on November 3, 2011
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.
Another controversial claim he is that exercise does not help people lose weight permanently. I am a champion of exercise. How could this be? Honestly his arguments made sense, kind of, but didn't completely convince me. However when I pulled out the Biochem book it says, "Muscle retains glucose, its preferred fuel for bursts of activity...In resting muscle, fatty acids are the major fuel, meeting 85 percent of the energy needs." So there you go. If you are trying to lose weight, and are doing so by keeping your blood sugar stable, which is releasing fatty acids into your blood stream, and you want those fatty acids to be used, versus having your body (ie muscles) crave glucose, then intense exercise will not help you. Your body will more readily use those fatty acids if it is resting.
The other question is whether ketosis is a desirable state to be in. There is a bit of controversy on this and I haven't resolved an opinion one way or the other. I have epilepsy and know that a ketogenic diet is a viable treatment for epilepsy. I know that there are some societies, particularly the Inuits, that ate a mostly ketogenic diet, so it is not unheard of. Maybe humans are supposed to enter ketosis seasonally? Your brain and muscles do like glucose--can they run as well on a ketogenic diet? Some say they can, it just takes an adjustment period. Either way, I definitely think for a person who has excess weight Atkins is vindicated. Cut your carbs, drop significant amounts of weight (probably feeling crappy in the transition, but resting muscles can use the fuel better anyway so crashing on the couch is fine till you get used to it and end up having more energy than before). When you hit a desirable weight slowly add back a small amount of carbs until you start gaining again, and start an exercise routine with all your new found energy. As exercise is good for weight maintenance, and it's good for you brain (read Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey). Then do that forever. I would really love to see a long term study where the participants stay on the diet.
I found the book very readable and engaging. How much fruit is too much? Will eating more fat really improve your cholesterol profile? How many carbs are too many? I don't know. Taubes makes some guesses, but nutrition is a very complex science that I don't think anyone completely understands. If you read vegan arguments they make many of the same claims that Taubes does (better cholesterol levels, weight management, etc). However it does seem that every major nutritional philosophy pegs sugar as being a major problem. It may be as simple as that. I'll process this information. Read Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health (Vintage). Experiment on myself (finger pokes here I come), and have increased anxiety about what I feed my kids--especially the pasta, bread, fruit and sugar loving one.
(*I edited this section after my initial review.)
on December 28, 2010
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.) It is, in Taubes' words, a "junior high level mistake," because it tells us nothing about fat accumulation. If we get fat, by definition we have taken in more calories than we've put out -- but WHY we took in those calories, or didn't burn them, is the key point.
Taubes reviews the scientific literature (rather than the popular press) and presents a conclusion that was common knowledge before WWII, and heresy afterward: we get fat because our fat cells have become disregulated and are taking nutrients that should be available to other tissues. Like a tumor, the cells live for themselves rather than in balance with the rest of the body. And since those nutrients aren't available, we become hungry and tired. Therefore we eat more, and move less.
For the chronic dieters among us, one passage about animal models will explain decades of frustration. Rodents with a particular part of the hypothalamus destroyed would become obese and/or sedentary *as a consequence* of their bodies putting on more fat. "After the surgery, their fat tissue sucks up calories to make more fat; this leaves insufficient fuel for the rest of the body...The only way to prevent these animals from getting obese is to starve them...they get fat not by overeating but by eating at all." Sound familiar?
The problem isn't one of gluttony and sloth, as Taubes refers to it, but of hormone balance. Simply put, some people are more sensitive to the hormone effects of insulin, cortisol, and a few other -ols, than other people are. The more sensitive you are, the more you're likely to get fat, and the more fat you're likely to get, in the presence of even small amounts of carbohydrate -- and in the absence of enough fat.
That's right, this book advocates eating fat. Not just moderately, but as much fat as possible, up to 78% of calories. Not lean meats, not Jenny-O 99.6% fat-free turkey, not skinless chicken breasts, but lard. Yes, lard. The healthy way of eating, according to Taubes, is moderately high protein and high fat. Yes, high fat. About a 3:1 ratio of fat to protein, and almost no carbohydrates. (Telling people to eat a balanced diet containing carbohydrates is, he says, equivalent to telling smokers to include a balanced serving of cigarettes.) And he demonstrates exactly why a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet is the most heart-healthy approach, as borne out by several dozen recent studies.
