Why We Get Fat: Interview With Gary Taubes

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Soon after I posted my review of Why We Get Fat And What to Do About It, I emailed Gary Taubes to ask if he had time for a written interview. Gracious as always, he agreed to answer a long list of questions. Here’s our Q & A.

Fat Head: How soon after finishing Good Calories, Bad Calories did you decide to write Why We Get Fat?

Gary Taubes: Well, even before I was finished with GCBC, I was discussing with my editor my suspicions that what the world wanted — or at least what my friends wanted — was the 200-page, intelligent person’s guide to weight loss. But I couldn’t write that one first, and I felt compelled to cover the subject at length and in detail. The result was GCBC.

About a year after the book came out, it became clear it wasn’t going to do what I had hoped, which was reach a large audience and induce the public-health types to take the ideas seriously, because they weren’t going to read a 500-page book that implied they got everything wrong. So that’s when Why We Get Fat started to come together in my head.

Fat Head: Since you’re a science wonk, did you find it easier to write for the scientific community, which was your intended audience for GCBC, or for the general public, which is the intended audience for Why We Get Fat?

Gary Taubes: I find it easier to write long than short and always have. I want to give all the details and all the supporting information, and I’ve never had the gift of synopsizing. That said, the first two-thirds of WWGF was relatively easy to write because it was based on these lectures I’d been giving, during which I’d honed a lot of the material — not unlike comedians (as you’ll understand) who hone their stand-up routines.

Fat Head: In Why We Get Fat, you managed to take some pretty complex science that you’d already presented in GCBC and make it much easier to understand. So as a writer, you must’ve been constantly asking yourself “How can I explain this to a general audience?” What was your process for simplifying the science without dumbing it down? What was the answer to “How do I make this simpler?”

Gary Taubes: Again, a lot of this came from the lectures. And indeed, in an ideal world the lectures would last 90 minutes to two hours, but when you give grand rounds at a med school, for instance, you have to limit it to 45 minutes to leave time for questions. So I was being forced to think in terms of simpler and shorter. Then I knew that I wanted this book to be small and tight and readable, and I did everything I could to make it that way. And yes, finally, as a science writer, I’m always asking myself, “How can I explain this to a general audience? How can I simplify the science to the point that it is barely noticeable?” In fact, often the best science writing has no noticeable science at all.

Fat Head: A lot of people found Good Calories, Bad Calories intimidating because it was heavy on science. In interviews, you’ve explained that you had to decide at some point if GCBC was going to be written for a lay audience or a medical-academic audience, and you chose the medical-academic audience because they’re the ones handing out the bad dietary advice. So … now that you’ve written a book that’s simple enough for the average high-schooler to understand, do you think more doctors and nutrition researchers will finally grasp what you’ve been trying to tell them?

Gary Taubes:  Short answer, yes. I think this book will be harder to ignore than GCBC, and the better it sells, the more difficult it will become to ignore.

The idea was someone would say to them, “Have you seen this book that debunks calories-in-calories-out?” And they would sigh, or roll their eyes, and say no. Or maybe someone would give them a copy of the book, and get the same response. Then they’d throw it in their briefcases, take it on an airplane, open it up in a moment of intense irritation or because they forgot to bring other airplane reading with them, and find themselves drawn in first by the anecdotes — Hilde Bruch and all the fat children of New York in 1934 — and then by some of the ways of thinking about obesity that they’d simply never considered before.

And a lot of these people are excruciatingly smart; they’ve just never had reason to question their beliefs before on why we get fat, as I hadn’t until about eight years ago. Given the opportunity to do it, I think they will be open to the ideas in the book.

Fat Head: One of the opening sections of Why We Get Fat is titled Thermodynamics For Dummies. Was that directed at me personally? Because that would hurt my feelings.

Gary Taubes: Well, I wasn’t going to mention it if you didn’t, but…

Fat Head: Wow, look at the time! I’m sure you probably have to go, so —

Gary Taubes: No, no, just kidding. It just seemed like the obvious title.

Fat Head: Okay, good. You studied physics at Harvard, earned a master’s in aerospace engineering from Stanford, and pretty much lived in a physics lab for a year while researching a book about particle physics. And yet all over the internet, I see critiques of Good Calories, Bad Calories in which the reviewers claim you failed to consider the laws of thermodynamics while writing it. Did you, in fact, forget everything you learned about physics once you became interested in nutrition science?

