One of my professors-to-be (Shewchuck!) had an odd rant on his web page about how absolutely terrible the state of health science is, and recommending “Good Calories, Bad Calories” … I really have no idea, but was amused to see my reaction to the rant progressively change:

Stage 1: Oh dear, Shewchuk’s a nut.

Stage 2: What kind of conspiracy theory is this anyway? Who has the vested interest in giving us bad health info we don’t want to hear?

Stage 3: Hmm, actually, this book has a lot of positive reviews, and I’m not seeing an outright debunking …

Stage 4: Actually, given the way I’ve seen research is done, I can actually see how bad science would be really easy in health, especially with the sense of urgency they must have from knowing lives may depend on their results getting out there.
And the health community *does* seem to change their mind every five seconds about various things, which implies people are doing things wrong or at least latching on to statistically insignificant results.

Stage 5: Ooh, these negative comments on Amazon have long discussion threads! And they’re basically useless for determining facts!

Stage 6: Maybe I should actually read the book?

Stage 7: Nah, I’ll just continue eating whatever.

ANYWAY, here are the “11 Critical Conclusions of Good Calories, Bad Calories” for your abridged reading pleasure.


1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, does not cause heart disease.
2. Carbohydrates do, because of their effect on the hormone insulin. The more easily-digestible and refined the carbohydrates and the more fructose they contain, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.
3. Sugars—sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup specifically—are particularly harmful. The glucose in these sugars raises insulin levels; the fructose they contain overloads the liver.
4. Refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are also the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and the other common chronic diseases of modern times.
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.
7. Exercise does not make us lose excess fat; it makes us hungry.
8. We get fat because of an imbalance—a disequilibrium—in the hormonal regulation of fat tissue and fat metabolism. More fat is stored in the fat tissue than is mobilized and used for fuel. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this imbalance.
9. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated, we stockpile calories as fat. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and burn it for fuel.
10. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.
11. The fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be.