While Taubes acknowledges that exercise seems to be good for us for a variety of reasons, weight control isn't one of them. Study after study conducted by proponents of exercise have admitted that they see no compelling evidence for exercise as a weight-loss tool. And it makes sense if you throw out the calories in/calories out model of why we get fat. If we're fat because our fat tissues are starving the rest of our cells of fuel, exercise is just going to make us hungrier and more tired, not leaner and more fit. (It's worth noting that according to Taubes, in the 1930s obese patients were treated with bed rest.)
[This review was edited to clarify the following point.] The main thrust of Taubes' argument, however, surrounds sugar and to a lesser extent any carbohydrate. Insulin is the primary hormone that fixes fat in the fat cells. This is why Type I diabetics lose weight: they're not producing enough insulin. Since insulin is manufactured in direct response to carbohydrates, if you don't eat them, you won't have a mechanism by which to store fat. (Taubes notes that this mechanism is not controversial; it simply hasn't had an impact on nutrition policy.) Taubes argues that any success in standard diets can be attributed directly to the dieter's reduced intake of carbohydrates, especially sugars and particularly fructose.
Once the underlying cause of obesity is understood (hormone balance, not gluttony/sloth) the recommendations on what to do about it are surprisingly simple and therefore brief. This is a book about the science of nutrition, not a diet book, but there is a list of recommended foods in the Appendix. The book does not tell you how to eat in a restaurant. But it does tell you that the issue isn't in your brain, your willpower, your character, your job, your environment or even (except to the extent that you're sensitive to carbohydrate) in your genes. The problem with fat is in your fat cells.
For a lay audience, this book is as good as it gets if you want to read actual science about health and nutrition. If you're of scientific or technical bent, read Good Calories Bad Calories first, then give Why We Get Fat to your parents.
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.
His main concentration is on fat metabolism versus carbohydrate metabolism, and how carbs disturb the delicately balanced fat storage mechanism and cause obesity. He describes the research which backs this up, and has for decades and decades, while being totally ignored by most medical and public health officials. He discusses how long some of this research has shown these things and mentions how it has been consistently ignored.
That's right - carbs. Not dietary fat, not sloth, not moral weakness, not any other of the fad social mythology which passes for "evidence" driven policies and public stances. He details the increased understanding from more sensitive and better done research which essentially proves that our great-grandmothers had a better sense of healthy food than almost all the scientists, dieticians, health agency spokescritters, and gurus who have filled our heads with lies for at least 60 years. (And been accessories to the pain and death of millions of wrongly informed people, I hasten to add.)
His focus is completely on the science, and he does not venture into the politics or economic pressures which created this stupid state of affairs (the vitriol here is mine). While he does not discuss it directly, his book does point out the dangers of trusting science to give hard answers to questions of diet and health. As I point out in my review of Weston A.Price's "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration," science will not be able to give us solid answers to dietary questions for at least another 1,000 years, at the snail's pace and myopic style of current research, some of which is clearly discussed in this book.
I do have some quibbles with him: his statement about being about to get adequate vitamin D from exposure to sunlight is over-simplified to the point of being incorrect. He also advises people to use artificial sweeteners instead of sugars, which is extremely bad advice, given the dangers inherent in most of them. He does not mention the impact of MSG on obesity (it causes obesity - MSG is reportedly used to fatten lab animals for obesity experiments). He does not mention experiments on farm animals in the 1940s which showed that the diet which fattened mammals most quickly was one of grains and vegetable oil. He does not go into the differences in saturated fats, and how medium-chain fatty acids are handled differently in the body. He also does not mention that animal fat is a dense source of critical nutrients, and that saturated fat is crucial in triggering satiation, hence limiting appetite, cravings, and overeating.
Given all that, his work is still ironclad and irrefutable even in its narrow focus. Add in all the rest and you have a overwhelming body of evidence which is more than compelling enough to warrant a major investigation into the reasons why this information has been forcibly withheld from the public (causing untold suffering and death).
I gave it 5 stars, not because it is perfect, but because it is so powerful, so right, and so necessary.
Bottom line: everyone should read this book, period. The information here can literally save your life and that of those you love. Doctors, other medical people, dieticians, and others involved in the public sector dealing with nutrition should read this NOW, before they kill any more people through their ignorance.
As Weston A. Price once responded to a question about how to deal with the disinformation around the subject of a healthy diet; "You teach, you teach, you teach."
Get it and spread the word.
on January 10, 2012
Wow! What a fascinating book. I couldn't put it down, and have been telling everyone about it. I feel like I finally have "the answer."