Gary Taubes: Well, I was thinking the same thing a couple of years ago when I was on the Larry King Show and Jillian Michaels, the trainer from The Biggest Loser, gave me a lecture on thermodynamics — her version — on national television. I remember sitting there at the time thinking, “I did study physics at a pretty good college; I think I understand this.” And I didn’t even respond to Jillian because I didn’t know what to say. I was literally speechless. Surely, one of the high points of my life to date.

Fat Head: I found those critiques rather odd, considering that Good Calories, Bad Calories includes an entire chapter titled Conservation of Energy, in which you wrote at length about the laws of thermodynamics and how nutritionists misinterpret them. How do you deal with criticisms of your books coming from people who clearly haven’t read them?

Gary Taubes: The knee-jerk response is always to assume that the people who criticized the book haven’t read it, and I try to avoid the knee-jerk response. Still, I always want to ask them, “Did you read the book?”  Because it usually seems pretty clear they didn’t. It happens all the time.

I have a chapter in the new book discussing how it is quite possible that anyone who loses weight on a diet does so because they reduce either the quantity of carbohydrates consumed or improve the quality — even on low-fat, low calorie diets this is likely to be the case, counter-intuitive as that may seem.

Then I get a review in the health section of the New York Times from a physician, and she ends the review with this pat response that humans come in wonderful variations, so some diets work for some people and other diets work for others. And I wanted to call her up and ask, “Did you read the chapter on why diets work? Do you really have information that I don’t have that makes you certain what you’re saying is true? Because it very well may not be …”

Fat Head: In addition to having a background in physics, you’re a rather tall and athletic person who played college football. Do you ever want to just haul off and smack some of these people?

Gary Taubes: I boxed, too, as an amateur. Painful, short, ugly career. That said, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have that response, but I try to let it pass. My wife is always telling me it’s counterproductive, and she’s probably right.

Fat Head: Just hypothetically, then, let’s say Jillian Michaels decides to give you another lecture on the laws of thermodynamics and the debate escalates into a physical confrontation. Who should I bet on if there’s some sideline action? You’re bigger, but she has a background in martial arts, so I think it could go either way.

Gary Taubes: Bet on Jillian. She kicks me once in my arthritic knee — old football injury, no cartilage — I go down in a heap, and that’s the end of it. Now if I were still in my 20s, I’d say take the points.

Fat Head: Why We Get Fat includes a fair amount of new information, so obviously you’re continuing to study the latest research. Have you changed any of your beliefs or conclusions since Good Calories, Bad Calories was published? If so, what?

Gary Taubes: I’m not actually studying the latest research as much as I’d like. I have two small children now, and they tend to take time away from obsessive research. I have come to realize that some of the details I discussed in GCBC were incorrect, and I’m sure I’ll learn about more as time progresses. Other than that, nothing much of significance has changed. That could either mean that the data continue to support what I say, as I believe they do, or that I’m so close-minded that I’m not paying attention to the evidence refuting my ideas.

Fat Head: Since you claim in your books and speeches that much of the conventional wisdom about nutrition and health is wrong, you of course attract rather a lot of criticism and have many detractors. Do you ever lie awake at night worrying that any of your fundamental conclusions will turn out to be wrong?

Gary Taubes: Yes. But not as often as I lie awake at night worrying about other things. Three to five in the morning, I can worry about just about anything and often do.

Fat Head: You were inspired to begin the journalistic investigation that eventually led to Good Calories, Bad Calories when a researcher told you, “If you really want to see some bad science, you should look into some of this public health stuff.” Dr. John Ioannidis, who has been on the research faculty of top-flight universities and also written extensively about flaws in research, says that as much as 90 percent of the medical research doctors rely on is flawed. Why is so there so much bad science out there? How are the bad scientists getting away with it?

Gary Taubes: Actually, there’s an old line I like from a physicist and philosopher of science named John Ziman, who said something to the effect that 90 percent of the stuff in the scientific journals is wrong and 90 percent of the stuff in the textbooks is right, and the process of science is distilling the truths from the former into the latter.

So in part it’s the nature of science in general. It’s really hard and it takes quite a while for reliable knowledge to mature. In part, as I suggest in GCBC, science was a European invention and I think there was a culture of science — of knowing how to think, how to be relentlessly skeptical and rigorous in trying to tear down one’s own hypotheses — that evolved in Europe but never crossed the Atlantic after the Second World War.

