Is Gary Taubes The Opposite of Weight Watchers?

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I found this question on the Diet Blog and I wanted to say WAY more than I should in a comment, so I posted my answer here.

Gary Taubes Lecturing at BerkleyI just watched Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories lecture in Berkeley, and he seems so convinced and convincing about what he believes.

So, is there a flaw in his argument? And if “yes” what is it?

I’ve been on Weight Watchers in the past, and I know it works. But they preach the complete opposite of what Taubes quotes as scientifically proven.

So, how is it that you can lose weight while eating less fat, and as much pasta as you like, but on the other hand you can eat as much fat as you like, but no pasta – and this also works?

I’m just confused…

If you look at the Weight Watchers pamphlets closely, you can see that they don’t conflict with Gary Taubes’ views on carbohydrates. They recommend that IF you eat carbohydrates, to choose whole grains. They recommend that you limit your intake of processed sugars. Carbohydrates from fruit, vegetables and legumes are highly recommended by both Taubes and Weight Watchers.

Weight Watchers will probably never say that a low carbohydrate diet is what they recommend, but they make it very easy to follow one while on the Weight Watchers program.

The risk with making certain foods “bad” like Taubes has done is that restricted foods can have a mystical element to them. Once a food is deemed as “bad” it can seem FAR more appealing than it did before. I think that’s why Weight Watchers allows you to eat whatever foods you want as long as you stay within your Daily Points Allowance. Removing the judgment from food is the first step toward eating healthier.

Gary Taubes has focused on the health aspect of food, but has completely ignored the emotional aspects of it. Weight Watchers is taking BOTH into account by allowing you to eat whatever you want, but gently steering you toward healthier choices. It’s entirely possible to eat a low carb diet while on Weight Watchers as long as you can handle the idea of “bad” foods without spiraling into a binge.

Good Luck!


4 Responses to “Is Gary Taubes The Opposite of Weight Watchers?”

  1. angela Says:

    That’s what I like about Weight Watchers, even though I do it on my lonesome…it really does encourage more fruit and veggies and even lean protein because you get more food for less points…thus more filling. At least that’s how it works in my brain when I’m keeping track….

  2. BenJ Says:

    Huh … I keep my weight down, and loose weight if I cut back on calories, without tracking what I eat. I just don’t eat unnatural foods (carbs!)

    Weight Watchers sounds like a PITA.

    Gary Taubes isn’t a diet writer. He hasn’t “completely ignored the emotional aspects” — he doesn’t care about the emotional aspects. That’s not what his book is about!

    The comments on that other post are hysterical, I will give you that. Almost as fun as politics.

  3. Kim Says:

    BenJ, WW may sound like a PITA to you, but it’s FAR less a pain than the 60 extra lbs I used to carry around on me. The whole point of WW is to re-think your behaviors about food AND activity. It kind of irks me when people who have never been to a meeting equate WW with a food plan. It’s not. It’s support to make sustainable behavior modifications. Not just “how am I going to get this weight off?” but “how am I going to make lifestyle changes to support a healthy weight”. Food is only a piece of that. That’s why I’ve been at goal for over 4 years.

    And Laura, YES! Moderation, not Deprivation is my mantra for exactly this reason. I eat almost exclusively Filling Foods (formerly known as Core foods) but telling myself that I could never have wine or chocolate again would be a recipe for disaster.

  4. Dawn Says:

    With regard to the cut and paste from the article, I think that what it comes down to is calories in/ calories out and finding a way of eating that can be sustained for long term. I’ve done just about every commercial diet around (except any of the pills). Sure, I lost a bunch of weight on Atkins but when I wasn’t able to sustain the proscribed eating plan I gained the weight back. Weight Watchers works for me because it is a sustainable way of living for me. I mostly eat filling foods but helps me to know that if I want a cupcake for a friends birthday, I can have it as long as I work it into my points. This is one of the things that has helped me succeed on Weight Watchers.

    BenJ, it’s great that you can cut back on calories and loose weight without tracking what you eat but for a lot of us that just isn’t a reality. I wouldn’t have come this far (lost 91 lbs) without keeping a food/exercise journal. I need it to hold myself accountable and as a record of what has been successful or unsuccessful for me in the past. I hit several plateaus while losing weight this time around and it was very helpful to be able to go back and see what I did or didn’t do that helped break the plateau. It’s not for everyone but it shouldn’t be completely discounted as a useful tool.

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