Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It

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Overview

Building upon his critical work in Good Calories, Bad Calories and presenting fresh evidence for his claim, Gary Taubes revisits the urgent question of what’s making us fat—and how we can change.
 
He 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: ...

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Overview

Building upon his critical work in Good Calories, Bad Calories and presenting fresh evidence for his claim, Gary Taubes revisits the urgent question of what’s making us fat—and how we can change.
 
He 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Taubes stands the received wisdom about diet and exercise on its head.”
The New York Times

“Well-researched and thoughtful. . . . Taubes has done us a great service by bringing these issues to the table.”
The Boston Globe

“Compelling and convincing. . . . Taubes breaks it down for us from historical and, more importantly, scientific perspectives.”
Philadelphia Daily News

“Taubes’s critique is so pointed and vociferous that reading him will change the way you look at calories, the food pyramid, and your daily diet.”
Men’s Journal
 
“Taubes is a science journalist’s science journalist, who researches topics to the point of obsession—actually, well beyond that point—and never dumbs things down for readers.”
Scientific American
 
“Important. . . . This excellent book, built on sound research and common sense, contains essential information.”
Tucson Citizen
 
“This brave, paradigm-shifting man uses logic and the primary literature to unhinge the nutritional mantra of the last eighty years.”
Choice
 
“Less dense and easier to read [than Good Calories, Bad Calories] but no less revelatory.”
The Oregonian
 
“An exhaustive investigation.”
The Daily Beast
 
“Backed by a persuasive amount of detail. . . . As an award-winning scientific journalist who spent the past decade rigorously tracking down and assimilating obesity research, he’s uniquely qualified to understand and present the big picture of scientific opinions and results. Despite legions of researchers and billions of government dollars expended, Taubes is the one to painstakingly compile this information, assimilate it, and make it available to the public. . . . Taubes does the important and extraordinary work of pulling it all together for us.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
 
“Clear and accessible . . . Taubes’s conviction alone makes Why We Get Fat well worth considering.”
Bookpage
 
“[Taubes] is helping to reshape the conversation about what makes the American diet so fattening.”
Details
 
“Taubes is a relentless researcher.”
The Washington Post Book World
 
“[Taubes’s] major conclusions are somewhat startling yet surprisingly convincing. . . . His writing reflects his passion for scientific truth.”
Chicago Sun-Times

Library Journal
Award-winning science journalist Taubes, author of the best-selling Good Calories, Bad Calories, once again challenges the conventional belief that weight gain is caused by overeating and a sedentary lifestyle. To disprove the idea that taking in more calories than one expends leads to weight gain, he scrupulously evaluates human metabolism and analyzes nutrition research dating back to the 19th century. Taubes is especially interested in separating the "ethical, moral, and sociological considerations" of why we get fat from the science of it. He shows how false conclusions have been drawn about the causes of obesity and related maladies as a result of poor science and biased research, and he carefully details why increased consumption of refined carbohydrates, not fats, is to blame. Readers also get a succinct explanation of the theories discussed in Taubes's previous book. VERDICT An enlightening treatise that is meticulously researched yet approachable by all, this will captivate anyone interested in the science of diet and disease. A good choice for the general public. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/10.]—Erin Silva Fisher, Univ. of Nevada, Reno
Kirkus Reviews

Science magazine correspondent Taubes (Health Policy/Univ. of California, Berkeley) provides "an extension and distillation" of the research that produced his 2007 bestseller, Good Calories, Bad Calories.

The author closely examines a 2007 Stanford University comparative study of heart-risk factors, which showed that low-carbohydrate diets high in saturated fat were the best by all criteria, with the exception of the increase in high-density lipids, which Taubes believes to be insignificant. The author extrapolates from a short-term, one-year research study in which subjects followed a strict Atkins diet for three months only, and he bases his claims that a rise in LDL (so-called bad cholesterol) levels can be considered insignificant on speculative new research which indicates that the size of lipid particles is also important. If this proves to be the case, then it might not constitute a significant risk factor compared to the other positive results, but the jury is still out. Though Taubes admits that, as yet, there have been no definitive trials, he writes that the Stanford "clinical trials alone should put your mind to rest about the idea that eating high-fat or high-saturated diets will give you heart disease." The author is on firmer ground when he debunks simplistic notions about how to deal with the current obesity epidemic by exercising more and eating less. It's not just how many calories we consume but the kind of calories—sugars such as the fructose and glucose found in fruit, fruit juice and soft drinks—that are key to how the body metabolizes them.