In physics this culture did make it across, because we needed the European physicists to build atom bombs and hydrogen bombs and compete with the Soviets during the cold war. Back when I used to write about physics, the physicists would say that the best thing that ever happened to American science was Hitler, because he chased all these brilliant scientists out of Europe and over to America. But they were embraced in physics. All the great physicists of the mid-20th century were European émigrés, or virtually all of them.

In medicine and public health, we wanted little to do with them and, as a result, the way post-war researchers approach science in these fields has little of the rigor necessary to get the right answer. There’s also a problem that medical researchers and public-health researchers are dealing with human beings ultimately as their subjects, and if they want to do rigorous experiments to find out, for instance, what foods will maximize or minimize our chances of living to 100, the necessary experiments are ludicrously expensive. So the people in these fields long ago rationalized why they didn’t have to do these experiments, and why they take leaps of faith instead. But good science happens to be incompatible with leaps of faith. This is why I often wonder if good science can ever be done in these fields.

Fat Head: Even though there’s some new information in Why We Get Fat, the alternative hypothesis you present is pretty much the same as in Good Calories, Bad Calories: carbohydrates drive up insulin, and elevated insulin drives fat accumulation. Your critics often point to populations who eat a high-carb diet — Asians, Kitavans, etc. — as evidence that you’re wrong, since people in those populations don’t generally become fat or diabetic.

Gary Taubes: Well, sometimes I just want to haul off and smack–

Fat Head: Careful, your wife may read this.

Gary Taubes: Oops. Sorry. As I discuss in GCBC, it’s quite likely that sugar — by which I mean a roughly 50-50 mixture of glucose and fructose — is the trigger that first sets off insulin resistance and then the vicious cycle from eating all carbs that leads to obesity, diabetes, etc. And these populations — Southeast Asians, in particular; I’m not really familiar with the Kitavan story — ate excruciatingly little sugar. This, to me, is a primary piece of evidence arguing that sugar may be the necessary trigger. That would explain why when the Asians come to the U.S., they do start succumbing to these metabolic disorders. They start eating more sugar.

Another possible explanation is that the carbs these populations consumed, until very recently, were low glycemic index carbs — not highly refined rice and wheat. There are many variables that could explain it, which is one of the reasons observational evidence like this is so potentially confusing. You have to do clinical trials — i.e., experiments. It’s the only way to get to the truth.

Fat Head: My reply to people who tell me the Kitavans live on starches and therefore I can too is that I’m not a Kitavan. Do you think heredity plays a role in how well we tolerate carbohydrates? Since most people of European extraction can easily digest milk while 90 percent of Asians are lactose intolerant, it’s clear there were different dietary adaptations in different areas of the world.

Gary Taubes: Yes. Heredity and the length of time that a population has been exposed to the carbohydrates in the diet is an important factor, and I discuss this in GCBC. It’s an idea that Peter Cleave gets a large part of the credit for.

Fat Head: Dr. Robert Lustig insists it’s fructose that makes us insulin resistant, not starchy foods. If he’s right, then it was the Coca-Cola and Captain Crunch that turned me into a fat kid, not the mashed potatoes. But as an adult, I’ve avoided sugar yet found that starches most definitely make me gain weight. So assuming for the sake of argument that Lustig is correct, would you say that once fructose has done the damage, we lose our tolerance for carbohydrates in general? If so, why?

Gary Taubes: That’s exactly the possibility I’m discussing. Once you become insulin resistant, your body responds to carbs by secreting more insulin. So it is quite possible — and laboratory work backs this up — that sugar causes the initial insulin resistance because of the effect of the fructose on the liver. So if we never had sugar, we’d be able to eat the other carbs with relative impunity. But being possible doesn’t mean it’s true. I suspect it is, but I’m not sure exactly how this can be tested.

And I agree with you: the world is full of obese and diabetic people who know enough not to eat sugar, but remain obese and diabetic. I could avoid sugar and go back to eating starches and put on 20 pounds of fat effortlessly. I’ve done it in the past — distant past. So I don’t buy the idea that avoiding sugar is enough to make an obese person lean again. And the people I know who believe that all tend to be somewhat plump despite their beliefs. In fact, I recently heard Dr. Lustig give a talk in San Francisco, and he acknowledged that he still has a weight problem, but doesn’t know what to do about it. Hmmm….

