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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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March 15, 2017

Sugar’s Day Is Done? A Review of Gary Taubes’ Latest Treatise, The Case Against Sugar

By Mark Sisson
113 Comments

unhealthy white sugar on wooden background conceptIn 2002, Gary Taubes penned a New York Times piece that questioned the legitimacy of the presiding low-fat dogma. His article made a persuasive case for the safety—and metabolic urgency—of eating more animal fat and fewer carbs. It shifted the national conversation on healthy eating and paved the way for the rise of the ancestral health community. If the experts were that wrong about a healthy diet, what else were they getting wrong?

He expounded the arguments in the Times piece in his next two books, Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat. The first, which utterly demolished the conventional wisdom about saturated fat, was deeply influential for me.

In this latest book, The Case Against Sugar, Taubes lays out a convincing case for sugar as the primary cause of obesity, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases “of civilization.”

Many Taubes critics make a mistake. They take him too literally, quibbling on details while missing the big picture: The way he recommends people eat helps them lose weight. It just works.

When he blames the governmental push against saturated fat and cholesterol for their purported crimes against the heart and waistline, he’s not saying the USDA literally said sugar was fantastic to eat (although bureaucrats did recommend “hard candy, gum drops, sugar, syrup, honey, jam, jelly, marmalade” and other high-sugar foods as good low-fat snack options). He’s saying that the full-throated demonization of fat overshadowed everything else they were saying, and that their advice against eating too much sugar was tepid and ineffectual. The result was that average people focused on avoiding fat and cholesterol. What’s left over after fat and cholesterol and all the wonderful foods that contain both nutrients have been removed from the diet? Carbs. Protein is mostly out because it often comes attached with fat. Even eggs have that little poisonous nucleus lurking inside.

And to make low-fat foods palatable, what do you add? Sugar.

The Case Against Sugar will leave you white-knuckled in frustration at the egregious mistakes (honest or not) the powers-that-be made along the way.

  • The collusion between the sugar industry and scientists to bury the research indicting sugar and push the now-discredited attacks on animal fat.
  • How when high-fructose corn syrup was shown to cause lower blood glucose spikes than pure glucose, scientists approved its use for diabetics—ignoring that it was only because the fructose goes straight to the liver for processing that it evades the rise in blood sugar.
  • The widespread implication on the part of the food industry that high fructose corn syrup wasn’t even sugar. After all, it was made of corn, it had more of that diabetic-friendly molecule known as fructose. Hell, it was practically a vegetable! It’s hard to remember since these days HFCS is rightly vilified. Back then, people really didn’t know better, and the industry capitalized on this ignorance.

I’m sympathetic to the argument that Taubes has overlooked some other factors. I’d argue that sugar isn’t the only issue, but I’d agree that it’s one of the primary ones. He isn’t setting out to write an MDA post that considers such arcane influences on health as blue light at night, PUFA-laden vegetable oils, and job-related stress. But not everyone needs that. If your grandma reads it on a whim and stops drinking those two Dr. Peppers each day, she’ll probably extend her life. If your dad reads it and becomes an anti-sugar zealot, he’ll probably drop a few notches on the belt and impress his doctor. Maybe they’re losing weight and improving their health for additional reasons other than Taubes lays out in his book. But does it matter if it works?

Taubes even acknowledges the shortcomings of the book and his argument. He relies mainly on animal trials and observational studies of humans because, well, those are all that’s available. The kind of randomized controlled trial on sugar intake he’d like to see performed in humans doesn’t really exist. It arguably can’t exist.

As Dr. Eades explains, it’d take a truly revolutionary team of researchers with a ton of money at their disposal to do the “definitive” (if such a thing exists) study on sugar and obesity/diabetes/etc:

To truly nail this down, scientists would have to randomize people into two groups, the subjects in one of which would be expected to eat 100 pounds of sugar per year, while the subjects in the other group would eat almost no sugar (or a significantly lesser amount). The study would have to last for years to realize a significant outcome. Ethical issues aside, a study like this would be enormously expensive and would be impossible to accurately monitor. It’s one thing to randomize people into a study and have them not eat sugar for a month or six weeks – it’s entirely another to get them to forsake it or gorge on it for six years (or however long it would take for meaningful data to emerge).

Maybe when we hit the Singularity and possess the capability to generate virtual universes indistinguishable from the real thing, we’ll be able to run one of these studies to completion. Probably from an iPhone app.

So when a critic points out that obesity rates have progressed despite average sugar intake dropping, it might be that enough folks are still eating over a hundred pounds. But that’s the average. Some people, like you or me, eat less than a pound of sugar in a year. To hit the national average, that means other people are eating well over a hundred pounds each—and they’re probably the ones getting sick, fat, and diabetic.

As Taubes himself concludes, we don’t know whether sugar is the primary cause of metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, and all the other trappings of civilization. We can’t know for sure. But sugar is a strong candidate. It performs no essential physiological role, and when people do give it up good things happen to their health.

