Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It
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Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  7,446 ratings  ·  984 reviews
An eye-opening, myth-shattering examination of what makes us fat, from acclaimed science writer Gary Taubes.

In his New York Times best seller, Good Calories, Bad Calories, Taubes argued that our diet’s overemphasis on certain kinds of carbohydrates—not fats and not simply excess calories—has led directly to the obesity epidemic we face today. The result of thorough researc...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 28th 2010 by Knopf (first published 2010)
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The China Study by T. Colin CampbellWhy We Get Fat by Gary TaubesThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanIn Defense of Food by Michael PollanGood Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
A Nutrition Reading List
2nd out of 179 books — 183 voters
Why We Get Fat by Gary TaubesGood Calories, Bad Calories by Gary TaubesWheat Belly by William  DavisDr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution by Robert C. AtkinsThe Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Jeff S. Volek
Best of Low Carb Books
1st out of 71 books — 52 voters


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Community Reviews

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Betty
Reading this book completely changed the way I look at food and nutrition. I deliberately held off from writing a review until I had followed Taubes' recommended regime and food intake for some time. Having started the book almost a year ago, my husband and I began eating in a whole new way and it took nearly a month for us to "lose" our lust for carbs and get used to our new lifestyle. The weight came off slowly but steadily and more importantly, we both lost inches (I dropped three dress sizes...more
Scott
I didn’t realize this when I started it (though I probably should have), but this book is a 272-page advertisement for low-carb diets. My main criticism is that Taubes comes across as condescending. He’s so convinced himself that low-carb diets are the best that he’s unwilling, and in fact does not, consider compelling counterarguments against that contention.

The first half of the book criticizes the conventional wisdom that, in order to lose weight, people must consume fewer calories than they...more
Richard
Mar 07, 2013 Richard marked it as to-read
Recommended to Richard by: People that eat.
Gary Taubes, the author of Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, wrote a moderately lengthy article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine on April 17, 2011, with the title “Is Sugar Toxic?” The evidence seems to be accumulating steadily that the amount of sugar that the average American consumes is profoundly unhealthy, and the article does a very good job explaining why.

I’m not sure if that article covers the same grounds as this book, but I can very briefly recap the article:

• Increasing s...more
Lee
Yeah I know New Directions didn't put this one out, it's not the fancy German dead white male lit I tend to like, but it does an admirable job of weaving more than a century of medical literature -- some of it German -- into a convincing argument that's at times stunning (I said "wow" aloud once or twice) and even heart-breaking on a grand scale -- for example, all those low-fat foods you see in the supermarket have extra carbs to replace reduced fats, so people buy low-fat stuff thinking it has...more
Trevor
I want start this one with a disclaimer. I really know virtually nothing about human dietary requirements and anyone that takes advice from me on this subject is a fool. Also, the depth of my ignorance is such that this guy (who knows infinitely more than I probably ever will on this subject) could make me believe that a diet rich in horse droppings would make me taller. All the same, and with my general ignorance presented as a given, I have to say I found this a very interesting book and quite...more
Jessi
First Line: "In 1934, a young German pediatrician named Hilde Bruch moved to America, settled in New York City, and was 'startled,' as she later wrote, by the number of fat children she saw - 'really fat ones, not only in clinics, but on the streets and subways, and in schools.'"

Taubes takes everything that I have spent the last several years learning about weight loss, fat gain, diabetes, and eating and turns it on its head. I am not yet certain whether I am willing to buy into his arguments, b...more
David
I was attracted to this book, because it contains some interesting ideas, like "we don't get fat because we overeat--we overeat because we get fat." There may be some truth to this concept, and for me, it was the highlight of the book.

After that, though, the book goes downhill. Like a lead weight. Basically, Taubes recommends a diet very similar to the Atkins diet: meat, fat, and some green leafy vegetables. Yes, you can lose weight on this diet, but then you have to stay on it forever. Taubes i...more
Trish
This book is packed with studies and information that dispell the information we've been served up by government bodies for the past 50 years. Simply put, carbs and sugars are the cause of weight gain, not fats or calories per se. You may feel this goes against the grain - :-) - but it would be difficult to refute the arguments presented in this book. I certainly feel that the only thing I have to lose from following the guidance in this book is 20 unwanted pounds and a point or two off my blood...more
Krystal Williams
“We don’t get fat because we overeat; we overeat because we’re getting fat.”