Fat Head: Have you come across any evidence that starches can turn people into fat diabetics without fructose being part of the diet?

Gary Taubes: It’s tricky. Typically consumption of sugar, white flour and starchy vegetables all tend to go hand-in-hand. So it’s hard to tease out this one. I suspect beer could, but I don’t know if even beer drinkers who don’t eat sugar tend to become diabetic or not. What we’d need is a population of white-flour eaters who didn’t eat any sugar at all. If we could find such a thing, naturally, then we’d have some idea.

Fat Head: Dr. William Davis tells his blog readers that wheat seems particularly adept at promoting weight gain. Did you come across anything in your research to support that idea? I know for me, wheat jacks up my blood sugar far beyond what the glycemic index or glycemic load charts would predict.

Gary Taubes: Again, it’s possible since most of us eat wheat as refined flour, and refined flour was historically identified as a dietary evil, linked to obesity, at least. So in a sense we’re talking about the same thing but coming at it from different directions. My problem with singling out wheat is that then you ignore sugar and the other various and sundry foods that can promote weight gain. I certainly hear from enough people telling me how their health problems went away when they gave up wheat and gluten in particular. Although they typically go on to say they also, perhaps a little later in the game, gave up sugar and other refined, easily digestible carbs as well.

Fat Head: In Why We Get Fat, you wrote that some people might have to give up dairy products and nuts to lose weight. Dr. Mike Eades has also mentioned that nuts and cheese seem to inhibit weight loss in some low-carb dieters. What is it about those foods that can stall weight loss? Is it just that they’re so calorically dense, or do they produce a higher insulin response than their low carbohydrate content would suggest?

Gary Taubes: I think the caloric density thing is nonsense. Remember, I’m trying to get every last one of us away from thinking in terms of calories as the variable of interest. What we want to know is whether these foods stimulate insulin secretion, or cause insulin resistance, or have some other effect on the storage of fat in the fat tissue or the oxidation of fatty acids by other tissues in the body. So nuts still have carbs in them, and for some people they might contain too many carbs. Same is true for nut butters.

Dairy products can stimulate insulin secretion beyond what you would expect from the carbohydrate content. I don’t know if this is true of cheese because I’ve never seen data on this, but it is possible. And some cheeses could be better than others — hard cheeses, for instance, may be better than soft cheeses.

Fat Head: You wrote something in Why We Get Fat that I think every frustrated dieter needs to hear: the proper diet will help us become as lean as we can be, but not necessarily as lean as we’d like to be. Once we become fat, is there a limit to how much fat we can lose without starving away our lean tissue? If so, what’s the barrier to mobilizing and burning those last 10 or 20 pounds of excess fat?

Gary Taubes: Simple answer, I don’t know. But it’s obvious that not every woman can have the body of an Angelina Jolie, regardless of how few carbs they eat. And not every man can have the body or the body-fat percentage of, I don’t know, a Matthew McConaughey, one of these actors who’s always taking his shirt off in movies.

That’s for starters. Some of us are wired to have more body fat than others from the get-go. Then I think when we grow up in a carb-rich environment, some degree of chronic damage is done to the way we partition fuel. Maybe our muscle tissue never quite loses its insulin resistance, or our fat tissue remains more insulin sensitive than it would be had we never seen carbs. Maybe our pancreas secretes a little too much insulin.

It’s hard to tell, but the way I describe it is this: if I grew up in a hunter-gatherer environment — and my mother did as well, because there are effects that are passed from mother to child through the uterus — I’d probably weigh around 175 pounds, even as an adult. Had I stopped eating carbs in my late teens, I might naturally weigh about 190 or 200, which was my football weight in high school. The fact that I not only kept eating carbohydrates into my forties but gorged on them during the low-fat, you-can’t-get-fat-if-a-food-doesn’t-have-fat-in-it years of the late 1980s and early 1990s means the best I can do now, even eating virtually no carbs at all, is about 220. And there’s nothing I can do to go lower, short of starving myself. Semi-starving myself doesn’t work. I tried that long ago.

Fat Head: So what’s the message for those people? Lose what you can and focus on being healthy, as opposed to obsessing with squeezing into a size-8 dress?

Gary Taubes: Precisely.

