Books

Why We Get Fat (2011)

Why We Get Fat (paperback)

An eye-opening, paradigm-shattering examination of what makes us fat.

In the New York Times best seller Good Calories, Bad Calories, acclaimed science writer Gary Taubes argues that certain kinds of carbohydrates—not fats and not simply excess calories—have led to our current obesity epidemic. Now he brings that message to a wider, nonscientific audience in this exciting new book. Persuasively argued, straightforward, practical, and with fresh evidence for Taubes’s claim, Why We Get Fat makes his critical argument newly accessible.

Taubes reveals the bad nutritional science of the last century—none more damaging than the “calories-in, calories-out” model of why we get fat—and the good science that has been ignored, especially regarding insulin’s regulation of our fat tissue. He also answers key questions: 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?

Concluding with an easy-to-follow diet, Why We Get Fat is an invaluable key to understanding an international epidemic and a guide to improving our own health.

Purchase Why We Get Fat

Amazon.com (Available for Kindle)

Barnes & Noble (Available for NOOK)

IndieBound

Powell’s

Random House

Also available as an AudioBook

Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007)

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[released as The Diet Delusion in the U.K.]

In Good Calories, Bad Calories, Taubes tries to bury the idea that a low-fat diet promotes weight loss and better health. Obesity is caused, he argues, not by the quantity of calories you eat but by the quality. Carbohydrates, particularly refined ones like white bread and pasta, raise insulin levels, promoting the storage of fat.

Taubes is a relentless researcher, shining a light on flaws in the scientific literature. For example, he charges that when scientists figured out how to measure cholesterol in the blood, they became “fixated on the accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries as the cause of heart disease, despite considerable evidence to the contrary.”

He also reveals how charismatic personalities can force the acceptance of unproven theories. For instance, nutritionist Jean Mayer persuaded Americans that exercise leads to weight loss when in fact, writes Taubes, exercising may increase hunger and calorie intake. According to a 2000 review of the medical literature, “some studies imply that physical activity might inhibit weight gain . . . some that it might accelerate weight gain; and some that it has no effect whatsoever.” Yet the latest government dietary guidelines, released in 2005, recommend 60 to 90 minutes a day of moderately intense exercise and a low-calorie diet to achieve weight loss. Once again, Taubes shows, conventional wisdom wins out.

Good Calories, Bad Calories goes a long way toward breaking the link between obesity, gluttony and sloth by demonstrating that genes, hormones and chemistry play as much of a role in weight gain as behavior does. Taubes’s tales of lame science and flawed laboratory tests are at times brilliant and enlightening. But they can also become repetitive and wearying. In the end, the most compelling case Taubes builds is one against stark dietary advice of any kind; nothing simple can capture the complex reasons for the epidemic rise in obesity. H.L. Mencken once said, “There is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” Taubes cites this quote in his book; he, and all of us, would do well to remember it.

I think this is a very important book; I have been recommending it to my medical colleagues and students. He raises big questions and I think there are some very big ideas in this book. […] I think he’s done a meticulous job showing that many of the assumptions that are held by the conventional medical community simply rest on nothing.

– Dr. Andrew Weil, Larry King Live

Purchase Good Calories, Bad Calories:

At Amazon.com

At Barnes & Noble

For Kindle

For Nook (and other eReaders)