Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About Itby Published 28 Dec 2010
|Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It.pdf|
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.
"Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It" Reviews
Gary Taubes shares his knowledge of not what only makes us fat, but what also keeps some people leaner than others. He emphasized how weight isn't only an overeating problem. It can also be caused by genetics, hormones and much more. We need to be careful of the assumptions that we make, because many people that are obese (especially) are because of one of these health issues.
This book was an eye-opener to me and broke down all the assumptions that I have made about food and bodies.
If you have struggled unsuccessfully for years to lose weight, you HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK. It is literally the best piece of writing I have ever read pertaining to weight loss. I think everyone should read it, whether you need to lose weight or not, because everyone needs to understand how the body works, and everyone needs to understand how many lies we've been told the last 60+ years.
It answered every question I've ever had about weight loss, including:
- Why do I eat healthier and exercise more than some of my friends, but I am much more obese than them?
- Why can my friend and I go to weight watchers together and she loses weight but I don't?
- Why do I crave carbs and sugar like a drug addict?
- What is insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome exactly?
- Is fat bad for you?
- Is my weight my fault?
- Am I really just slothful and gluttonous?
- Why does "calories in/calories out" not work as well as
"they" keep promising me it will?
- Why are some people so doggone skinny?
I was either prophetic or intuitive when several years ago, I said to my husband, as we were watching The Biggest Loser, "I hope that one day people will change the way they look at obesity, so that they don't judge and blame people so horribly. I hope that one day they will view someone obese not as someone who has a character flaw, but as someone with a medical problem, just like any other disease, because surely there is more to it, like hormone problems, and things like that."
Half way through this book (or perhaps sooner,) I was yelling at the book, "I knew it!" I feel so vindicated after years of knowing I was doing my VERY VERY VERY best to lose weight, and yet failing. There was actually a reason why I was failing, and that reason was called insulin.
The author's premise is that much of the best science and research on weight loss was lost after World War II. The medical and weight loss community grasped onto some theories that were fraught with error and flaws, but kept touting them as God's truth, even though they knew their research didn't support the advice 100%. He says they refuse to look at endocrinology, and fat regulation and how the body accumulates fat tissue. If one does that, one can clearly see that one of the biggest contributors to fat accumulation is high blood sugar caused by too much of the hormone, insulin. Naturally, the solution turns out to be to stay away from carbs and sugar. The more you do, the more weight you will lose, HEALTHILY!
And he doesn't just hope you take his word for it. Every page cites scientific studies upon studies upon studies.
The author's tone is clear, logical, easy to read, and at times, humorous and ironic. I enjoyed this book so much I didn't want it to end. I plan on reading his book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, which treats the subject in more depth.
After reading this book, not only am I getting rid of the big flour & sugar canisters on my counter, but I feel I can get rid of my scores of other diet & weight loss books, too. I'm sure this will be the last "diet" I will be on because it will be successful this time. But I can't stress enough how enlightening this book has been. I feel motivated to give up the carbs because I now understand thoroughly the science and reasoning behind why they are bad for us and why they make us fat. If I could stand on the street and give out copies, I would. That's how much I liked the book!
Gary Taubes, the author of Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, wrote a moderately lengthy article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine on April 17, 2011, with the title “Is Sugar Toxic?” The evidence seems to be accumulating steadily that the amount of sugar that the average American consumes is profoundly unhealthy, and the article does a very good job explaining why.
I’m not sure if that article covers the same grounds as this book, but I can very briefly recap the article:
• Increasing sugar consumption is highly correlated with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and some cancers.
• Granulated “table” sugar—sucrose—consists of one molecule of glucose bound to one molecule of fructose; that pairing is easily broken, leaving one molecule of each. High-fructose corn syrup (“HFCS”) consists of roughly half each of those same two molecules, and all the evidence is that there is no caloric or metabolic difference between the two forms. Plain corn syrup, on the other hand, is effectively just glucose—no fructose.
• Glucose can be metabolized by any cell in the body whereas, with few exceptions, fructose must be metabolized in the liver. Therein lies, apparently, a key difference. When the liver is presented with fructose, it preferentially metabolizes it, dramatically elevating insulin and related hormones.
• A high steady intake of fructose (either from sucrose or HFCS) means that insulin is elevated too often, leading to insulin resistance.
• Fructose is also sometimes thought of as the fruit sugar. Whole fruits still have fiber, which apparently slows down intestinal absorption so much that it doesn't overwhelm the liver the way a soda does. But fruit juices? Yeah, sorry — rip out the fiber and you’re once again sucking down nothing but sugar water with a bit of “health halo effect” vitamins.
• Insulin resistance is linked to heart disease (and other, related, disorders associated with a poor glycemic balance), and metabolic syndrome.
• A thickening waistline is the visible indicator of metabolic syndrome.
• Insulin is a growth factor in tumor production, which provides one likely explanation for why rising cancer levels have correlated strongly with the rise in sugar consumption for the past hundred and fifty years.
The video that Taubes links to, by the UCSF scientist Robert Listig, is also well worth watching, even if you don’t read the book. It presents the example that a teenage boy’s caloric intake, on average, has gone up in five years (from 1990 to 1995) a total of 275 calories per day. Where is that from? Not fat, so much — that represents only 45 calories out of the total. “In fact, it’s all in the carbohydrates.” That would be an increase of 228 calories per day. Where is that coming from?