Intrigued? If that quote peaks your curiosity, then you’ve got to read this book to understand the science behind such a controversial statement. Author Gary Taubes takes you through a thorough explanation of metabolic function with regard to fat regulation (including fat storage and fat mobilization), citing numerous published studies and clinical trials. But don’t be intimidated; you don’t have to be an expert in meta...more
John Hanson
It works for me, and it works for EVERYBODY I've seen try it. I am a 36year diabetic, and I follow many, many diabetics around the world. The science is valid, the logic is valid, but you have walls that prevent you from hearing the story. Read this with an open mind, think about his ideas, and try it if you don't believe.

Understand a few things: ancient humans followed animals. North America wasn't populated by migrating pineapple hunters! Refined grains, refined sugars, and even refined veget...more
Suzanne
Although I am inclined to agree with Taube that low-calorie diets and exercise do not lead to weightloss, based on personal experience as well as some new research, I find his argument for a primarily meat-based diet unconvincing. The primary weakness of the work is the lack of any scientific evidence to support his conclusions, but it also suffers from severe bias. He carefully presents only that data which will support his claims, and ignores reams of contradictory data.
He claims that pre-hist...more
Douglas Wilson
This is a book of science journalism, not a diet book, and boy, was it a lot of fun. There are some mind-benders in here, but once you see the reasoning, and the data, it becomes a mind-bender to try to think the other way. His adversary throughout is the simplistic "calories in/calories out" view of weight gain. Weight gain is actually function of how your body's hormones (particularly insulin) partition what you eat, not how much you eat. Here is an example of one mind bender, just as a teaser...more
Leigh
Gary Taubes is either a fraud or an idiot. He gets almost none of the science right.

If you are looking for someone to tell you that you aren't fat because you eat too many calories, this is the book for you.

If you are looking for some real evidence based research, and not cherry picked studies to support a whack-a-doodle 'sell a lot of books to people who think there's a magical answer to weight loss' theory, then pass on this one.
Abigail
We’ve been duped. All of us. Well-intentioned people have told us that if we just eat fewer calories than we burn, we’ll lose weight. In fact, I know people who’ve used that technique successfully. But this book explains the science behind why counting calories is pointless, and reducing carbohydrates is the only way to lose weight. (If you’re smart about counting calories, you probably reduce sugar first, which is why it seems to work to reduce calories.) If you’re willing to take my word for i...more
Eva
Notes from Kindle:

“More than in any other illness,” as Bruch said about obesity, “the physician is called upon only to do a special trick, to make the patient do something—stop eating—after it has already been proved that he cannot do it.”

as Voltaire pointed out in his Dictionnaire philosophique, common sense isn’t all that common,

Can it be possible that the obesity epidemic is caused by prosperity, so the richer we get, the fatter we get, and that obesity associates with poverty, so the poorer...more
Karen
This was much better than Taubes' first book (Good Calories, Bad Calories). Both had good information but this one was written in a much more reader-friendly fashion. If you've ever wondered why following the conventional wisdom of low-fat, low calorie eating, based on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, doesn't give you significant, long-lasting weight loss, this book will set you straight. Taubes is a science writer and has pulled together all of the nutritional studies done over the last hun...more
Ann
Oh Lord. The Omnivores Dilema and now this....

Interesting, but as with all "diet" books to be taken with a grain of salt. Ultimately this just tells us that Atkins is not all that bad and to eat less starch.
David J. Andrews
In broadest terms, Taubes supplies the science behind the Atkins Diet. He provides the historical context for how and why the American medical community got so confused about how we get fat. It explains in painful detail how, results to the contrary, doctors and government officials, each reinforcing their wrongheaded advice have become entrenched in what can only be called diet myth. This book does provide ample evidence for why American's are suffering (and dying) from a growing epidemic of di...more
Natalie
If you have struggled unsuccessfully for years to lose weight, you HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK. It is literally the best piece of writing I have ever read pertaining to weight loss. I think everyone should read it, whether you need to lose weight or not, because everyone needs to understand how the body works, and everyone needs to understand how many lies we've been told the last 60+ years.

It answered every question I've ever had about weight loss, including:

- Why do I eat healthier and exercise mor...more
Kerry Kelley
There are almost NO books I would list as a must-read by everyone. This is a rare exception.

Taubes writes very accessible scientific non-fiction. Here he explores the question so many others have/are/and will continue to: Why the western diet is slowly killing most of us.

He shows by walking through the scientific evidence - broken down so any lay person can understand it - how the conventional wisdom about nutrition, what is good for you, and what is bad for you, is almost all fundamentally wron...more
Margie
An argument in favor of low-carb diets. I'm giving it two stars because I wanted to punch the author. A hint to all aspiring authors out there: if you find yourself writing, "As I said previously," 10 or more times in the first six chapters, you might be repeating yourself too much.

