Jump to content
Diabetes forums
  • Welcome To Diabetes Forums!

    Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our community today to contribute and support the site.

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

xMenace

"Why We Get Fat" - Gary Taubes

Recommended Posts

xMenace

I got this last week and I'm about half way through. It is an impressive piece of work. It gives some insights into metabolism, science, and logic that I find quite illuminating. I thought it might be interesting to have a thread to discuss ideas the author presents.

 

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Overall this is a common sense book grounded in science. He doesn't so much offer study after study proving how things work, rather he applies what he considers sound scientific thinking to established science. He doesn't so much avoid the science as lean his writing to teh lay person. This book is mainly for you and me; though doctors and scientists should also feel comfortable with it.

 

One of the main themes is cause and effect. Gary asserts several times that "experts" have mis-interpreted processes, guilty of assumption. His main target is the calories-in and calories out theory. Basically the CICO concept describes what's happening, but itt does nothing to explain why. I found chapter 6 quite poignant. If you ask him why the church filled up with people Sunday morning, applying CICO he will say "because more people went in than went out." This is true, but it doesn't explain why. Yes, we are obese and we have more food going in than out, but it's a srestating of the obvious. It doesn't explain why. Whatever the cause of obesity, CICO is an effect, a symptom. It's what happens as a result. Churches fill for a reason, not because people are wandering in and can't get out; though that might be debatable. ;)

 

Another assumption he describes is the thought that glucose is our preferred food. He claims this is simply because it is used first, but that in no way means its prefrred. The real priority he says is to keep our blood sugars low. When we fill ourselves with sugar, it is imperative to reduce it to normal levels, but while doing so, fat cannot burn.

 

His description of fat as a continuous circulating nutrient was enlightening - we are constantly burning and storing fat because it is the preferred food source. It is not a mere storage unit. This is consistent with what others say, and I think it's an important point to acknowledge.

 

Interested in anyone's thoughts, good or bad, as long as you read and thought about it first.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ant hill

It's also that we are trained to eat what we see as a nice meal and throw away the instructions of what carbs to avoid. :cool:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ShottleBop

I think he's a very good, persuasive writer. But then, he had me at Good Calories, Bad Calories. I think this book more clearly explains his major themes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
xMenace

One other new concept he talks about is the linkage between energy in and energy out. He describes these as dependant variables. They are not mutually exclusive. In practical terms this means you can't change one without affecting the other. If you cut down on food, you will become less active. If you become more active, you'll need more food. There's an equillibrium that cannot be broken by affecting one side or the other. Eventually you will return to thiis equillibrium state.

 

If you accept this concept, there's no reason to expect behavioral changes to ever work.

 

Are all weight changes accompanied by a component change? They have to be according to this theory.

 

Even if you don't agree with the concepts, this book is a must read. If you can counter his arguments with science, I'd love to hear about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bill_Iowa

I googled "Why We Get Fat" and found this site:

 

Science-Based Medicine » Why We Get Fat

 

I only managed to read about 1/4 of the thread there, but it's very much like discussions on this site, but on steroids. If I came away with one thought about the topic, and it's the mantra that we say over and over here... YMMV (Your Method May Vary). YMMV applies to us diabetics and, I guess, to everyone else, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
xMenace
If I came away with one thought about the topic, and it's the mantra that we say over and over here... YMMV (Your Method May Vary). YMMV applies to us diabetics and, I guess, to everyone else, too.

 

The chapter I read this morning was all about this -- why do some stay skinny and some get fat?

 

He seems to lay it all on insulin resistance. He claims our muscles, fat, and whatever else can have different levels of insulin resistance. Skinny people have low IR in their muscles; therefore, glucose gets directed to them which get's translated into energy. Skinny people supposedly have energy to burn. Us fatties have high IR in our fat cells, so we need to produce more and more insulin to store the sugar. High BG trumps everything. It's the number one objective of our hormones, to normalize BGs. We can only burn fat when our BGs are normal and hence our insulin levels are low. YMMV logically explained, I suppose.

 

He implies IR might be due to glucose toxicity. Too much glucose is toxic to cells, so when they get enough, they shut off the inflow. But the BGs rise, so our pancreas produces even more insulin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
samorgan

Unless I misunderstood, I think one thing you said is backwards. From what I have read, insulin does two things vis-a-vis adipose (fat) tissue:

 

1) facilitates the storage of triglyceride (made from glucose) therein ("pushes it in"), and

2) suppresses its subsequent release for use as energy ("keeps it in")

 

Therefore, if one's fat cells are "insulin resistant", that means they do not "listen" and respond to insulin as they should. So at any particular insulin level, they will store less and release more than a person without adipose insulin resistance.

 

Bottom line: the result of adipose insulin resistance - or at least it being greater than muscle and/or hepatic insulin resistance if they coexist - is DECREASED weight, not increased, i.e., the infamous skinny diabetic.

 

Contrarily, if one has muscle insulin resistance but not adipose, the glucose can't get finished off by entering the muscles for use as energy but since the fat tissue is still responding to insulin, it takes it in and locks it in, i.e., the more typical overweight diabetic.