This case against sugar is a strong one, with lots of circumstantial evidence pointing toward it as a major culprit. A jury might not convict. But this isn’t a courtroom. Luckily for the individual, we don’t have to give sugar the benefit of the doubt. We’re allowed to presume guilt.

Go out and grab a copy of the book. It’s a good one that will only improve public health.

Did anyone else read The Case Against Sugar? What did you think?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

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113 Comments on "Sugar’s Day Is Done? A Review of Gary Taubes’ Latest Treatise, The Case Against Sugar"

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Dustin R Ebaugh
3 months 10 days ago

Gary Taubes is right. Sugar is just plain dangerous. As far as the study Dr. Eades suggests, it would be definitive, but how would you like to be part of the control group dosed with 100#+ of sugar each year? Is that tantamount to pre-meditated murder? Of course there are those who eat in that way, but hard to track in a study.

Ed Smith
Ed Smith
3 months 10 days ago

Maybe we could relegate the task to our corporatist prison system.

Flossie
Flossie
3 months 9 days ago

Why not? They’re already being tortured with soy products. How much additional harm could a mountain of sugar do?

Kelly
Kelly
3 months 9 days ago

Probably, willingly suggesting the use of humans beings who have already had their freedom stripped from them and their humanity destroyed is not the best idea the primal community could have. Ya dig?

John
3 months 9 days ago

“had their freedom stripped from them…” Really?

Tee Dee
Tee Dee
3 months 9 days ago

I’m not sure about using them in such an experiment, either, but they gave up their freedom, they weren’t stripped of it.

Billy
Billy
3 months 9 days ago
I don’t think they should be used as experiments either, because we as society are better than that. But let’s not paint them as victims that have had their freedom stripped away and their humanity destroyed. They made their choices and must deal with the consequences. My friends daughter on the other hand, who was violently assaulted and robbed at gunpoint while she had the audacity to work a night shift job at a grocery store, had her humanity and freedom taken from her. The monster that was arrested for the crime deserves every minute in jail he was sentenced… Read more »
Gustav
Gustav
3 months 8 days ago

In a primal world, there are consequences for making anti-social choices.

Janet
Janet
3 months 10 days ago

I listened to the audiobook. Fascinating stuff. So sad this is what has happened to our food. So glad Mark and others are standing up for real food!

Tina van den Heever
Tina van den Heever
3 months 10 days ago

I also read this book, and I loved it! Particularly the history of sugar consumption and the growing cases of diabetes. If I hadn’t already been trying actively to purge my daily diet of sugar and other carbs, this would have been the primary convincer for me. Since reading his book, I’ve been a podcast junkie, searching him out specifically to listen to what he has to say. I’d love to hear him on YOUR podcast! 🙂

John Hannon
3 months 10 days ago

Reading one of Taubes’ early books was also very influential for me, and it empowered me to question a lot of conventional wisdom about diet. I’ve not read Taubes’ latest book but, coincidentally, just before I read Mark’s piece I was reading Stephan Guyenet’s review of the book at http://www.stephanguyenet.com/bad-sugar-or-bad-journalism-an-expert-review-of-the-case-against-sugar/. If accurate, it suggests that Taubes may be overstating his case, and the truth (as often) is a little more nuanced.

Randal L. Schwartz
3 months 10 days ago

I believe there are rebuttals to the Guyenet review available with a bit of googling.

John Hannon
3 months 9 days ago

No doubt. Chris Kresser did a recent interview with Guyenet (see https://chriskresser.com/why-your-brain-makes-you-fat-with-stephan-guyenet/) about the role of the brain to do with eating. I found it interesting.

Kelda
Kelda
3 months 8 days ago

Yes, that interview is well worth listening to.

Alan Ivory
Alan Ivory
3 months 10 days ago
This absurd comment in the Guyenet review persuaded me Guyenet is not to be relied on:- “Taubes points his finger at others while never disclosing his own conflict of interest, which is that his fame and fortune rely on perpetuating his controversial ideas to an audience that has little basis for evaluating them.” Guyenet suggests Taubes’ success as a researcher and author of books challenging carbs and sugar constitutes an undisclosed conflict of interest by him. Beyond ridiculous. Also in that quote is the second absurd allegation that Taubes’ readers have little basis for evaluating his views. How could Guyenet… Read more »
John Smith
John Smith
3 months 7 days ago

Taubes is not a researcher.

Alan Ivory
Alan Ivory
3 months 7 days ago

Yes he is. He’s a journalist researcher. He’s not a scientific researcher, but I didn’t suggest he was that. Not all research by any means is done in a laboratory. Legal research which I’ve engaged in for many years for example.

Becky
Becky
3 months 9 days ago

Thanks for this link, JH. Also interesting is Clark’s comment below the review, pointing out some flaws the review. All very interesting on-going discussions.

MikeT
MikeT
3 months 8 days ago

The point that Guyenet and others seem to miss is that Taubes is this is not a book about all possible causes of the diabesity crisis, but rather should be seen as a prosecutor’s case. There could be other suspects, but Taubes mission was to examine the case against sugar as is inferred in the title. I suspect that the distinction is too subtle for Guyenet as his animus towards Taubes does him discredit.

