Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It ~Gary Taubes. Published 2010, USA. (kindle)
The author Gretchen Ruben recommended this book has one of her monthly book group picks and it looked interesting and she agrees strongly with everything the author says and so I thought I would give it a go.
The first thing to say about this book is that it is not a diet book and the author is not a doctor, but a scientist and a writer. Providing you approach this book as a science project you will find it interesting, especially the science around food and the way the body digests and stores food within the body. That said, it is not so scientific that you will get lost in the jargon.
At the beginning of the book Taubes begins by saying, ‘…I’m going to argue that this calories-in/calories-out paradigm of adiposity (fat) 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 conscientiously doing the opposite.’ In simpler terms eating more calories than we expend daily does not make us fat and the opposite will not make us slim, I agree with this point. So what will?
First we need to know what makes us fat and he repetitively points out, rather boringly at times, that it is the amount of insulin that is being released by the pancreas and circulating around the body, almost continuously that causes us to be obese. Insulin is only needed by the body to break down, carbohydrates, which include sugar, honey, flour, anything with flour in it, bread, cereal, potatoes, fruit and fruit juice to name just some of the foods it lists. Thirdly not only are carbohydrates bad for us and will help to keep us as a nation, obese, we not only need to not cut down on the amount we eat, but stop eating carbohydrates altogether.
He also says that; red meats and saturated fats do not cause heart disease and eating a large amount of both will not make us fat. Although he doesn’t seem to have carried out any research himself, he does quote lots from other people, much of which is over 50 years old and out of date. Also under-eating to lose weight causes the body to conserve any fat it has already stored and that is why it is difficult, but not impossible to lose weight this way. Taubes also shares scientific evidence to prove this point.
Reducing the amount of carbohydrates within our diets can cause the following problems, which can last for up to weeks or even months –
- severe headaches
- ketones to be released from the muscles, causing first your breath and then your body to smell, it is known as ketoacidosis usually associated with diabetics
- constipation, due to lack of fibre
- muscle cramps, especially leg cramps
- lack of salt, this is because the lack of insulin causes the kidneys to excrete more salt
- flu like symptoms
- low blood sugar
- sleep disturbances
- low blood pressure
- heart palpitations
…but all things are temporary…if all this looks familiar then think the Atkins Diet…
Taubes also cautions that the low carbohydrate diet does not work for everyone, meaning that not everyone will lose weight on it, but he says that this is mainly because people do not stay on the diet long enough, but, also that others have a genetic disposition to Adioposity (fat). And his answer for if it doesn’t work, is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your diet even more or get rid of them altogether.
I think the diet is rubbish. Both the British Heart Foundation and The British Diabetic Association says we should have a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrates daily and a maximum of 220 grams from a woman, men slightly more. However, the book itself seems well researched and well written, although it is also unnecessarily repetitive in places. There are some scientific bits, but they are well explained and being a science based person, i can accept how insulin could be making us obese; the more carbohydrates we eat the more insulin our body releases to get rid of it, the more it prevents the body from getting rid of fat stores within the body. Reducing our carbohydrate intake within recommended levels should be enough to reduce the fat in our bodies, especially if we are consuming far more than we need already.
Not a book for everyone, but to the right person/people it would be enlightening and instructive.
4 out of 5