Taubes cites many studies, though notably almost none of them are recent. He explains why, but really makes it sound as though all current researchers into obesity and nutrition are a) idiots and b) highly invested in...more
Jonathan
I heard the author on NPR one day, and he caught my attention when he said that exercise, while an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, was basically useless for losing weight. (There are lots of studies that show that exercise increases one's caloric needs.) Taubes is an award-winning science writer from Harvard and he makes a compelling case for cutting out (or cutting back on) carbohydrates and sugar as the only realistic way to lose weight. I just finished the book and I'm going to try to...more
Kasia
I call bullshit. Yes, insulin regulates fat metabolism, the rest of what he preaches is crap. In short, Taubes supports the Atkins diet, and we know how Atkins ended up. You eat his way, you will lose weight, just as you would on heroin or chemotherapy. Saturated fat is not the answer to the obesity epidemic, no matter how much this delusional bacon eater would like to believe it.
Nathan
This is one great book, and I'd recommend pretty much everyone read it. Especially if you struggle with your weight, or heart disease or diabetes run in your family, as they do in mine. My mom recommended this book to me after she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, despite the fact that she's very fit and active, not even slightly overweight, and has eaten 'right' all of her life. The basic theme of the book is everything you've been taught about the right way to eat and manage your weight is w...more
Andrea
hmm...having read his more detailed review of the history of the current USA obsession with dietary fat vs dietary refined carbohydrates and found this historically fascinating, I found in this shorter version definite bias (that I suspected existed in the longer version) in his presentation of the physiology of a possible causative link between consumption of refined carbohydrates and fat metabolism. Yes - the physiology of gycaemic spikes -> hyperinsulinaemia -> abberations in fat metabo...more
John
Taubes frames his question in a most helpful manner: what does science tell us about how we get fat? He breaks his book into two sections, the first designed to call into question the popular health doctrine that to get thinner we need to balance the calories we put in to our bodies versus the calories we expend. Essentially, Taubes argues this is an overly simplistic and essentially unhelpful way of looking at the problem. Instead, he argues that we should pay attention to the kinds of calories...more
Liz Danforth
First, not a diet book. A science journalist writing about the diet industry and, perhaps, the big fat lie we've been swallowing for the past fifty years. Some flawed arguments (straw man arguments are notable) but he is looking at the *science* of biochemistry for a change, and not psychology of food/eating and incomplete studies founded on assumptions that have time and again not been borne out yet we're so sure they *should* be, the blame is laid on the subjects ("sloth and gluttony"; the die...more
Jennie Tichich
Paradigm shifter for sure. I found myself so confused while reading this- cognitive dissonance, as the author Taubes calls it.
Wow! Years of inconclusive medical studies on the true impact of high-fat diets yet we adopted the low-fat, high-carbohydrate as a dictum of healthy behavior!
You have to believe that the science of metabolism is more complicated than: Calories/in = Calories/out. Taubes does an excellent job of demonstrating how fatting, or Adiposity 101, really works. Constantly high ins...more
Kyle Nicholas
This book should be required reading for EVERY medical professional from day one. At the very least, it would help med students before they deal with patients who are overweight and suffering obesity-related health issues, who are also low-income (no matter where in the world they live,) to understand why people may be fat. It's not that the obese are eating chocolate bars by the gross and then sitting back defending our "lifestyle choices" when we're told to lose weight, eat less and get up and...more
Lorin Kleinman
It’s no secret that America has an obesity problem. And we know what we need to do about it: eat less and exercise more. Consume less fat. Rely less on animal products. If we can all just control ourselves and eat a low-fat, plant-based diet and get some exercise, everyone will be fine. Right?

That’s certainly the prevalent doctrine, dispensed by more or less everyone except for the authors of a trickle of low-carb diet books. (Confession: until recently, I considered Atkins and co to be utterly...more
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This IS why we get fat. 4 73 Jan 26, 2013 06:05PM  
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Gary Taubes 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), titled The Diet Delusion (2008) in the UK and Australia. His book Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It was released in December 2010. In December 2010 Taubes launched a blog at GaryTaubes.com to promote the...more
More about Gary Taubes...
Good Calories, Bad Calories Bad Science: The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion Nobel Dreams: Power, Deceit, and the Ultimate Experiment Why We Get Fat: And What to Do about It Dec-28-2010 Hardcover The Body You Want From A to Z - Real World Strategies To Get The Body You Want in the Time You Actually Have

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“We don't get fat because we overeat; we overeat because we're getting fat” 5 likes
“The simple answer as to why we get fat is that carbohydrates make us so; protein and fat do not” 4 likes
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