Why We Get Fat

Last year I interviewed Gary Taubes at the ASBP conference in Seattle. The subject is “Why we get fat, and what to do about it” – the title of his brand new book.

I am a big fan of Taubes although I don’t agree with everything he says. For example Taubes’ argument (repeated recently on the dr Oz show) that exercise plays absolutely no role in weight loss.

As anybody who has seen The Biggest Loser knows, that is not quite true.

Even more reasonable amounts of exercise burns glycogen and improves tolerance to carbohydrates, making it easier to keep insulin levels low. That is a nice bonus for losing weight, even if exercise mostly has other positive effects.

While I love the genius of Taubes I think his take on exercise and weight loss is slightly too extreme. It is also massively unstrategic, as it antagonizes fitness oriented people for no good reason.

More

The blog of Gary Taubes

Why We Get Fat on Amazon.com

PS: This year the ASBP conference is in Baltimore. I will be there April 8-10 and report on this blog.

12 Comments

  1. Simon C
    "weight loss is not only slightly too extreme" Otydlig mening, antar att du menar "är inte lite för extrem"

    Och "exercise" stavas inte med z.

    Ska bli spännande att följa bloggen.

  2. Simon,
    Thanks!
  3. Nice to see you make that statement about exercise Doc. As I wrote in my review that point was pretty much the only thing I felt you had too much of a soft stance on.
    How I see it, exercise is important, diet is critical!
    By the way, even though you want perhaps call yourself a paleo follower, have you consider joining in on the Paleo Physicians Network? (http://paleophysiciansnetwork.com/).
  4. dufva
    "As anybody who has seen The Biggest Loser knows, that is not quite true"

    Well, it depends,

    If you just do average amount of excercise as most people going to the gym does.

    It has little or no impact on your long term weight management.

    As long as we have unlimited access to food its really a game of numbers.

    If you move around more you just eat more..

    On the other side there seems to be a threshold when it really matters, but the excercice will have to be very hard and frequent, in fact at a level most average people wont be able to reach.

  5. Look forward to seeing you in Baltimore, Andreas!
  6. Jimmy,
    Definitely! Maybe I get to do a short interview with you again? I'll bring my new HD-video toy. :)
  7. YOU KNOW IT, man! I've got some new electronic toys to try out with you too. :)
  8. Funderaren
    If you exercise so much time that there isnt enough time left to eat, you will of course lose weight. But the only time that happend to me was in the army. In the normal world you always make time to eat what you train.

    And The Biggest loser isnt the normal world either.

  9. Dana
    If you just do exercise, though, and don't change your diet, you stand a pretty good chance of losing lean mass, both bone and muscle. I wouldn't be surprised if that happened to the Biggest Loser participants, actually. Also, you'll wind up hungry all the time if you're eating low-fat and working yourself out that hard. I know that if I do more strenuous housework I want to eat more, adhering to LCHF or not.
  10. John Cuellaire
    I don't believe that exercise plays a major part in weight loss, if you are eating low carb high-fat foods.

    This is my reasoning.

    You don't see adult wild animals that are obese. (Except obviously the animals that live at or near the poles.) Their fat isn't excess, it's a necessity Nor do you see them exercising for its own sake. They don't do this, because it risks injury, and in the wild, serious injury is a death sentence. Far better to reserve these risks for chasing down prey, or escaping a predator.

    I doubt very much that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were any different. They were 'wild' in a sense, and they wouldn't have taken unnecessary risks with their physical well-being. Their daily, mandatory activities catered for their exercise needs quite well, and they ate natural food. (bread doesn't grow on a tree; it has to be processed. That means up to about 15,000 years ago, there was no bread. (Oh bliss!), That's why I don't run unless I have to. I walk three times a week in grassy, hilly surroundings (I live near a fantastic parkland) and I indulge in gardening and woodworking on a regular basis.

    Only recently, I discovered these truths. Until a few months ago I was obese, and 84lbs overweight. I have a way to go, but already I am losing weight. My blood sugar seems to have levelled out, and the niggling problem with my vision is getting better. I don't need any more convincing.

    I shan't be an absolute 'couch-potato', but neither will I be a slave to the treadmill, the cycling machine, or the rowing machine.
    Regards

    A born-again-huntergatherer!

  11. John
    What's wrong with antagonising the fitness freaks. They should take note of the way animals behave. Regardless of what they eat, adult animals don't expend any more energy than they have to. Doing so leaves them open to injury, and there is no ER in the Jungle or on the Veldt. Because they eat natural foods (to them) they don't put on weight. Neither would we if we ate our natural foods, instead of loading ourselves with starch and sugar, just because they taste good! I do find that some woodworking, and a brisk walk three times a week helps me to lose this excess weight, but I don't think extra exercise is necessary to maintain a healthy weight, if we eat the right foods. There you go; I repeated myself!
  12. Drachula
    Exercise has its own benefits! We don't have to run away from anyone these days, nor chase down our prey. Also we are living about 60 years longer! So, I run because I enjoy it and I feel better for it. And you get fewer aches and pains if your muscles work better. It might be beneficial for cholesterol and blood pressure too, but that's a side-effect!

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