively reduces body fat and also lowers overall weight.

The new study was financed by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Gary Taubes wins again, as in this much more limited InstaPundit study.

SCIENCE: Why Are We So Fat? The Multimillion-Dollar Scientific Quest to Find Out.

I lean toward the Gary Taubes explanation, myself. But Taubes’ book isn’t based on new and rigorous studies, so this research is good.

HMM: Threat Grows From Liver Illness Tied To Obesity.

I had a post on this a while back, including a possible Gary Taubes point. Note this on choline, too. So it’s possible that this is because of the carb-heavy Food Pyramid, plus advice to avoid things like eggs and liver, which are potent sources of choline.

NEW THINKING ON WHY PEOPLE ARE GETTING FATTER: “One reason we consume so many refined carbohydrates today is because they have been added to processed foods in place of fats — which have been the main target of calorie reduction efforts since the 1970s. Fat has about twice the calories of carbohydrates, but low-fat diets are the least effective of comparable interventions, according to several analyses, including one presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association this year. A recent study by one of us, Dr. Ludwig, and his colleagues published in JAMA examined 21 overweight and obese young adults after they had lost 10 to 15 percent of their body weight, on diets ranging from low fat to low carbohydrate. Despite consuming the same number of calories on each diet, subjects burned about 325 more calories per day on the low carbohydrate than on the low fat diet — amounting to the energy expended in an hour of moderately intense physical activity. . . . If this hypothesis turns out to be correct, it will have immediate implications for public health.”

Gary Taubes gets a mention.

POLITICALLY INCORRECT DIETING: Scott Johnson on Power Line writes: “Inspired by Taubes, I’ve been following a low carb diet for 18 months. It has worked for me, but I’m not sure how long I can stick with it.”

Plus this:

Now comes journalist Nina Teicholz with today’s number one story at the Wall Street Journal site: “The questionable link between saturated fat and heart disease.” Taking off from a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, Teicholz writes: “The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.”


SCIENCE: Study Questions Fat and Heart Disease Link. “Many of us have long been told that saturated fat, the type found in meat, butter and cheese, causes heart disease. But a large and exhaustive new analysis by a team of international scientists found no evidence that eating saturated fat increased heart attacks and other cardiac events. . . . The smaller, more artery-clogging particles are increased not by saturated fat, but by sugary foods and an excess of carbohydrates.”

Gary Taubes, call your office!

ALL IS PROCEEDING AS GARY TAUBES HAS FORESEEN: Sugary Foods Increase Heart Risks. “Most adults, they found, get 10 percent or more of their calories from added sugar. After adjusting for age, smoking, sex, B.M.I., physical activity and other factors, they found that compared with people whose calories were less than 10 percent from added sugar, those whose intake was 10 to 25 percent added sugar had a 30 percent increased risk of cardiovascular death. Those whose diet was more than 25 percent added sugar almost tripled their risk.”

HEALTH: The Power Of A Daily Bout Of Exercise.

The results were striking. After only a week, the young men who had not exercised displayed a significant and unhealthy decline in their blood sugar control, and, equally worrying, their biopsied fat cells seemed to have developed a malicious streak. Those cells, examined using sophisticated genetic testing techniques, were now overexpressing various genes that may contribute to unhealthy metabolic changes and underexpressing other genes potentially important for a well-functioning metabolism.

But the volunteers who had exercised once a day, despite comparable energy surpluses, were not similarly afflicted. Their blood sugar control remained robust, and their fat cells exhibited far fewer of the potentially undesirable alterations in gene expression than among the sedentary men.

Hmm. I wonder what Gary Taubes would say about this?

L.A. TIMES: Is It Time To End The War On Saturated Fat?

The British Medical Journal has issued a clarion call to all who want to ward off heart disease: Forget the statins and bring back the bacon (or at least the full-fat yogurt). Saturated fat is not the widow-maker it’s been made out to be, writes British cardiologist Aseem Malhotra in a stinging “Observations” column in the BMJ: The more likely culprits are empty carbs and added sugar.

Virtually all the truths about preventing heart attacks that physicians and patients have held dear for more than a generation are wrong and need to be abandoned, Malhotra writes. He musters a passel of recent research that suggests that the “obsession” with lowering a patients’ total cholesterol with statins, and a public health message that has made all sources of saturated fat verboten to the health-conscious, have failed to reduce heart disease.

Indeed, he writes, they have set off market forces that have put people at greater risk.

This will all be familiar to readers of Gary Taubes, of course.


SCIENCE: Rigorously controlled studies may soon give us a definitive answer about what causes obesity—excessive calories or the wrong carbohydrates. My own sense is that carbs tend to make you hungrier, which leads to excessive calories. And people who follow the Taubes approach do seem to lose weight.


Just wanted to drop a line to say thanks for turning me on to Gary Taubes via Instapundit, one of my favorite sites on the interwebs. Just following basic Taubes advice I’m down 31 pounds in just over 4 months, going from 260 to 229. I’m tall (6′-5″) so I’m almost where I want to be, and it’s been so easy and by far the best “diet” I’ve tried. I still enjoy beer and wine too. It took a couple of years of you posting about Taubes before I looked into it, so keep up the good work getting the word out!

Oh, and I try to use the Amazon button whenever I can to help your site out. Seems only fair considering the amount of great info I glean from it every single day.

Slim and stylish.