 

 

 

The chapter I read this morning was all about this -- why do some stay skinny and some get fat?

 

He seems to lay it all on insulin resistance. He claims our muscles, fat, and whatever else can have different levels of insulin resistance. Skinny people have low IR in their muscles; therefore, glucose gets directed to them which get's translated into energy. Skinny people supposedly have energy to burn. Us fatties have high IR in our fat cells, so we need to produce more and more insulin to store the sugar. High BG trumps everything. It's the number one objective of our hormones, to normalize BGs. We can only burn fat when our BGs are normal and hence our insulin levels are low. YMMV logically explained, I suppose.

 

He implies IR might be due to glucose toxicity. Too much glucose is toxic to cells, so when they get enough, they shut off the inflow. But the BGs rise, so our pancreas produces even more insulin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NickP
Did anyone see Gary on Dr Oz this morning?

 

Obvioiusly, Dr Oz is more worried about his sponsors and ratings. If you listened to his radio interview with Gary Taubes only two weeks ago, it was a much different interview and tone, and in this previous interview they agreed on a large number of issues.

 

I really think Dr Oz is a closet "low carber" who is afraid of losting his TV show, sponsorship and his Oprah following if he speaks from the heart. His resposne a few weeks ago to a question from the audience about a Paleo diet directly conflicted with many of his "opinions" from yesterday's show. Dr Oz was not consistent.

 

I was really disappointed in that Dr. Oz show, and how they tried to make Gary Taubes look bad.

 

BTW....Gary Taubes is really one of the best minds in nutrion today. I could not believe when Dr Oz said to Gary "now.....you are not a doctor" - what a bunch of egotistically BS!

 

Sorry....I couldn't resist the rant....

 

Yes, Gary Taubes books are great and should be on everyone's list of books to read!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
xMenace

Therefore, if one's fat cells are "insulin resistant", that means they do not "listen" and respond to insulin as they should. So at any particular insulin level, they will store less and release more than a person without adipose insulin resistance.

 

Bottom line: the result of adipose insulin resistance - or at least it being greater than muscle and/or hepatic insulin resistance if they coexist - is DECREASED weight, not increased, i.e., the infamous skinny diabetic.

 

Perhaps you will lose weight faster. I see many very obese people lose tremendous amounts of weight quickly while I lose very slowly. BUT, and this is a big but (love the pun), our bodies have to normalize BGs. It's our number one priority. If we have high BGs, we will keep releasing insulin until it's normalized. Higher IR means we need more to do it. Higher insulin means we will not burn fat. High IR means higher insulin levels means higher fat content in adipose tissue. I like your idea though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sdsteph

Gary Taubes wrote about his experience on Dr. Oz in his blog: The Dose of Intervention and the Land of Dr. Oz | Gary Taubes | Gary Taubes

 

I loved his book "Why We Get Fat." One of the most striking images to me was when he talked about animal studies and the obese mice that had fat cells that would literally starve all other tissues to keep getting fatter.

 

I agree that the general message is that blood sugar regulation with insulin is the key to weight gain / weight loss. In my experience of trying to lose weight using a purely 3500-calories-deficit = 1 pound fat has never ever worked for me and rarely worked for any of my friends. His whole point about how small a change in calories in vs calories out would be necessary for the average weight gain of 1-2 pounds a year (which is what happens to most people as they age) did show me how ridiculous a notion it really is.

 

While I loved the book and his ideas about low carb/high fat diets, I do think he missed one point when he talked about exercise and it not helping with weight loss. Studies have shown that exercise can help to decrease insulin resistance. My husband (a type 1) deals with this every time he starts training for his annual marathon run - his basal rates on his pump need to be changed majorly. If Taubes' whole point is that we need to lower the insulin our body needs to keep our blood sugar regular and our bodies using fats for energy... then I dont understand how he could have missed this point in that discussion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
xMenace
While I loved the book and his ideas about low carb/high fat diets, I do think he missed one point when he talked about exercise and it not helping with weight loss. Studies have shown that exercise can help to decrease insulin resistance. My husband (a type 1) deals with this every time he starts training for his annual marathon run - his basal rates on his pump need to be changed majorly. If Taubes' whole point is that we need to lower the insulin our body needs to keep our blood sugar regular and our bodies using fats for energy... then I dont understand how he could have missed this point in that discussion.

 

I too experience a basal and TDD reduction when exercising, so I naturally lean towards your conclusions. Gary bases his conclusions on scientific studies. Apparently no study shows that exercise alone works.

 

I bet I know what Gary might say: "Yes, of course. However, intense exercise is always accompanied by either an increase in food consumption or a later reduction in energy expenditure.

 

I have not experienced additional weight loss with exercise-induced insulin reduction.

 

IMHO this is one area that needs to be studied in-depth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PinkRose
I too experience a basal and TDD reduction when exercising, so I naturally lean towards your conclusions. Gary bases his conclusions on scientific studies. Apparently no study shows that exercise alone works.

 

I bet I know what Gary might say: "Yes, of course. However, intense exercise is always accompanied by either an increase in food consumption or a later reduction in energy expenditure.

 

I have not experienced additional weight loss with exercise-induced insulin reduction.

