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Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It [Paperback]

Gary Taubes
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,283 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 27, 2011

Building upon his critical work in Good Calories, Bad Calories and presenting fresh evidence for his claim, Gary Taubes revisits the urgent question of what’s making us fat—and how we can change.
 
He reveals the bad nutritional science of the last century—none more damaging or misguided than the “calories-in, calories-out” model of why we get fat—and the good science that has been ignored. He also answers the most persistent questions: Why are some people thin and others fat? What roles do exercise and genetics play in our weight? What foods should we eat, and what foods should we avoid? Persuasive, straightforward, and practical, Why We Get Fat is an essential guide to nutrition and weight management.


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Award-winning science journalist Taubes follows his Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007) with this eminently more reader-friendly explanation of the dangers of dietary carbohydrates. If the USDA dietary guidelines—recommending that highly caloric grains and carbohydrates comprise 45 to 65 percent of daily caloric intake—are so healthy, why, he asks, has obesity among Americans been on the upswing? Why has this same diet, endorsed by the American Heart Association, not managed to reduce the incidence of heart disease? And, finally, he asks why mainstream health experts continue to promote the notably unscientific notion of “calories in/calories out” as the single focus of weight management? After explaining in layperson’s terms the science that debunks the idea that weight control is a matter of burning more calories than one consumes, Taubes offers an alternative viewpoint: no carbs. While his recommendation to eliminate carbohydrates (grains, fruits, sugars, etc.) from one’s diet is not necessarily a new one, Taubes does present compelling supporting evidence that many, if not all, people should consider at least severely limiting carbohydrates in their diet. --Donna Chavez --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“Taubes stands the received wisdom about diet and exercise on its head.”
The New York Times

“Well-researched and thoughtful. . . . Taubes has done us a great service by bringing these issues to the table.”
The Boston Globe

“Compelling and convincing. . . . Taubes breaks it down for us from historical and, more importantly, scientific perspectives.”
Philadelphia Daily News

“Taubes’s critique is so pointed and vociferous that reading him will change the way you look at calories, the food pyramid, and your daily diet.”
Men’s Journal
 
“Taubes is a science journalist’s science journalist, who researches topics to the point of obsession—actually, well beyond that point—and never dumbs things down for readers.”
Scientific American
 
“Important. . . . This excellent book, built on sound research and common sense, contains essential information.”
Tucson Citizen
 
“This brave, paradigm-shifting man uses logic and the primary literature to unhinge the nutritional mantra of the last eighty years.”
Choice
 
“Less dense and easier to read [than Good Calories, Bad Calories] but no less revelatory.”
The Oregonian
 
“An exhaustive investigation.”
The Daily Beast
 
“Backed by a persuasive amount of detail. . . . As an award-winning scientific journalist who spent the past decade rigorously tracking down and assimilating obesity research, he’s uniquely qualified to understand and present the big picture of scientific opinions and results. Despite legions of researchers and billions of government dollars expended, Taubes is the one to painstakingly compile this information, assimilate it, and make it available to the public. . . . Taubes does the important and extraordinary work of pulling it all together for us.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
 
“Clear and accessible . . . Taubes’s conviction alone makes Why We Get Fat well worth considering.”
Bookpage
 
“[Taubes] is helping to reshape the conversation about what makes the American diet so fattening.”
Details
 
“Taubes is a relentless researcher.”
The Washington Post Book World
 
“[Taubes’s] major conclusions are somewhat startling yet surprisingly convincing. . . . His writing reflects his passion for scientific truth.”
Chicago Sun-Times


Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (December 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307474259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307474254
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,283 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
989 of 1,010 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Biochemistry text book agrees November 3, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I've read quite a few books that make some of the same points this one does about nutrition. I was already convinced saturated fat wasn't bad, and didn't cause heart disease. I was already convinced that sugar wasn't good for you--nor was a lot of bread and pasta. BUT I had never questioned the calories in/calories out theory. I knew plenty of people carrying extra pounds who exercised a lot and who didn't appear to eat any worse than I did (as a thin person), but I figured they must. I never questioned to think WHY do people eat more than need. The short answer is: glucose drives insulin drives fat. Taubes states that this is inarguable. I thought, well if it is inarguable than if I go read this Biochemistry, Fifth Edition: International Version (hardcover) book sitting on my bookshelf it will say the same thing. Sure enough it did, granted using a lot bigger words than Taubes does. Fatty acids will not be released into the blood stream to be used as energy if the glucose level is high. Thus it is logical to conclude that if you eat a diet that causes your blood sugar to frequently be high, all energy you consume that is not immediately needed will be stored in your fat cells and will not be released. You will not get to use all of the 800 calories you eat at one meal, only the 100 or so you need immediately, and thus you will soon be hungry again, and will overeat. And in contrast if your blood sugar is stable and you can access that stored energy you will not be hungry and won't overeat. Also it doesn't matter if you are eating fat or glucose your body will convert what its got to what it needs. Read more ›
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1,770 of 1,876 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not another "balanced eating and exercise" book December 28, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The brilliant thing about science is that when something is disproved once, it's disproved forever. The not-so-brilliant thing about public health policy is that it has little to do with science.

