Gary Taubes: Is Sugar Slowly Killing Us?

In this interview, award-winning science writer Gary Taubes (@garytaubes) takes on Big Sugar, breaks down the sharp rise of obesity and diabetes in America, and busts the common myth that a calorie is just a calorie.

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It seems that nowadays, aside from religion and politics, one of the most hotly debated topics is that of nutrition.

Should we eat high-carb diets? Low-carb? High-fat? High-protein? What about wheat or gluten? Should we eat meat or adopt a vegan diet?

There are as many opinions as there are people — and books, magazines, and websites are overflowing with information showing you the “right” way to eat and exercise to lose weight.

But if “eating less and moving more” is all it takes to lose weight and enjoy a healthy lifestyle, why are so many of us fat and getting fatter?

In today’s episode, I chat with Gary Taubes, bestselling author of three books, The Case Against Sugar (2016), Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It (2011), and Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007).

We talk about the sharp rise of obesity and diabetes in America, discuss the structural hurdles to effective nutrition research, and explore the common myth that a calorie is just a calorie.

Here are a few other things you’ll learn in this interview:

  • How diets shifted in the last century, and what impact it’s having on our bodies today
  • Why a carb isn’t just a carb — and why you should know the difference
  • Why the sugar industry might be the new Big Tobacco
  • What role genetics play in our health and how much is under our control
  • Why humans are so attracted to sugar and how to break the habit
  • Gary’s suggestions to improve your health, drop body fat, and feel terrific
  • The benefits of fasting and how you can try it out yourself

And a bunch more.

If you think at all about your health, give this podcast a listen. And please add to the conversation by sharing your thoughts on Twitter or Facebook.




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Show Notes

  • What is Gary’s daily diet? [00:02:18]
  • Is nutritional science in a worse state when compared to other areas of medical science? [00:03:10]
  • Gary’s historical take on nutritional science [00:03:50]
  • What role does genetics pay in obesity and diabetes? [00:07:52]
  • Gary’s thought son the Mediterranean diet [00:09:57]
  • Statistics showing the increase in diabetes [00:10:50]
  • Slow-motion disasters [00:12:09]
  • Why are we seeing an increase in diabetes and obesity? [00:13:21]
  • Sugar’s transition from luxury to staple [00:15:49]
  • What sugar does inside our bodies [00:20:17]
  • Why did diabetes specialists initially think that sugar didn’t contribute to diabetes? [00:22:44]
  • How scientists discovered insulin resistance [00:24:48]
  • Why are people so attracted to sugar? [00:29:03]
  • Charles Mann on sugar as an addictive substance [00:32:24]
  • A history of “calories in, calories out” [00:33:43]
  • “Bringing this all back to insulin resistance…” [00:44:45]
  • There is very little discussion of the mechanisms that lead to obesity. [00:46:41]
  • The role of fiber [00:48:42]
  • Denis Burkitt’s role in bringing fiber into the conversation on obesity [00:50:20]
  • The development of technology and the recent interest in gut biomes [00:55:52]
  • What has surprised Gary the most in his own research and exploration [00:57:03]
  • The Nutrition Science Initiative [00:57:53]
  • “If anything, at this point in time, we’ve done more harm than good.” [00:59:24]
  • What will it take for the nutritional research community to get more rigorous? [01:03:47]
  • How to use the research mindset from physics research to help support nutritional research [01:09:31]
  • What would your harshest critics say about your intellectual honesty? [01:12:39]
  • “I do have one advantage that [research scientists] don’t have.” [01:16:16]
  • Will the sugar industry eventually be vilified like the tobacco industry? [01:20:25]
  • What practical tips can somebody take to improve and protect their own health? [01:24:15]
  • How Gary sometimes sees himself as the Grinch Who Stole Christmas [01:25:39]
  • What are the worst starchy vegetables? [01:29:27]
  • What’s your take on gluten? [01:29:58]
  • One big problem with nutrition studies [01:32:23]
  • Fasting [01:33:13]
  • Gary’s experiments with intermittent fasting [01:37:37]
  • What’s the next subject that you’re writing about? [01:38:22]


Gary’s Books:

People, Books, & Articles Mentioned: