Why We Get Fat explains very well how and what mostly contributes to weight gain. And what we can do to stop and reverse that trend.
- Bullet Summary
- Full Summary
- Real Life Applications
- Carbohydrates are the main culprit of weight gain
- Laziness and gluttony don’t cause people to get fat, it’s the other way around
- We are not all equally sensitive to carbs, but for those who are it’s best if you:
- If you’re sensitive to carbs and overweight, completely cut them out from your diet
In a world with no cigarettes, lung cancer would be a rare disease. In a world without carbs, obesity would be a rare disease as well.
That sums it up, and to know more, keep reading:
Simplistic View of Why We Get Fat
The basic, simplistic view of why people get fat is because they consume more calories than they spend.
However Gary Taubes says this view is simplistic.
For example, he says, among people with the same lifestyle and food consumption some do get fat while others do not.
And Among malnourished native Indian tribes some children were close to starvation and yet their mothers were overweight. And it wasn’t because they were taking food away from their children.
What is it, then?
The author say we get fat and we get lazy and become couch potatoes because of hormonal imbalances.
Carbohydrates stimulate insulin production.
What does insulin do?
It facilitates the absorption of energy into muscles and it stimulates our fatty tissue to store superfluous energy, again, as fat.
Basically, it stimulate the production of more fat.
And that means, that carbohydrates are what make us fat.
Being Overweight Causes Eating Disorder
Gary Taubes turns the idea that eating disorder causes fat accumulation on its head. He that it’s the other way around instead: being overweight causes eating disorder.
Fat cells require energy, and that causes overweight people to be hungrier and tired.
It’s similar to what happens to a child growing: he is not growing because he eats, it’s his hormonally regulated growth that makes him hungrier than usual.
Gluttony and laziness do not cause people to get fat. Fat causes gluttony and laziness.
We Didn’t Evolve to Process Carbs
Why We Get Fat says that carbs have only become a mainstay very recently in our evolution. Our bodies did not evolve to consume the large quantities that we consume today.
Lots of Carbs Over Time Make You Sick
Consuming high quantities of carbohydrates over time impairs our internal regulatory system of insulin.
Diabetes and high blood sugar, which go hand in hand with fat, are very possibly a consequence of carbohydrates, says the author.
Insulin Resistance: the Variables
We don’t all react the same way to carbohydrate intake.
It’s our genes indeed that decide where to store the excess carbs, or we store them at all (note: “storing” means growing fat tissue).
Age is also another factor.
Insulin resistance increases with age, and when insulin resistance increases, our muscles take fewer carbs as energy. And what our muscles don’t take, becomes fat.
That’s why older people tend to get fat more easily.
Don’t Try to Eat Less
Losing weight by decreasing foot intake is a losing strategy, says the author.
We are constantly hungry and as soon as we are done with our diet we get back to our previous weight (the yo-yo factor).
Why Low Carb Diet Have Bad Rep
The author says that the bad reputation of low or no carbohydrates die get a bad reputation for three reasons:
- It’s impossible to lose weight without acquiring less energy than you consume
- Carbohydrates can be modified to be part of a healhty diet
- If you replace carbs with fats, you get fat
However, says Taubes, all these assumptions are flawed.
And to lose weight and to keep it off, you need to give up carbohydrates.
Why You Must Stop Carbs
Long term, you can only keep the weight off if you embrace a diet that stops fat from depositing in the first place.
And, by definition, that happens when you give up carbs.
When we remove carbohydrates -especially the ones that are quick to absorb like sugars- we not only stop the formation of new fat, but we allow “old fat” to be released and to be transformed into energy.
Which means, we lose weight.
However, says the author, not all carbs are created equal.
The rule of thumb is that the sweeter it is, the more likely it is that it will make you fat.
Sweets indeed flood our blood with glucose, which causes our blood sugar and then our insulin levels to skyrocket.
Carbohydrates in vegetables instead are linked to indigestible fibers, and they have a much smaller impact.
My Note: obviously the author is including sugars in the carbohydrates description.
Real Life Applications
Eat Less Carbs
The author says that not everyone is equally sensitive to carbohydrates and not everyone will get equally fat eating them.
So not everyone needs to eliminate them completely.
However, I’d add that if you eat a lot of them like I used to, then reducing will certainly benefit you a lot. And reduce the sweets to almost zero.
Bit of strawman technique
At time I felt as if the author was using a strawman technique to attack the idea that “fats are bad”. That used to be the case many years ago, but it’s been a while now that fats are not considered anymore the evils they used to be.
I think Why We Get Fat could have shed some fat from the book and been a bit thinner.
The author presents an interesting point of view saying that it’s fat that causes gluttony and laziness -and not the other way around, which he says is simplistic-.
However, I feel that also his explanation is a bit simplistic. I struggle to see how laziness and gluttony cannot as well contribute to weight gain.
Great medical insight
I definitely learned a lot about how the body functioned with Why We Get Fat.
Great nutritional insight
And I also learned a lot more about nutrition.
The author explains the concepts in a simple and easy to grasp format that makes reading and understanding accessible to anyone.
After having read Wheat Belly I was almost afraid Why We Get Fat was going to be on that same wavelength.
But not all.
It’s a very balanced view on diet and healthy eating.
Definitely recommended not only to those who are trying to lose weight, but also to everyone who wants to better understand health and nutrition.