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The Thirty Day No Junk Food Challenge | Day Six: Why We Get Fat

Updated on January 7, 2012

I mentioned on day five that I'd read Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It' by Gary Taubes. It's a very interesting book that advocates low sugar and low carbohydrate diets because, according to the author and a fairly decent body of scentific data, carbohydrates and sugars kick off an insulin response that triggers the body to store energy and create fat.

The book is incredibly interesting, mostly because it puts the conventional wisdom of 'fat is caused simply by eating too much and weight can always be lost by simply cutting calories, regardless of the source' under the spotlight.

The book begins by looking at poor cultures and indeed poor tribes who were facing obesity issues long before a modern diet and sedentary living could be blamed. These tribes were usually ones who relied on starchy root vegetables for sustenance and did not have access to a plentiful supply of meat or fresh vegetables.

It also mentions studies where female rats with their ovaries removed started gaining fat even when their calorie intake was restricted. Their bodies turned what little food they did ingest into fat, leaving them largely inactive except to eat. In other words, the mice became overweight and sluggish regardless of the amount of calories they ingested.

It turns out that the current 'common sense' idea that fat people are only fat because they eat too much could actually be completely backwards. Indeed, in some cases, fat people could be eating too much because they are producing fat. Their bodies have been triggered into producing fat by a combination of genetics and carbohydrate / sugar laden food.

Exercise doesn't escape the author's spotlight either, with the author saying that although exercise is all very well and good and enjoyable, it may not actually contribute very much to weight loss at all. It takes a three mile walk to burn the same amount of calories found in a slice of bread, and the exercise itself 'works up an appetite' so people are far more likely to eat after exercise, thus taking on more calories and potentially gaining wieght.

If this all sounds ridiculous, I would recommend reading the book. The concepts explored in it are handled comprehensively and scientifically (though in a manner that makes them very accessible to the average layman,) and certainly provide plenty of food for thought, not to mention a possible way forward for people who have been struggling with their weight and wondering why conventional wisdom is not working for them.


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    • Hope Alexander profile image

      Hope Alexander 6 years ago

      But does it? Are you sure? Who says 'the body goes into rest mode, etc etc etc'. One thing I found very interesting reading the book is that lot of the current thought on weight and health isn't backed up by any science. Ideas gain traction and are treated blindly as truth. I personally don't know either way, but I do think our ideas need a deeper examination.

    • Silja Paulus profile image

      Silja Paulus 6 years ago from Bristol, United Kingdom

      Yes, exercise usually increases appetite but I have also noticed that if I go running, then I don't want anything but water for one hour after finishing my workout.

      Actually, if you want to cheat, then the best time is after exercising. Your body will still be burning fat actively and all these cheats may be used as a fuel. That's also why you shouldn't eat before going to bed: then your body goes into rest mode and the metabolism slows down, resulting in your body storing the calories.