Mark Fromberg
3 months 10 days ago
Taubes book is a great read, provocative, well researched and fairly presented, as all of his books are. It is especially galling when he implicates other “every day” diseases such as gout, hypertension, and even cancer as being essentially preventable with simple good dietary advice steeped in the long history of mankind, and not in our trusted nutritional guidelnes, which continue to crumble like a house of cards under the weight of alot of bad conclusions and weak evidence. Taubes book makes one wonder if there may be other maladies that can be implicated with excess sugar consumption he hasn’t… Read more »
Craig Wise
Craig Wise
3 months 7 days ago

Right on, Mark F!! Very well stated, and supported.

Oly
Oly
3 months 10 days ago

Giving up sugar takes the first obstacle to good health away. Then the other obstacles become more apparent and can be targeted. It’s a marathon and not a sprint.

Joanne
Joanne
3 months 8 days ago

Well said.

Julie Lobdell
Julie Lobdell
3 months 10 days ago

I’m fascinated with the subject and look forward to reading the book. Thanks for the review. I grew up in one of those households where corn syrup was considered healthy, so I got to have Dolly Madison snack cakes and Carnation instant breakfast to start my days and for health snacks while my mother starved herself with indulgences like… Ugh, tofu cheesecake mage with nutrasweet. …Yeah. Definitely looking forward to learning a bit more about what happened there.

Mari Ann Lisenbe
3 months 10 days ago

I found it interesting that the link to this article came in the same email as a link to Paleo Desserts.

If you listen to Gary Taubes, he’s speaking of ALL sugar, from ALL sources. Sorry, but most people won’t live that way. In fact, he told me that even his own kids don’t!

Robin
3 months 10 days ago

I noticed the same thing!

Gina
Gina
3 months 10 days ago

Because it’s so addicting. He goes over that in the book too. It’s hard to resist it in a culture that considers it innocent unless you REALLY know why it’s so bad. Every time I’m tempted to eat something sweet, I say to myself, “It’s crack. Do I really want that monkey on my back again?”

Matt B
Matt B
3 months 10 days ago

“Addictive” surely.

Gustav
Gustav
3 months 8 days ago
Exactly. Nine years without refined or process sugars, and I can’t imagine riding that train again. Even my personality changed once the sugar was gone. It took me a little longer to give up bread and all those flour based carbs, but that has turned out to be at least as beneficial as giving up the sugar, I think. The bread was a core issue; occasional sugary food was just a crappy little habit. That being said, I eat a piece of fruit every day and put a teaspoon of honey in my coffee once in a while. For the… Read more »
Gina
Gina
3 months 10 days ago

I did read it and, as with his other books, it’s incredible how much information he can pack into such a readable book. It will definitely give someone trying to cut back on or quit sugar another weapon to fuse against cravings. It certainly did for me.

Gina
Gina
3 months 10 days ago

That’s “use”, not “fuse”. My proof-reading needs a proofreader.

Joan A. Lensgraf
Joan A. Lensgraf
3 months 10 days ago

I listened to the audio book and loved it! I also learned a lot as well (like the connection with the tobacco industry). I have enjoyed all of his work.

Judith Bice
Judith Bice
3 months 10 days ago

I just purchased his book on audio. I’ve listened to his lecture while at the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. I like his speaking stye. Like an investigative reporter, without bias. He lays out real facts, like a prosecuting attorney.

Elizabeth Resnick
3 months 10 days ago
I haven’t read this yet. Sure I will at some point. But I already know that sugar is addictive and does nothing for me. I still indulge from time to time, but so many things taste overly sweet to me now. Totally agree with Mark that sugar is not the only culprit but it’s a HUGE one. For many people, that one change could literally turn their life around. And I totally believe that when you make that one change and it sticks, it leads to other positive changes. Huge ripple effect! For example, after cutting out sugar, someone will… Read more »
Shary
Shary
3 months 10 days ago
Thing is, nobody can control what someone else does. Sugar and HFCS-laden products will remain on the market, probably forever, and people will continue to eat that stuff. The same is true of grain products, particularly wheat. An occasional cheat isn’t going to kill anyone. It’s when “occasional” becomes “daily”, and then “several times daily”, to the exclusion of healthier choices, that problems start to arise. Unfortunately, it isn’t a matter of getting the word out. The word IS out there and has been for years, but too many people just don’t care. They know they won’t live forever, but… Read more »
Jack Lea Mason
3 months 10 days ago
Gary Taubes and Mark both indirectly helped me manage my gout. One day I was suffering from an attack and naturally I sat in pain scouring the depths of the internet searching for solutions. That’s when I came across an MDA post on gout. One of the comments gave a link to the lost chapter from, Good Calories Bad Calories, regarding gout. Fructose! I had been treating my gout on a fructose diet and wondered why attacks even with unpleasant medication (indomethacin and colchicine) lasted 2 weeks. Now if I feel and attack coming on I load up on potassium… Read more »
Chris
Chris
3 months 10 days ago

Just one teaspoon (4g) of sugar in your coffee once per day adds up to 3.2 lbs of sugar in a year. This is not a lot (Mark even says he does this). But it is easy to see how it adds up. 100lbs in a year seems easy to hit for an average person on the SAD diet.