Fat Head: One of the anti-Taubes articles going around the internet claims that we don’t need insulin to store fat, and that insulin is an appetite suppressant. Can we store any significant amount of fat without insulin? If so, why do untreated type 1 diabetics waste away?

Gary Taubes: Short answer, probably not. We don’t need insulin to burn glucose for fuel, but if we don’t have insulin, we don’t store fat.

Fat Head: In Why We Get Fat, you also stated that elevated insulin in the brain suppresses appetite. Since so many obese people have high levels of circulating insulin, why aren’t their appetites suppressed? Is there a difference between the effects of insulin in the brain and insulin in the bloodstream?

Gary Taubes: That’s the key point. A few years ago I was interviewing the director of the Joslin Diabetes Center, and I asked him what the role of insulin was in obesity, and he said its role was to suppress appetite in the brain. And it does. Three researchers at the University of Washington spent 10 to 15 years trying to convince people that insulin had this role. They had injected insulin into the cerebral spinal fluid of primates and it did indeed suppress appetite.

The problem is these people succeeded so well in their crusade that the rest of the community — this guy at the Joslin among them — simply forgot about what insulin does in the body, which is to promote fat accumulation and energy storage. And it makes perfect sense that a hormone that responds to eating will work to store fuel in the body while it also works, secondarily, to tell the brain that fuel is coming in and eating can cease in a bit. That’s the kind of feedback loop you find all over homeostatic systems. But the fundamental issue is that in the body, insulin promotes fat accumulation and that’s where the problem is.

Fat Head: To lose weight, you recommend that we get most of our calories from protein and fat. Some critics of your work point out that all kinds of foods produce a high insulin response after meals, including beef. But when I read your books, it seems obvious that you’re attributing excess fat accumulation to chronically elevated insulin, not the temporary rise after meals. If meat and pasta both raise my insulin after eating, why does pasta lead to higher overall levels of insulin over time, while meat doesn’t?

Gary Taubes: The idea is that pasta is digested far more quickly, and so it leads to higher initial insulin spikes and that these — at least in theory — may in turn result in short-term insulin resistance, and maybe even long-term. Moreover, beef isn’t just protein even though chefs now like to talk about meat and fish being the “protein course” on the reality TV shows like Top Chef — which I now find myself watching habitually once the children finally go to sleep.

Even lean meat is likely to be 50 percent fat by calories, and the fat seems to be the primary determinant of insulin response in mixed meals. This was a result that Jenny Brand Miller in Australia recently published. It was her work that showed a decade ago that you can get substantial insulin secretion from eating lean beef, actually very lean beef. But in 2009 she published an analysis of mixed meals and the message was the more fat, the fewer carbohydrates, the less the insulin secretion. So, as I say over and over, for all intents and purposes carbs are driving insulin levels — the pasta — and fat and protein together, in real foods, are not.

Fat Head: Do you have a sense yet of the response to Why We Get Fat? Is this the book that will catch on with general public, or is it too soon to tell?

Gary Taubes: I think it will catch on, but it will probably take longer than I’d like. It’s doing well, but I’m fighting the “what’s he saying in WWGF that he didn’t say in GCBC” problem, just as with GCBC, media types always wanted to know what was different in that book than in my 2002 article What If It’s All Been A Big Fat Lie?  And then, of course, the low-fat diet proponents wanted to reject that article on the basis that it was just Atkins reheated, and so not interesting. Now I’m dealing with the Atkins-reheated-three-times-over problem, and it’s not easy to overcome.

The point I’ve been trying to make is that, yes, this is an old story, but it happens to be the right story. And the way our media works, an old story is an old story, period. Still, I’ve recently been hearing from researchers in the field, some pretty big-name people, who seem to be fans, and I’d never expected it. So I’m getting lecture invitations from universities that would have crucified me in 2003. This is a good sign.

Fat Head: I was mentally exhausted when I finished Fat Head, so I didn’t like it much when people would immediately ask me, “What are you going to do next?” Seems a bit like picking a boxer up off the mat and asking, “Who you got in mind for your next fight?” But since you live a long way from Tennessee and can’t just haul off and smack me, I’m going to ask anyway: Now that this book is finished, what will you be doing next?

Gary Taubes: Well, mental exhaustion seems to be a chronic condition when you never take a vacation, as I don’t, and when you have small children, as I’ve already mentioned. So that’s kind of a given. But I am getting funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at the moment to write a book about sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and I’m about halfway through the research. I hope to start writing in about a year and hand it in maybe nine months after that. We’ll see how it goes — and how the aforesaid mental exhaustion and small children affect the estimated time of delivery.