An interesting book, though readers might be advised to take the author's diet recommendations with a grain of salt.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307474254
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/27/2011
  • Series: Vintage Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 29,596
  • Product dimensions: 4.92 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Taubes is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, and The Best of the Best American Science Writing (2010). He has received three Science in Society Journalism Awards from the National Association of Science Writers, the only print journalist so recognized. He is currently a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator in Health Policy Research at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. He lives in Oakland.

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Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The Original Sin

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.” Indeed, fat children in New York were so conspicuous that other European immigrants would ask Bruch about it, assuming that she would have an answer. What is the matter with American children? they would ask. Why are they so bloated and blown up? Many would say they’d never seen so many children in such a state.

Today we hear such questions all the time, or we ask them ourselves, with the continual reminders that we are in the midst of an epidemic of obesity (as is the entire developed world). Similar questions are asked about fat adults. Why are they so bloated and blown up? Or you might ask yourself: Why am I?

But this was New York City in the mid- 1930s. This was two decades before the first Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s franchises, when fast food as we know it today was born. This was half a century before supersizing and high- fructose corn syrup. More to the point, 1934 was the depths of the Great Depression, an era of soup kitchens, bread lines, and unprecedented unemployment. One in every four workers in the United States was unemployed. Six out of every ten Americans were living in poverty. In New York City, where Bruch and her fellow immigrants were astonished by the adiposity of the local children, one in four children were said to be malnourished. How could this be?

A year after arriving in New York, Bruch established a clinic at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons to treat obese children. In 1939, she published the first of a series of reports on her exhaustive studies of the many obese children she had treated, although almost invariably without success. From interviews with her patients and their families, she learned that these obese children did indeed eat excessive amounts of food—no matter how much either they or their parents might initially deny it. Telling them to eat less, though, just didn’t work, and no amount of instruction or compassion, counseling, or exhortations— of either children or parents—seemed to help. It was hard to avoid, Bruch said, the simple fact that these children had, after all, spent their entire lives trying to eat in moderation and so control their weight, or at least thinking about eating less than they did, and yet they remained obese. Some of these children, Bruch reported, “made strenuous efforts to lose weight, practically giving up on living to achieve it.” But maintaining a lower weight involved “living on a continuous semi-starvation diet,” and they just couldn’t do it, even though obesity made them miserable and social outcasts.

One of Bruch’s patients was a fine- boned girl in her teens, “literally disappearing in mountains of fat.” This young girl had spent her life fighting both her weight and her parents’ attempts to help her slim down. She knew what she had to do, or so she believed, as did her parents—she had to eat less—and the struggle to do this defined her existence. “I always knew that life depended on your figure,” she told Bruch. “I was always unhappy and depressed when gaining [weight]. There was nothing to live for. . . . I actually hated myself. I just could not stand it. I didn’t want to look at myself. I hated mirrors. They showed how fat I was. . . . It never made me feel happy to eat and get fat—but I never could see a solution for it and so I kept on getting fatter.”

Like Bruch’s fine- boned girl, those of us who are overweight or obese will spend much of our lives trying to eat less, or at least eat not too much. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, but the fight goes on. For some, like Bruch’s patients, the battle begins in childhood. For others, it starts in college with the freshman twenty, that cushion of fat that appears around waist and hips while spending the first year away from home. Still others begin to realize in their thirties or forties that being lean is no longer the effortless achievement it once was.

Should we be fatter than the medical authorities would prefer, and should we visit a doctor for any reason, that doctor is likely to suggest more or less forcefully that we do something about it. Obesity and overweight, so we’ll be told, are associated with an increased risk of virtually every chronic disease that ails us—heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, dementia, asthma. We’ll be instructed to exercise regularly, to diet, to eat less, as though the thought of doing so, the desire to do so, would never otherwise have crossed our minds. “More than in any other illness,” as Bruch said about obesity, “the physician is called upon only to do a special trick, to make the patient do something—stop eating— after it has already been proved that he cannot do it.”