Allan M Tiso
3 months 10 days ago

Try at least two tablespoons of cream and leave out the sugar in both black tea and coffee. Does it for me!

Jed
Jed
3 months 10 days ago

I use a tablespoon of raw honey and a table spoon of blackstrap molasses, along with cocoa and whole cream, to my morning mug of Joe. I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

Clay
Clay
3 months 9 days ago

Is that even coffee anymore? Sounds like a dessert. Just sayin’

barry
barry
3 months 9 days ago

+1. Lol, that’s just too complicated for me in the mornings to make a coffee beverage like that haha. Straight plain black coffee for me. If I feel like it I might add some trace mineral drops to it, but that’s it. The trace mineral”s” is mostly just magnesium though. I started doing it awhile back because I figured the magnesium would lessen the vasoconstriction of the coffee. Since magnesium is a vasodilator.

Jack
3 months 10 days ago

If I need something sweet in my coffee; 1/2 teaspoon of Coconut oil OR a small amount of Royal Jelly honey works for me.

Gustav
Gustav
3 months 8 days ago

I haven’t heard of putting Royal Jelly honey in coffee. Does it taste like regular honey? What does it cost relative to regular honey?

Anthony
Anthony
1 month 28 days ago

I love using this sugar substitute that’s extracted from the kabocha squash called BochaSweet in my coffee every morning. It tastes just like sugar and it doesn’t spike my blood sugar levels or leave a bitter aftertaste like other sugar substitutes on the market. I am a type 1 diabetic. I love this stuff! I’ve tried everything from monk fruit, stevia, Swerve, etc and nothing comes close to this stuff. You can check out their website it’s called http://www.bochasweet.com

Andrew Mencher
Andrew Mencher
3 months 10 days ago

Laird Hamilton has a line of coconut based non-dairy coffee creamers which are awesome, low sugar, and have aquamin for mineral content. Much better than sugar, especially when paired with ghee.

Borzoi
Borzoi
3 months 10 days ago
I too am a fan of Taubes and have been heavily influenced by his writings, as well as by the Primal and Paleo philosophies. Another of my go-to authors is Denise Minger, whose fabulous book “Death By Food Pyramid” was published by Mark Sisson’s publishing company. Minger has written a fascinating, very long and detailed article — more like a thesis — called “In Defense of Low Fat: A Call For Some Evolution of Thought (Part 1).” Here’s the link, for anyone interested in reading it: https://deniseminger.com/2015/10/06/in-defense-of-low-fat-a-call-for-some-evolution-of-thought-part-1/ Among other things, Minger describes the work of Dr. Walter Kempner. In the… Read more »
Nocona
Nocona
3 months 10 days ago

I’ll bite. Being a big Minger fan myself, I also read that article. She’s learned that both high fat/low carb (Paleo/Primal) and a high carb/very low fat diet BOTH WORK. So this leads to my conclusion: Who the hell would want to choose the high carb/almost no fat diet, with one full of butter, cream, coconut products, cheese, olive oil, bacon and eggs?

Tee Dee
Tee Dee
3 months 9 days ago

Good point, Nocona; I certainly wouldn’t want to give up all the yummy high fat foods for carbs, which only give me annoying cravings.

Clay
Clay
3 months 9 days ago

It’s true that they both work -if – and it’s a big if, the high carb diet is based on beans, lentils, unprocessed grains and whole fruits and veggies and avoids almost all sugar. I’ve never met a high carb/low fat person who did that though.

Borzoi
Borzoi
3 months 5 days ago

Except that the study I describe about employed none of the foods you mention — only sugar and white rice. Obviously it was part of a study and not how people would ever eat in the real world. Nevertheless, it reversed kidney disease and other serious conditions permanently. I’m not saying I advocate such a diet, but the results are worth contemplating and need explaining, at least to me.

