What Makes Us Fat and Why Nobody Seems to Care
Wonder why counting calories and increasing exercise hasn’t brought you to your target weight? Wonder why all your creative ways to try and make fat-free, sugar-free fake foods taste good haven’t gotten you anywhere (not long-term anyway)? If you’re not yet convinced that weight control is all about the carbs, I hope this post will help you get there.
This talk by Gary Taubes, called What Makes Us Fat and Why Nobody Cares, is almost two hours long. If you’re not able to watch the whole thing, I’ve included some excerpts below from the DVD review in the recent Wise Traditions journal and also some of my own notes taken while listening to the talk. (Note: I had to download this player to watch it.)
- We’re drowning in obese and diabetic patients.
- Current hypothesis of causation: Obesity is caused from excess calorie consumption or inadequate physical activity, i.e. gluttony and sloth.
- What makes us overeat? Too many people believe obesity is explained by over-eating. This is as illuminating as saying alcoholism is caused by too much drinking.
- However, studies show that under certain circumstances animals can eat unlimited quantities of food and not gain weight. Under other circumstances, they can eat almost nothing and get fat. Something controls fat accumulation independent of how much is eaten or how much exercise is done. That something is insulin.
- Insulin production is triggered by carbohydrate intake, not fat. Counting calories doesn’t work because all calories are not created equal.
- It takes more energy to convert fat to fat than it takes to convert carbs to fat, and our bodies will naturally do what takes less energy.
- Sedentary behavior can be caused by too many carbs forming fat tissue.
- Quote from a Berkeley nutritionist in 1967: “Positive caloric imbalance may be the result rather than the cause of the (obese) condition. It seems desirable in the treatment of obesity to direct efforts toward an increased utilization of fat. This effort can be made by restricting the intake of carbohydrates and increasing the ingestion of fat.”
- Quote from David Kipnis in 1971: “Insulin levels in obese women are determined by the carbohydrate content in the diet, not total calories.”
- Fat is mobilized when insulin secretion diminishes.
- If all this was not disputed in the 1960’s, what happened between then and now? How did traditional, saturated fats become the villain instead of carbs? You’ll have to watch the video for that (and read the links below), because this is getting too long!
- Last point, which I found very interesting… in the question and answer session at the end, he said this: “It is conceivable that sugar is the primary problem and that the starches would not be that much of a problem if we didn’t eat sugar.” (And my own assumption tells me that traditional foods like potatoes and real sourdough breads would be even less of a problem.)
SO WHY DON’T I STICK WITH IT?
If I know that low carb diets are the best way to lose weight, why don’t I stick with it so that my nagging 10# stays off? Who knows. Probably because a low-carb lifestyle is much easier in the summer when we have access to so many fresh foods, and in the off season, it’s just an old habit to serve carbs at meal time. (Even Gary Taubes said that their two year old loves carbs, probably because kids need to gain weight as they grow…?) Nothing worth doing is going to be simple all the time. However, the more I learn (and watch talks like today’s), the better I get. I hope that this post will help you, over time, to get closer and closer to your goals, too!
What do YOU think about all this? Is it the first you’ve heard that ‘it’s all about the carbs and insulin’? Or have you believed it for a while now?
- Dieting With No Carb or LOW CARB Foods – my own experience with lowering carbohydrates along with a list of great low carb food options
- 3 more low carb posts: Low Carb Carnival w/ food ideas to keep you motivated, good info at this post in the comments about foods with carbs that you may not know about, and more low-carb ramblings with my personal goals. (Which I haven’t met yet!)
- DOES FAT MAKE YOU FAT? Part 2 – how dietary fat affects weight loss.
- DOES FAT MAKE YOU FAT? Part 1 – saturated fat, cholesterol, and heart disease issues.