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Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by…

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It

by Gary Taubes

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I agree with the author's central premise: that the rise of the original "Food Pyramid," with its recommendation to base our diets on "whole grains," also known as carbohydrates, is a primary cause of overweight in the U.S. Taubes provides study after study, some going back a century or more, in support of his hypothesis. It's hard to conclude anything else, when all of the evidence is considered. The question then becomes what to do about it. ( )
  Pat_F. | Jul 25, 2014 |
This author also wrote, "Good Calories, Bad Calories". Why We Get Fat and What to do About it is very much the same information but written in a way that we "laymen" can understand it. It is SO much more than a diet book. It enlightens one to what food does in the body and how it affects your health. LOVE IT ( )
  Mariesreads | Jun 12, 2014 |
Gave me a better understanding of how to use the stored energy in my fat, and I had a productive conversation with my new endocrinologist as a result. I can't see extreme low carb as a lifestyle for me, but I am inspired to make some changes. ( )
  eclecticlibrarian | Jan 7, 2014 |
A very interesting view of nutrition and why we get fat. I plan to aggressively follow the guidance in this book and see if it works. Calories in vs calories out does not work for me. Now I know why. ( )
  berthacummins | Dec 31, 2013 |
What Gary Taubes discusses in this book flies in the face of the majority of the medical literature regarding weight loss. He claims that the calories in/calories out paradigm is simplistic at best and dangerous at worst. Eating less and exercising more to lose weight does not have supporting evidence as a method. In fact, the concept of calories in/calories out was not in use by the medical profession until after World War II. At some point, medicine began to see eating and exercise as an energy balance, ignoring the myriad factors that go on within bodies regardless of how much was eaten or how much exercise was undertaken.

Modern medical literature focusing on calories in/calories out uses faulty logic based on the mechanics of thermodynamics. However, this disregards the fact that the energy we consume and the energy we expend are dependent on each other. Eating less and exercising more do not work to lose weight because the less you eat, the less energy you have and the more the metabolic rate slows, thereby burning less fat for energy. Just because you are exercising does not mean that fat will be burned. While exercise has many positive health effects, it must be strenuous to influence weight loss and causes a larger appetite – thereby increasing the number of calories ingested.

Food energy being converted into fat has much to do with an individual’s physiology, metabolism, genetics, and environment. However, the foods one chooses to eat do play a major role. Contrary to medical advice, foods that cause fat are not the ones that actually contain fat themselves. It is the refined flour products (breads, cereals, pastas), liquid carbohydrates (beers, fruit juices, sodas), and starches (potatoes, rice, corn) that cause weight gain. These foods cause a surge of sugars in the bloodstream, thereby causing our bodies to create insulin. When we secrete insulin, we accumulate fat because our cells will hold onto the fat rather than use it for fuel. Put simplistically, reducing the foods that cause our bodies to produce insulin allows the fat in our cells to be released.

Another element that Taubes seeks to shed a light on revolves around the damage to one’s mental state that the calories in/calories out paradigm engenders. Telling people that they need to lose weight by eating less and exercising more implies that they are lazy and lack willpower. However, this ignores effects of carbohydrates on bodies. Low-carbohydrate diets reduce the amount of insulin created, thereby inducing weight loss. Low-fat diets have the net effect of minimizing weight loss by increasing the amount of carbohydrates eaten. Many are misguided into eating more carbohydrates than they should to lose weight when they should instead be eating meats and fats.

Taubes also dispels the notion that foods high in fat content cause other problems, such as heart disease and high cholesterol. Once again, the medical establishment has viewed fat and cholesterol too one-dimensionally. There are two kinds of cholesterol, HDL (“good” cholesterol) and LDL (“bad” cholesterol). High LDL is not the only factor for heart disease; low HDL is also a contributor. Eating a lot of carbohydrates will reduce both kinds of cholesterol, and a low HDL is a much better predictor of heart disease than a high LDL. When discussing lard, for instance, Taubes states, “…if you replace the carbohydrates in your diet with an equal quantity of lard, it will actually reduce your risk of having a heart attack” (p. 189-190).

I found Taubes' arguments quite fascinating in their logic and scientific rationale. What at first may seem counter-intuitive becomes much clearer with his detailed explanations that manage to omit unnecessary medical jargon while still providing a high level of reasoning grounded in scientific studies. I am certain that the concepts brought forth will be controversial and contradictory for many. However when working beyond the paradigm of calories in/calories out and taking a closer look at the paradox that this concept prompts, Taubes’ arguments hold water.
2 vote Carlie | May 16, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307272702, Hardcover)

An eye-opening, myth-shattering examination of what makes us fat, from acclaimed science writer Gary Taubes.

In his New York Times best seller, Good Calories, Bad Calories, Taubes argued that our diet’s overemphasis on certain kinds of carbohydrates—not fats and not simply excess calories—has led directly to the obesity epidemic we face today. The result of thorough research, keen insight, and unassailable common sense, Good Calories, Bad Calories immediately stirred controversy and acclaim among academics, journalists, and writers alike. Michael Pollan heralded it as “a vitally important book, destined to change the way we think about food.”

Building upon this critical work in Good Calories, Bad Calories and presenting fresh evidence for his claim, Taubes now revisits the urgent question of what’s making us fat—and how we can change—in this exciting new book. Persuasive, straightforward, and practical, Why We Get Fat makes Taubes’s crucial argument newly accessible to a wider audience.

Taubes reveals the bad nutritional science of the last century, none more damaging or misguided than the “calories-in, calories-out” model of why we get fat, and the good science that has been ignored, especially regarding insulin’s regulation of our fat tissue. He also answers the most persistent questions: Why are some people thin and others fat? What roles do exercise and genetics play in our weight? What foods should we eat, and what foods should we avoid?

Packed with essential information and concluding with an easy-to-follow diet, Why We Get Fat is an invaluable key in our understanding of an international epidemic and a guide to what each of us can do about it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:51 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

This work is an examination of what makes us fat. In his book Good Calories, Bad Calories, the author, an acclaimed science writer argues that certain kinds of carbohydrates, not fats and not simply excess calories, have led to our current obesity epidemic. Now he brings that message to a wider, nonscientific audience. With fresh evidence for his claim, this book makes his critical argument newly accessible. He reveals the bad nutritional science of the last century, none more damaging than the "calories-in, calories-out" model of why we get fat, the good science that has been ignored, especially regarding insulin's regulation of our fat tissue. He also answers key questions: Why are some people thin and others fat? What roles do exercise and genetics play in our weight? What foods should we eat or avoid? Concluding with an easy-to-follow diet, this book is one key to understanding an international epidemic and a guide to improving our own health.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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