The physicians of Bruch’s era weren’t thoughtless, and the doctors of today are not, either. They merely have a flawed belief system—a paradigm—that stipulates that the reason we get fat is clear and incontrovertible, as is the cure. We get fat, our physicians tell us, because we eat too much and/or move too little, and so the cure is to do the opposite. If nothing else, we should eat “not too much,” as Michael Pollan famously prescribes in his best-selling book In Defense of Food, and this will suffice. At least we won’t get fatter still. This is what Bruch described in 1957 as the “prevalent American attitude that the problem [of obesity] is simply one of eating more than the body needs,” and now it’s the prevalent attitude worldwide.

We can call this the “calories- in/ calories- out” or the “overeating” paradigm of excess fat—the “energy balance” paradigm, if we want to get technical. “The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight,” as the World Health Organization says, “is an energy imbalance between calories consumed on one hand, and calories expended on the other hand.” We get fat when we take in more energy than we expend (a positive energy balance, in the scientific terminology), and we get lean when we expend more than we take in (a negative energy balance). Food is energy, and we measure that energy in the form of calories. So, if we take in more calories than we expend, we get fatter. If we take in fewer calories, we get leaner.

This way of thinking about our weight is so compelling and so pervasive that it is virtually impossible nowadays not to believe it. Even if we have plenty of evidence to the contrary—no matter how much of our lives we’ve spent consciously trying to eat less and exercise more without success—it’s more likely that we’ll question our own judgment and our own willpower than we will this notion that our adiposity is determined by how many calories we consume and expend.

My favorite example of this thinking came from a wellrespected exercise physiologist, a co- author of a set of physical-activity and health guidelines that were published in August 2007 by the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. This fellow told me that he personally had been “short, fat, and bald” when he first took up distance running in the 1970s, and now he was in his late sixties and was “short, fatter, and bald.” In the intervening years, he said, he had gained thirty-odd pounds and run maybe eighty thousand miles—the equivalent, more or less, of running three times around the Earth (at the equator). He believed that there was a limit to how much exercise could help him maintain his weight, but he also believed he would be fatter still if he hadn’t been running.

When I asked him whether he really thought he might be leaner had he run even more, maybe run four times around the planet instead of three, he said, “I don’t see how I could have been more active. I had no time to do more. But if I could have gone out over the last couple of decades for two to three hours a day, maybe I would not have gained this weight.” And the point is that maybe he would have anyway, but he just couldn’t wrap his head around that possibility. As sociologists of science would say,
he was trapped in a paradigm.

Over the years, this calories- in/ calories- out paradigm of excess fat has proved to be remarkably resistant to any evidence to the contrary. Imagine a murder trial in which one credible witness after another takes the stand and testifies that the suspect was elsewhere at the time of the killing and so had an airtight alibi, and yet the jurors keep insisting that the defendant is guilty, because that’s what they believed when the trial began.

Consider the obesity epidemic. Here we are as a population getting fatter and fatter. Fifty years ago, one in every eight or nine Americans would have been officially considered obese, and today it’s one in every three. Two in three are now considered overweight, which means they’re carrying around more weight than the public- health authorities deem to be healthy. Children are fatter, adolescents are fatter, even newborn babies are emerging from the womb fatter. Throughout the decades of this obesity epidemic, the calories-in/ calories-out, energy-balance notion has held sway, and so the health officials assume that either we’re not paying attention to what they’ve been telling us—eat less and exercise more—or we just can’t help ourselves.

Malcolm Gladwell discussed this paradox in The New Yorker in 1998. “We have been told that we must not take in more calories than we burn, that we cannot lose weight if we don’t exercise consistently,” he wrote. “That few of us are able to actually follow this advice is either our fault or the fault of the advice. Medical orthodoxy, naturally, tends toward the former position. Diet books tend toward the latter. Given how often the medical orthodoxy has been wrong in the past, that position is not, on its face, irrational. It’s worth finding out whether it is true.”

After interviewing the requisite number of authorities, Gladwell decided that it was our fault, that we simply “lack the discipline. . . or the wherewithal” to eat less and move more— although for some of us, he suggested, bad genes extract a greater price in adiposity for our moral failings.