MY COMMENTS on exercise engendered some interest in my workout routine, but I have to say that I don’t think there’s a whole lot to learn from what I do, which — like my financial approach — is designed to produce results that are good-enough without a lot of fiddling. My training focuses mostly on weights — I do traditional iron-pumping exercises, for the most part, in a split system with shoulders and arms one day, chest and back another, and legs on a third. I generally go to the gym 4 times a week, though sometimes it’ll be 3 or 5 depending on my schedule. I stretch quite a bit after each session, and once a week I do an assisted-stretching session for half an hour with a trainer. This is essential to control the damage that the computer does to my back. The single best exercise for me? Deep squats. Since I took Mark Rippetoe’s advice to heart, I’ve gotten much better at those, and they really help my knees and lower back.

For cardio I walk with Helen a few times a week, and do intervals — 90 seconds of running the stairs — in between sets at the gym on non-leg days. The result? A degree of physical fitness that’s “not bad, for a law professor!” (Hey, I’m no Tom W. Bell.) But my chief goals are modest: (1) Don’t get fat; (2) Be reasonably muscular; (3) Guard against computer-related neck & back problems; and (4) Don’t get injured. With these priorities, I’ll never be bodybuilder-huge, but that’s not really what I’m aiming for.

I have, occasionally, detoured into other stuff — I spent a year or two a while back focusing on balance and core strength, which meant I spent a lot of time doing planks and performing dumbbell squats while standing on a stability ball. I still do that occasionally to stay tuned-up. I always had great balance as a kid, but it’s a use-it-or-lose-it kind of thing; when you first start working on this, you can literally feel your nervous system tuning up, or at least I could. I highly recommend this. As a kid you do a lot of that kind of thing, but as an adult, you naturally focus on things that don’t require balance. I think that’s one reason why old people fall more.

Rippetoe’s answer to “core stability” training is “Why don’t you just squat?” And he’s got a pretty good point, but I do think there’s value to some of the other techniques — though when I was doing the core stuff, I kinda kept thinking the same thing.

Meanwhile, my diet is a sort of watered-down Gary Taubes approach. I try to avoid carbs — especially refined wheat — but I’m not trying to go into ketosis or anything. (Remember, I’m not trying to lose weight.) I’ll have a piece of pie or a beer when the mood strikes, but not that often. It works for me; it might or might not work for you.

UPDATE: Reader Neil Blaney writes:

I have mostly the same pattern as you – a lot of time at a computer and about 4 days of lifting a week. About a year ago I got this inversion table.

And its the best thing I could have done for my back and neck. If I tweak my back at the gym, or get a crick in my neck from straining at a screen, 5 minutes upside down usually leaves me feeling like a new man. My posture gets better, I’m decompressed, I feel like I stretched, and I swear I think I even walk with better form.

Huh. I do hanging stretches at the gym sometimes, but I’ve never tried one of those.

ANOTHER UPDATE: An email from the man himself! Mark Rippetoe emails: “The problem with these things is that the knees do not do well in traction. Great for the spine, hard on the meniscii. Hanging in the rack from the armpit straps is comfortable, safe for the knees, and a helluva lot cheaper.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE: The Exercise Equivalent of a Cheeseburger? New Research Says Endurance Running May Damage Health. “Heart disease comes from inflammation and if you’re constantly, chronically inflaming yourself, never letting your body heal, why wouldn’t there be a relationship between over exercise and heart disease?”

Well, I’m not taking any chances. I still take my diet-and-exercise advice from Gary Taubes and Mark Rippetoe.

DIETETICALLY INCORRECT AFTER FIVE MONTHS: Scott Johnson reports on following the Gary Taubes approach. “As of today, I am down around 25 pounds. Eliminating desserts from my diet and overcoming the craving for them after meals seem like an accomplishment, but I am also eating substantially less than I did before the diet, without trying.”

GLAD TO BE OF HELP: So over the weekend I posted a link to a book that helped me back when I had shoulder problems some years ago, and I got this email from reader Richard Rusk:

I just ordered one through Amazon. My wife has a damaged rotator cuff after a fall. She had a major hemorraghic stroke at age 53 four years ago and is weak on her left side. She dozed off sitting at the computer and fell to her right, messing up her right shoulder. We have seen a doctor and done therapy and she has made progress but it is still a problem. We may end up having surgery at some point but I am looking forward to seeing what this book recommends.

And thanks for these things:

An article in 2011 about the growth of teenage brains–it changed the way I see my teenage daughter and has improved our relationship. I thanked you for it then and you responded saying you were glad it helped.
The Pizzazz rotary oven–a regular meal at my house now is fish sticks, french fries and onion rings made on the rotary oven. We love how they crisp up nicely. We do pizzas on it too sometimes.
The idea of an Ipad for a stroke patient. I bought one for my wife when she really only had use of one hand and she loved being connected to a growing group of her old friends she found on Facebook. She felt a huge sense of isolation when she came home after 13 months in a nursing home where she was a social butterfly among the residents–they bond kind of like college kids in a dorm or military guys in a barracks. (She has improved greatly and now has a much higher level of partial use of her bad hand.)
The “Three Simple Steps” book by Trevor Blake. His life advice lines up with other authors I have been encouraged by, but from a different viewpoint. I think it confirms that good ideas are good ideas, and the Gods of the Copybook Headings are right.
Pointing me to Gary Taubes and strength training, although I have only taken baby steps.
Quoting me recently on my comment that the news media and Hollywood are both union environments–we might expect some pro-union slant from them. (Now I have been quoted in the New York Times for a wisecrack I made as a former Enron employee and in Instapundit. Maybe my descendents will find all that with future Google searches–who knows?)

Wow. Glad to help.

