Why Are You (We) Fat?

OK, so I totally just stole the title of Gary Taubes‘ book “Why are we fat and what can we do about it?” but I did so because it is the inspiration behind this post and my new eating lifestyle. Over the past 3 years and 105 lbs I have eaten a balanced diet consisting of whole grain carbs, low fat, lean protein and lots of veggies. This worked for the first 50-75 pounds but I’ve had to make some changes along the way because when you are 325 lbs, any healthy change in your diet works. But if you truly want to lose fat and get lean you have to know your body and how it works best. I’ll get into the new diet in a second but first lets discuss the question, “Why are you (we) fat? I’m sure you know this but there is a reason but it’s probably not what you think it is.

I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question,”Why am I fat?”, figured out the answer and then probably had very mean thoughts about yourself afterwards. I’m sure there was a lot of blaming parents, maybe genetics or your love for cookies, cakes and fried foods. You probably said to yourself, “Well I hate to exercise and I eat like crap” or perhaps “I don’t know cause I eat decently healthy and exercise”. This has probably led to some frustration and possibly to the conclusion that you’ll always be “fat” and there is nothing you can do about it. Well I’m here to tell you that is false on so many levels.

So who is Gary Taubes and why should we care what he thinks? Well….

Gary Taubes (born April 30, 1956) is an American science writer. He is the author of Nobel Dreams (1987), Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion (1993), and Good Calories, Bad Calories (2007), which is titled The Diet Delusion in the UK. He has won the Science in Society Award of the National Association of Science Writers three times and was awarded an MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellowship for 1996-97.

Born in Rochester, New York, Taubes studied applied physics at Harvard and aerospace engineering at Stanford (MS, 1978). After receiving a master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University in 1981, Taubes joined Discover magazine as a staff reporter in 1982. Since then he has written numerous articles for Discover, Science and other magazines. Originally focusing on physics issues, his interests have more recently turned to medicine and nutrition.

Taubes’ books have all dealt with scientific controversies. Nobel Dreams takes a critical look at the politics and experimental techniques behind the Nobel Prize-winning work of physicist Carlo Rubbia. Bad Science is a chronicle of the short-lived media frenzy surrounding the Pons-Fleischmann cold fusion experiments of 1989.

Note the second paragraph…This guy is smart and I don’t mean just kinda smart. This dude has three degrees from three of the top Universities in this country. He’s smarter than you and probably most of the people in the country. But it wasn’t his credentials that made me pay attention, it was his use of science and the human body. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to follow some new fad or some skinny persons opinion who has never dealt with weight gain. No Gary has never been obese but his diet has a lot to do with that. I won’t attempt today to explain all of Taubes’ points and the science behind his findings. Instead, I’ll quickly summarize and then provide you the links to the youtube videos that opened my eyes and changed what I believe. He’s not some blogger (like me) with an opinion or some “fitness guru” at a gym. If I were you I’d listen and pay close attention to what he has to say.

So what is all this science?

Gary’s main hypothesis is that if you are overweight, it’s not because you ate too much and didn’t exercise. Yes, these are factors on why you got fat but it’s not the reason. As you will see in the videos Gary did extensive research showing that you can become obese and still be starving. That cultures that were once thin and healthy, became obese and riddled with heart disease during famines. (How is that possible?) This very thought challenges our core beliefs. After all, we’ve been told for the last 50 years that obesity is caused by overeating and being physically inactive. I mean, how is it possible for people to gain fat while starving? (watch the videos to find out more)

Gary Taubes “Why we are fat.” Part 1

Gary Taubes “Why we are fat.” Part 2

Gary Taubes “Why we are fat.” Part 3

These videos are long and they are full of information. Just take the time, watch them and learn something.

Well one of Gary’s main points is that we’ve been lied to by the American Heart Association and doctors since the early 1960’s. That their science is just bad.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

hmmm….In the 1960’we were told that eating fat makes you fat and eating carbs is good. Is it a coincidence that in just 50 years, since the creation of the food pyramid, the obesity rate has QUADRUPLED?? I think not. As Gary explained, once society started to eat a high carb, low fat diet, obesity and heart disease reared its ugly head to the point that it’s now considered to be an epidemic.

So lets cut to the chase. If its not fat what makes us fat? EATING CARBS MAKES YOU FAT. Well, at least for certain people. This is not new science and what Gary has found isn’t some new revelation. But for some reason it still challenges us to the core. Why? CAUSE WE’VE BOUGHT IN TO THE LIES and we haven’t listened. Also, we don’t want to believe cause truthfully we like carbs and desperately want to eat them. They taste good and are delicious. But carbs (not all mind you) are toxic to those of us who struggle with weight loss. It’s like a smoker who is told, you WILL get cancer if you continue to smoke, yet they still smoke a pack a day. If you do so you are ignoring truth. Here’s a great video explaining why some people (those of us with excess fat) are in fact fat…

So, remember how you would think, “Man that person eats whatever they want, never exercises and doesn’t gain a pound. I HATE THEM.” Well now we know why. Some of us, and if you are overweight you are one of these people, are insulin resistant and do not use carbs properly. Carbs are our greatest enemy. It’s science. Protein and Fat do not make us fat. And in fact, the reason why you are so hungry while on a diet is probably because you don’t eat enough fat, which makes you feel full. That’s why people hate dieting. They don’t want to feel hungry all day.