I will argue in this book that the fault lies entirely with the medical orthodoxy—both the belief that excess fat is caused by consuming excess calories, and the advice that stems from it. I’m going to argue that this calories-in/ calories-out paradigm of adiposity is nonsensical: that we don’t get fat because we eat too much and move too little, and that we can’t solve the problem or prevent it by consciously doing the opposite. This is the original sin, so to speak, and we’re never going to solve our own weight problems, let alone the societal problems of obesity and diabetes and the diseases that accompany them, until we understand this and correct it.

I don’t mean to imply, though, that there is a magic recipe to losing weight, or at least not one that doesn’t include sacrifice. The question is, what has to be sacrificed?

The first part of this book will present the evidence against the calories-in/ calories-out hypothesis. It will discuss many of the observations, the facts of life, that this concept fails to explain, why we came to believe it anyway, and what mistakes were made as a result.

The second part of this book will present the way of thinking about obesity and excess fat that European medical researchers came to accept just prior to the Second World War. They argued, as I will, that it is absurd to think about obesity as caused by overeating, because anything that makes people grow—whether in height or in weight, in muscle or in fat—will make them   overeat. Children, for example, don’t grow taller because they eat voraciously and consume more calories than they expend. They eat so much—overeat—because they’re growing. They need to take in more calories than they expend. The reason children grow is that they’re secreting hormones that make them do so—in this case, growth hormone. And there is every reason to believe that the growth of our fat tissue leading to overweight and obesity is also driven and controlled by hormones.

So, rather than define obesity as a disorder of energy balance or eating too much, as the experts have for the past half-century, these European medical researchers started from the idea that obesity is fundamentally a disorder of excess fat accumulation. This is what a philosopher would call “first principles.” It’s so obviously true that it seems almost meaningless to say it. But once we do, then the natural question to ask is, what regulates fat accumulation? Because whatever hormones or enzymes work to increase our fat accumulation naturally—just as growth hormone makes children grow—are going to be the very likely suspects on which to focus to determine why some of us get fat and others don’t.

Regrettably, the European medical-research community barely survived the Second World War, and these physicians and their ideas about obesity weren’t around in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when this question of what regulates fat accumulation was answered. As it turns out, two factors will essentially determine how much fat we accumulate, both having to do with the hormone insulin.

First, when insulin levels are elevated, we accumulate fat in our fat tissue; when these levels fall, we liberate fat from the fat tissue and burn it for fuel. This has been known since the early 1960s and has never been controversial. Second, our insulin levels are  effectively determined by the carbohydrates we eat—not entirely, but for all intents and purposes. The more carbohydrates we eat, and the easier they are to digest and the sweeter they are, the more insulin we will ultimately secrete, meaning that the level of it in our bloodstream is greater and so is the fat we retain in our fat cells. “Carbohydrate is driving insulin is driving fat,” is how George Cahill, a former professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, recently described this to me. Cahill had done some of the early research on the regulation of fat accumulation in the 1950s, and then he coedited an eight-hundred-page American Physiological Society compendium of this research that was published in 1965.

In other words, the science itself makes clear that hormones, enzymes, and growth factors regulate our fat tissue, just as they do everything else in the human body, and that we do not get fat because we overeat; we get fat because the carbohydrates in our diet make us fat. The science tells us that obesity is ultimately the result of a hormonal imbalance, not a caloric one—specifically,
the stimulation of insulin secretion caused by eating easily di - gestible, carbohydrate-rich foods: refined carbohydrates, including flour and cereal grains, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, and sugars, like sucrose (table sugar) and high- fructose corn syrup. These carbohydrates literally make us fat, and by driving us to accumulate fat, they make us hungrier and they make us sedentary.

This is the fundamental reality of why we fatten, and if we’re to get lean and stay lean we’ll have to understand and accept it,
and, perhaps more important, our doctors are going to have to understand and acknowledge it, too.

If your goal in reading this book is simply to be told the answer to the question “What do I do to remain lean or lose the excess fat I have?” then this is it: stay away from carbohydrate- rich foods, and the sweeter the food or the easier it is to consume and digest—liquid carbohydrates like beer, fruit juices, and sodas are probably the worst—the more likely it is to make you fat and the more you should avoid it.