 

IMHO this is one area that needs to be studied in-depth.

 

Sounds to me like a serious oversight. I do know of countless people who have lost excess weight simply by adoptiong a new exercise regime into their lifestyle, with little change to their diets. Admittedly I don't believe any of them are diabetics. But then not every overweight person is a diabetic either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
xMenace
I do know of countless people who have lost excess weight simply by adoptiong a new exercise regime into their lifestyle, with little change to their diets.

 

I understand and share your feelings, but unfortunately they are based on anecdotal evidence. We got into this whole mess by assuming we know what happens and why without sufficient scientific proof. This needs to be studied further BEFORE we use it as a cure. So far there's no proof it works.

 

You can't know what choices people make for food. Even under rigorous conditions, errors are known to exist. People can't estimate very well and they lie about what they eat. Even caloric contentvaries greatly. Try weighing every slice of bread in a loaf sometime. I have. Dietary studies are very inexact. When people begin exrcise programs, they ALWAYS adjust their diet. It may not be a conscious effort, but the bias to get healthy impacts what they put into their mouths. Weight loss programs are almost always accompanied by a food reduction to some degree.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jan B

You can also look up The Biggest Loser, Where are they now? and find that the majority have not regained all their weight (prior 9 seasons). Most gained a bit back, some lost more, but very few (2 I think) gained it all back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sdsteph

Actually, there are plenty of studies out there that address what effect exercise has on insulin resistance. Here is a review of the current literature: Current understanding of increased insulin sensiti... [Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2011] - PubMed result

 

I am actually a scientist, so I totally understand being skeptical of ancedontal evidence. I just think he totally missed the boat on that point based on the amount of research available, especially if his biggest point is that our body's production/regulation of insulin is the single most important thing in body fat regulation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sdsteph

Again - I just wanted to reiterate that I really liked Taubes' book WWGF. The chapter on exercise seemed out of place to me in the book though; he seemed to only discuss how exercise increases one's appetite (obvious!) and therefore was counter productive to weight loss. Any one of us that has used a 20 minute walk to bring down our blood sugar is obviously acknowledging that even exercise isn't just a 'calorie burner' or weight loss tool, it can help to regulate our blood sugars. He is the one that makes the point that regulated blood sugars (so, lower insulin levels) can help tip the balance towards fat loss.

 

I do agree with his point that our culture has a mistaken notion that fat people are lazy / dont exercise. Most of the people at my neighborhood gym are overweight and are there all the time working out. I also don't think exercise alone will cut it for everybody.

 

One of the points I really like in his latest blog is that something that works for one person isn't going to work for another. Some of us are more insulin sensitive and thus probably wouldn't have to restrict carbs all that much to keep lean (which I think is why the whole grain / fruit / veggies dogma is so popular). Some unlucky others (and I believe myself to be in this category) are going to have to restrict carbs heavily (I'm even having to limit my beloved apples!) AND, I believe, try to increase insulin sensitivity through exercise. Some people (again, like myself) are even going to have to take drugs like metformin to help them decrease insulin resistance. That is all I am saying. Maybe Taubes is somewhere in the middle, needing to restrict carbs but not needing exercise to boost his sensitivity and stay lean, so he doesn't feel like the research in that field is important enough to include a mention in his book.

 

Then again, my research area is not in nutritional science... so I have never really looked and insulin sensitivity/exercise research closely like he has done with so many other areas of nutrition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Daytona

My body doesn't seem to care a lick if I exercise or not. If I fall off the wagon for a few months, it doesn't cause me to gain weight and if I am obsessive about it, it doesn't help me loose either. Of course, my experiences don't mean much, really it just confirms my belief that until more rigorous studies are done (on a variety of people, not just the non-hormone impaired) that most exercise advice comes down to ... ymmv.

 

I'm not saying that it doesn't have an effect, more that the body seems to love making adjustments to counteract most things that you do to either gain or lose weight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jan B

In my opinion, this gets more complicated than it needs to be! Exercise speeds up the metabolism, right? So if you move a lot more you should lose weight provided you don't start eating more. What seems to get lost is a persons ability to control themselves. There is no need to automatically eat more just because you exercise more. The thing that seems natural to me is this: exercise more, get excited about taking better care of your body and the prospect of losing weight, control what you eat, and wait for the pounds to start going away. I don't get why that is so complicated and why so many excuses are made as to why this won't work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Daytona
exercise more, get excited about taking better care of your body and the prospect of losing weight, control what you eat, and wait for the pounds to start going away

 

I know you mean well and that the above is true for the majority of people. At one point in my life that worked for me too. Sometimes there are legitimate health issues that can make it more difficult than normal to lose weight via traditional means. Implying that these people are lying about what they are eating or making excuses, doesn't sit well with me.

 

I was told that I was lying about my food journal for years (by multiple doctors and dietitians), the result was that I didn't loose weight and felt worthless, subhuman, unworthy of getting better. Then after being put on medicine to regulate my hormones, losing weight became easier. So the same amount of exercise, same food but very different results.

 

I guess all I'm getting at is that I agree that for most people this works but for that minority, every time they read stuff like this, it's hurtful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.