Everyone in the developed world knows what's causing our obesity epidemic. BBC nailed it: "We eat too much, and too much of the wrong things," and Michelle Obama tells us "We have to move more." Clearly what we need is a balanced diet of lean meats, some good fats, and complex carbohydrates like fruit, vegetables and whole grain bread, and exercise of 30 to 90 minutes per day. Their prescription is completely reasonable and makes intuitive sense.

It is neat, plausible, and wrong. It has in fact been disproved, as nearly as "disproof" can exist in nutrition science.

In his previous book, Good Calories Bad Calories, respected science journalist Gary Taubes exhaustively researched and cited two centuries worth of research in nutrition. He came to the conclusion that none of those recommendations is supported by science, because the fundamental theory on which they're based is wrong. Why We Get Fat is an updated summary of that earlier work, much quicker and easier to read, with some significant points clarified.

The most important point of the book is that all those public recommendations -- the food pyramid, the "eat food, not too much" approach, everything we know about a balanced lifestyle -- is founded on the premise of Calories In vs. Calories Out. That we get fat because we eat too many calories, or we don't burn enough of them through movement. But this is nonsense. It's not just wrong, it is actually not a statement about what causes obesity at all (or heart disease, cancer or diabetes, for that matter.
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398 of 426 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars powerful, focused, and desperately needed October 7, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Taubes' book is one of the most important books ever written on nutrition. There are thousands of books written on diet and obesity, and the overwhelming majority of them are deeply flawed at best. The so-called advice offered (and now even forcibly mandated by public and corporate powers) is also dead wrong, as will be most of those who trust said advice.

There are many thoughts on why this is the case, and many "conspiracy" theories as to how it came about, some with substantial evidence and outright smoking guns. This area of health is rife with disinformation, misinformation, ignorance, and outright lies.

Taubes does not deal with any of that directly. He does something quite different and important: he uses solid research from the hard literature to make his case in a very precise and focused way. The case he makes is airtight and irrefutable, even from the most hard-nosed skeptic's viewpoint.

The first thrust of this book is to show that the old "calories in - calories out" steam engine view of obesity is not only mildly incorrect, it is so very obviously wrong on so many levels as to completely defy rational thought. While he does not deal with the reasons behind this deadly myopia in the professional, corporate, and governmental world, he does systematically dismember this superstitious silliness with glorious logic and hard evidence.

From the misunderstanding of the application of thermodynamic "laws" in biological systems to the research on obesity and disease connections, he deftly leads the reader to a greater understanding of what the real research on obesity actually says, and what that means in terms of personal health and public policy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Real food. Real people.
Just open your mind and read this book. Do not listen to the critics or those of us who follow the lifestyle prescribed in this book. Read the words. Fact check the research. Read more
Published 11 hours ago by melhoff13
5.0 out of 5 stars Give up the carbs and live.
I'm conviced. The diet advice I have gotten all my life about calories-in/calories-out and the need to starve to convince oneself that you're on a diet seems to be altogether... Read more
Published 3 days ago by ed day
5.0 out of 5 stars This writer is very thorough. Multiple studies cited. ...
This writer is very thorough. Multiple studies cited. He did his research, documented well. His findings were quite compelling. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Susan Toeller
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it!
I have already modified my diet and I am looking forward to my next blood test! Read this book, it all makes sense now!
Published 5 days ago by Gary
5.0 out of 5 stars Life changing book!
the science of nutrition is presented clearly and convincingly, and the message is extremely important. The reader can use it immediately.
Published 5 days ago by Nick Egleson
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Life changing!
Published 5 days ago by Kimberly Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars ... just be healthier the information this book has is great for you
If you are trying to loose weight or just be healthier the information this book has is great for you.
Published 5 days ago by Rachel Gerstner
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing everything
Gary Taubes explained this better than anyone else. I finally understand why we get fat. Awesome book. Highly recommended! I'm buying his other books too!
Published 7 days ago by Ingrid
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent and Entertaining Read
An excellent read answering many of the questions we ask today about why we get fat, but answering it in a way that is easy to read and understand. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Olivia
2.0 out of 5 stars not for me
Ugh! TMI! Keep it simple! I never read it really. I started to, then never had the desire to pick it up again.
Published 9 days ago by Alegre Torres
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