GLAD TO BE OF HELP: Reader Sean Stickler writes:

This weekend I was casually browsing Instapundit and clicked on the link to the Practical Paleo book, which I’ll be buying. I’ve been meaning to write for quite some time with a plug to both to you as well as the Taubes “Why We Get Fat” book that you’ve recommended. On impulse, I bought the Taubes book about six months ago. When received, I read it cover to cover in 3 days. I began the Paleo diet the next day, sticking closely to the 20 grams of carbohydrate per day recommendation in the book.

Over the course of the next four months, my weight dropped from 216 pounds to 184 pounds and my BMI dropped by 6. I’ve not been to the doctor’s yet, so can’t report on my blood pressure, but I can only imagine it’s improved as well. I’m 42 years old and not a heavy exerciser. I play racquetball twice a week and walk at lunch twice a week when the weather is warm. This diet can and will work for anyone willing to be disciplined enough to stick to it. I’m 6’3″ so my current weight is something I’m comfortable with so I’ve gone into maintain mode and allow myself an occasional piece of bread, regular soda or potato chip. I have maintained 184 for two months without suffering.

Thank you for the recommendation and I can attest to the effectiveness of the Taubes method.

I get emails like this all the time; it really does seem to work. Let me just suggest that you add some Mark Rippetoe-style strength training to your workouts and you’ll really be amazed at the results. Since reading Rippetoe, I’ve gotten back into free squats and strictly following his pointers on form. The result is that my knees, hips, and lower back are the best they’ve been since I started using a computer.

EMAIL OF THE DAY: “Hey Glenn, nice job on Fox. You appear to have dropped 20+. Presuming that was intentional, nice work.” Well, it’s more like 10-12 lbs, courtesy of a mixture of Gary Taubes and Mark Rippetoe. And when you lose weight that way, I think you get more bang for the buck.

Hey, it worked for Marilyn Monroe.

UPDATE: Reader Tim Moncur writes:

The email of the day reminded me that I owe you a big thanks. I have always been active and concerned about my diet, but time was catching up with me (or so I thought). I had packed on extra weight, was tired a lot, etc.

I picked up Taubes’ WWGF and Rippetoe’s SS a few months back, based on your recommendations. Today, I am down nearly 40 lbs and, at 45, I’m in better shape than I was at 25. Simply amazing.

I really appreciate the information. Keep spreading the word!

Doing what I can!


Sorry, but I’d try the Gary Taubes approach, first. With a dash of Mark Rippetoe.

READER BOOK PLUG. Reader Paul Jaminet writes to request a plug for Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat. He writes:

I’m a long-time reader and fan. I’ve noticed that in the past you’ve linked to Paleo or low-carb sites including Stephan Guyenet and Gary Taubes; that leads me to think you would enjoy the book my wife and I have written. (Stephan, a friend, actually reviewed the manuscript for us.)

Our book is a refinement of Paleo/ancestral diets, based largely on our reading of the scientific evidence on what will optimize health. The logic is mainly drawn from evolutionary biology and cellular/nutritional biology, but it turns out the healthiest diet is also the most delicious, and closely resembles many traditional gourmet cuisines.

My wife and I both had chronic health problems and our refined ancestral diet helped us cure them. Since we first began blogging, hundreds of our readers have cured chronic diseases they lived with for decades; see here for examples. Some of the conditions cured were neurological conditions that psychiatrists have told me almost never resolve, like borderline personality disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder; and heart disease seems to be one of the conditions that improves or is cured most readily; so the book may be of special interest to your wife.

Thanks — though the Insta-Wife doesn’t have coronary artery disease; her heart attack came from a blood clot that was most likely the result of birth control pills.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Chalk me and my family up as big fans and beneficiaries of the PHD. It’s been life-altering, literally, for myself and my two daughters.

Given the success of the PHD and other similar diets (like the Paleo Diet and the Primal Blueprint), it’s very likely that most of our chronic health issues in the United States are the result of malnutrition: following the USDA’s dietary guidelines seem to reliably lead to human malnutrition.

Malthus may have been right, although not in the way he thought.


CHARLIE MARTIN REPORTS ON HIS WEIGHT-LOSS PROGRAM: 13 Weeks: Week One — Endorphins Are Our Friends.

He’s basically following the Gary Taubes approach, with a dash of Mark Rippetoe.

GARY TAUBES, CALL YOUR OFFICE: Denmark To Abolish Tax on High-Fat Foods.

GOT A NICE LETTER from reader Tobias Truman who runs an online disaster-prep store. He sent me some Lifestraws and a bug-out bag — always nice to have another — and observes: “I’ve found our sales to be decent indicators of how the populace is feeling. While our Red-state sales have been steady after the election, our Blue-state sales have almost doubled. (Though folks in Puerto Rico still buy more supplies than any other as disaster-prep is a big part of church outreach there.) There’s no denying right-leaning folks are battening down the hatches in O-land.” Well, on the one hand, “do not take counsel of your fears,” but on the other hand, “be prepared.”

And I love this P.S.: “My wife and I are another Gary Taubes success story; thank you for your posts pointing us to him. My wife and I have lost 70lbs since summer . . . and we really do eat a LOT of bacon.” He’s worth a read.

CHARLIE MARTIN: The 13 Weeks experiment starts officially. Come see the before pictures.

He’s basically following the Gary Taubes approach.


CHARLIE MARTIN: Thirteen Weeks: A Fat Nerd Does Diet. “It struck me just a couple weeks ago. I’m 57, weigh 300 pounds, massively deconditioned, verging on type II diabetes if not actually there, and I don’t want to die.”

There’s a Facebook page, too. He’s basically following the Gary Taubes approach.

