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Eat Your Lungs Out While Getting Leaner


Chances are, you didn't notice the first time Gary Taubes rocked your world. It was 2002. Taubes, an award-winning science journalist, wrote a cover story for The New York Times Magazine called "What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" The article was a follow-up to one published the previous year in Science magazine, called "The Soft Science of Dietary Fat."

Those two articles were so controversial, and so widely discussed, that they eventually led to a distinct shift in the way the media covered nutrition and weight loss, and the way the public talked about it.

Taubes scored a major book deal, and spent the next five years researching the science behind our commonly held ideas about nutrition, obesity, and public health.

What happened between 2002 and 2007 is instructive: Thanks in part to the new legitimacy bestowed upon low-carb diets by Taubes' articles, Dr. Robert Atkins' books sold by the millions. Some restaurants stopped serving bread with meals, and nobody had to apologize for ordering the juiciest steak on the menu. In 2003, during the same week that Atkins slipped on a patch of ice and suffered a fatal head injury, another low-carb book, The South Beach Diet, arrived in bookstores. That one was soon selling more than 100,000 copies a week.

While Taubes studied nutritional science from every angle, deploying a team of researchers to libraries across the U.S., the low-carb craze came and went. That helps explain why Good Calories, Bad Calories, which came out to mixed reviews in 2007, never got the attention it deserved. The battles over carbs and fat had all been fought, and the media was bored and ready to move on. (It helped that the media had a new star in journalist Michael Pollan, who published The Omnivore's Dilemma in 2006 and In Defense of Food in 2008. The latter book quotes Taubes extensively.)

After my first interview with Gary, I immediately put his advice into action. In 6 weeks I went from 198 to 203 while my waist shrunk by an inch! I didn't change anything in my workouts. (More about what I changed later.) Obviously, Gary was worth a second interview.

I caught up with the 53-year-old Taubes, who started out as a physicist with degrees from Harvard and Stanford before he turned to science writing, for a telephone interview.


Testosterone Muscle
: You started out writing on stuff like rocket science. How did you first get interested in obesity and public health?

Gary Taubes:

TM: Let's get to the most controversial point: You say that eating extra calories won't make people fat.

GT:

TM: Really?

GT:

TM: This sounds like some sort of semantics game. Isn't the problem just that they were overeating?

GT:

TM: So what's regulating the growth of the fat tissue?

GT:

TM: That's never been controversial?

GT:

TM: That carbohydrates make you fat?

GT:

TM: People don't just put those two ideas together?

GT:

TM: Everybody reading this knows somebody who has eaten a whole lot less, exercised a whole lot more, and lost a lot of weight. How do you explain that?

GT:

TM: So they would end up fatter.

GT:

TM: All the contestants?

GT:

TM: So what about the other option?

GT:

TM: Thanks for your time. How can people get in touch with you?

GT:


Addendum

I cut out all fruit from my diet, but allowed myself as much fat and protein as I felt like eating, which meant more calories, lots more calories. Regular bacon became my new best friend, much to my Jewish fiancé's dismay. And, as stated, I went from 198 pounds to 203 pounds in six weeks, while my waist shrunk by an inch!



Eat Your Lungs Out While Getting LeanerEat Your Lungs Out While Getting Leaner

Taubes says to eat all you want, as long as you're not eating carbs.

Eat Your Lungs Out While Getting Leaner

In case you're wondering, these are "good" calories.

Eat Your Lungs Out While Getting Leaner

And these are "bad" ones.

Eat Your Lungs Out While Getting Leaner

Overeating helped make Yao Ming tall. Synchronized jogging helped make his four friends short.

Eat Your Lungs Out While Getting Leaner

Could achieving and maintaining leanness be as simple as making a relatively minor macronutrient adjustment?

About Josef Brandenburg

Eat Your Lungs Out While Getting Leaner

Josef Brandenburg is a personal trainer in Washington D.C. and author of The Body You Want. He specializes in helping normal, busy people create the bodies they want, in the time that they actually have.


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