Why We Get Fat

Have recently finished reading Gary Taubes’ “Why We Get Fat”, as per a recommendation from Glenn Reynolds.  Pretty illuminating book, to me as an absolute non-expert on nutrition and biochemistry.

Basically, carbs are what make us fat, particularly processed/refined carbs, and especially things like fructose and refined flour.  When we eat these (and other carbs), the body’s reaction to the blood sugar is to secrete insulin which activates lipoprotein lipase (LPL), an enzyme which stores fat in the cells.  There is also the issue of insulin sensitivity over time caused by consuming too many carbs.  So, of the energy you’ve consumed, too much gets stored away as fat and is, therefore, not burned as fuel; as a result, you are more hungry and eat more (requiring increasingly more energy, as you are now a fatter/larger animal and have more energy requirements).  You end up either being more hungry, or more sedentary.  And not particularly happy about it.

Some good reviews at the first (Amazon) link above.  This guy is on side, while others are not.  I’m not sure some of the arguments in the anti-Taubes camp really have to do with the salient points, however.  Here’s a review at Skeptic.  The reason Taubes would say that ‘calories in/calories out’ doesn’t quite apply is that with too many carbs we are storing too much away as fat, making it less available as fuel.

I’m rolling along and dropping weight.  I’ve been ~220 for a long time (6′, 47 year old).  I was 220 at the beginning of June, and was 210 on the nose this morning.  This isn’t due to exercise*, simply diet.  And, yes, I realize that I am probably eating fewer calories during this reduced-carb period.  A work in progress, obviously; the main issue will be the longer term results – losing when you are trying to lose is one thing, keeping it off is the main thing.  I’ve been up and down quite a bit over the last 15 years or so, and hope to settle things toward the lower end of that range.  So, an ongoing manageable diet where I am not hungry and therefore reversing things will be important.  Will keep this going and see what’s what.

I’m not someone who can be provided a certain diet regime and follow it, I need to have an understanding of what is happening, and now I feel like I have that.  I’m not giving up carbs, and don’t care about Atkins or any other diet; I am just going to manage them better going forward.

*I’ve always had trouble getting active to lose weight (energy issue?); hope to get better in near future.

Update (Aug25’12): 200 lbs baby!


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