NOW THEY TELL US: Diabetes Study Ends Early With a Surprising Result. Of course, I wonder what “diet and exercise” regimen they used in the study.  Instead of following the “recommended” diet which contained both more calories and more carbs than he’d had in years, my husband — after being diagnosed with diabetes — cut his carbs considerably below the most severe Atkins phase and stared exercising a couple of hours a day.  (The diet, which we’re still following, is not dissimilar to Taubes’ recommendations.)  The end result is that he dropped 136 pounds and is not functionally diabetic.  (I.e. he takes nothing, keeps his sugar normal and the very rare indulgence — birthday cake, say — does not cause a spike in sugar.)

ANOTHER GARY TAUBES FAN. Reader Nathan Wilhoit emails:

Instapundit is a regular spot I check most days, and I noted your frequent references to Gary Taubes’ books and decided to put his advice to the test. I cut to drinking only tea, coffee, and (lots and lots of) water while eating very low carbs and sugar over the summer starting in early July. Less than two months later, I have lost over 25 pounds, my BMI has gone from high 27 down to 23ish. I just did my health screening at work, and while we were sitting and waiting for blood results to come back, the screener asked some questions and found out about the diet change. She told me my cholesterol would probably be elevated. I smiled and said, “I guess we’ll see.” It came back a healthy 154. Imagine that. You mean this stuff works?

The diet change and weight loss have actually aided me in waking up better and earlier, as well. I work 60-80+ hours a week as a music teacher, so this has had a huge impact. I’ve been able eat breakfast, study/memorize scripture, pray, organize, and get some much-needed composure before facing the horde of delightful (but sometimes trying) young musicians I interact with every day. I have more energy when I interact with my wife and three young children. Life is still hard: long work days, being patient with students, finding time with my family, etc. But what a help this lifestyle change has been.

So thank you for sharing the information. I had heard/read some of the info before, but it was often distorted, incomplete, and/or confusing. For some reason, catching it on your blog was the tipping point where I looked into it and gave it an honest go.

Glad it helped!

WELL, IT WORKED: The Marilyn Monroe Diet: Eggs, Meat…And Ice Cream? And yet — though people still think of her as zaftig — she was “teeny tiny.” In fact, “She was sort of like Kate Moss but fleshier on top.”

Gary Taubes is no doubt nodding. And while her weight-training regimen didn’t reach Mark Rippetoe levels, it was ahead of its time.

WEIGHT TRAINING MAY LOWER DIABETES RISK. If you’re worried about diabetes risk, you should be weight training. Also if you’re not worried about diabetes risk . . .

I recommend reading both Gary Taubes and Mark Rippetoe. But you knew that.

CAN GOING TO THE GYM MAKE YOU FAT? Yes, if you’re not careful. It’s pretty easy to eat more calories than you burn.

I recommend reading Gary Taubes. And Mark Rippetoe.

YOU’RE NOT AS LAZY AS YOU THINK: Hunter-gatherers, Westerners use same amount of energy, contrary to theory.

The research team behind the study, led by Herman Pontzer of Hunter College in New York City, along with David Raichlen of the University of Arizona and Brian M. Wood of Stanford measured daily energy expenditure (calories per day) among the Hadza, a population of traditional hunter-gatherers living in the open savannah of northern Tanzania. Despite spending their days trekking long distances to forage for wild plants and game, the Hadza burned no more calories each day than adults in the U.S. and Europe. The team ran several analyses accounting for the effects of body weight, body fat percentage, age, and gender. In all analyses, daily energy expenditure among the Hadza hunter-gatherers was indistinguishable from that of Westerners. The study was the first to measure energy expenditure in hunter-gatherers directly; previous studies had relied entirely on estimates.

These findings upend the long-held assumption that our hunter-gatherer ancestors expended more energy than modern populations, and challenge the view that obesity in Western populations results from decreased energy expenditure. Instead, the similarity in daily energy expenditure across a broad range of lifestyles suggests that habitual metabolic rates are relatively constant among human populations. This in turn supports the view that the current rise in obesity is due to increased food consumption, not decreased energy expenditure.

Hmm. I wonder what Gary Taubes would say.


After following up on comments from your site on “Why We Get Fat…” and “Anni Ultimi”, I bought and am now reading both, and finding both to be excellent.

Taubes’ book should be viewed as particularly subversive. If you find his argument convincing, and in particular if in practice you find his recommendations effective, then your eyes should be opened to the ways in which science is a very human enterprise subject to all the failings that humans possess. It should not be a surprise, though it seems always to be, that scientists are not immune to self-deception and the worldly temptations that plague us all. The appropriate response to all scientific claims of truth, in particular as reported, is a healthy skepticism. And my, oh my. How subversive it would be if that attitude were to spread widely and more generally to bare assertions of truth of all kinds. The tale Taubes tells, the history he recounts, is as important as the advice he gives.


REASON TV: How the Government Makes You Fat – Gary Taubes on Obesity, Carbs, and Bad Science.

I like his books.

PRACTICE SAFE FARTING: Fart deodorizers. “Flat-D disposable fart deodorizers are the product that people with digestive disorders have been dreaming of. There is no cure for gas, but this product is a simple solution which will allow everyone to fart with confidence. Just place the pad inside your underwear and let your gaseous emissions activate the carbon in the Flat-D pad, which absorbs and masks fart odor. For additional flatulence support at work, you can purchase Flat-D chair pad. I know some people whose lives will be changed by the Flat-D, although I’m not mentioning any names.”

UPDATE: Reader Paul McKerley writes: “FWIW, you won’t find this in Taubes or Atkins, but my experience, and that of other I’ve spoken to, is that a low-carb diet almost entirely eliminates flatulence. It also cured my acid reflux, which was eating away my oesophagus, and for which proton-pump inhibitors had rapidly diminishing effectivenss.”

