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Gary Taubes’ Diet & Cholesterol

Did any of you guys see Gary Taubes on the Dr. Oz show recently?

Many diet bloggers out there, especially low-carb bloggers, tore Dr. Oz apart after the show for apparently being unfair.

I thought the guy was actually quite decent throughout the program, but that’s just my opinion.

There was only 1 issue I had: the end of the show.

At the end Dr.Oz asks Gary what his cholesterol is like. Gary is clearly taken off-guard and it seems that this wasn’t a scripted part of the show. Perhaps this was an effort to embarrass him.

If so, it was unfair and unprofessional.

Anyway, Gary responded that he didn’t know what his lipid profile was like. This leaves Dr. Oz able to infer that perhaps all is not well with Gary’s cholesterol because of his diet.

Gary’s position is that total cholesterol means nothing anyway; he is correct in that position.

I think Gary knew that if his TOTAL cholesterol was even a little high, Dr. Oz would have used it to discredit him.

So before the show he said he wouldn’t get it checked and they agreed not to have that as part of the show. However, Dr. Oz brought it up anyway and scored some cheap points.

You can watch the whole show by clicking below..


But Gary has now got his blood work done and has shared the results on his blog. I’ve shown snippets below, but you should really go to his blog and read the whole thing.

Gary Taubes’ Cholesterol

So, what do you think?

Is it even conceivable that the diet we evolved to eat would end up KILLING us?

Doesn’t it make more sense to think that new/foreign foods introduced into the diet would be cause of new diseases?

Your Buddy,


P.S. If you watch the Dr.Oz show with Taubes about exercise, he states that building a pound of muscle will burn an extra 100 Calories a day. Don’t get too excited; it doesn’t! Not by a long shot. There are varying estimates on this, from 6 Calories to 100. My rather conservative opinion is around 35 Calories per day, but don’t take that as gospel either.

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Mark McManus
Mark McManus
Mark is now available for 1-on-1 consultations to help you take your results to the next level. Click here for more details.
Mark McManus is a trainer & author from Ireland. His work has been featured in major publications all over the world. He is the creator of the free growth-promoting workout Targeted Hypertrophy Training' (THT) and author of the NEW fat-torching system Total Six Pack Abs.
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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jim April 28, 2011, 1:12 pm

    Hey Mark. I think Gary Taubes is great. Jimmy Moore talked with him about his Dr. Oz appearance on episode #456 of the Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Podcast. Taubes said that he was taken aback by the cholesterol question because he was told that they weren’t going to discuss that. He also said that they edited a lot of his explanations out. You should have a listen if you haven’t already. Take care!

  • Dan April 28, 2011, 3:10 pm

    These results are not surprising at all. Large boyant LDL, great Triglycerides, <1 risk factor…Looks great!!! I Would love to see Dr Oz match that!

  • mike April 28, 2011, 3:41 pm

    Ya i watched that show live and Dr.Oz really seemed to take a shot. He must believe his way is the only way.

  • mike April 28, 2011, 3:47 pm

    Hey Mark i have an unrelated question. When is the ideal time for my 10 year old son to start training. ie.future muscle hacker indeed.

  • Steven Smith April 28, 2011, 4:18 pm

    You know what, since cholesterol has no real correlation to heart disease and never did, I personally wouldnt have cared if Gary’s was in the 300 range. There have been so many cases of people having low cholesterol and heart attacks. Take marathon runners for example. Prime cases of low cholesterol and high inflammation.

  • Sammy April 28, 2011, 4:35 pm

    I think, after viewing this piece, is that they both speak nuggets of truth. Complex carbohydrates from whole grains and legumes, in moderation, are good for you (from all that I’ve read, anyway). And science seems to back it up. Where Taubes is correct, I believe, is that eliminating most carbs (including complex kind) will aid in weight loss even more. But is that a healthy way to lose weight?

  • Sammy April 28, 2011, 4:39 pm

    And by the way, I thought Dr. Oz was totally fair to Taubes. It was a debate, but it was civil and spirited.