I have two personal anecdotes that I'd like to tell about. First, in 2010, I hired a personal trainer and went from being a person who wasn't sedentary, but did not have a regular exercise routine, to someone who was whipped into shape three times per week, for one hour personal training sessions. I stayed at the gym after my session for another hour to do 40 minutes on the tread-climber, and then 20 minutes to cool down and stretch. At the end of three months of this, I felt great, and looked much better. However, I hadn't lost a single pound. And, at the end of month two, when my personal trainer tested my percentage of body fat, it had somehow gone up! I was furious. I decided then and there that something was wrong, but had no idea what it could be.
Then, last winter, I joined the new cocktail craze. I hosted a big cocktail party just before Christmas, and for it I went to the liquor store and bought a bottle of just about everything. At my cocktail party people drank mostly beer and wine, and so afterwards I had what amounted to a full bar left over. I proceeded to fill the long evenings of a Montana winter by mixing cocktails. I had a couple fun books, and tried a new cocktail three to four times per week. I knew I was putting on weight during that time, but didn't get on the scale to see how much. After about four months, I thought, alright, let's see what the damage is. My jaw dropped to see the number, 20 pounds higher than the last time I'd weighed myself! I had never gained so much, in such a short period of time. What the heck happened?!
I'm sure every single person, except those, perhaps, who are lean and stay lean without effort, will have episodes from their lives that were perplexing because they seemed to go against what we've all been taught, that are explained by the information in this book. I feel like now I have "the answer."
I just read it a couple days ago, but I do plan to adopt a low-carb lifestyle, once I have a plan. That's why I gave this book four stars instead of five. The, "And What to Do About It," from the title left a lot to be desired.
Another thing, like a lot of people, I've tried an "Atkins" style diet here or there, two or three times, and had results. However, I always felt guilty while I was on that plan, "Surely, this isn't good for me...bacon every day?" And, I never looked at it as a permanent change. After dropping 10 pounds for an upcoming vacation, going off the diet for the vacation, I came home to find that I'd gained it all back. After reading this book, I understand why that happened, and maybe more importantly, why the diet works, and I can go ahead with the low-carb plan without feeling guilty about the bacon.
My husband read the book, too, and was just as blown away as I was. He was about 3/4 of the way through it last Thursday afternoon when he said, "forget Monday, I want to start today!" And so we did. I lost 4.3 pounds in the first week. Today is day one of week two.
We cleared ALL the carbs out of our house. Our big dining room table, and one of our kitchen counters were full of stuff from the pantry. It kind of felt like handing out poison to all the friends and family members who took the stuff, though. Cupboards nearly bare, we came up with a menu. We're following the "new" Atkins plan, simply because it's so popular and so accessible.
Let me put this in perspective: I am an almost 33 year old woman who's put on about 50 pounds in the last 13 years. I'm a foodie, I went to pastry school in Paris, I have invested thousands in specialty baking supplies, and thousands more in baking books. To find out that I need to give up life as I've known it is HARSH. I'm going through mourning...without craving sweets, if you can believe it (at least not this first week, anyway).
Second Update: 9/20/12
Well, here I am eight months later. Over the first several weeks of eating low-carb, I continued to do research online. Somehow, I stumbled across the Paleo Diet. I checked out a couple books on the subject from the library, and after reading them, felt as if I'd found more of "The Answer." My husband and I have adopted this diet, and have both been very successful with it. I am now down 30 pounds, and my husband is down the 20 pounds he needed to lose. I have about 20 more pounds to lose, and my goal is to do so by the end of the year, making 2012 "The Year Of Becoming The New Me." We'll never go back to our old ways, and couldn't be happier with our new lifestyle.
on June 16, 2011
When I was younger, I was able to control my weight by counting calories and running long distances. I'm no longer able to exercise as much, and had given up on controlling my weight. Then I read Taubes's NYT article, "Is Sugar Toxic?" I stopped eating sugar that day, but had questions about other carbs. Those questions were answered by this book. As I read it, I adjusted my diet to be consistent with it. I've now lost 25 pounds in less than two months and am wearing clothes I haven't fit in in years. It's not a diet; it's a revolutionary way of thinking about food. And it worked without added exercise, without calorie counting, and without hunger.
Update, August 12, 2011: I'm now four months in and have lost 43 pounds. My stomach looks like it did when I was in high school, 30 years ago. I've had a physical, and the one lipids number that was previously bad (triglycerides) is now well within the normal range, while cholesterol levels remain in the normal range.