Borzoi
Borzoi
3 months 5 days ago

I meant to write “the study I describe above”

Peter...
Peter...
3 months 10 days ago
Reminds me of the Potato Hack, which I read recently and have tried a couple of times. https://potatohack.com/ If you wish to put it in an ancestral perspective, you can argue that many foods are seasonal. When a hunter-gatherer population, living in a natural environment, has access to a source of nuts, fruits or tubers – or a herd of migratory animals – they have a tendency to eat a preponderance of that common and readily-available food. It is only with the advent of modern refrigeration and food storage facilities that it became possible to eat seasonal food such as… Read more »
JJ Smith
JJ Smith
3 months 10 days ago

What if it’s all been a big fat lie? I have been low carb since that 2002 NYMag article as well. Sites like MDA would not even exist without Taubes. Paleo would not exist either. Taubes is a hero.

shasha
shasha
3 months 10 days ago

I did read The Case Against Sugar, and all of Taubes other works. Its true that the “proof” to convict sugar would be near impossible to get, but as Mark said, we don’t need proof to convict. The evidence is strong enough to presume guilt.

barry
barry
3 months 10 days ago
Sugar is dangerous, no doubt. And avoiding all forms of processed sugar is a must for a optimal healthy diet. Avoiding grains (basically indirect sugar) is important too. However if I was to pick one single ingredient to target the most it would be industrial seed oils. Studying the paleo diet has lead me to focus not so much on macronutrient ratios but just eating real whole foods (besides grain) and avoiding vegetable oils. There was a few primitive tribe that ate not really high carb, but higher carb then today’s low carb standers without much chronic disease. However the… Read more »
Energy!
Energy!
3 months 5 days ago

The newly revised Deep Nutrition goes into detail about why seed oils are so bad for humans. Because of the way they are processed, canola/corn/soy/etc. oils are a novel substance for the human body. The body can’t utilize them like the normal animal or vegetable fats that humans are adapted to. The seed oils have been processed to smell and appear innocuous, but they’re not.

Jeremy
Jeremy
3 months 10 days ago

I read Why We Get Fat and heard Taubes on the Joe Rogan Podcast. I have since stopped eating sugar and because of you have stopped eating grains. My weight has dropped 12 pounds and still going.

Andrew Mencher
Andrew Mencher
3 months 10 days ago

Loved the book. Also loved watching the doucmentary FedUp and That Sugar Film

David
David
3 months 10 days ago

I’ve read Taube’s previous books but not this one yet. I was Lower-carb paleo for almost a decade but constantly struggled with low energy issues. I went back to a more Zone style diet and later added sugar. I find that sugar – which i try to get from fruit, raw honey, but also use fruit juice – helps keep my energy up and brain awake. On Paleo, I struggled a lot with carb-flu and feeling brain dead. Anyone had this and know how to work through it?

DRose
DRose
3 months 10 days ago
I’ve been listening to the lectures from the LCHF conferences in South Africa last year and Denver this year. To avoid carb-flu, you need to add more salt and fat to your diet. (Healthy fats goes without saying) but the key is actually salt. Yep, salt. Good salts like Himilayan or Celtic, not just the nutritionally void table salt. But low carb,high fat should also include a moderate salt intake. I use a pinch in my water every morning for starters.. which is good for regulating your adrenals, as well as electrolytes and a good way to get additional minerals.… Read more »
David
David
3 months 10 days ago

Thanks, i think in Taubes book, Why We Get Fat, he recommended this, but I may need to try this again. I had always kept fat levels high, but will try the salt.

Susan
Susan
3 months 9 days ago

Salt is huge! (not that huge amounts of salt are needed) 99% of the salt that most people get come from the processed foods of the SAD diet. Combine cutting those foods with the salt shaker aversion we’ve all been trained to have and it’s pretty easy to get salt-deficient.

Especially if you are dipping down into ketosis – it has a diuretic effect that leads to increased sodium excretion along with the water.

Tee Dee
Tee Dee
3 months 9 days ago

So right about salt, especially for those new to ketosis, etc. There’s a book coming out in June that I think is going to blow the whole ‘low salt’ thing out of the water. Sorry, I’ve forgotten the name, but it has a blue cover and a salt shaker on the front and will be released June 6th…I’ve pre-ordered it.

Tee Dee
Tee Dee
3 months 9 days ago

Just went to look it up, it’s called “The Salt Fix” by James DiNicolontino

Walter Bushell
Walter Bushell
1 month 14 days ago

Yes. What’s wurst is that the industrial foods are made with iodine free salt and not using the salt shaker means their diet is almost completely lacking in iodine.

DRose
DRose
3 months 10 days ago

Join the discussions. PS. Taubes does a few of the lectures.

Borzoi
Borzoi
3 months 10 days ago

What you say about salt is true. Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek, who have studied the effects of a ketogenic diet on human subjects in the lab for many years, are adamant about the need for sufficient salt in a truly high fat-low carb diet. Check out “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.” Fascinating stuff.

Energy!
Energy!
3 months 5 days ago

I recently was having a drastic fatigue problem shortly after eating lunch. Would be so dragged out it would ruin the rest of the day. Looked around online and kept seeing that it could be an electrolyte issue. I already use sea salt but made sure to sprinkle it on more often, added potassium chloride on a regular basis, plus a snack of seaweed here and there. So far it has solved the fatigue problem, thank goodness.

barry
barry
3 months 10 days ago
Hey it’s important to note that the low carb lifestyle and paleo lifestyle are not synonymous with each other. Read some of Dr. Cordain’s work, very rarely does he discuss the macronutrient ratios as a big deal. Mark Sisson does a fabulous job splicing low carb and paleo to create the primal blueprint. Which Mark’s way makes more sense to me anyways. Think about it, living in the wild during the authentic paleo era there wasn’t hybrid domesticate fruits and tubers, so getting past about a 150 carbs a day would’ve been rare for most civilizations. And net carbs were… Read more »
barry
barry
3 months 10 days ago

Correction, I said civilizations. There wasn’t civilizations during the Paleolithic era, I meant tribes.