This is certainly not a new message. Until the 1960s, as I’ll discuss later, it was the conventional wisdom. Carbohydrate-rich foods—bread, pasta, potatoes, sweets, beer—were seen to be uniquely fattening, and if you wanted to avoid being fat, you didn’t eat them. Since then, it has been the message of an unending string of often best-selling diet books. But this essential fact has been so abused, and the relevant science so distorted or misinterpreted, both by proponents of these “carbohydrate-restricted” diets and by those who insist that they are dangerous fads (the American Heart Association among them) that I want to lay it out once more. If you find the argument sufficiently compelling that you want to change your diet accordingly, then all the better. I will give some advice on how to do so, based on the lessons learned by clinicians who have years of experience using these diets to treat their overweight and often diabetic patients.

In the more than six decades since the end of the Second World War, when this question of what causes us to fatten—calories or carbohydrates—has been argued, it has often seemed like a religious issue rather than a scientific one. So many different belief systems enter into the question of what constitutes a healthy diet that the scientific question—why do we get fat?—has gotten lost along the way. It’s been overshadowed by ethical, moral, and sociological considerations that are valid in themselves and certainly worth discussing but have nothing to do with the science itself and arguably no place in a scientific inquiry.

Carbohydrate-restricted diets typically (if not, perhaps, ideally) replace the carbohydrates in the diet with large or at least larger portions of animal product—beginning with eggs for breakfast and moving to meat, fish, or fowl for lunch and dinner. The implications of that are proper to debate. Isn’t our dependence on animal products already bad for the environment, and won’t it just get worse? Isn’t livestock production a major contributor to global warming, water shortages, and pollution? When thinking about a healthy diet, shouldn’t we think about what’s good for the planet as well as what’s good for us? Do we have a right to kill animals for our food or put them to work for us in producing it? Isn’t the only morally and ethically defensible lifestyle a vegetarian one or even a vegan one?

These are all important questions that need to be addressed, as individuals and as a society. But they have no place in the scientific and medical discussion of why we get fat. And that’s what I am setting out to explore here—just as Hilde Bruch did more than seventy years ago. Why are we fat? Why are our children fat? What can we do about it?

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Introduction: The Original Sin 3

Book I Biology, Not Physics

1 Why Were They Fat? 15

2 The Elusive Benefits of Undereating 33

3 The Elusive Benefits of Exercise 40

4 The Significance of Twenty Calories a Day 57

5 Why Me? Why There? Why Then? 62

6 Thermodynamics for Dummies, Part 1 72

7 Thermodynamics for Dummies, Part 2 77

8 Head Cases 80

Book II Adiposity 101

9 The Laws of Adiposity 89

10 A Historical Digression on "Lipophilia" 106

11 A Primer on the Regulation of Fat 112

12 Why I Get Fat and You Don't (or Vice Versa) 127

13 What We Can Do 134

14 Injustice Collecting 140

15 Why Diets Succeed and Fail 144

16 A Historical Digression on the Fattening Carbohydrate 148

17 Meat or Plants? 163

18 The Nature of a Healthy Diet 173

19 Following Through 201

Afterword to the Anchor Edition: Why Do We Get Fat Answers to Frequently Asked Questions 219

Appendix: The "No Sugar, No Starch" Diet 229

Acknowledgments 237

Sources 239

Illustration Credits 257

Index 259

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Interviews & Essays

Dear Barnes & Noble Customer,

As you know, we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic of historic proportions in this country (and around the world). The rise in diabetes is staggering and unprecedented as well. Not only does this harm the lives of so many of our loved ones and fellow citizens but the cost our national health care system will have to bear as a result is, well, disturbing to contemplate.

There have been lots of theories as to why this is happening, all of which effectively blame those of us who are obese for failing to eat in moderation and exercise, or the food industry for making too much palatable food available. As I began rigorously studying the science about a decade ago-and I continue to monitor it daily-it became clear that the standard explanations for why we get fat are surprisingly unconvincing, especially as obesity continued to climb. The "calories-in, calories-out" model-the idea that if you take in more calories than you expend in daily activity, regardless of the type of calories, you will gain weight-is, I believe, based simply on bad science. In my first book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, I argued that refined carbohydrates (white flour, sugar, easily digested starches) are the problem-an argument that directly repudiates the reasoning behind some of the most popular weight-loss programs. 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? WhyWe Get Fat answers these questions in a manner both easy to read and scientifically rigorous. It also includes a recommended diet.