In addition, I have many friends who are eating in accordance with the guidelines in this book and have lost a lot of weight. I recommend it to anyone who wants to lose weight and doesn't already have a plan that works for them, or to anyone who is interested in nutrition in general.
on May 19, 2012
I found this book to be very enlightening. I've struggled with my weight all of my life with kind of hit and miss success. As I got older it became impossible to hold the line and slipped into an extra 25-30 pounds. Add a knee replacement to that and I'm feeling all of my 60 years plus a few extra. I know about nutrition. I have a masters degree in public health nutrition and actually worked in some of the national nutrition education programs that this book talks about. I am utterly horrified at the shabby research that I took as gospel and that I, personally, spread their doctrine wide and far. In fact I was so horrified that I did not believe this book could be correct, so looked long and hard for informed, educated rebuttals. And I found several rebuttals but none of them questioned or refuted that the research at the basis, of the increased exercise, low fat, high carb diet that is recommended by the government, was intentionally flawed to the point that it is virtually meaningless. Frankly it is so flawed that it is just a lie. Not only that, but a great many follow up studies show the same bias--the researchers were out to prove one thing and refused to look at other interpretations of their data, or they just left out data that did not fit what they wanted to show. Face it, you can show that cell phones cause obesity if all you look at is weight gain and cell phone use! You HAVE to look at the other events happening in people's lives and not just consider the one you want to prove. Another common rebuttal is to look at research that does not actually follow this eating plan yet claims their research proves that it is wrong. The basic theme of the rebuttals I found was that they thought this book was oversimplified, or they just "felt" it was wrong, or "how could so many be wrong" or the one I liked the best, "we just don't have all the answers" as if we haven't been pretending we had all the answers for 40 years with the low fat, high carb diet! Somehow if the government, the American heart Association, etc took the same stand--as if they are not all connected-- it had to be right. Yet I could find no researched based complaints regarding this book. In fact I found a researcher who sits on the board of the American Hearth Association who had to agree that research did show that the high carb diets did cause problems.
So I decided to follow this general diet plan myself. After 9 months I've dropped 30 pounds (and, darn it all, seem unable to drop the last 5--somethings in life just don't change.) I've lost the constant craving I had for sweets (I used to wonder when I'd 'grow up' and stop eating every sweet thing in sight--seems to have happened, finally). I feel great and life is good. No I don't eat brownies etc but I really don't miss them. I can go to an event that has tables full of sweet, carbohydrate loaded snacks and just not even want them--no will power involved. I had a physical with blood work and my results were better than they've been forever. I told my doctor about my dietary changes and asked her what she thought about it. She looked at my lab results and said, "keep doing what you are doing because this is working very, very well for you." And my blood work is pretty much exactly what you would expect after reading this book--nothing special about it, just the same results researchers always report with this diet pattern.
I suggested this book to my book club. They all found it very readable and well worth the discussion. If you have struggled with your weight, or your cholesterol/blood lipid profiles I suspect you that you might find this book well worth reading. Personally I'm enjoying not pounding my head against the same low fat/low carb/constant hunger/seesawing weight life style. I much prefer the stability this way of eating offers.
on May 10, 2012
Now I know why I have gotten so fat in the past 15 years: I ate low fat everything, ate plenty of "healthy whole grains" (whole wheat breads, brown rice, oatmeal & oat bran, whole grain pasta, etc.), tried to follow all the nutritional "wisdom" but I just kept getting fatter. So now I know why. Gary Taubes did the research and shows very clearly the error of the conventional dietary information foisted on us for the past 30 plus years. I am now in anger mode - I will no longer jeopardize my health by believing that it is my fault. I am not a glutton; I am not a sloth; I am an ordinary human being who has listened long enough to lies. I started even before reading "Why we get fat and what to do about it" to eliminate all wheat, grains, sugar and high carb. fruits and vegetables. I eat real food: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, nuts, green vegetables, berries, cream, butter, olive oil, coconut oil and I am regaining my well-being (no more IBS, no belly fat, no insomnia, no brain fog, no skin eruptions, no joint pain). Thank you to Gary Taubes for spending so many years of his life to dig for the truth and write this book so ordinaary folks struggling with obesity, diabetes, arthritis, intestinal distress, etc. can change their lives. This book should be required reading for all dieticians, doctors, gastroenterologists and parents. The companion book should also be required reading: "Wheat Belly: lose the wheat, lose the weight" by Dr. William Davis. I highly recommend these two books for all who want to say goodbye to obesity and diabetes and live a life of health and well-being.
on May 21, 2012
I bought this book on the recommendation of a friend.
