Condensed Taubes

For anyone looking for a quick glimpse at Gary Taubes' provocative arguments on the detrimental health effects of the current carbohydrate-crazed world, take a look at the CNN post of an interview of Taubes at CNN. (Thanks, Fanatic Cook, for pointing this out.)

In his book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, Taubes, a science reporter, manages to deftly and systematically disarticulate the entire argument for the low-fat approach to nutrition that has dominated conventional advice for the last 30+ years.

The book is impressively detailed and well-thought through. If you would like an introduction to the nutrition world according to Taubes, take a look at the CNN video, which permits him to provide a quick, condensed version of his ideas. Even when debating the issue with physicians, Taubes' arguments shine through as a voice of reason, cutting through the flabby and tired arguments that have been proven misguided by the experience of those around us.

Comments (15) -

  • Nancy M.

    10/26/2007 3:20:00 PM |

    I'm getting to the end of the Taubes book.  Unfortunately any interview I've heard or seen hasn't come close to doing justice to this book!  I went from angry and frustrated to joyful as I read.  Angry because there is so much misinformation and so much excellent research that has been ignored and forgotten, but happy because I think Taubes book will reawaken the passion in the souls of skeptics to challenge the status quo and delve into researching things forgotten.

    The first 100 or so pages are a little dry but so fascinating.  Stick with it, there are lessons on so many levels to be learned.

    The most important one is to stop blaming people for being fat.  Rather blame what they eat because the underlying reason they eat, is because they are literally starving.

  • Anonymous

    10/26/2007 6:10:00 PM |

    Loved the book, backs up just about everything Atkins ever said. One strange thing I read however is that he doesn't think excercise does any good towards weight loss { he says it just makes you hungrier ?}

  • dr jim

    10/26/2007 9:21:00 PM |

    As an authority in coronary plaque imaging (medically directing EBCT imaging centers in 4 cities) and now the chief medical officer of Atherotech, I am knowledgeable but admittedly biased in  the following views--

    Although i am a big fan of Dr. Davis and his efforts in tracking plaque, i strongly believe that the VAP test gives far more useful and accurate information than the NMR test he continues to promote. We at Atherotech use Apo B for particle number and provide it at no extra cost--Apo B is far more credible and internationally respected than NMR spin particle number.  One definitely deserves a DIRECT LDL available on all VAP tests. Anything else misclassifies 50% of patients whose LDL should be <100.   Liposciences falls far short in providing information (it doesnt routinely include things like Lp(a) and cannot even measure cholesterol content with its technology.

    We at atherotech believe patients and doctors deserve a lot more accuracy and information than is provided by NMR. Therefore, we provide the gold standard process for lipid analysis--ultracentrifugation. In fact, our test is accurate fasting or NON-FASTING...something liposciences cannot do. Consider doing a non-fasting VAP test 2-4 hours after a typical meal. The TG we report now is relevant and predictive of heart attacks.

    James Ehrlich, MD
    chief medical officer, Atherotech

  • Anonymous

    10/27/2007 6:26:00 AM |

    dr jim:

    As a EBT technologist I want to thank you for hanging in there and backing this technology.  Techs have to practice ALARA and I personally would  have issues with performing heart scans using conventional CT scanners. (although it's better to be scanned than not if the technology is not available).  Beyond  that, I was wondering if you could direct us to any sources that would provide us with more information about the VAP testing.  Have you found many physicians willing to deal with this data?

    Thank you,


  • Anonymous

    10/27/2007 3:02:00 PM |

    The only weak area in Taubes book is his view on exercise.  He cites low-level exercise and blue-collar vs white-collar workers.  There's no mention of the studies that show working at 90% of maximum heart rate causes dramatic weight loss without alterations in diet.  I agree, walking or jogging doesn't lead to weight loss because appetite is increased.

  • wccaguy

    10/27/2007 6:56:00 PM |

    Hi Dr. Ehrlich,

    Your participation in this conversation is greatly appreciated.

    It's difficult for a lay person to sort through the characteristics of the three major lipoprotein tests (NMR, VAP, and Berkeley's) and reach a judgment about which is best.

    It seems to me, however, that one thing is clear.  Your Atherotech Vap Test is without question the simplest of the three to make happen for people on these issues outside of a doctors care.

    Liposcience does not now provide it's full report to such people (like me).  And it's not that they won't, it's that they can't.  And if you call them up and ask them to give you a list of doctors who will order the test for you locally, their response is to say, "sorry, we don't have such a list."

    And you're absolutely right that Liposcience not providing an LP(a) number as part of it's standard lipoprotein report makes no sense and wastes their customers time.

    Incredible when you think about it.

    Meanwhile, the situation is not much different with the Berkeley Heart Lab Test.  A person like me can get the complete report but ONLY after I find a doctor who will order it.  There is no option at all to order the test without a local doctor's order.

    Meanwhile, you folks at Atherotech offer your test through the Life Extention Foundation and that includes an LP(a) test.  I take that to mean that Atherotech shares in a vision of patient directed health care that Dr. Davis often writes about.

    As news of the results of participation in Dr. Davis' Track Your Plaque program spreads, it seems to me that there are going to be hundreds and even thousands of more CAD patients who are going to want to take these tests.

    At this point, it seems to me that only Atherotech has a lipoprotein report marketing and product distribution strategy to meet the needs of folks who want to move quickly.

    Having said that, IMO, there is an important element in the NMR and Berkeley reports that is missing from the Vap Test report.  Both of those reports provide a graphic visualization of lipoprotein size distributions from the raw data in the report.  The Vap Test report doesn't provide such a graphic visualization.

    I put it to you that for purposes of patients/customers understanding the meaning of the report such visualizations can be extremely useful.  IMO, Atherotech should think long and hard to improve it's report by adding an additional page to it with various graphically displays that make report data content easier and more quickly grasped.

