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WHY WE GET FAT: AND WHAT TO DO

ABOUT IT BY GARY TAUBES

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WHY WE GET FAT: AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT BY GARY TAUBES

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WHY WE GET FAT: AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT BY GARY

TAUBES PDF

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From Booklist

Award-winning science journalist Taubes follows his Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007) with this eminently more reader-friendly explanation of the dangers of dietary carbohydrates. If the USDA dietary guidelines—recommending that highly caloric grains and carbohydrates comprise 45 to 65 percent of daily caloric intake—are so healthy, why, he asks, has obesity among Americans been on the upswing? Why has this same diet, endorsed by the American Heart Association, not managed to reduce the incidence of heart disease? And, finally, he asks why mainstream health experts continue to promote the notably unscientific notion of “calories in/calories out” as the single focus of weight management? After explaining in layperson’s terms the science that debunks the idea that weight control is a matter of burning more calories than one consumes, Taubes offers an alternative viewpoint: no carbs. While his recommendation to eliminate carbohydrates (grains, fruits, sugars, etc.) from one’s diet is not necessarily a new one, Taubes does present compelling supporting evidence that many, if not all, people should consider at least severely limiting carbohydrates in their diet. --Donna Chavez

Review

“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.”

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“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

About the Author

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WHY WE GET FAT: AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT BY GARY

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WHY WE GET FAT: AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT BY GARY

TAUBES PDF

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.

Sales Rank: #1792 in Books

Brand: Taubes, Gary

Published on: 2011-12-27

Released on: 2011-12-27

Original language: English

Number of items: 1

Dimensions: 8.00" h x .83" w x 5.20" l, .86 pounds

● Binding: Paperback ● 288 pages ● From Booklist

Award-winning science journalist Taubes follows his Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007) with this eminently more reader-friendly explanation of the dangers of dietary carbohydrates. If the USDA dietary guidelines—recommending that highly caloric grains and carbohydrates comprise 45 to 65 percent of daily caloric intake—are so healthy, why, he asks, has obesity among Americans been on the upswing? Why has this same diet, endorsed by the American Heart Association, not managed to reduce the incidence of heart disease? And, finally, he asks why mainstream health experts continue to promote the notably unscientific notion of “calories in/calories out” as the single focus of weight management? After explaining in layperson’s terms the science that debunks the idea that weight control is a matter of burning more calories than one consumes, Taubes offers an alternative viewpoint: no carbs. While his recommendation to eliminate carbohydrates (grains, fruits, sugars, etc.) from one’s diet is not necessarily a new one, Taubes does present compelling supporting evidence that many, if not all, people should consider at least severely limiting carbohydrates in their diet. --Donna Chavez

Review

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

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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.”

(8)

About 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.

Most helpful customer reviews

1486 of 1526 people found the following review helpful. The Biochemistry text book agrees

By Laura M. Bangerter

I've read quite a few books that make some of the same points this one does about nutrition. I was already convinced saturated fat wasn't bad, and didn't cause heart disease. I was already convinced that sugar wasn't good for you--nor was a lot of bread and pasta. BUT I had never questioned the calories in/calories out theory. I knew plenty of people carrying extra pounds who exercised a lot and who didn't appear to eat any worse than I did (as a thin person), but I figured they must. I never questioned to think WHY do people eat more than need. The short answer is: glucose drives insulin drives fat. Taubes states that this is inarguable. I thought, well if it is inarguable than if I go read this Biochemistry, Fifth Edition: International Version (hardcover) book sitting on my bookshelf it will say the same thing. Sure enough it did, granted using a lot bigger words than Taubes does. Fatty acids will not be released into the blood stream to be used as energy if the glucose level is high. Thus it is logical to conclude that if you eat a diet that causes your blood sugar to frequently be high, all energy you consume that is not immediately needed will be stored in your fat cells and will not be released. You will not get to use all of the 800 calories you eat at one meal, only the 100 or so you need immediately, and thus you will soon be hungry again, and will overeat. And in contrast if your blood sugar is stable and you can access that stored energy you will not be hungry and won't overeat. Also it doesn't matter if you are eating fat or glucose your body will convert what its got to what it needs.

Another controversial claim he is that exercise does not help people lose weight permanently. I am a champion of exercise. How could this be? Honestly his arguments made sense, kind of, but didn't completely convince me. However when I pulled out the Biochem book it says, "Muscle retains glucose, its preferred fuel for bursts of activity...In resting muscle, fatty acids are the major fuel, meeting 85 percent of the energy needs." So there you go. If you are trying to lose weight, and are doing so by keeping your blood sugar stable, which is releasing fatty acids into your blood stream, and you want those fatty acids to be used, versus having your body (ie muscles) crave glucose, then intense exercise will not help you. Your body will more readily use those fatty acids if it is resting.

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good for weight maintenance, and it's good for you brain (read Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey). Then do that forever. I would really love to see a long term study where the participants stay on the diet.

