Gary Taubes Finally Gets Around to Writing a Book on Low Carb that People Can Read (Hopefully)

UPDATE: He has – go read about it in my more recent post here.

I loved the book ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ – the seminal work on the science behind low carb dieting – but I hated reading it. In my opinion, Gary Taubes is not a great author – he is a great presenter of information, but his writing style is dry and sterile – as if he places each word on the page with tweezers while wearing rubber gloves.

His style leans too much toward an audience accustomed to clinical research, where the author removes themselves from the content. In research, this is necessary as science is a presentation of ‘just the facts’ and any warmth or emotion carried in the message will put the research into question, making readers think that the message conveyed might be biased by the researcher’s own opinions.

This is always the case, of course – we’re just not supposed to show it.

I have read way too many books of similar depth that were more engaging, so I was very disappointed – this was supposed to be a work that would show the world the sound scientific basis for a low carbohydrate diet – and he created a near unreadable tome that would allow laymen critics to seize on the style rather than the substance.

I have always wished it would be rewritten – perhaps co-authored with Bill Bryson or Michael Pollan – two of my favorite authors – with both of them, I could read anything they wrote, no matter the topic or my interest in the topic because of the warmth, passion, and wonder they can inject into their narratives.

I have found engaging writers make me interested in subjects I never knew I had an interest in.

That’s what Gary Taubes needed to do in ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ so that detractors could come to see that low carb is not as quackish as many think.

He failed.

But there’s hope.

On December 28, 2010, Gary Taubes releases a new book ‘Why We Get Fat’ - here’s the description from the Random House website:

An eye-opening, paradigm-shattering examination of what makes us fat.

In the New York Times best seller Good Calories, Bad Calories, acclaimed science writer Gary Taubes argues that certain kinds of carbohydrates—not fats and not simply excess calories—have led to our current obesity epidemic. Now he brings that message to a wider, nonscientific audience in this exciting new book. Persuasively argued, straightforward, practical, and with fresh evidence for Taubes’s claim, Why We Get Fat makes his critical argument newly accessible.

Taubes reveals the bad nutritional science of the last century—none more damaging than the “calories-in, calories-out” model of why we get fat—and the good science that has been ignored, especially regarding insulin’s regulation of our fat tissue. He also answers key questions: Why are some people thin and others fat? What roles do exercise and genetics play in our weight? What foods should we eat or avoid?

Concluding with an easy-to-follow diet, Why We Get Fat is an invaluable key to understanding an international epidemic and a guide to improving our own health.

Statements like ‘Now he brings that message to a wider, nonscientific audience’ and ‘Persuasively argued, straightforward, practical’ gives me hope that I might soon have a book I can recommend to friends curious about my seemingly odd predilection for eating burgers without a bun and asking for heavy cream for my coffee – a book that won’t put them to sleep.

I’m on your side, Gary. I’m pulling for you. You created an awesome tome defending low carb for nerds like me.

Now set the information free and give us a book for the non-nerds.

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4 thoughts on “Gary Taubes Finally Gets Around to Writing a Book on Low Carb that People Can Read (Hopefully)

  1. Im a bit taken aback. I absolutely loved that book:) I was engrossed, raved about it to everybody, and put it down on facebook as my favourite book of all time. The amount of facts he put in there impressed me rather than bored me. I really really really couldn’t get enough and read it more than once.

    I am such a nerd.

    • Dan – you’re a scientist – in that realm, Gary Taubes is a great writer. You’re used to reading that sort of stuff. Me – I can trudge my way through it. There’s a lot of people who are readers yet less bookish than you and I who would get 3 pages into it, and put t down, never to be picked up again.

      Since the day I finished the book, I knew that *this* book could never be the introduction to low carb for a friend who might have a casual interest. I always try to ‘fit’ book recommendations to people – and I’ve so far met no one who this book would be right for. I tend to recommend Michael Pollan’s works to people (if you haven’t, read ‘In Defense of Food’) because they play in the same playground, so to speak, and his writing style is engaging and fun.

      As to being a nerd, there is a taxonomy to the types. From the website http://geektest.com:

      Such is observed in the initial entries of the words;  nerd, is a stereotypical or archetypal designation, referring to people of “above-average intelligence” whose interests (often in science and mathematics) are not shared by mainstream society. A “geek” is a person who is fascinated, perhaps obsessively, by obscure or very specific areas of knowledge and imagination. Thus essentially a “nerd” is often marked as having a high intelligence and not necessarily more fascinated with one subject anymore so than another. A “geek” however is obsessively fascinated with particular subjects, yet does not necessarily have an above average intelligence. Thus a “geek” has the compulsion and drive to learn vast quantities of knowledge about a particular field such as computers, or Star Trek trivia, without being required to have a high intelligence. More than likely the main confusion between the terms comes from specific areas of knowledge, which would seem to require a high intelligence to be extremely knowledgeable in, such as mathematics and science. Thus a “geek” who was obsessed in the pursuit of mathematical or scientific knowledge, may be classified as a “nerd” as society considers such pursuits to be intellectual in nature and one would appear to need a higher than average intellect to pursue such subjects. Both “nerds” and “geeks” would tend to be socially inept in this case, but not as a necessary requirement. There is one other comparison that can be made. In this view, geeks and nerds are exactly the same but for one broad respect: How the two archetypes view and interact with other people. Geeks will share their knowledge to “equals”, while nerds will force their “superiority” on other people. This categorization allows an extra, not as well-known type of character, the dork, who perceives himself/herself as lower than the rest of society due to their knowledge/intelligence.

  2. I’ve heard that it was his publisher who has set back the date on the more accessible version so far. It obviously wouldn’t be hard for him to write, as often as he presents this material. He knows it cold. Apparently they wanted to get as many sales of the “thick book” as they could, first. This is just hearsay, but it makes a great deal of sense to me!

  3. ha… then i’m a geek. because even though i’m loving digesting these low carb books.. i opened up taube and thought it was written in king james for a bit. then i flipped over to bowden and got depressed thinking about bad VLDLs slugging through the arteries of my family members (though it is a MUCH easier read). SIGH. maybe i’d have a career in health translation… ;)

    Food Rules is awesomely simple.

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