Why We Get Fat


Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It talks about how the world changed after World War II and how everyone who has been drinking the Calories In/Calories Out Kool Aide is wrong.  Once upon a time some serious people studied why humans get fat, why rats get fat, and why old Doc Atkins was right.  I have my own theories as to why no one cares-it has to do with the billions and billions of dollars made from fast food, dieting, supplements, exercise products, and doctors who have no interest whatsoever in curing anyone of anything.

Ok, Why We Get Fat is simple, we are designed to store carbohydrates as body fat.  That’s it.  Stop eating Carbs, you will no longer be fat.

The book is filled with all kinds of cool studies and trails and examples of fat rats that get fat even on starvation diets, mice that store fat for winter, even when they are feed tiny amounts of food, and rats who get obese if you remove their ovaries.  As with so many things in life, it all boils down to simple chemical reactions.  We are machines that work on that whole Garbage In Garbage Out formula-only we can no longer tell what the garbage is.

I kept waiting for a magic bullet to appear.  Some new hormone drug that would allow us to eat at McDonalds three times a day and not get fat.   But such a pill would likely kill us if there was one.  The advice given in the finial pages is to eat meat, fat, and a couple of cups of plants-with as little carbs in them as possible.  You need some carbs, but not too many.  The great thing about the plan is that you can eat as much as you want-the bad part is that you have to do it for the rest of your life.

Why We Get Fat has a lot of dry facts and yet still makes a pretty convincing case that Carbs are Evil-at least as far as getting and staying fat is concerned.  Fat is not bad, in and of itself, just the way that it is used when it comes from carbs.  Eating fat seems to be fine.  The recommended Lifestyle Medicine Clinic Duke University Medical Center diet contains fat.

One of the problems is that the suggested diet tends to harken back in the good old days when eating beef and pork meant you were eating beef and pork-instead of the nice mix of hormones and gene splicing and who knows what all that you find in beef and pork today.  Of course, the Good Stuff is still good, but you won’t find too many grass feed burgers at your local fast food joint.

Author Gary Taubes never comes out and says that Calories In/Calories Out is a massive Buffalo Wing Conspiracy, that a fat public is good for business, though he does seem to be honestly baffled why no one can look at the data and see that Carbs are why we are fat.

He does admit that the No Carb Diet is hard and that any backsliding could be like an alcoholic having a single drink or a drug addict getting a single fix-and that leads right back into the lifestyle.  Just Say No to Carbs.

There is one place where Gary Taubes and Timothy (4-Hour Body) Ferriss both agree-don’t eat fruit.  This is one of those bits of advice that is so counterintuitive that it allows a good deal of doubt to creep in about virtually everything else these two have to say about the human diet.  They both take the semi-logical approach to the problem of fruit-it’s a carb, it’s bad.  It is also agreed that humans were never meant to have fruit year round and that fruit is mostly sugar so don’t eat it.

This is the big deal breaker for me.  I like the whole idea of bacon and eggs for breakfast and eating all the meat I want-but I am never going to be willing to give up fruit and completely give up sweets.  There is a reason that I was able to change my diet to the Ultra Mind Solution-it was not all that radical a change for me.  Fruits and nuts and chocolate and carbs are a part of the Ultra Mind Solution-and I lost weight and feel a lot better.

One of the things that Gary Taubes whines about in Why We Get Fat is no one wants to believe what he has to say-they want to believe that Calories In/Calories Out works and that all they have to do is skip a meal now and then and add a brisk walk after lunch and they’ll look like a super model.  Well, who doesn’t want to believe that?  So even when faced with the cold hard facts-eating carbohydrates is what makes people fat-we still ignore this fact.  Carbs are cheap, easy to prepare, and taste amazingly good.  In the end we would rather die than diet.

Why We Get Fat is a good book, but Gary Taubes is preaching to the choir-I don’t see a chain of No Carbs fast food joints popping up any time soon.

Jon Herrera

Jon Herrera

Writer, Photographer, Blogger.
Jon Herrera

Latest posts by Jon Herrera (see all)

Writer, Photographer, Blogger.

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