Why We Get Fat: And What You can do About It

Written By Katherine O

Top Why We Get Fat: And What to do About It 

Author(s): Gary Taubes

Publish Date: December 2011

Difficulty Level: Medium Read

This book will always have a special place in my heart, because when it came out in 2011 it was one of the first books of its kind to challenge the Calories In Calories Out paradigm. Taubes was saying, before the body positivity movement, that if you are struggling with your weight, with obesity, with Type II diabetes, it is not because you’re an undisciplined, glutton, it is that nutrition science and public health have led us egregiously astray. 

This would be five more years before Dr. Jason Fung would publish his first book on fasting. But much of what Taubes talks about: sugar and refined carbs’ role in spiking our insulin, the gaping lack of scientific rigor in public health policy, and the high-failure rate of traditional diets — all laid a solid foundation of understanding as to why fasting has been shown to be such a powerful remedy. 

The first book Taubes published on this topic, Good Calories Bad Calories came out four years earlier, but is so scientifically dense that I personally fell asleep multiple times before making it through the first two chapters. Why We Get Fat is far more accessible (and, for a mortal like me, a lot more enjoyable to read). 

I believe that this book holds up well, because of the scientific rigor and depth to which Taubes explores our public health policy (and the science or lack there of) that led to those policy decisions, the historical populations that illustrate the toll a processed food and refined carbohydrate rich diet take on our bodies, and 

Here are the Top 5 Takeaways:

  1. Carbohydrates, particularly sugar and highly refined carbohydrates, are what make us fat.    “The most fattening foods are the ones that have the greatest effect on our blood sugar and insulin levels.”
  2. Under-eating and exercise fail to deliver results, because the fail to address the root cause of the problem: our endocrine system.   “As it turns out, virtually all hormones work to mobilize fat from fat cells so that it can then be used for fuel. Hormones are signaling our bodies to act—flee or fight, reproduce, grow—and they also signal the fat cells to make available the fuel necessary for these actions. The one dominant exception to this fuel-mobilization signaling is insulin, the same hormone that researchers still assumed in the early 1960s to be deficient in all cases of diabetes. Insulin, Yalow and Berson reported, can be thought of as orchestrating how the body uses or “partitions” the fuel it takes in.”
  3. Sugar is highly addictive for many of us working on the same neural pathways as cocaine, heroin, and other addictive substances.    “Rats given sweetened water in experiments find it significantly more pleasurable than cocaine, even when they’re addicted to the latter, and more than heroin as well (although the rats find this choice more difficult to make). Addict”
  4. Nutrition science lost its way after World War II and has failed to course correct despite mounting evidence, sky rocketing rates of Type II and obesity, and the clear failure of public health policy to curtail any of the problems they were attempting to solve by decreasing fat and increasing carbohydrate consumption.    “As a result, the individuals involved in this research have not only wasted decades of time, and effort, and money but have done incalculable damage along the way. Their beliefs have remained imperious to an ever-growing body of evidence that refutes them while being embraced by public-health authorities and translated into precisely the wrong advice about what to eat and, more important, what not to eat if we want to maintain a healthy weight and live a long and healthy life.”
  5. Even beyond waistline and insulin there are very real ramifications for our choice of diet.     “…at least 75 to 80 percent of cancers in the United States might be avoidable with appropriate changes in diet and lifestyle.”


Publisher’s Summary:

What’s making us fat? And how can we change? Building upon his critical work in Good Calories, Bad Calories and presenting fresh evidence for his claim, bestselling author Gary Taubes revisits these urgent questions.

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. 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? Persuasive, straightforward, and practical, Why We Get Fat is an essential guide to nutrition and weight management.

Complete with an easy-to-follow diet.  Featuring a new afterword with answers to frequently asked questions.



Link to purchase “Why We get fat: and what to do about it”: https://www.amazon.com/Why-We-Get-Fat-About/dp/0307474259

Link to purchase the audio book: https://www.audible.com/ep/title?gclid=2619013a3139105d94c060b4a2a5d69d&asin=B004D5K512&ds_rl=1262685&ds_rl=1263561&source_code=MSNGBWS080516903I&device=d&msclkid=2619013a3139105d94c060b4a2a5d69d&gclsrc=3p.ds

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