Mostly soda. One can of Coca Cola or other soft drink is about 150 calories. It probably isn’t a coincidence that the other standardized container is the 20-ounce plastic bottle. Unless someone is addicted to the 44-ounce “Big Gulp” style. Or, especially disheartening: a “Texas-sized Big Gulp” is reported to consist of a 60-ounce Coca Cola, a Snickers bar and a bag of Doritos, all for 99¢.
Profoundly important, and profoundly depressing, since this trend doesn’t look likely to be reversed any time soon.
I hope the book goes into more detail on metabolic and biochemistry. I fondly remember the Krebs Cycle from my high school physiology class, and I really like knowing the science behind all this stuff.
For those of you just looking for the highlights, read the New York Times article, and then watch the video. If you can't be bothered to watch Robert Lustig's 90-minute long video, you could download a 52-minute interview with Lustig from KQED's Forum program: Sugar and Health .
Update : yet another way of getting the highlights in an easy-to-comprehend dish is to check out Lifehacker’s What Sugar Actually Does to Your Brain and Body. For your health’s sake, study at least one of these, and get that non-fruit fructose out of your diet.
Although I am inclined to agree with Taube that low-calorie diets and exercise do not lead to weightloss, based on personal experience as well as some new research, I find his argument for a primarily meat-based diet unconvincing. The primary weakness of the work is the lack of any scientific evidence to support his conclusions, but it also suffers from severe bias. He carefully presents only that data which will support his claims, and ignores reams of contradictory data.
He claims that pre-historic humans lived primarily on meat, but gives no support for that claim, and ignores any evidence that would suggest otherwise. Anthropological work with hunter-gatherer societies today shows that about 80% of the diet is plant food gathered by the women, including seeds, grains, roots, and fruits. The meat that is provided by the men is wild game, which is low in fat and an uncertain source of food.
The only way that he can make his case is to skip thousands of years of human civilization and known history. Certainly historic humans, if we can go by the business records of the Sumarians as well as the Bible, lived on beans, grains, fruits and vegetables.
Logically, if humans were not eating cereal grains, why did they settled down to farming in the first place? And if starchy vegetables, fruits and grains are to blame for obesity, why didn't the epidemic begin around 2,000 B.C.E. with the development of agriculture?
Why weren't the Irish the fattest people on the planet once they began living primarily on potatoes?
He holds up the example of the Pima Indians, yet ignores the known fact that their native diet consists primarily of beans, corn, squash.
And if fruit leads one to be fat, why aren't Europeans massive? They eat fruit as dessert at least twice a day. They also eat bread with every meal.
He admits that he can't explain why Asians, whose natural diet is high in rice and vegetables, with only a little lean protein, are not fat until they begin eating a Western diet. He unconvincingly suggests that it's because they don't eat much fruit -- a claim he does not document.
The only conclusion that can reasonably be drawn from the data he presents is that it is the introduction of refined grains and refined sugars as basis for our diets coupled with massive overeating that has led to the obesity epidemic.
First Line: "In 1934, a young German pediatrician named Hilde Bruch moved to America, settled in New York City, and was 'startled,' as she later wrote, by the number of fat children she saw - 'really fat ones, not only in clinics, but on the streets and subways, and in schools.'"
Taubes takes everything that I have spent the last several years learning about weight loss, fat gain, diabetes, and eating and turns it on its head. I am not yet certain whether I am willing to buy into his arguments, but there are three things that are making me at least consider that he might be right or partially right. 1.) He begins the book by asking all readers to analyze the material (his book and any others) and to make decisions for them. Most fad diet books tend to just take the stance that they are absolutely right and never remind us to use our brains. 2.) For every argument that I came up with while reading this book, he addresses it at some point and provides data to back up his theories. 3.) I have been trying to lose weight through recommended methods (low-fat diets, calorie cutting, and exercise) for almost nine years and have watched many of my family and friends with the same struggle. I recently read that of the people currently and actively trying to lose weight, only ten percent or so will actually be successful and of those, 96% will fail to keep off the weight they lose. With chances like that, I am willing to consider a different method and give it a try.
I will also say that this book is simply a fascinating read. I don't think I have ever been so enthralled with a non-fiction book (especially one steeped in science) that I literally couldn't put it down, so this was a first for me.
I followed up this book by reading the New Atkins Diet, Primal Blueprint, and the Paleo Diet. From these four which sometimes contradict each other, I constructed a diet with unlimited meats and veggies, no processed sugars, grains, or legumes and limited amounts of nuts, berries, dairy, and root vegetables. I am exercising but only in ways that I enjoy, specifically yoga and hiking. Since Jan 2012 I have lost 24 lbs, 1 pant size, and I feel much more energetic. I have had a few slip ups, but not many and when I do eat sugar or carb heavy items I'm almost immediately exhausted and grouchy. I am at the lowest weight I have been in nine years and my success makes it much easier to stick with it. I've got 66 lbs to go and for the first time I have hope that I'll actually make it and maintain it.