  • Anabolic James April 28, 2011, 5:28 pm

    @Sammy – Losing weight is HEALTHY by itself. By eliminating most carbs, we’re eliminating insulin, and while almost a requirement to build muscle, it will completely stall fat loss efforts. The less insulin the better. Any diet will “work” as long as a calorie deficit is created, and more so if you’re extremely obese. However, as you become leaner, hormones such as cortisol, insulin, and estrogen become more important for overall results than the calorie deficit by itself. An example, two different diets both 3,000 calories per day. The 1st diet is high carb/low fat (Pritkin style)… The second, low carb/high fat (Atkins style) – both 3,000 calories a day, two COMPLETELY different hormonal environments – I won’t say it is impossible to gain fat on a high fat diet, but I’ll bet you it is even in a surplus. Wouldn’t you rather create and keep a fat burning hormonal environment to get lean, and worry about keeping it off later?

  • Pete April 28, 2011, 6:13 pm

    Hi Mark,
    I’m very interested in this but I’m not sure I understand it.
    In a nutshell, what is the test saying?

  • Mike Huber April 28, 2011, 6:29 pm

    Great article Mark. I’ve been low carbing for almost a year now. I was never fat, just could not get the definition in my midsection that i wanted. Worked out and did sit ups till the cows came home but it just didn’t work. I started following your advice, like Gary has stated, and the results just came!!! and yes i am VERY HEALTHY according to my Doctor. I’m over 40 years old and get a physical every year. If anyone has any doubts, Just Give Your Programs and Diet A Chance…… They will be amazed. A Big THANKS Again Mark!!!

  • Sammy April 28, 2011, 6:38 pm

    One word of caution. I too keep my carbs low (but not eliminated) and when I get may annual physical, the bloodwork comes back with a red flag because my creatinine levels dropped. That caused, the first time it happened, them to become concerned, and have me waste time having my kidneys checked out. So now I warn them I have a high protein, low carb diet to avoid the confusion.

  • Connar April 28, 2011, 8:53 pm

    About the ‘how many calories a pound of muscle burns’ The sad fact is at rest it is under 6 calories. Up to 9 if it is going through protien turnover from working out. I read the study that the “100” comes from, wish I saved it to share. The subjects on average gained about 1.5lb of muscle during the study and their RMR went up ~150Kcal after 6 weeks of weight training. Bingo 150/1.5 = 100cal per pound of muscle! What folks are leaving out from the study is it that all muscle metabolic rate increased by ~50% due to protein turnover. So while in a protein turnover state, the new muscle add ~12 and all the existing muscle was using ~138 more than per study RMR levels.

  • Bob April 28, 2011, 9:08 pm

    Im 47, have been low carb for 2 years and my cholesterol dropped from 220 to 174 in the first 6 months and has stayed their. My personal Dr is more of the five a day clan, but doesn’t argue with my test results. It will take a lot of work for the public to unlearn what they have been taught for years.

  • Ken April 28, 2011, 10:54 pm

    I tried a low carb diet for a little over a month. I went to my Dr just recently to have my levels re-checked. As soon as the results came back there were alarm bells!
    Before I started low carb I was eating low fat. My diet wasn’t the greatest, and I felt tired in the middle of the day. With low carb, I got a LOT more energy than I did before. Also I need to add I was (and am) working out 3 times per week, so I was getting exercise on both ‘programs’.

    Here’s My levels:
    1/26/11: 73
    After low carb 4/21/11: 64

    Total Cholesterol:
    1/26/11: 178
    4/21/11: 250

    LDL levels:
    1/26/11: 102
    4/21/11: 147!

    HDL levels:
    1/26/11: 61
    4/21/11: 90

    I though it was weird my sugar & good cholesterol levels improved, but my bad cholesterol level shot through the ROOF! Needless to say, as SOON as the results came back my Dr. said for me to go back to the low fat way of eating. I’ve tried in incorporate some low carb principals- watching for sugars, etc. I found while I followed low carb, even though I drank water I got constipated. The lack of fiber from whole grains didn’t help any, and I did my hardest to choose vegetable with high fiber and low carb.