And reader Alan LeWinter writes: “Do they make a Biden Brain Fart version?” It’s science, not magic. There are limits.

WHY EXERCISE doesn’t actually help you lose weight. I dunno, but it sure influences the quality of the weight you have. But note this: “Diet also plays a role. According to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, people who consume a lot of easily digestible carbohydrates (most Americans) are going to be less willing to exercise because of the metabolic effects of such a diet. Energy that ends up trapped in fat cells (just one of the awesome side effects of a high-sugar diet) isn’t available to fuel the rest of the body, and one of the results is lethargy.”

Back to the Gary Taubes thesis. The other side of it is, exercise makes your body look better when it’s slim, so you have more incentive not to cover up those nice muscles with fat. At least, that’s how it seems to me. Call it the Rippetoe Corollary.

GARY TAUBES: What Really Makes Us Fat. “The trial suggests that among the bad decisions we can make to maintain our weight is exactly what the government and medical organizations like the American Heart Association have been telling us to do: eat low-fat, carbohydrate-rich diets, even if those diets include whole grains and fruits and vegetables.” Can we hold the government and medical organizations liable for this bad advice, the way some would hold pharmaceutical companies liable?

I recommend his book.

ACE NOT TOO IMPRESSED with the state of nutrition advice. “So, for 50 years now, the medical establishment and the government have been telling fat people to do the exact opposite thing they should be doing.”

At the very least, they should be reading Gary Taubes.

And don’t get me started on the dermatologists.

UPDATE: Reader Matt Howell writes:

Since you’re on the subject of Gary Taubes today:

On your recommendation, I read Why We Get Fat last month and on June 3rd, I started following the no-sugar, no-starch diet.

I’ve lost 14.2 pounds since then. I’m averaging a little over a half a pound a day so far, and the trend hasn’t shown any signs of leveling off yet. I feel great, I have a lot more energy than I did just 3-4 weeks ago, and I actually feel like my brain is working faster. I’m probably luckier and better-looking now, too. Something.

I’ve been recommending WWGF since I started reading it. It’s one of most clearly-communicated, straightforward book I’ve read on the subject, and its credibility is only bolstered by the critical-thinking approach with which Taubes takes on the material. So refreshing to read something that isn’t full of EXCLAMATION POINTS!! and platitudes about willpower. You’re doing a real service to your readership by promoting him.

Well, I don’t think that any diet is a panacea, but his approach seems to work for a lot of people, including me.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Chris Farley writes:

Six weeks ago, I was diagnosed with Diabetes. I immediately went Paleo-ish. I just cut out wheat, rice, potatoes and corn. My blood sugars now hover around 100 and I’ve lost 30 pounds. I DO NOT exercise, because I can’t – crippled, long story.

I don’t even cut them 100%. I’ll eat Chinese with a little breading on the meat. I’ll have a tortilla with my fajitas. I just stay under 30 carbs per day. This diet is stupid easy – even a cave man could do it!

I went off my low-carb diet for a week earlier this month. The main thing I noticed was that all of a sudden I was constantly starving. Went back on it and the hunger went away. And my low-carb diet isn’t all that low-carb — I keep my carbs under about 50. But when they go up above that, it has an effect.

MORE: Physician-reader Dale Russell writes:

My internist is a lipid fanatic and has whipped my lipid panel into shape. I saw him two weeks ago and he mentioned that he was impressed by Taubes presentation at The National Lipid Association’s Annual Meeting. See agenda, Saturday, noon presentation:

Special Public Interest Session – “Why We Get Fat in the US?” Gary Taubes

He is making an impression on the establishment.

Well, good.

SCIENCE: Low-Carb Diet Burns The Most Calories In Small Study.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was designed to see if changing the type of diet people consumed helped with weight maintenance because dieters often regain lost weight.

So scientists had 21 obese participants, ages 18 to 40, lose 10% to 15% of their initial body weight (about 30 pounds). After their weight had stabilized, each participant followed one of three different diets for four weeks. Participants were fed food that was prepared for them by diet experts. The dieters were admitted to the hospital four times for medical and metabolic testing. . . .

Findings, published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association: Participants burned about 300 calories more a day on a low-carb diet than they did on a low-fat diet. “That’s the amount you’d burn off in an hour of moderate intensity physical activity without lifting a finger,” says senior author David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“Participants burned 150 calories more on the low-glycemic index diet than the low-fat diet. That’s about an hour of light physical activity,” he says.

The reason for the low-carb advantage is unclear, he says.

“We think the low-carb and low-glycemic index diets, by not causing the surge and crash in blood sugar, don’t trigger the starvation response. When the body thinks it’s starving, it turns down metabolism to conserve energy,” he says.

More research is needed, but it’s a mark in favor of Gary Taubes’ approach.

WEIGHT LOSS: Physician-reader Mike Kauzlarich writes:

I know I’ve written to you once about this already, but I just had to write to again say thank you so much for turning me on to Gary Taubes and the entire lower-carb dieting approach. Now after four months of largely avoiding any foods containing wheat, corn, potatoes, rice or sugar products, I have almost effortlessly lost 32 pounds without ever feeling particularly hungry or feeling “deprived” of anything. I’ve gone from barely fitting into size 36 pants to size 32, which I haven’t fit into since around the inauguration of the first President Bush. I feel the best I’ve felt in years, I exercise more now because I actually feel like I have the energy to do so, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Not only have you, through Mr. Taubes, helped me, but you are also helping several patients whom I have started on this dietary approach and the results speak for themselves. I guess you lawyer types can teach us doctor types a thing or two after all! :-) Keep up the good work!