So no, losing weight isn’t about calories in and calories out. It’s not about how much exercise you do or how little you eat. It’s about WHAT you eat. I’ve been on this diet a week and have already lost 7 lbs. I feel full all day and I never have those intense cravings. I plan a cheat meal every Friday night for one meal only but the rest of the week it’s virtually no carbs. Now go do some research on the glycemic index and you’ll find a ton of carbs that are OK to eat. I’ll have a post up next week explaining this is more detail but for now, if you haven’t done so already, go watch the videos, buy his book and stop listening to the lies we’ve been told for 50 years.

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5 thoughts on “Why Are You (We) Fat?

  1. maybe if you didn’t leave your wardrobe at the gym and your tarining log then you wouldn’t have this problem :p…as for the rest great classes this morning guys!!!-Willie

  2. I’m sorry to be Mr. Negative, but this article is a load of crap.

    If your write off of carbs as “our greatest enemy” didn’t demonstrate a complete absence of even a foundational knowledge of fat loss, then “So no losing weight isn’t about calories in and calories out. It’s not about how much exercise you do or how little you eat. It’s about WHAT you eat” sure did.

    You should be ashamed to be posting such drivel. Articles like this are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    Try doing some actual research so you can avoid making ludicrous, unfounded, flat out WRONG claims.

    • I wonder friend…Did you watch the videos I posted? Did you read his book? what research did you do? You claim this post is “Ludicrous, unfounded and flat out wrong.” OK, i have posted plenty of evidence showing im right. So please prove me wrong.

  3. It would take me pages to elucidate every issue with your post, so I will be rather brief and you can follow up at your leisure.

    Carbs are frequently consumed in excess because processing foods compresses nutrient and calorie density drastically. And yes, this IS a major factor in the obesity epidemic.

    There is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with carbohydrates, even simple sugars. A sedentary person has no need to store muscle glycogen and places no demand on the body to synthesize new protein. Insulin is potently anabolic; if there’s a demand, it will construct new muscle and store new muscle glycogen – if not, excess energy (calories) will be mediated into fat cells.

    What’s more, quite contrary to popular belief, there is no efficient pathway in the body to directly store carbohydrates in the body as fat. Excess carbs spike insulin at inappropriate times, inhibit fat oxidation, and lead to reactive hypoglycemia (more sugar cravings), but that’s in the case of those who consume a giant excess of carbohydrates relative to other macronutrients, aka carb addicts who eat 60-80% of their daily calories as carbs. Invariably, these people consume a caloric surplus. THIS is what makes them fat – you simply cannot eat a caloric deficit if you eat processed carbs ad libitum.

    By keeping carbs low, glycogen rapidly depletes within a few days. If you knew anything about exercise physiology whatsoever, you’d realize that this makes exercising at a moderate to high intensity resistance training practically impossible, leaving aerobics as the only exercise choice.

    In doing so, you make it impossible to construct new lean body mass, and in fact set up an ideal situation for proteolysis, in which your existing muscle mass will be stripped right off along side your fat. Know what this leads to? Rollercoaster weight loss and weight gain six months down the road because you’ve lost 10 pounds of your lean muscle mass.

    You say you’ve lost all of this weight? Awesome. Do you want to know why? It’s because your glycogen is gone, and because carboHYDRATES hold on to water – cut the carbs, lose the water weight. Your real fat loss is far less, and even what you have lost is because you have incidentally reduced daily calories because you’re filling up on protein and fats, which are much more satisfying.

    EVERY study ever posted on the subject indicates that long term fat loss REQUIRES adherence to exercise to prevent this phenomenon.

    In other words, CARBS are not the enemy, excess carbs, low protein, lack of exercise, and a caloric surplus are.

    When a person EXERCISES (that thing you said doesn’t matter), the body is primed to make use of insulin in a healthy way by constructing new muscle and replenishing muscle fuel. This is an IDEAL time to consume a large amount of carbohydrates and spike.

    By suggesting that people not worry about exercising or calories and avoid carbs at all times, you’re pretty much condemning anyone who listens to you to long term failure, yourself included. You’ve taken a few fractured factoids, drawn absurd conclusions from them, and given horrible advice on a public forum.

    A ketogenic diet is in line with what you’re suggesting, but has very specific criteria to be performed successfully and great care must be taken when coming off of keto. If that’s what you want to suggest people do, then fine, but know what the hell you’re talking about before you do that.

    By far the biggest offense in your article is suggesting that calories do not matter. What makes a person fat is over consumption of calories, period. This is not up for debate; suggesting otherwise is about as credible as suggesting that 2+2=5. It is INDISPUTABLY against the laws of physics and simple wrong. As an owner of a fitness blog, you should NOT have to be told this.

    • A couple questions and then Ill make a few points..