  • Sammy April 28, 2011, 11:28 pm

    @Ken: When you switched from low fat to low carb, did you increase your saturated fat intake? I don’t think anyone should trade high carbs for daily breakfasts of egg yolks and mounds of bacon of sausage with bunless cheeseburgers for lunch. There is a way to reduce carbs while still eating lean meats, lots of leafy veggies, and moderate whole grains.

  • Sammy April 28, 2011, 11:29 pm

    Plus, adding beans and other legumes to your diet keeps protein high, as well as fiber. :)

  • Ronnie April 29, 2011, 12:45 am


    Dr Jay Wortman researched and started using a LCHF diet, the his wife started and also while pregnant she was on LCHF and then the kids are only on LCHF since birth all healthy.

  • David April 29, 2011, 4:33 am

    When you have very low triglycerides like you do, the basic cholesterol tests overestimate LDL. If you can afford it, I would go back to your doctor and ask that you get the more expensive (~$100 in the US) test that actually measures the number of apo-B particles, and gives a true measure of LDL. The basic test uses something called the Fredelwald Equation, which doesn’t work for triglycerides <100.

    @Mark, 1 lb of muscle probably doesn't burn 100 calories a day once you put it on, but PUTTING it on probably does cause you to burn an extra hundred calories a day, assuming you're talking about the post workout metabolic boost that comes from protein synthesis and muscle repair.

  • David April 29, 2011, 5:06 am

    One thing I wish Gary had mentioned is that almost every study done showing that saturated fat is bad, was done on subjects who follow a high carbohydrate diet. In the presence of a lot of carbs, saturated fat is bad. Absent those carbs, saturated fat is good.

    Also, I wish Gary had pointed out that when your blood sugar spikes, and your body generates insulin, it doesn’t store the carbs you’re eating as glycogen in your fat cells. Insulin’s first job is to tell your liver to convert all those incoming carbs into fat. What type of fat does your liver turn it into? Palmitic acid, also known as the main kind of saturated fat in steak. So, when you eat a big plate of pasta, your liver will end up turning all those carbs into an equivalent amount of palmitic acid as if you had eaten a T-Bone.

  • Anabolic James April 29, 2011, 11:57 am

    @Sammy – You know you can time your carb in take without reducing the total amounts too much. An, example on my weight training days, I’ll take in most of my carbs before, during, and after training including the 1st meal AFTER training. That meal usually a mix of lentils, or some other legume and a whole grain. plus sweet potato etc. This all happens within about 2-3 hours… After that I it’s all vegetables like broccoli, whole foods and fats, meats, cheese etc. On my aerobic days, it is one insulin spike after the aerobic session, whose sole purpose is to blunt cortisol… It’s like I have fat burning days and muscle building days – This works for me.

  • Anabolic James April 29, 2011, 12:04 pm

    My belief is that one insulin spike over a short period of time is better than a continuous higher average insulin level for hours on end. I use it strategically.

  • Anabolic James April 29, 2011, 12:08 pm

    @David – Yes… I believe even Dr. Atkins pointed out that the conversion of saturated fat to cholesterol takes place in the presence of insulin, in his book.

  • Anabolic James April 29, 2011, 12:11 pm

    Guys, keep in mind that carrying high amounts of body fat is unhealthy. Not to mention the havoc it wreaks on the endocrine system, high cortisol, and estrogen, low test, and GH… etc. If manipulating these hormones through diet and training can get rid of the body fat successfully, that alone offsets any temporary drawbacks you may have.

  • Mark McManus April 30, 2011, 12:15 pm

    @Ken. Your triglycerides went down. Your HDL went up. That’s good news on 2 fronts. But also, when Tri’s go down and HDL goes up, that’s the indicator that your VLDL has actually decreased – that’s good news. As David said above, “When you have very low triglycerides like you do, the basic cholesterol tests overestimate LDL.” I would be almost certain that the LDL level is incorrect. But more importantly, your VLDL decreased, which the only one you should have any concern about. Total cholesterol doesn’t tell you anything anyway. I would have kept low-carbing if I had been you and paid for the more expensive test. However, always go with what your doc recommends.