Tee Dee
Tee Dee
3 months 9 days ago

The thing is, our ancestors wouldn’t have eating fruits and veg every day because they were seasonal. I guess if some still lived in warm climates, those tribes would have had ‘some’ vegetation throughout the year, though. Once again, it’s up to each of us to do our own experimenting on what works best for us as you’ve done.

barry
barry
3 months 9 days ago

Depending on the geographical region there was a wide range of different macronutrient ratios. We ranged from near carnivores to 70% plant based in some areas. Artic tribes would damn near eat nothing but animals and south american tribes had excess to wild fruits and wild vegetables (leaves, stems, roots). None of them ate refined seed oils though.

Anne
Anne
3 months 10 days ago
I read it and enjoyed but it was a case of preaching to the converted – I also loved Gillespie’s ‘Sugar, the Sweet Poison’. I think the bit that really hit me with the Taubes book was the observation that when people are short of money for food, they will sacrifice nutritious food and buy sugar – that’s how addictive it is. I am a ‘recovering sugar addict’ and I find it very tough, even knowing what I know about sugar. If I have one criticism of the book, I think Taubes possibly pushes his case a little too hard… Read more »
Sheila
Sheila
3 months 9 days ago

So how did you become a “recovering” sugar addict? I’m having an extremely difficult time and would love to know.

Anne
Anne
3 months 9 days ago
To be honest – with difficulty. I think you have to remember that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. I chose to go cold turkey and it was hard! However, after about 3 weeks (I know it takes longer with some people) I found that I could easily resist sweet stuff – even though I bake and make cupcakes! It felt such a relief. But it is like any other addiction – I thought I could have ‘just a little bit’ but soon found myself back in the full addiction. I think you should just take one day at a… Read more »
Sheila
Sheila
3 months 8 days ago

Thank you so much! I did a Whole30 in January, but still went right back to sugar. I almost get panicky when I think of never having sugar again, but that says to me that it’s really an addiction.

Anne
Anne
3 months 8 days ago

I know what you mean – cupcakes with lashings of buttercream!?
A

Anne
Anne
3 months 8 days ago

I have just downloaded Paul McKenna’s latest offering on getting rid of sugar. As usual he has a relaxing ‘mind-programming’ audio which, if nothing else is very relaxing! I’ve just started it so I’ll let you know how I get on – his other books/audios have been very good.

Pierre
Pierre
3 months 10 days ago
Nocona
Nocona
3 months 10 days ago

And “Sugar Blues” in about 1972…Weston’s book is still one of the all time greats!

Bill
Bill
3 months 10 days ago

Loved this well-reasoned — not to mention reasonable — take on the new Taubes book. It’s one reason this site is one of my ver few go-to sources to ferret out truth from hype. Thanks, Mark. All I know is that every aspect of my physical health got waaaaay better once I reduced sugar to the absolute minimum over 25 years ago.

Steve
Steve
3 months 10 days ago
All, If the intent is to lose body weight, as opposed to body fat, then, for a short term goal, it doesn’t matter what you eat. So long as your metabolism is healthy and you maintain a moderate calorie deficit you can lose weight. I’m not sure if anyone remembers, but Professor Mark Haub from Kansas State University conducted a weight-loss study on himself in 2010. He started the study at 211 pounds and at 33.4 percent body fat, and calculated that he would need to eat about 1,800 calories per day to lose weight without starving himself. While he… Read more »
Walter Bushell
Walter Bushell
1 month 14 days ago

Regarding calories – “It not how low you make them; it’s how you make them low.

David
David
3 months 10 days ago

I remember having that aha moment when I was reading Taubes 2002 NY magazine article. Of course I didn’t read it until just three years ago. But it was still just totally shocking to me. Cognitive dissonance shoved right at me. I reread it immediately and have been on a quest for health and knowledge ever since

Peter...
Peter...
3 months 10 days ago
I’ve replied to comments in this thread, but it’s worth asking the question, what about seasonal variation? When a hunter-gatherer tribe comes across a grove of fig trees or nut trees with abundant ripe fruit, they don’t just snack on a couple and move on. Nor do they carry masses of easily-soiling fruit with them, or preserve masses of them in bottles or cellars. These are luxuries only available to sedentary societies, particularly those with modern refrigeration and insect control. The tendency is to camp where the easily accessible and tasty food is, and eat a lot of it while… Read more »
Billy
Billy
3 months 9 days ago

Very cool observation. I agree and think you’re spot on. In a natural environment there are always fluctuations and it’s hard to find a constant steady supply of any one food. Seasonal abundance of one food followed by its absence and replacement with another seasonal food is the norm. Even in tropical environments there is seasonal variation. You only have to look at wildlife to see the variety many animals feed on throughout the year. Even where some foods are available year round, it might be easier/harder to get to them at different times.