      What is your background? I know nothing about you besides these two rather disrespectful posts. I mean Ive lost 100 pounds using nothing but diet and exercise. What is your experience? To be honest, if you are some guy or gal who has always been in shape and has no history of dealing with food addiction your opinion here is not needed because obviously you have no idea what its like to be overweight.

      Id like to talk about this point you made.

      “What’s more, quite contrary to popular belief, there is no efficient pathway in the body to directly store carbohydrates in the body as fat. Excess carbs spike insulin at inappropriate times, inhibit fat oxidation, and lead to reactive hypoglycemia (more sugar cravings), but that’s in the case of those who consume a giant excess of carbohydrates relative to other macronutrients, aka carb addicts who eat 60-80% of their daily calories as carbs”

      You do know that’s a majority of overweight people, right? Show me an obese person, who doesn’t exercise and eats a balanced healthy diet….Ill wait. If you are overweight/obese you eat excess carbs. So reducing your carb intake would be a good idea, no? Combine this with exercise and BOOM. Healthy weightloss.

      “By keeping carbs low, glycogen rapidly depletes within a few days. If you knew anything about exercise physiology whatsoever, you’d realize that this makes exercising at a moderate to high intensity resistance training practically impossible, leaving aerobics as the only exercise choice.

      In doing so, you make it impossible to construct new lean body mass, and in fact set up an ideal situation for proteolysis, in which your existing muscle mass will be stripped right off along side your fat.”

      That last part is just pure lies and bad science and you know it. Lets stop using opinions and look at actual real life examples. I have gained a TON of muscle mass since going low carb and way more mass than i did eating high carb, high protein. I know a ton of people who eat paleo that have a ton of muscle mass. Talk about spreading lies. People were able to build muscle before carbs and they can build muscle now without them. And again, have you read any of my other posts or just this one? I talk repeatedly about eating low GI carbs not eating NO carb.

      You say you’ve lost all of this weight? Awesome. Do you want to know why? It’s because your glycogen is gone, and because carboHYDRATES hold on to water – cut the carbs, lose the water weight. Your real fat loss is far less, and even what you have lost is because you have incidentally reduced daily calories because you’re filling up on protein and fats, which are much more satisfying.

      EVERY study ever posted on the subject indicates that long term fat loss REQUIRES adherence to exercise to prevent this phenomenon.

      In other words, CARBS are not the enemy, excess carbs, low protein, lack of exercise, and a caloric surplus are.

      When a person EXERCISES (that thing you said doesn’t matter), the body is primed to make use of insulin in a healthy way by constructing new muscle and replenishing muscle fuel. This is an IDEAL time to consume a large amount of carbohydrates and spike.

      By suggesting that people not worry about exercising or calories and avoid carbs at all times, you’re pretty much condemning anyone who listens to you to long term failure, yourself included. You’ve taken a few fractured factoids, drawn absurd conclusions from them, and given horrible advice on a public forum.

      A ketogenic diet is in line with what you’re suggesting, but has very specific criteria to be performed successfully and great care must be taken when coming off of keto. If that’s what you want to suggest people do, then fine, but know what the hell you’re talking about before you do that.

      By far the biggest offense in your article is suggesting that calories do not matter. What makes a person fat is over consumption of calories, period. This is not up for debate; suggesting otherwise is about as credible as suggesting that 2+2=5. It is INDISPUTABLY against the laws of physics and simple wrong. As an owner of a fitness blog, you should NOT have to be told this.

      Ill try and hit all your points in one comment. I just don’t have the time to go over each taken out of context statement…

      #1. The point of the “What makes you fat?” hypothesis is this: There is a deeper issue at hand then just “I ate too much and didn’t exercise and thats why I am fat”. Yes that is partly why you are fat but that doesn’t answer the WHY. Gary Taubes believes, and so do I,(and PLEASE watch the videos i posted. PLEASE) That obesity is directly linked to carbs. He proves over and over again how when societies that at one time were healthy, began to eat or had carbs introduced into their diet, obesity and heat disease followed. HIs main point is that if eating too much and not exercising is the cause of obesity, why do you find obese people in poor/starving societies?

      #2 So this post is not a hit on exercise. I LOVE exercise. I do CrossFit. I workout 5-6 times a week. I run 10k’s. Exercise is an extremely important part of my life. THe point is tho, exercise isnt the answer to weight-loss. First, a person needs to figure why they are fat. What are the deeper, emotional, biological or psychological issues that are in play? Exercise, when done properly, is extremely important to maintaining weightloss but if that is your main focus then you are doomed for failure. After all, what happens when you can no longer exercise?

      Yes I have lost a lot of weight. And honestly it wasn’t on this extremely low carb diet. But man wish I had started it a lot sooner.

      And leave you this last question based off your comical statement…”What makes a person fat is over consumption of calories, period. This is not up for debate; suggesting otherwise is about as credible as suggesting that 2+2=5. It is INDISPUTABLY against the laws of physics and simple wrong”

      Where do you think all these excess calories came from? Certainly not from eating high protein, high veggie, low GI carbs and good fat diet.

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