Taubes on Why We Get Fat

I just read a great interview with Gary Taubes in Reader’s Digest (unfortunately only available in the magazine) about his new book Why We Get Fat–and What to Do About It. Taubes is the author of the awesome book Good Calories, Bad Calories. In the interview, Taubes proclaims:

  • The obesity experts are wrong. Can I get an amen? He says that these experts have an obsessive focus on the “gluttony and sloth hypothesis.” In other words, the dreaded application of thermodynamics (calories in calories out) to weight loss, which never addresses WHY we over eat.
  • Diets don’t work. Taubes points out that the obesity experts say, in the same breath, that gluttony and sloth are responsible for weight gain, but diets don’t work. That’s why the medical community considers anti-obesity drugs and bariatric surgery as reasonable solutions to obesity.
  • It’s impossible to count calories. Enough said. During the time in which I lost 87 pounds, I never counted a calorie or ate off a small plate (a perennial favorite suggestion of the experts; I can pile a lot of easily digestible carbs onto a small plate!). In the book, he breaks down why it is impossible, including the point that accurately counting a million calories a year (the average consumption) is impossible.
  • High fat is better for your heart. Read his detailed description for this mind-blowing paradigm shift. I eat a relatively high-fat diet, and I have the best cholesterol readings that my doctor has ever seen (her words, not mine).
  • If you have a weight problem, it’s not your fault. Again, can I get an amen? “The past 40-50 years, obesity research has basically been an attempt to explain why obese people just don’t have the moral rectitude of lean people, without actually saying that. It’s inexcusable, but it’s still the conventional wisdom.” My moral makeup has not changed now that I am leaner. Just sayin’.

So, what does Taubes suggest? Simple. Boost consumption of animal proteins, animal fats, other healthy fats, and vegetable carbohydrates; ditch grains and starches. You can see how I do this by reading: https://mylifelivedwithfat.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/what-i-eat-to-feel-good-and-lose-weight/

By the way, in the same issue of the magazine that presents this innovative information, we get this horrible advice about how to deal with cravings:


So, Taubes is a sane voice in a sea of really bad information.

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7 Comments on “Taubes on Why We Get Fat”

  1. Grace says:

    Taubes is great! However, I think that like you say, he can be a little too gung ho at times. He sometimes incriminates carbs the way that most people incriminate fats. Like you say, the key is eating in BALANCE. I recently started reading Marion Nestle’s book What to Eat. I like her a lot in general and I think she has a good logical head when it comes to nutrition. However, she too goes in an unexpected direction and talks about the negativity of saturated fats and approves of eating nonfat dairy and such. I wonder why with all of her knowledge and the research she sees on a daily basis she still feels that way? Wonder if you have any insight into her views…..

    • I know. Nestle is so dead on with some things, but the saturated fats and non fat views really puzzle me. I hear her interviewed, and she brings it up all the time. It is like I always tell the NWW ladies…Everyone is getting it half right.

      I just started watching that show “Ruby” about the 400 pound woman who is losing weight. She has this team of experts that are giving her some really bad advice, that is usually half right. There is still this very pervasive view that you have to suffer in order to lose weight, by that I mean you need to starve!

      Thanks as always for reading and listening! Nell

  2. patijo says:


    Does he or NW&W say what a person with a thyroid problem (hypo) should do? Thanks, p

  3. runsuerun says:

    I just picked up this book by Taubes. One thing I don’t understand is why we can’t recognize that quality and QUANTITY matter. I guess I only have my own experience to go by. When I decided to lose weight, I did a fair amount of research and decided to count calories. I devised my own program to create 7000 calorie deficit per week for 2 lb weight loss per week. I did, in fact, lose, on average, 2 lbs a week. But I also found that the quality of food that I ate affected my health, appearance, and how much water weight (inflammation) I carried. Now I eat very healthy food, little sugar or starch based carbohydrates, and I don’t shy away from healthy fats. However, if I overeat these foods, I still store fat and my weight and body fat goes up.

    I am curious to read this book, I just hope that Taubes doesn’t t completely throw out energy imbalance principal.

    There is certainly more to improving health than cutting calories, and we should broaden our perspective of causes of obesity, so thanks for mentioning Taubes.

    • I love your comment. I think if I tried to lose weight solely using Taubes suggestions, I never would. He says that you won’t necessarily be lean if you cut the carbs, but you will be as lean as you can be. I think he is wrong. I think with the right plan, anyone can be lean. I have all the odds stacked against me and I am still losing weight. I follow the Nutritional Weight and Wellness plan for weight loss, which focuses on eating protein, carb and fat in balance. Their plan for weight loss has you measuring fat and protein pretty precisely. I have seen great results with this. So, while I don’t believe in counting calories, I think some focus on portions is important.

      Thanks for commenting. I loved your thoughtful response!

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