Review: Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes by Amy Dungan

I picked up Why We Get Fat expecting a fantastic read. I can honestly say I was not disappointed. Gary has a great way of helping his readers understand topics that at one time seemed too complicated for someone without a medical degree. Having read his previous book Good Calories, Bad Calories from cover to cover, I expected to see a lot of the same things discussed, but in much simpler format. Again I can say Why We Get Fat met all my expectations… and then some. Not only does Gary make the concepts understandable, and backs them up with the scientific references, should you be so inclined to research further, but he gives examples that apply to everyday life. One only has to look around them to realize that the illustrations he uses are true. I’m warning you now, you might want to purchase a padded helmet before reading this book. You’ll find yourself often smacking your forehead in a plethora of “ah-ha” moments.

Gary starts the book out with an simple introduction to biology. You’ll quickly learn how significant, or insignificant, calories really are in comparison to hormonal regulation – specifically fat regulation. I’m especially happy to see that he used some photos and case studies that drive this point home. I had the pleasure of hearing Gary speak a few years back and he used these same illustrations then. I was floored by the visual impact these examples made on not only myself, but my husband John, who at the time was much less interested in the subject than I was. After hearing Gary’s lecture, John was suddenly very interested and has been more active in our low-carb efforts than ever. His eyes were effectively opened. He was convinced without a doubt this is a hormonal issue, and not a moral one, as so many have been quick to use as condemnation on those struggling with obesity. I’m excited about this book knowing it will have the same effect on so many who peruse its pages.

Unlike what his critics proclaim, Gary does not ignore the law of thermodynamics. In fact, he has several pages dedicated to the subject and its application in regards to obesity. He does a fantastic job of keeping it simple, yet factual, so the average person can understand how it really works. You’ll learn why undereating is ineffective and why exercise isn’t as beneficial for weight loss as we’ve been lead to believe. (He does stress exercise is good for you, but not as big a player in weight loss as we’ve been told.)

Why We Get Fat also spends some time explaining the history behind our current recommendations, why the evidence isn’t supportive of our food pyramid, and how decades of studies proving the opposite have been ignored. The end of the book is just as informative with chapters that discuss metabolic syndrome, the truth of healthy dieting, and the variety of ways you can apply these changes to your own meal planning. You’ll even find a synopsis of the “No Sugar, No Starch” diet used by the Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at the Duke University Medical Center.

Worried about references and studies being cited? Don’t fret. Gary has them all listed in the sources section should you wish to dig deeper into the studies and learn for yourself. And on that thought, I’d like to share a quote that stood out to me. Many of you may remember many low-carb bloggers talking about Banting’s Letter on Corpulence, which was an instant best-seller in the 1860’s, where Mr. Banting told of the great success he’d had living on a diet free from sugars, grains, etc. People were taking notice, much to the dismay of the medical experts of that time. (Sound familiar?)

“We advice Mr. Banting, and everyone of his kind, not to meddle with medical literature again, but to be content to mind his own business,” wrote The Lancet, a British medical journal.”

This reminds me so much of the attitude of medical professionals today, specifically our own doctors, when we walk in their offices armed with information. I’m so glad that people like Gary Taubes are willing to do the foot work so that the average layperson can educate themselves and be an active participant in their own healthcare. Why We Get Fat is no doubt one of the most important books available on the subject of health and should be read and shared with others at every opportunity. Our future and health depends on solid information such as this if we are to thrive as we were meant to.

I give this book a full 5 stars, plus my extra special 6th star. Get. This. Book. Thank you Gary! Bravo!


© 2011 by Amy Dungan. Article and photograph used by kind permission of the author. Send Amy your comments to Amy Dungan.

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