I keep getting these kinds of emails. I encourage people to combine the Taubes approach with some Mark Rippetoe-style strength training.

SOMEBODY TELL MIKE BLOOMBERG: Gary Taubes: Salt, We Misjudged You. “With nearly everyone focused on the supposed benefits of salt restriction, little research was done to look at the potential dangers. But four years ago, Italian researchers began publishing the results from a series of clinical trials, all of which reported that, among patients with heart failure, reducing salt consumption increased the risk of death. Those trials have been followed by a slew of studies suggesting that reducing sodium to anything like what government policy refers to as a ‘safe upper limit’ is likely to do more harm than good. . . . Proponents of the eat-less-salt campaign tend to deal with this contradictory evidence by implying that anyone raising it is a shill for the food industry and doesn’t care about saving lives.” Of course they do.

That’s what dermatologists did to Vitamin D proponents until they were overtaken by the truth. But these “public health” crusades never generate any negative consequences for their proponents, even when it turns out that millions may have been harmed by lousy, politically-driven advice.

WEIGHT LOSS UPDATE: Reader Michael Wallace writes:

I have been trying to lose about 20 pounds the last couple of years and failing. I have seen your comments on weight loss and mostly looked past them. Then April 20th you recommended the LiveStrong app and pointed out that “dieting” may be a permanent condition for many. For some reason it clicked: there is so much food around us it is very very very difficult to lose weight if you don’t count the calories.

So I bought LiveStrong for my iPhone and began using it on April 21. Since then I have dropped 21 pounds and am measuring everything I consume. Doing so is a fascinating exercise…who knew how small a portion an ounce of ham is? Or how many calories there were in a piece of cornbread The first couple weeks were “different”, but not painful. And I have continued to consume high quality Colorado craft beer, California red wine and Kentucky’s own Broadbent bacon along the way.


P.S. There are probably better apps. There are several things I dislike about LiveStrong, but using it worked.

P.P.S. My daughter, the oil field engineer, is a second generation Instapundit reader. Her news sites didn’t cover the “Obama ate the dog” stuff and she wanted to know where I got news like that. Pepperoni, not pupperoni Barack! Still slays me.

Yes, I didn’t put a lot of research into the Livestrong app — it worked for a friend’s wife so I got it. There may be better ones, but it works. I use it for maintenance; I dropped a few vanity pounds last year, but I’m basically where I want to be. But as I said a while back, in today’s society, most of us have to make a conscious effort not to be fat. It’s a good way to keep track of what you’re eating. I also favor the Gary Taubes approach, seasoned heavily with Mark Rippetoe.

BECOMING YOUR OWN WEIGHT LOSS BOSS. I favor the Gary Taubes approach myself, with a strong admixture of Mark Rippetoe. A calorie-counting app (I use Livestrong) is also helpful.

WELL, GLAD TO BE OF HELP: Reader Dan O’Brien writes:

Last fall I started a workout program at the local gym. I hired a personal trainer who worked there and he had me doing general strength training. I went so far and eventually didn’t renew my PT sessions. I worked a bit on my own, but was generally lost and frustrated with the process. THEN I watched your interview with Mark Rippetoe and all that changed. I bought Mark’s latest edition Starting Strength and started his program. I now have a direction and a purpose to my work outs. I’ve added equipment to my home gym and again, through your recommendation of Amazon Prime membership, saved a ton of money on equipment purchases and shipping fees.

For example, I bought 2 45lb grip style lifting plates for $40 each with zero shipping costs. This beat the price of my local Wal-Mart not counting the savings on purchase tax.

Again, your interview with Mark and your recommendation of Amazon Prime have change my life. Thank you.

You can’t beat Amazon Prime. And since that interview I’ve incorporated more of Rippetoe’s approach into my own workouts, and I’ve definitely seen an improvement.

Other readers favor Gary Taubes. Reader David Brown writes: “Thank you for the Gary Taubes links. Fifteen #’s down so far.” And reader Jack Howard emails:

How many times have you linked to Gary Taubes and others’ books that point out that the Death Food is carbs, not fat?

I’ve lost 76 pounds to date on the ‘Low Food Diet’ (my term) using a simple calorie counting phone app (there’s lots of them out there)

The discovery in this was not finding out how little we get to eat now. It was realizing the industrial quantities we used to eat without so much as a thought. It was realizing there is no hard line between being overweight and those 600-700 pounders on The Learning Channel and the half tonners in the Guinness Book of World Records. There is only eating more or eating less. I have decided to give Less a shot.

Yes, I use the Livestrong App to track calories and exercise, and it works quite well. I was inspired to try it by a friend’s wife who lost over 60 pounds and now looks fabulous. It lets you check the calories and composition of restaurant food from its database before ordering, too, which is very useful.

The thing is, for most people not being fat is a choice you have to make. If you follow the path of least resistance in today’s world, you’ll probably be (at least) pudgy, and quite possibly downright corpulent. Watching both your overall food intake and in particular keeping carbs down, and doing weight training, will take you a long way toward staying healthy and fit.

Alternatively, you can get one of those motorized scooters with a double-wide seat. I understand from the commercials that you may not have to pay a dime out of your own pocket . . . .

I should also note that although I’m skeptical of his approach, quite a few readers have written to say thanks for the link to Dr. William Davis’s Wheat Belly. One of my blog-buddies wrote me a while back to say he’d lost 30 pounds and felt much better.