    I recommend to you the work of Edward Tufte who has written about the power of graphical displays of information in multiple books.

  • wccaguy

    10/28/2007 5:25:00 PM |

    Dr. Ehrlich,

    I figured out what was bothering me about the current Vap Test format.  I'm not talking about the content.  I'm talking display of the content.

    As I understand it, Edward Tufte is considered to be a preeminent expert on "Envisioning Information" in the US.  The New York Times called Mr. Tufte "the Leonardo da Vinci of Data".  His wikipedia entry is here:

    In a book called "Envisioning Information", Mr. Tufte has written a chapter entitled "Layering and Separation".  I put it to you that some data display issues with the current Vap Test report format become clear pretty quickly upon reading that chapter.

    But that's not the only problem with the report format.

    I'm looking at the example pdf version at

    I see the following line about 2/3 of the way down the report.

    "Consider 2 hr GTT, Hemoglobin A1c, fasting glucose test"

    Now, I have no idea what that means and I'm relatively educated about these matters.  However, I know that is must be important because the font is red.  I guess someone thought that knowledge of the acronym "GTT" should be known by everyone.  It's not.  

    Now maybe  the report designer believed there wasn't enough space on the report to spell out what GTT means.  But then why waste a large amount of space at the bottom of the report on the information below the text line that reads:

    "For Lab Use Only: Subspecies Real LDL (Cholesterol concentrations in mg/dL)"

    If it's for "Lab Use Only", then why is that information on the report going to doctors and patients?

    Finally, one of the things I've learned recently from Dr. Davis is that the HDL-2 value is critical.  I think it's more than coincidence that I've got that great CABG scar on my chest and my HDL-2 score is abnormally and extremely low.  And yet, on the example Vap Test at the link above, the HDL-2 value is 60% of the minimum desirable level and yet it receives no "in red" special highlighting text recommendation.

    Meanwhile, the LDL-C number at the top of the page is lower than desirable (as is best) and yet, in the middle of the report, a recommendation about lowering LDL-C appears in red.

    The Vap Test raw data may very well be the most accurate measure of CAD risk factors in patients.  But, for what it's worth, IMO, in the contest with Berkeley and Liposcience on the "data presentation intelligibility" the Vap Test report comes in 3rd.

    The net of all this...

    Dr. Ehrlich:  I'm not a doctor and have no formal training in science.  But I have been forced by my own experience to become educated about CAD and have become passionate the subject.

    In the next several years, when more people in the US learn that there's this obscure doctor in Milwaukee with a website whose members are seeing empirically proven 10% to 61% reductions in plaque and associated risk, there's going to be an avalanche of requests for blood testing.  And the're not not going to want to have to go through some cumbersome process to get it done.

    You're #1, IMO, in being the easiest blood test company to "get it done quickly and easily."

    And with Liposcience being unable (that's right, not unwilling, it's actually UNABLE at present) to produce it's full report for patients directing their own destinies, you are positioned, it seems to me, for great things.

    But your current report format is running a distant 3rd to the NMR and the Berkeley.

    You need to get that fixed.

    IMO, Atherotech should find some world-class "information presentation designer" to consult on a complete rethinking of the data presentation of it's Vap Test report so that the presentation is as world-class as is the data itself.

  • Dr. Davis

    10/28/2007 8:19:00 PM |


    As always, your insights are right on target. I agree that a graphic presentation and more clarification of the VAP report would be tremendously helpful. Atherotech has also been the most successful in providing access to the public without a doctor's order.

  • Anonymous

    10/29/2007 11:43:00 PM |

    The late Dr. Atkins deservers an apology from many many doctors, to bad he didn't live long enough to be vindicated. There has NEVER been any proof that saturated fats are bad for you. I wonder how many doctors have CAUSED heart attacks by telling patients to stop eating saturated fats and/or eat more carbs. Shame on them for repeating this unfounded myth, and thanks to Gary Taubes for the most thoroughly researched book EVER on diet and health.

  • Anonymous

    11/3/2007 2:05:00 PM |

    How could a Canadian get these blood tests done thru a lab in USA???

  • Dr. Davis

    11/3/2007 7:12:00 PM |

    The best way I know of is to go to Web Resources on the website. Ther e you will find listed the websites of the lipoprotein laboratories that can steer you in the right direction.

  • gc

    11/4/2007 12:10:00 AM |

    Thank you,

  • Dr Jim

    2/4/2008 4:04:00 PM |

    I very much appreciate the wonderfully helpful input from fellow bloggers about the VAP test and the deficiencies in the graphic aspects. I share your opinion and it has been the subject of much discussion at headquarters. Frankly, although it is not at all ideal yet, our direct report from Birmingham is much better than the usual report a patient gets which comes from Quest or Labcorp. Their IT interface people have resisted our report format in favor of the text format you are getting.  Having said that, we believe we can  improve our direct reports and influence the labs to do the same.

    My main difficulty with NMR is the fact that they don't give enough information and pretend that particle number is a strong predictor of risk. If one wants a strong predictor of risk, get a heartscan as Dr Davis advises. Use a lab test to figure out whether you should be on statins, combination therapy with niaspan, fibrates, omega 3s, etc.

    Here is the analogy i use in looking at liposciences-- "If you had 1200 coins (= particle #) in your much money do you have?"  Well, the VAP test tells you how many quarters (Lpa), dimes (VLDL, IDL), nickels (LDL), etc.

  • buy jeans

    11/2/2010 7:47:49 PM |

    Even when debating the issue with physicians, Taubes' arguments shine through as a voice of reason, cutting through the flabby and tired arguments that have been proven misguided by the experience of those around us.