I started following Mr. Taubes' suggestions last August 2011.
I just had my annual checkup (May 2012). The results are astounding.
My total cholesterol is down 30% from last year. And I am no longer pre-diabetic.
Not counting calories. Just not eating grains, white starchy vegetables or processed carbs.
Blood pressure and resting heart rate are down too. Lost 30 pounds since August.
Energy is up. I am swimming 2 miles now. Not bad for a guy still shaped more like a barge than like Olympian Phelps.
But making progress.
Thanks Mr. Taubes.
on March 18, 2011
I bought this book and I now understand why my blood sugar was so out of control. The book explains what causes insulin resistance which was never clear to me.
I have been able to dramatically reduce my diabetic medication by reducing carbohydrates. The effect is immediate. Nothing else was working, and before this I was in the process of increasing my insulin and still was unable to get my blood sugar under control.
I followed the abbreviated diet recommendations in the appendix, and lost 30 lbs in the first month. Now I have lost a total of 75 lbs, with about 10 to go to get to my ideal weight for my height.
More should be done to promote this book, it is a real miracle for those who have ever struggled with weight. I can verify that if you cut out the carbs suggested, you will loose weight; A lot at first then as you get closer to your ideal weight it will slow but continue.
I used to be a type 2 diabetic, but within a few weeks of starting this, I had to get off of all my medication to prevent my blood sugar from getting too low.
This scientist has done his research, and I recommend doctors and nutritionists learn from this book and stop teaching people to eat low fat and 'calories in and calories out'.
I really did no exercise during this whole time, just ate no carbs. I now have tremendous energy, and have had many complements from people asking how I did it. Of course I recommend this book.
on December 28, 2011
There are lots of responses about Asians and carbs so I thought I'd share my experiences from living in Japan.
Yes, they eat rice BUT....
There is a BALANCE of foods in the average packaged lunchbox.
A serving of rice is measured, not a free for all ~ it is nutritionally CALCULATED.
They don't eat bread, cereals, pancakes, sweets, candy, ice cream etc as part of meals. Snacking is not common. Cars don't have coffee holders, people never walk and eat (except at festivals). Soft drinks are a treat and they don't seem as sweet there. Cold UNSWEETENED green tea is very very popular and is in every vending machine.
The average breakfast contains: fish, miso soup, vegetables (some steamed and some pickles), green tea, rice, maybe egg. It's very different from what we try to pass off as food. Eating nutella chocolate spread with white bread and a glass of milk for breakfast would be incredulous to an average Japanese. That's not food!
The average lunch box is (in a variety of small portions): meat, fish, vegetables (steamed and pickled), tempura veggies or shrimp, seafood, rice balls with sea weed, sausages, meat balls, fish cakes, tofu cakes, omelet, chicken nuggets etc. All groups are represented and you are expected to EAT EVERY BITE! Veggies are not garnish.
If you Google "japanese bento lunch box" images you'll see a little box full of little portions of an eye pleasing variety of foods. Pickles lower the glycemic value of the rice. There is lots of fiber from the veggies. Oily foods and eggs are represented. But again, no sugar or flour in the box at all. No cake for dessert. Bento boxes are available for pick up everywhere - you can run to the bento store and be back at your desk in 15 minutes with a balanced meal. The meals at the grocery store and even convenience store are really good (for about $5!). You aren't left desperately searching for real food on the go - it's just there for you. Food is made with care and there are so many options.
I should add, I lost 30 pounds after living in Japan for 2 years.
It also helped that there was no Tim Horton's with rows and rows of crack sugar to temp me. And cookies are individually wrapped so you'll look like a real tool unwrapping a dozen of them at a time. People eat meals instead of snacks all day. In short, they don't live on a refined carb roller coaster because they eat a balanced diet that they've been eating for thousands of years (we shouldn't just look at their diet for the brief period after WWII because that's not the real picture).
It's also a mixed bag that the working culture doesn't leave much time for watching tv and snacking.
There are so many nuances. It's hard to express them all in a book review.
Sadly, after I moved back to Canada, I gained back the weight plus 10 pounds within a year.
When I hear the Japanese diet is changing to Western style, I feel so sad. But on the other hand, it's still pretty good there!