I found the book very readable and engaging. How much fruit is too much? Will eating more fat really improve your cholesterol profile? How many carbs are too many? I don't know. Taubes makes some guesses, but nutrition is a very complex science that I don't think anyone completely understands. If you read vegan arguments they make many of the same claims that Taubes does (better cholesterol levels, weight management, etc). However it does seem that every major nutritional philosophy pegs sugar as being a major problem. It may be as simple as that. I'll process this information. Read Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health (Vintage). Experiment on myself (finger pokes here I come), and have increased anxiety about what I feed my kids--especially the pasta, bread, fruit and sugar loving one.

(*I edited this section after my initial review.)

2074 of 2196 people found the following review helpful. Not another "balanced eating and exercise" book

By maramaye

The brilliant thing about science is that when something is disproved once, it's disproved forever. The not-so-brilliant thing about public health policy is that it has little to do with science.

Everyone in the developed world knows what's causing our obesity epidemic. BBC nailed it: "We eat too much, and too much of the wrong things," and Michelle Obama tells us "We have to move more." Clearly what we need is a balanced diet of lean meats, some good fats, and complex carbohydrates like fruit, vegetables and whole grain bread, and exercise of 30 to 90 minutes per day. Their prescription is completely reasonable and makes intuitive sense.

It is neat, plausible, and wrong. It has in fact been disproved, as nearly as "disproof" can exist in nutrition science.

In his previous book, Good Calories Bad Calories, respected science journalist Gary Taubes exhaustively researched and cited two centuries worth of research in nutrition. He came to the conclusion that none of those recommendations is supported by science, because the fundamental theory on which they're based is wrong. Why We Get Fat is an updated summary of that earlier work, much quicker and easier to read, with some significant points clarified.

The most important point of the book is that all those public recommendations -- the food pyramid, the "eat food, not too much" approach, everything we know about a balanced lifestyle -- is founded on the premise of Calories In vs. Calories Out. That we get fat because we eat too many calories, or we don't burn enough of them through movement. But this is nonsense. It's not just wrong, it is actually not a statement about what causes obesity at all (or heart disease, cancer or diabetes, for that matter.) It is, in Taubes' words, a "junior high level mistake," because it tells us nothing about fat accumulation. If we get fat, by definition we have taken in more calories than we've put out -- but WHY we took in those calories, or didn't burn them, is the key point.

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themselves rather than in balance with the rest of the body. And since those nutrients aren't available, we become hungry and tired. Therefore we eat more, and move less.

For the chronic dieters among us, one passage about animal models will explain decades of frustration. Rodents with a particular part of the hypothalamus destroyed would become obese and/or sedentary *as a consequence* of their bodies putting on more fat. "After the surgery, their fat tissue sucks up calories to make more fat; this leaves insufficient fuel for the rest of the body...The only way to prevent these animals from getting obese is to starve them...they get fat not by overeating but by eating at all." Sound familiar?

The problem isn't one of gluttony and sloth, as Taubes refers to it, but of hormone balance. Simply put, some people are more sensitive to the hormone effects of insulin, cortisol, and a few other -ols, than other people are. The more sensitive you are, the more you're likely to get fat, and the more fat you're likely to get, in the presence of even small amounts of carbohydrate -- and in the absence of enough fat.

That's right, this book advocates eating fat. Not just moderately, but as much fat as possible, up to 78% of calories. Not lean meats, not Jenny-O 99.6% fat-free turkey, not skinless chicken breasts, but lard. Yes, lard. The healthy way of eating, according to Taubes, is moderately high protein and high fat. Yes, high fat. About a 3:1 ratio of fat to protein, and almost no carbohydrates. (Telling people to eat a balanced diet containing carbohydrates is, he says, equivalent to telling smokers to include a balanced serving of cigarettes.) And he demonstrates exactly why a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet is the most heart-healthy approach, as borne out by several dozen recent studies.

While Taubes acknowledges that exercise seems to be good for us for a variety of reasons, weight control isn't one of them. Study after study conducted by proponents of exercise have admitted that they see no compelling evidence for exercise as a weight-loss tool. And it makes sense if you throw out the calories in/calories out model of why we get fat. If we're fat because our fat tissues are starving the rest of our cells of fuel, exercise is just going to make us hungrier and more tired, not leaner and more fit. (It's worth noting that according to Taubes, in the 1930s obese patients were treated with bed rest.)

[This review was edited to clarify the following point.] The main thrust of Taubes' argument, however, surrounds sugar and to a lesser extent any carbohydrate. Insulin is the primary hormone that fixes fat in the fat cells. This is why Type I diabetics lose weight: they're not producing enough insulin. Since insulin is manufactured in direct response to carbohydrates, if you don't eat them, you won't have a mechanism by which to store fat. (Taubes notes that this mechanism is not controversial; it simply hasn't had an impact on nutrition policy.) Taubes argues that any success in standard diets can be attributed directly to the dieter's reduced intake of carbohydrates, especially sugars and particularly fructose.

Once the underlying cause of obesity is understood (hormone balance, not gluttony/sloth) the recommendations on what to do about it are surprisingly simple and therefore brief. This is a book about the science of nutrition, not a diet book, but there is a list of recommended foods in the Appendix. The book does not tell you how to eat in a restaurant. But it does tell you that the issue isn't in your brain, your willpower, your character, your job, your environment or even (except to the extent that you're sensitive to carbohydrate) in your genes. The problem with fat is in your fat cells.

