Health & FitnessPodcast

Gary Taubes: How Bad Science Made The World Obese

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“A fundamental aspect of bad science is not questioning your core beliefs.”
— Gary Taubes

Greetings, SuperFriends!

This week, we are joined by a New York Times bestselling author who’s books you’ve almost certainly heard of: Why We Get Fat and Good Calories, Bad Calories. Way before the “Paleo” movement took off in a meaningful way, our guest today was one of the early opinion leaders to promote the idea that not all calories are the same – and that the idea of just “eating less” regardless of what you eat is fundamentally flawed.
Though we have covered diet and nutrition quite a bit on the show, it’s such a central aspect of optimal performance that it bears further investigation and occasional repetition.
Throughout the episode, we take a really deep dive into not just nutrition, but also how it came to be that everything the average person knows about nutrition is fundamentally wrong. We learn how this misinformation has persisted, why it has been so detrimental, and how things are starting to change all over the world. We talk about paleo nutrition, common dietary misconceptions, and a criticism of crappy science. All in all, I think you’re going to take away a lot from this episode – I certainly did.
This episode is brought to you by my new online course, Become a SuperHuman. Click this link for a special discount!

This episode is brought to you by my online course, Become a SuperHuman. Click this link for a special discount!

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How did Gary Taubes become interested in “bad science,” public health, and nutrition?
  • How did the entire world become so misinformed about nutrition and diet?
  • Who was Ancel Keyes, and how did he damage the health of billions of people?
  • What was the McGovern commission, and why did it lead to even more misinformation
  • How much of this was corruption, and how much was incompetence?
  • Are things actually changing? Have we as a society woken up?
  • What has been the role of the internet in spreading truthful health information?
  • A discussion of how doctors often lead people astray, even when they lost weight
  • What about the Atkins Diet? Why did doctors reject it?
  • How is the lipid hypothesis and nutritional misinformation like a religious cult?
  • Thoughts on the McDougall Diet, a high-starch, low-fat diet
  • How is the science around the paleo diet? Is it more substantive & reliable?
  • What does Gary Taubes eat? What does he NOT eat?
  • A discussion of ketogenic diets, and where the science points on it
  • Where does insulin resistance fit in, and how does it work?
  • What is The Nutrition Science Initiative, and why is it so important?
  • What “big” takeaway would Gary Taubes hope for you to remember for the rest of your life?

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Favorite Quotes from Gary Taubes:

“There’s bad plumbing, and you could get a bad doctor, and you could get bad service at a restaurant… and there are bad scientists out there who don’t have a clue what they’re doing.”
“It’s almost a joke… everything we’ve taught is probably wrong, and there’s entirely healthier ways to eat.”
“It turns out that there’s just no benefit from eating a low fat diet.”
“I think the basic ideas behind Paleo are very sound.”
“It’s not actually corruption, it’s capitalism.”
“You see the numerators, you don’t see the denominators of failures.”
“They weren’t interested in studying it. They were just interested in killing it.”

“If sugar didn’t exist, diabetes would be as rare a disease today as lung cancer would be if cigarettes did not exist.”



Jonathan Levi is an experienced entrepreneur and angel investor from Silicon Valley.

After successfully selling his Inc 5,000 rated startup in April of 2011, Levi enlisted the help of speed-reading expert and university professor Anna Goldentouch, who tutored him in speed-reading, advanced memorization, and more. Levi saw incredible results while earning his MBA from INSEAD, and later went on to teach a best-selling online course on the subject. With this unique skill, he has become a proficient lifehacker, optimizing and "hacking" such processes as travel, sleep, language learning, and fitness.

  • Ela

    Hey there! I’ve been meaning to stop by ever since you were at Burning Man (hope you had a great time) and I was in Israel (and am probably going to move there). Your podcast just seems to get better and better, and you are getting the most phenomenal guests on.
    I binge-read “Good Calories Bad Calories” back when it was still a new book, and it was a huge gamechanger for me. Over the years since then, I’ve become much more focused on ketogenic diets (which control a bunch of issues for me), but Gary Taubes remains as if my godfather for the low-carb concept.
    Was pleasant to eavesdrop on such a personable conversation between the two of you.

    One small observation. You briefly touched on criticisms of ketosis and responses to them. GT was straight up that he didn’t really know the answers, and then talked a little about whether the high levels of protein would adversely impact the kidneys. Just wanted to suggest that ketogenic diets generally are not high-protein diets; in fact, they _shouldn’t_ be high protein, only moderate protein; only protein for building/repair, not for fuel (which comes from fat, ofc). On a personal note, I had kidney failure a few years ago and my body hasn’t been the same since. Everything works much better with ketosis. I was a vegan for a long time, so I’m probably eating more protein than I used to–but also tolerating it better.