Book review: Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It

This was a fast read that I finished in a day.  Basically, Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes presents the argument that we are getting fat due to the amount of carbohydrates that is in our diet.  This book is sort of like a synopsis of his other book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories.”  In short, Taubes argues that obesity cannot be fixed by exercise and the belief that we need to consume fewer calories than we take in is flawed.  Instead, obesity is caused by insulin and other hormones in our bodies.  Eating carbohydrates and other simple sugars causes our bodies to produce more insulin, which stimulates the storage of fatty acids in our fat cells, which means the fatty acids aren’t available to our bodies to use as energy, which then causes us to feel more hungry and eat more.

I checked out his references before reading the book.  He is not a medical doctor, but he studied physics and aerospace engineering and received a master’s degree in journalism.  While he isn’t qualified to do nutritional research himself, his background gives him enough credibility (with me, anyway) to not dismiss his review of scientific research.

He presents a lot of evidence and makes a compelling argument against eating carbs.  My problem with this book is that he supports a high in saturated fat diet (like the Atkins Diet) and he suggests that exercise can actually be detrimental to losing weight because exercising makes you more hungry.  Exercising helps your body – physically and mentally.  It not only makes your body stronger, it releases endorphins that make you feel better.  There is little long-term research showing the effects of such a diet (most of the research done on this kind of diet lasts <2 years).  It also doesn’t address the side effects and risks of such a diet (see  and for more info).

I would recommend this book so that people can learn more about the dangers of eating carbs, but personally, I would never follow a high in saturated fat, low exercise regimen.  I would suggest cutting back on carbs, exercising, cutting out sugary drinks like sodas and fruit juice, and eating a balanced diet with some protein and lots of green vegetables.


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