I want very much to create and contribute to a national debate with this book, and I hope you will support the effort. There is too much at stake to sit back and watch what has come to be the conventional wisdom continue to put our health at risk, and that of our children.

Sincerely,

Gary Taubes
October 26, 2010

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 210 )
Rating Distribution

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(114)

4 Star

(39)

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(27)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 211 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 20, 2011

    Critical for Your Health

    As far as diet advice goes, this book is the anti-magic pill. It won't simultaneously perform Botox, plastic surgery, gastric bypass, liposuction, and apply anti-age cream. But it will make you think. If you dislike that sort of book, I would recommend paying a friend to lay out the book for you--because the contents are that important.

    "Why We Get Fat" delves into the current state of the obesity epidemic in America and its root cause. Namely, one that the healthcare authorities still ignore or on which choose not to educate themselves. Taubes presents a straightforward case for re-examining traditional nutritional advice, backed by more studies than a doctor would care to read. It's simple, useful, and produces results. While the book suffered minor stylistic and organizational errors, nothing overrides the need to give this book a full five stars.

    The advice works broadly, and the science has been the means of changing hundreds of individuals whom I've had the pleasure of working with as clients over the last several years. The positive change in blood work, the weight loss, the increased health and energy are all real and palpable; and Taubes writes in such a way as to make these changes personally accessible without a medical education. I echo his comment that this book "needed to be written." However, more importantly, I know it needs to be read and shared. Give this a read and take some ownership over your own health.

    18 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 6, 2011

    Hits the Nail on the Head!

    After reading the book I can say the author makes a very persuasive point in eliminating carbohydrates and I agree. The book points out reasons that make some of us "fat" even in poor situations and during starvation mode as well as looking into other causes such as in my case- genes. In my family some are heavy and on the other side skinny, I got the fat side. Along with the fat gene, many family members are severely diabetic (both I and II type), I was spared being a diabetic unlike my father and his father, but notice how fast I "blew" up when including carbs in my diet. I defiantly agree, there is a connection to sugar ( have you seen how sugar is made, a lot like cocaine) and other processed foods that contributes to weight gain. I was born 11 10oz, I can say being almost a 12lb baby from a 130 lb mother and a heavy father, you defiantly can see where the genetic influence comes from. This book is great and answers many questions I've had over the years. If you always carried weight with you, and can lose weight when cutting back carbs or exercising your head off on a calorie in/out theory with no results, than this book will go through why that happens. Excellent read!!

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2011

    A disappointment

    This book was not what I was expecting....the author went on for page after page about how badly most other weight-loss researchers had messed up and how he was one of the select few who knew what they were talking about. After plodding through this endless book, readers learn his opinion that the Atkins Diet is the best way to lose weight.

    15 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2011

    Fantastic Book

    This is a nice fast book to read for your good health. I read Good Calorie Bad Calories but it was a hard read, this gets to the points without the 600 pages of technical reading.

    14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2011

    Highly recommended

    This book is great for those who have an open mind about what really makes us fat. It makes complete sense. I found it very informative. He reviews past research regarding weight loss and it becomes clear as you carefully read that we have been sold a bill of goods re: low fat diets. For those who want to really understand why they are fat - this is a must read!

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    It's about nutrition - not a "diet" book

    I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about nutrition and how it affects our general health. The author Gary Taubes is not a doctor but a journalist who specializes in scientific writing. He explains how mistakes have been made in the field of nutrition for the last 40 or 50 years. The misunderstandings have led to many of America's current health problems - obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypoglycemia, and even Alzheimer's disease - are affected by "bad" nutrition and incorrect eating habits.

    Today's doctors and nutritionists are not going to change their minds about what they've been taught in medical school - even though there's a mountain of evidence to prove them wrong. Taubes makes a strong case for us Americans who care about our health to take matters into our own hands. If we wait for the medical schools to start teaching correctly about nutrition - and they will change - it will be 40 or 50 years down the road. We'll all be dead by then!