While some of these diets are better than others — and some are better for some people than for others, I suspect — almost anything that makes you pay attention to what you eat is likely to do some good.

HMM: White Rice Link Seen With Type 2 Diabetes. “Health researchers said on Thursday they had found a troubling link between higher consumption of rice and Type 2 diabetes, a disease that in some countries is becoming an epidemic.”

And we’re back to Gary Taubes . . . .

ANOTHER HAPPY READER: Michael Kauzlarich writes:

I just wanted to write to thank you for tuning me into Gary Taubes. As someone who has struggled most of his adult life with weight, I have been thrilled to see how effortlessly I have been able to lose weight by incorporating the concepts he highlights (15 pounds in 5 weeks and counting – and I can eat bacon!) As a physician, I intend to purchase a bulk order of his books and begin handing them out to the patients in my family practice when I get that inevitable question: “I’ve tried everything doc, but I can’t seem to keep the weight off. What can I do?”

I started a private practice about a year and a half ago, but in the previous 10 years I was a full-time professor in a family medicine training program, and as far as I’m concerned “Good Calories, Bad Calories” should be required reading for every single medical student. Very, very eye opening! Keep up the good work, sir. Your blog is essential daily reading for me!

Glad to help. I recommend both Why We Get Fat and Good Calories, Bad Calories.

And reader Cindy Follick writes: “I’ve been meaning to thank you for your repeated references to Gary Taubes. I have been pre-diabetic for over five years. I didn’t take it seriously for a long time, as I was only a couple of points over the limit (99) for fasting glucose. Last summer, though, it hit 113, and it began to sink in that it was a real problem. I eventually clicked on a Taubes link – I had been skipping over them – and in January my husband and I changed the way we eat. After five weeks, my fasting glucose is 92 and I’ve lost five pounds without trying. Many thanks!” Glad to be of help.

HOW TO UNDERSTAND someone with chronic pain.

UPDATE: A reader emails: “I can’t thank you enough for posting that link for understanding chronic pain. I started suffering from fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis when I was 17. Now at 25 I’m constantly told how fibromyalgia is a made up disease or that I’m too young to have arthritis. People don’t understand what it is like to be trapped in a body that doesn’t function properly. This really will give valuable insight for people who don’t have to live with chronic pain.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Anthony DiSante writes: “Regarding the chronic pain item you posted, it’s worth sharing that in many cases, the pain is greatly reduced if not cured outright by simply removing wheat from the diet. Gary Taubes touches on this a little bit, but check out Dr. William Davis’ book Wheat Belly (you’ve mentioned it before) for the full story on all the problems caused by modern wheat. The best part is, it’s free and easy to try.” I’d be skeptical of this, but I’ve received several other emails along these lines.

HOW TYPE 2 DIABETES became an accepted lifestyle.

Hey you know, the surge in diabetes accompanied the government’s switch to the politically-inspired Food Pyramid. Just sayin’ . . . .

UPDATE: Reader John Larson writes:

Long-time reader, first-time writer.

Instapundit is my daily newspaper. I check it several times a day, and learn more from Instapundit than I do from newspapers and TV news combined. I am in Utah, and have learned about David Kirkham and Mia Love from Instapundit. My family lives in Saratoga Springs, where Mia is currently mayor, and we learned about her congressional candidacy from Instapundit.

Your link to the article on Type II Diabetes could not have been better timed. I went to the doctor this morning, and he informed me that I had successfuly cured myself of diabetes. After a year without medication, my blood sugar is normal.

Of course, I did not do this on my own. It was Gary Taube’s book “Good Calorie/Bad Calorie” that showed me the way. And although I did not learn about Gary Taubes from Instapundit, I have seen you link to his work several times. Now would be a good time to plug his books. “Why We Get Fat” and “Good Calories/Bad Calories” should be required reading for everyone, especially doctors.

I could go on and on, and talk about the dietitian that explained the Food Pyramid to me and told me I should be eating carbohydrates and not fat. I followed her plan for a while to no avail. A year of following Gary Taube’s advice, and I’m 60 pounds lighter, my blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol levels are good, and I am no longer diabetic.

Oh, yeah, and BACON!

I keep hearing stories like that.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Sarah Hoyt writes:

My husband has now been two years without medication. His blood sugar is normal. He can even have a small piece of candy, now and then. He lost 135 lbs. I’d say we followed Taubes, too, only he figured it out on his own, before we read him. Oh, yeah, and our always-overweight, very active, not overeating 19 year old FINALLY dropped 100 pounds. If anything he’s eating more and exercising less than he did before we cut the carbs. Yes, it really was “that easy.”

Okay, I ONLY lost 45 lbs, but I’m a woman of a certain age.


YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Dr. Stanley Tillinghast writes:

I am a cardiologist, and my “specialty” within cardiology for almost 30 years has been preventive cardiology.
I fervently preached the gospel of 30% fat diet (no matter how many calories or how much sugar) as promulgated by the AHA, NHLBI and the heart disease experts.

I knew that no large-scale randomized controlled trial had been done to prove that this low-fat diet actually reduced heart disease events; but at the time (early 90’s) it still was not clear that lipid-lowering drugs would reduce events and improve morbidity and mortality.

Since then I’ve been convinced by the evidence that statins, specifically, have a dramatic benefit in reducing heart attacks and related events, and without any major drawbacks for most people. Is that because they reduce LDL cholesterol? That’s not clear. It may be that the more potent the statin (atorvastatin and rosuvastatin for example), the greater the reduction in events. We have no direct proof. I used to promote primarily (low-fat) diet, niacin, and earlier bile acid resins such as cholestyramine. But it wasn’t until the evidence of statin benefits piled up that it was clear they were superior not only to niacin, but to diet alone.