Gee Kay
Gee Kay
3 months 10 days ago

I respect Taubes because he is persuasive and compelling but willing to doubt himself and admit his biases. He invites the reader to follow the data and draw their own conclusions.

susan dean
3 months 10 days ago

I read Sugar Blues a long time ago!

lynda
lynda
3 months 10 days ago

It is not that difficult to give up sugar. At Christmas when there are lots of sweets and one indulges, then going off sugar is difficult . . .for a while. It is so much easier to give it up completely, rather than feeling tempted. In the morning I have tea with a drop of YL essential oils of peppermint, cinnamon, ginger, thieves and coconut oil. There is a slightly sweet taste with the cinnamon

I have read two of Taubs books and they are fantastic. I look forward to reading his book on sugar..

Anne
Anne
3 months 10 days ago
Mark: I seriously doubt that you eat <1lb sugar per year. If you consume ANY fruit other than berries – say, an apple – or a serving of plain Greek yogurt, according to the nutrition data/labels, you're eating around 15g of sugar. Multiply 15g per day by 365 = 12 pounds per year. Cut that back to a couple servings per week and you're still well over a pound. I have been tracking all of my food intake for 6 months (annoying to do but enlightening), and have struggled to stay under 50g/day of sugar, even eating only whole foods… Read more »
Walter Bushell
Walter Bushell
1 month 14 days ago

I think the 100 pound figure is based on *added* sugar which IMAO include sugar from extracts like fruit juice. Fruit is absorbed slower, whereas fruit juice is almost mainlining sugar.

Walter Bushell
Walter Bushell
3 months 10 days ago

Remember fruit juice has about as much fructose as soda.

Peteso
Peteso
3 months 10 days ago

Another good read that gives a good understanding of the insidious nature of sugar in our diet is “Sweet Poison – Why Sugar makes us Fat” by David Gillespie. Puts the physiology into very easy to follow terms – a bit MDA like !!!!

michael
michael
3 months 9 days ago

A fantastic but little known book on the history of sugar and it’s detrimental health impacts is “The sugar blues” by William Dufty …published 1975. I read it 20 yrs ago and gave up sugar on the spot, am 52 now in great health trail running in the mountains 24km 1100m elevation. an extract from the book here https://www.quantumbalancing.com/news/sugar_blues.htm Hi to all from Cape town, South Africa.

Deano
3 months 9 days ago

I haven’t read ‘The Case Against Sugar?’ but I’ll make sure I do! Thanks Mark, great post.

Ian Lucas
Ian Lucas
3 months 9 days ago
Unfortunately it’s NOT just about sugar! Sugar (Sucrose) has less of an impact on blood glucose levels than starchy carbohydrates that are generally almost pure glucose and get absorbed by the body very quickly (therefore spiking blood glucose levels). The demonization of sugar and the current media focus on ‘Sugar’ (and that unfortunately includes Taube’s book) as the problem, is creating a huge smoke screen that is hiding the real problems such as modern wheat (The stuff that vermin won’t touch!) and the huge availability of ‘Carbs’ being pushed by virtually every high street chain like Costa & Subway. This… Read more »
Tee Dee
Tee Dee
3 months 9 days ago

Agree with you wholeheartedly about starchy carbs and fruits, but I thought sugar was half fructose and half glucose. Either way, the only carbs I eat now are veggies grown above ground, but that’s me; I need to lose weight and keep my blood sugar down for health.

Liz
3 months 9 days ago
I read the book back in January – I really enjoyed it, but it didn’t bowl me over like Good Calories, Bad Calories did when I first read it. Maybe that’s because I’ve already read up on sugar and some of the studies that Taubes sites in the book, while GCBC was one of my first significant reads into why most of what I believed about nutrition at the time was wrong. Despite that, the historical overview of sugar use and the rise of the sugar industry was both fascinating and frustrating to read about. I agree that the book… Read more »
Deborah
3 months 9 days ago
A question, Mark (wrt to Dr Eades’ assertion that it would take years of controlled study to find a “significant” outcome). Assuming that by “significant” he means statistically significant, then is sugar really that bad? If it’s as horrible as we think, then why wouldn’t a relatively short term study yield significant findings? It would seem the key would be how we are defining the outcomes – since there are loads of markers that correlate to poor health outcomes (e.g. inflammation, cortisol, blood lipids, etc.) then can’t we see how these outcomes are affected by short term or relatively short… Read more »
Borzoi
Borzoi
3 months 9 days ago

I’ve been off the site for a while and just saw a YouTube video claiming that Mark Sisson had a heart attack a few years ago, was diagnosed with blockage of a coronary artery and plaque, and put on statins. Supposedly he wrote about it here on the site, but I could find no mention of it. Is this a scam or is it true?