    Read this book with an open mind. You'll be amazed and want to start changing your bad eating habits immediately. For anyone who's seriously overweight or obese, you'll find that Gary Taubes is very sympathetic and not judgemental. He says repeatedly that it's not our fault if we're overweight but we can do something about it.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2011

    Great Book! And it does work!

    I heard Gary Taubes talk about this book on NPR and bought it for the Nook as soon as I could. For the past decade (since giving birth), I've found that dieting doesn't work when I'm trying to lose that extra 20 pounds I've put on. What Taubes said resonated with me, so I decided to give his advice a try. And it's true -- you can lose weight even if you don't count calories, even if you eat all the fat you desire or can stand, so long as you cut out sugar and most carbs. Within 3 weeks, 13 pounds came off. Even if half of these were water weight, I look and feel much better now. I am confident I'll continue to my goal weight without any more effort. This has been fairly easy. Although I had been craving sugar/breads like crazy before, these physical urges disappeared after two days of carb-free meals. Now I can eat all I want of high-fat foods, so long as they have no or next to no carbs in them. This means I've rediscovered the pleasures of real mayo and tuna or chicken salad, fried chicken, bacon cheeseburgers wrapped in lettuce, almonds (my new munching food), peanut butter (on celery), bluecheese dressing, eggs with cheese and ham, etc. What Taubes explains makes total sense scientifically, as well. All of this low-fat nonsense is probably why Americans (including me) have gotten so fat over the past three decades. I had adhered to that low fat stuff for years, thinking mistakenly that it was healthy of me to have high fiber cereal, high fiber bread, and low/skim milk, yogurt, meats, etc. But yet I was always hungry and wanting more, including the stuff I knew I shouldn't eat. Now, the cravings are gone. I eat some food and am full. I don't think about food as much. Sure, I could joke to friends about my diet pretty much consisting of cutting out the top 10 foods I love most, but it doesn't seem so funny anymore because what I'm eating is satisfying enough and it works. I can see this as a lifetime eating program with the possible re-introduction of a modest amount of fruit and the occasional glass of wine once I reach my target weight. So if you are frustrated with being plagued with that extra 10-20 pounds, I recommend you read this book and act accordingly. It makes sense!

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2011

    Simple proof instead of theory on why we must cut carbs.

    I've never read so much compelling proof of why & how carbs are at the heart of all disease. This book goes way beyond losing fat & I liken it to reading a book on how to stop smoking: we all might know smoking (like alot of carbs) is bad for us, but until you see the proof from clinical studies, photos, patterns from tests made in this century & last century you don't feel as compelled to stop. This book will quickly reveal how this info has always been out there, but how & why it was dismissed by mainstream healthcare - and i can clearly see how so many people can,t lose weight given the current medical "advice".

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 20, 2011

    Finally, someone how makes sense of all the nutrition mush out there

    I've tried everything from vegan to gluten-free to whole foods-only to food pyramid. I was thin until my 30's and then couldn't seem to reverse the direction of the scale. 2 pregnancies and 20 years later, I was up to 180, even tho I walk marathons and really enjoy exercise.

    This book gave me the explanations I was looking for, and a plan that works for both me and my husband. Eat the right foods when we are hungry, stop when we are full with no calorie-counting. We know why thin people don't have to "diet" and we know we can live without cravings and feeling starved while losing weight. It turns everything I've learned about nutrition on it's head, but obviously, what we've been learning about nutrition is just making us fatter.

    Try it for a week, and you will be amazed. My husband (age 57)and I (age 52)are each consistently losing 2-2.5 lbs per week (we are very active) and have lost a total of 20 lbs in the last month.

    If you have specific questions, the author, Gary Taubes, has a website, and answered our question within half an hour...pretty exciting!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    Must Read, very interesting and surprising

    Gary Taubes clearly understands the science behind obesity, and in Why We Get Fat, he explains it in a relatively clear way (though at times it is still drawn out a bit[on the other hand, I like the science and detail, and as such enjoyed 'Good Calories, Bad Calories' more])

    Super briefly, don't eat to many carbs, especially flour and sugar. This book certainly convinced me the carbs are the enemy of good health!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2012

    Life changing book!