For a lay audience, this book is as good as it gets if you want to read actual science about health and nutrition. If you're of scientific or technical bent, read Good Calories Bad Calories first, then give Why We Get Fat to your parents.

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powerful, focused, and desperately needed By Cooljonnorris

Taubes' book is one of the most important books ever written on nutrition. There are thousands of books written on diet and obesity, and the overwhelming majority of them are deeply flawed at best. The so-called advice offered (and now even forcibly mandated by public and corporate powers) is also dead wrong, as will be most of those who trust said advice.

There are many thoughts on why this is the case, and many "conspiracy" theories as to how it came about, some with substantial evidence and outright smoking guns. This area of health is rife with disinformation, misinformation, ignorance, and outright lies.

Taubes does not deal with any of that directly. He does something quite different and important: he uses solid research from the hard literature to make his case in a very precise and focused way. The case he makes is airtight and irrefutable, even from the most hard-nosed skeptic's viewpoint.

The first thrust of this book is to show that the old "calories in - calories out" steam engine view of obesity is not only mildly incorrect, it is so very obviously wrong on so many levels as to completely defy rational thought. While he does not deal with the reasons behind this deadly myopia in the professional, corporate, and governmental world, he does systematically dismember this superstitious silliness with glorious logic and hard evidence.

From the misunderstanding of the application of thermodynamic "laws" in biological systems to the research on obesity and disease connections, he deftly leads the reader to a greater understanding of what the real research on obesity actually says, and what that means in terms of personal health and public policy.

His main concentration is on fat metabolism versus carbohydrate metabolism, and how carbs disturb the delicately balanced fat storage mechanism and cause obesity. He describes the research which backs this up, and has for decades and decades, while being totally ignored by most medical and public health officials. He discusses how long some of this research has shown these things and mentions how it has been consistently ignored.

That's right - carbs. Not dietary fat, not sloth, not moral weakness, not any other of the fad social mythology which passes for "evidence" driven policies and public stances. He details the increased understanding from more sensitive and better done research which essentially proves that our great-grandmothers had a better sense of healthy food than almost all the scientists, dieticians, health agency spokescritters, and gurus who have filled our heads with lies for at least 60 years. (And been accessories to the pain and death of millions of wrongly informed people, I hasten to add.)

His focus is completely on the science, and he does not venture into the politics or economic pressures which created this stupid state of affairs (the vitriol here is mine). While he does not discuss it directly, his book does point out the dangers of trusting science to give hard answers to questions of diet and health. As I point out in my review of Weston A.Price's "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration," science will not be able to give us solid answers to dietary questions for at least another 1,000 years, at the snail's pace and myopic style of current research, some of which is clearly discussed in this book.

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animals for obesity experiments). He does not mention experiments on farm animals in the 1940s which showed that the diet which fattened mammals most quickly was one of grains and vegetable oil. He does not go into the differences in saturated fats, and how medium-chain fatty acids are handled differently in the body. He also does not mention that animal fat is a dense source of critical nutrients, and that saturated fat is crucial in triggering satiation, hence limiting appetite, cravings, and overeating.

Given all that, his work is still ironclad and irrefutable even in its narrow focus. Add in all the rest and you have a overwhelming body of evidence which is more than compelling enough to warrant a major investigation into the reasons why this information has been forcibly withheld from the public (causing untold suffering and death).

I gave it 5 stars, not because it is perfect, but because it is so powerful, so right, and so necessary.

Bottom line: everyone should read this book, period. The information here can literally save your life and that of those you love. Doctors, other medical people, dieticians, and others involved in the public sector dealing with nutrition should read this NOW, before they kill any more people through their ignorance.

As Weston A. Price once responded to a question about how to deal with the disinformation around the subject of a healthy diet; "You teach, you teach, you teach."

Get it and spread the word.

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WHY WE GET FAT: AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT BY GARY

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From Booklist

Award-winning science journalist Taubes follows his Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007) with this eminently more reader-friendly explanation of the dangers of dietary carbohydrates. If the USDA dietary guidelines—recommending that highly caloric grains and carbohydrates comprise 45 to 65 percent of daily caloric intake—are so healthy, why, he asks, has obesity among Americans been on the upswing? Why has this same diet, endorsed by the American Heart Association, not managed to reduce the incidence of heart disease? And, finally, he asks why mainstream health experts continue to promote the notably unscientific notion of “calories in/calories out” as the single focus of weight management? After explaining in layperson’s terms the science that debunks the idea that weight control is a matter of burning more calories than one consumes, Taubes offers an alternative viewpoint: no carbs. While his recommendation to eliminate carbohydrates (grains, fruits, sugars, etc.) from one’s diet is not necessarily a new one, Taubes does present compelling supporting evidence that many, if not all, people should consider at least severely limiting carbohydrates in their diet. --Donna Chavez

Review

“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.”

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“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

About 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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