You know you just finished a book that changes your life when you feel the need to buy for your parents, your boyfriend, your roommate in college, and your colleague’s health conscious. Yes, Gary Taubes, you can thank me for five orders of your book Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It.
I’ve been a fan since his monster Taubes book Good Calories, Bad Calories (which is more serious as a guide book). Taubes is an award-winning science journalist who takes his science very seriously. It does not have an agenda, and he was not joking. He is content with the science and research. He did it in GCBG, and he did it again in WWGF.
There are a million reasons to read this book, number one being that it suggests a complete paradigm shift from what we have believed for decades now. It is therefore difficult. You have certainly read with an open mind and a healthy skepticism of what you have been spoon-fed.
But there is no way around it: the science of Mr. Taubes’ is dead on, and its arguments are pretty bulletproof. First, I want to emphasize some key concepts of the book highlights, and then I will discuss some shortcomings. Before reading any of the points, just know that Taubes provides ample scientific evidence for all its pretensions, I am simply not to regurgitate it all here.
The thinking calories-in/calories-out weight is so compelling and so overwhelming that it is virtually impossible nowadays not to be believed – even though we have ample evidence to the contrary. No matter how much of our lives that we had consciously trying to eat less and exercise more, without success, it is more likely that we will question our own judgment and commitment that we will this notion that our weight is determined by the number of calories we eat. In other words, “eat less, move more” is a gross simplification that just does not for everyone.
But! Science tells us that obesity is ultimately the result of a hormonal imbalance, not a calorie. Specifically, stimulation of insulin secretion caused by the consumption of refined carbohydrates. These foods literally make the United States and FAT drives us to accumulate fat, MAKE U.S. hunger and sedentary.
Thus, obesity is not the result of an unwillingness / laziness. This is a form of malnutrition. The fact that so many people in our society are obese is the result of a flaw in the food supply. Obesity is not due to greed or laziness, it is caused by a change (failure) in the regulation of adipose tissue.
The exercise is not a panacea, we believe it is. The researchers collected data on nearly 13,000 runners. Those who ran the most weighed the least, but all runners tended to grow from year to year. Even the most dedicated runners should increase their distance by a few miles a week, year after year, if they want to stay lean.
The argument that muscle burns more fat is true – but barely. If you replace five pounds of fat with five pounds of muscle, you burn only around 20 extra calories a day.
We do not get fat because we overeat. We overeat fat primarily because we are fat enough. You will need to read the book to digest (no pun intended!) The science behind all this.
The reason that nutritionists like to think that carbohydrates are sort of fuel for the body – which is simply untrue – it is because your cells will burn carbs before it burns fat. But they do because that is how the body maintains blood sugar levels under control after a carbohydrate meal! If you eat a diet higher in carbohydrates, your cells will have lots of carbohydrates to burn before reaching the fat.
The only thing we must do if we want to get leaner – if we are out of our fat tissue and burn it – is to lower insulin levels and secrete less insulin to begin with.
Not all of us get fat when you eat carbs, but for those of us that carbohydrates are to blame. You can compare it to cigarettes: all smokers will be long-standing lung cancer, but for those that do, some cigarette is by far the most common cause.
Why low calorie diets often work it is because these dieters are inadvertently (or intentionally) by reducing their carbohydrate intake as well. But you’ll probably be hungry all the time.
High in fat are not correlated to heart disease. Period. A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association showed that, compared to those following a traditional diet, Ornish diet (low fat), and Zone diet, the Atkins diet lost more weight, lowered their triglycerides (which are highly correlated with heart disease), increased their HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers blood pressure AGAIN. By far. Their risk of heart attack has declined significantly.
In order to lose fat and be in optimal health, we must remove as carbohydrates and sugars many of our food as much as possible. Some people can eat more carbohydrates than others with little impact on the health / weight, but others simply can not. Anyway, high-carb/low-fat diets are unhealthy.
Phew! There were also a few things that have been conspicuously absent from the Taubes book:
A diet of animal products for most is finally recommended, but what are the environmental and ethical consequences of eating such a diet?
All animal products are not created equal, so the types of meat should I look?
If someone is a vegetarian or vegan for ethical reasons, these are they supposed to do?
There are definitely some psychological aspects to overeating, if Taubes argues that most of it is physiological that we have been led to believe. I agree with that. However, it does not answer any of these psychological components at all (but this book is not a book about eating disorders).
Taubes does not touch on the fact that some people do lose weight with exercise alone. Granted, they are generally a little larger does start, but sometimes permanently. He says most people who start an exercise regimen also change their diet, which is probably true in most cases – but not always.
So this means I will not be touting Atkins now? No, not at all. But I also maintain that most carbohydrates and sugar are completely unhealthy, (unprocessed) of fat is safe and can even be healthy, and the protein is very good. As I said in my Carb Carb or not to school, how many carbs you eat is yours. But if you are looking for weight loss and health, science increasingly shows that the less the better. Sorry, kids. The bread is delicious, yes, but a smoker, cigarettes are. This does not mean that we should continue to smoke if we seek optimal health.
I also recommend the purchase of animal products raised ethical and sustainable as often as you can. Buy meat, fish and dairy products without added hormones or antibiotics. Buy organic whenever you can. Buy local whenever you can.
Ultimately, in terms of diet and exercise that works for you long term is something you’ll understand. But Taubes’s book “put into words what I experienced and lived for a long time: most people can not consume as many carbohydrates as they are and not gain weight or effects of the health experience unpleasant.
If a low carb diet just sounds unpleasant to you, but try this: stop eating processed foods – carbohydrates, fast food, sugar, soda, and candy included. This will take you very far.
But anyway, we literally can not have our cake and eat it too.