    Have you ridden the diet roller coaster? Practically killed yourself to lose those 10 or 20 lbs before a major event, only to gain it all back and then some the second you relax? Ran/worked out your legs off, ate healthy just like your doctor told you, yet still gain weight? Wonder why you're so tired all the time, wonder what's wrong with you, wonder what you're doing that's so wrong when you eat so well and so little and still are overweight? This book has the truth (finally!) in it. The problem is not with you, it's with the advice and info you've been given. We can't even blame our health professionals, it's what they've been taught all along, and they're often as clueless as you. The truth is we were never designed to eat grains and processed foods and when we do, bad things happen. Stuff like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Sound familiar? Read this book to learn the truth, take responsibility for your own health and get HEALTHY! I did and in less than 2 months, I've lost 20 lbs and my cholesterol went from 205 to 164, my triglycerides went fro 127 to 74, my LDL went from 165 to 99 and my HDL went to 50. These are real numbers from a real person who hasn't exercised in too many years, but who now has the energy to start a weight training program and get her body and her life back. READ THIS BOOK. CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Thank you, Gary Taubes, for finally explaining this stuff to me.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2011

    This is science.

    Stop eating what the marketeers of big agribusiness and the FDA (bought by big agribusiness) tell you to eat. Our conventional "common sense" is obviously flawed. This book demonstrates that obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and the rest of the metabolic diseases (including cancers) are very easy to overcome, once you understand the science. READ IT, with an open mind, and think for yourself.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2014

    Read this before you diet

    This book is an excellent summary of the science behind dietary recommendations for losing or maintaining a healthy weight. The two leading camps are low fat and low carb diets. The author has done an in-depth analysis of the scientific literature and summarizes it in a very readable form. Spoiler alert: the low carb diet wins. This is not a traditional diet book, and contains not a single recipe. It does give the general outlines for a low carb diet, however. This is the most sane and well-reasoned book on diet and weight regulation I have ever read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2014

    ~Yawn~

    Too disappointing for words. A co-worker recommended this book; I can only surmise that she's been living in a cave the last 20 years to not already know this. The author drones on endlessly about the "why" - nothing new there - before getting to the "what to do about it." Again, anyone vaguely familiar with Atkins/Weight Watchers/ADA guidelines already knows "what to do about it." The only nice thing I can say is that it doesn't take up any space after I hit the Delete key.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Taubes' science background and passion for finding truth whereve

    Taubes' science background and passion for finding truth wherever it leads him shines through in his writing. The majority of the book
    is a careful examination of the case for  a complete change in how we view our food and how it interacts with our bodies. It's the advice
    in the back of this book that could change your life, though. Following the diet in this book (and the same from his older, much more
    technical book) I lost 125 pounds relatively easily. I have kept it off, too. No, I'm not skinny, but I'm much, much closer to my proper
    weight, and far healthier than I was before.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2012

    Excellent and informative

    A very well written book, explaining where the current diet guidelines went wrong, and why. He uses clear language with a minimum of medical terminology. I started following his advice 3 weeks ago, and my blood pressure and blood sugars have been much better than they were before. I have also lost 7 pounds, so far.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2012

    Eye-opening! I've incorporated his ideas and also Dr Atkin's and ive lost 8 lbs in 2 weeks.

    This should be the foundation of nutrition education. Forget the pyramid! Our government controls the current nutrition education as well as runs this country on agriculture that feeds its needs, not ours. This book will open your mind.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2012

    It has been effective for me

    It may not be appropriate for everyone, but Mr. Taubes' description of how carbohydrates can act on the body rang true with my own experience. Cutting out carbohydrates has had a profound and positive effect on my body.

    That this is less a "diet" book, and more an overview of the science of metabolic regulation might make it boring to some, but I appreciated the way things were presented--without certainty, for Mr. Taubes is aware that none of the science in this field has yet been structured to as to "prove" anything, but with assurance grounded in attention to details that flow from the research has been done.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent!

    Gary Taubes summarizes in more simple language his discussion from Good Calorie, Bad Calorie. What makes us fat is carbohydrates.This book has changed the way I eat.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2011

    So good

    This book makes so much sense, now if someone would combine the info on GMO and food additives with this....learned so much, now if we could change the worlds thinking esp the medical community

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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