barry
barry
3 months 9 days ago
Ahhh yes, you ran into vegetable police. Be careful with taking these youtube vegan enthusiasts seriously. His knowledge (or lack thereof) in nutrition is staggering. He’ll say anything to attack a lifestyle that isn’t vegan. There’s a few more on there just like him. I actually like watching them sometimes because they get fired up lol. It’s funny stuff, but shouldn’t be taken seriously. Vegan gains and Durianrider are some more funny pseudointellectual fellows. Mark Sisson told his story on a Joe Rogan podcast. He’s had several health problems (in the past) which lead him down the road he’s on.… Read more »
Borzoi
Borzoi
3 months 5 days ago

Trust me, I’m no fan of the vegetable police as you call them. But this person held up an image of (supposedly) Mark’s website and read from it. Should I assume this dude made up the story and faked the web page? It seems like a long way to go to discredit somebody’s diet, but stranger things have happened.

Tee Dee
Tee Dee
3 months 9 days ago

Lol, I went to check out the video because I smelled a rat. The majority of commenters were vegans who had it in for the “meat and dairy industry”. It gave me a good chuckle to see how desperate the non-paleo side is.

PrimalPlum
PrimalPlum
3 months 9 days ago
I read it. And then I gave up sugar for Lent. The increases in per person sugar consumption over the last two centuries should cause people to pause and think. I don’t eat nearly the national average, but I do have a sweet tooth and will binge on chocolate especially, at times. I don’t drink soda (wasn’t allowed as a kid and never acquired a taste for it). But wow, since I’ve started really label-reading, sugar is everywhere! Sugar is in stuff that used to be made without it when I was younger. So now I’m 16 days without sugar… Read more »
Walter Bushell
Walter Bushell
1 month 14 days ago

Soda is particularly evil. Some people recover just from ditching soda. Dr. Lustig gets kids out of diabetes II just by taking them off soda. (Diabetes I and II are opposite conditions, but some unfortunates (mainly those who follow consensus medical advice) can get both at the same time. Having both is the logical result of the consensus medical advice.

Lisabeth Robinson
3 months 9 days ago
I read that article in the Times (Taubes ties sugar to cancer as well), and then copied it to give to my sophomore history students. We do a whole unit on Sugar and Slavery–looking at how sugar fueled both the slave trade and European industrialization (Sidney Mintz’s brilliant historical work Sweetness and Power postulates this theory). I argue that sugar not only is ruining public health, but also our environment (Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma reveals the U.S. agribusiness built on corn). I cannot take much sugar–it makes my throat hurt and my mouth taste gross. That being said, I’ve… Read more »
John Smith
John Smith
3 months 7 days ago

If you are looking for a scientist’s take on the issue,I can only recommend Stephan Guyenet’s blog post ‘Bad sugar or bad journalism? An expert review of “The Case Against Sugar”:

http://www.stephanguyenet.com/bad-sugar-or-bad-journalism-an-expert-review-of-the-case-against-sugar/

Note that this is someone Mark also respects.

Heather
Heather
3 months 6 days ago

I really enjoyed the book and recommend it to my coaching clients who are struggling to get off sugar. As a scientist by training, I find Taubes’ arguments to be well researched and they make a lot of sense to me.

meredith
meredith
3 months 1 day ago

I have read some great books that show how truly awful sugar is. Notably works by Robert Lustig amd John Yudkin. I have read Taubes’ two earkier books and will now add this one to my reading list.

Paulis
3 months 1 day ago
Hi, I have a question for the readers here. It’s about apples. Background: I’m on a journey to lose weight (mostly from inhaled steroids and some from lifestyle) and heal my asthma, which is fairly bad. Over the last six weeks I’ve been able to go low carb, and pass on wheat, dairy and eggs. The eggs were especially sad but I tested positive on my naturopaths allergy testing and I do think that I maybe saw increased symptoms when I retried them yesterday after abstaining several weeks. Having come this far I think I’m also ready to mostly let… Read more »
Paulis
3 months 1 day ago

PS. Forgot to mention. I completely gave up sugar. I’ve had a very little raw honey and once molasses which somehow feels good on my lungs.

Choymae Huie
3 months 2 hours ago
For me, I hardly eat sugar except a spoon or so in cooking and normally not daily. some times I’ll binge when my friends or relatives give me cookies during the holidays, or I’ll buy some chocolate ice cream and eat a 1/2 quart in one night. The last time I did the cookies, was after Christmas, 3 months ago and I ended up giving most of them away the minute I went to church. The last time I had the chocolate ice cream was over a year ago, so you can see that I probably eat less than a… Read more »
Greg Kiger
2 months 29 days ago

Gary Taubes is a bright guy. an exhaustive researcher. clear mind. calls out bad science. if everyone read the book and took steps to steadily eliminate added sugar it would be a huge step forward.

personally, the less added sugar i eat the sweeter everything tastes. a big red bell pepper sliced and dipped in hummus – oh man, very sweet. berries in grass fed fut fat yogurt – dessert 😉

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