During the same period that we cardiologists and the health care community were promoting the low-fat/don’t count calories or sugar diet, the nation experienced its epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Cause and effect? We don’t know. But it’s starting to look as if the public health establishment may be responsible for the greatest episode of epidemiological malpractice ever committed.

My personal experience with low-carb diets (I don’t follow Atkins, more the South Beach diet with attention to fat) has been very positive, resulting in a 16 pound weight loss, saying good-bye to my paunch, and with higher HDL, lower LDL, and lower blood pressure. Yes, while eating (Canadian) bacon and eggs every morning.

However, when I protested in an e-mail to the group I work with in prevention guideline development that it’s a pity we don’t have the strength of evidence of benefit of diet for treatment of high cholesterol and high blood pressure that we have with drugs, I was met by a chorus of protests from those who want to regulate salt intake for the public at large.

It will take a major trial with total mortality as an endpoint to prove whether any diet can reduce heart disease events in primary prevention. Will that ever happen? It doesn’t look like it.

If these experts were held liable for unfounded advice the way drug companies are for bad drugs, they’d all be broke and in jail. And what about the dermatologists?

FROM GARY TAUBES, a response to that New York Times piece on obesity and weight loss that I linked the other day. “In the past decade, clinical trials have repeatedly demonstrated that when obese and overweight individuals consciously restrict the carbohydrates they eat, but not calories, they not only lose weight, on average, but their heart disease and diabetes risk factors improve significantly. Their insulin resistance, in effect, resolves. Those of us who have lost weight ourselves and witnessed the effect of these diets on our patients can confirm that this is exactly what happens.”

And note how the government has caused America’s obesity problem. Plus, a roundup of dietary advice. Plus, the truth is out there.

MEGAN MCARDLE: What Do We Really Know About Losing Weight?

I think Gary Taubes is a good place to start.

SO, YESTERDAY I LINKED TO Protein Power and The Protein Power Lifeplan, and reader Judith Sears asked for some advice on high-protein low-carb recipes. The result was more responses than I could handle.

First, the Insta-Wife points out that those books actually contain recipes, something I should have noted. Second, reader William Moselle recommends and Plus the book, The Paleo Solution.

John Fahy recommends And reader Jonathan Bailey writes:

In response to Judith Sears request for low-carb recipes, the Eades also have a cookbook (available on Kindle too) called “The Low-Carb Comfort Food Cookbook” plus the “Protein Power Pyramid Cookbook” and I think a couple more. If she just searches Amazon using the search terms “protein power cookbook” it will come back with these and several other titles.

I dropped 40 pounds (down to 145) myself after ditching the carbs in my diet.

Nice work. And reader Sandra McWhorter writes: “Been on The Abs Diet by Men’s Health Editor-in-Chief David Zinczenko for a good while. Has a book with recipes, a recipe book and now a website and it is equally effective for men and women. No clue why more people don’t live this plan. Truly is a lifesaver, along with Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley. Women’s edition there, too.”

Another reader emails: “Old, but excellent high protein, low carb cookbook: The Low-Carb Cookbook by Fran McCullough (forward by Michael and Mary Eades, M.D) conveniently available on Amazon. My standards are high; this does not disappoint. Cook your way through it and you will be satiated and slimmer.”

Lissa Kay emails: “Love this book.”

And Dr. Michael Kennedy writes: “This is the Atkins Diet again, which refuses to go away because, in spite of food pyramids and the medical bigwigs, it works. I have wondered how much the conventional wisdom on diets has contributed to the obesity epidemic. I reviewed the medical literature a few years ago and it is almost impossible (or was then) to find any peer reviewed literature on the Atkins Diet or the concept. It’s a bit like global warming.” The literature seems to be catching up a bit. I credit Gary Taubes.

RUSS ROBERTS’ PODCAST: Gary Taubes on Fat, Sugar and Scientific Discovery.

I like his book.

ADVICE ON STAYING TRIM WHEN FAT RUNS IN THE FAMILY. I recommend the Gary Taubes approach. Also the Livestrong App.

I RECOMMEND EXERCISE AND A LOW-CARB DIET: Americans 20 pounds heavier than in 1990.

Check out Gary Taubes’ advice. And there’s also the Livestrong App.

UPDATE: Reader Newell Wright emails: “Last January, I saw a post of yours about following a low carb diet and bought Taubes’ book. Nine months later, I am down almost 70 pounds and feeling great. Thank you for alerting me to low carb, as I had never heard of it before. Literally, that post last January has changed my life.” Glad to help!

GLAD TO HELP: Reader Matt Blackie writes: “I’d like to thank you for your recommendation of the Livestrong app for weight management–based on your recommendation, I decided to give it a try about three months ago, and in the time since, I’ve lost 23 pounds with very little effort. I visited family recently and several people were interested in how I’d done so well, so I passed the info along. This has been a huge boon to my health and confidence. Thanks again!”

Yeah, as I noted a while back, the Livestrong app is handy. As long as you’ve got your smartphone, you can get calories on just about everything, and figure out what you can eat while staying within the calorie range it sets based on your weightloss goals. I lost about 10 pounds with it effortlessly last year, and I’ve kept them off, also painlessly. I was inspired by a colleague’s wife who lost a lot more weight, and looks terrific, using Livestrong.

If you don’t have a smartphone, you can get a free Web account, too, but that’s not quite as handy when you go out to eat. It also lets you keep track of protein, carbs, etc. I more-or-less follow the Gary Taubes approach, which seems to help.