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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

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EPISODE # 167

Gary Taubes — The Case for Keto: Rethinking Weight Control and the Science and Practice of Low-Carb/High-Fat Eating

The Case for Keto: Rethinking Weight Control and the Science and Practice of Low-Carb, High-Fat Eating (book cover)

According to the CDC, in 2020 36.5 percent of adult Americans are obese, with another 32.5 percent overweight. In all, this means that 69 percent — more than two-thirds — of all adults are overweight or obese. Two-thirds. Is it possible that the dietary and nutrition advice we have been given for the past half century needs revising? That is the conclusion of the work of the renowned science journalist Gary Taubes, who has been studying and writing about this topic for the past quarter century in this and previous books, Good Calories Bad Calories, Why We Get Fat and The Case Against Sugar. After a century of misunderstanding the differences between diet, weight control, and health, The Case for Keto revolutionizes how we think about healthy eating.

For years, health organizations have preached the same rules for losing weight: restrict your calories, eat less, exercise more. So why doesn’t it work for everyone? The Case for Keto puts the ketogenic diet movement in the necessary historical and scientific perspective. It makes clear the vital misconceptions in how we’ve come to think about obesity and diet (no, people do not become fat simply because they eat too much; hormones play the critical role) and uses the collected clinical experience of the medical community to provide essential practical advice.

Taubes reveals why the established rules about eating healthy might be the wrong approach to weight loss for millions of people, and how low-carbohydrate, high-fat/ketogenic diets can help so many of us achieve and maintain a healthy weight for life. Shermer and Taubes also discuss:

  • the consensus process in science and why it doesn’t always work,
  • the replication crisis in science as applied to nutrition science,
  • the Newtonian mechanical model of science and why it doesn’t work with human bodies,
  • the physics model of calories and why it is misleading for dietary advice and obesity,
  • how difficult it is to collect accurate data on what people eat,
  • the many complicating variables at work in determining dietary recommendations,
  • what, precisely, is wrong with the long-standing recommendations about what we should eat,
  • intermittent fasting,
  • why some people gain weight whereas others do not on the same diets,
  • why losing weight is so difficult on most recommended diets,
  • why it is okay to have bacon-and-eggs for breakfast (unless you are a morning faster, in which case have them for lunch),
  • what type of meat and animal fats are best to consume,
  • which fruits and vegetables you should consume and avoid,
  • cholesterol, heart disease, and statins, and
  • why you should give Keto a try.

Gary Taubes, an award-winning science and health journalist, is cofounder and director of the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI). He is the author of The Case Against Sugar, Why We Get Fat, and Good Calories Bad Calories, and a former staff writer for Discover and correspondent for Science. He has written three cover articles on nutrition and health for The New York Times Magazine, and his writing has also appeared in The Atlantic, Esquire, and numerous “best of” anthologies, including The Best of the Best American Science Writing (2010). He has received three Science in Society Journalism Awards from the National Association of Science Writers, and is also the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. He lives in Oakland, California.

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This episode was released on March 23, 2021.

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