Fat Head: Thank you, Gary.  It was a long list of questions, and I really appreciate you taking the time to answer them.

For those of you who didn’t know already, Gary also started his own blog, so be sure to check it out.


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140 thoughts on “Why We Get Fat: Interview With Gary Taubes

  1. Auntie M

    I just got my Reader’s Digest, and the cover article is on Taubes. The picture is almost the same as the one you parodied, Tom, with the two eggs and bacon making a face. They have “smile” bacon, not “frown” bacon. It’s an interview that looks favorably towards the low-carb lifestyle. Yay!

    Of course, as I read the rest of the magazine, I saw they also had a section talking about different “good” brands of whole wheat pasta…

    It’s a good start, even if they’re still pushing pasta.

    Reply
  2. Lori

    Thanks for posting this interview. It inspired me to get a copy of WWGF to learn more about the science of nutrition. As much as I’ve learned over the past year from books web sites like this one, there’s so much I still don’t know.

    What strikes me about the low-carb blogs I visit is that the emphasis is on science and logic. I used to follow a diet and exercise program that worked for a while, then caused weight gain and a gaggle of health problems. Had I scrutinized it more closely, I’d have seen the leaps of logic and emphasis on motivational techniques. (I’ve applied more critical thinking to other areas of my life as well.) Yet it’s never occurred to me to go to the web site or blogs about the program and say “This is why you’re wrong” or attack the founder personally.

    I think people who troll blogs for the sole purpose of attacking ideas they don’t like are … (how to put this?) … well, let’s just say they have issues. I believe the people who promote veganism as the key to superior health are wrong, but it would never occur to me to visit all the vegan blogs and leave contentious comments.

    Reply
  3. Ricardo

    Hey Tom just wanted to know what would Gary Taubes think of Intermediate fasting as a way of improving our health and fat loss im quite sure he would agree the the benefits like lowered Insulin levels increased insulin sensitivity and Increased Growth Hormone are quite beneficial. I know fasting is involved in almost every culture and has been used as therapy for various conditions by physicians of most cultures, throughout history, from ancient to modern.

    I didn’t think to ask him about that.

    Reply
  4. Ricardo

    Tom lets talk a little about Insulin. Now Insulin is a hormone that’s sorta central to energy metabolism in the body its vital to human health and life and i think its also a fairly misunderstood hormone. Now i know Insulin is sorta tied in with fat-loss and its gets sorta tied in with the fat-loss story. Now i assume most people know that Insulin changes by how much food you eat generally from the carbohydrate and protein portions of foods and is measured in milieu units per liter. Now if your fasting and i mean like a complete 3 day fast your gonna be looking at a Insulin level of i imagine 5 and 10. But typical anythings that’s under 30 is considered the fasted state but between 30 and 70 is something after a normal decent meal and anything over 100 is something you would find in diabetics or research. Now Tom what i think most people should know about Insulin even at very low insulin between 5 to 10 you would still not get increased lipolysis if your Growth Hormone levels are low. You see Insulin and Growth Hormone actually work together to promote fat-loss so even though insulin is very very low you wouldn’t be releasing as much fat from your body fat stores as if insulin was low and growth hormone was higher which is what you find in a true fasted state. The other thing you should know is that Insulin is very or rather lipolysis is very sensitive to insulin. So while a 5 to 10 milieu of insulin is true fasting while the 30s is still in the fasted state as you climb that small climb even a 30 mileometer you can still see a very quick blunting body-fat release. So just to give you an idea while Insulin is a integral part n your physiology its not the only thing needed for fat loss it does not matter about just having low insulin our physiology and hormones and metabolism are like a spider web kinda everything is interconnected. I mean you can have Insulin really low without GH increasing your not releasing body-fat stores and im sure there are 4 or 5 other hormones the we know and probably another 10 or 20 that we don’t know of. So just remember your metabolism is incredibly complex. But the thing we do know that if one wants to lose weight there gonna half to eat little bit less and there gonna half to move a little more and while all these hormones are important getting caught in just 1 hormone being sorta of the key hormone typically blinds us to the important effects of other hormones.

    Is there a reason you posted this comment twice?

    Reply
  5. Auntie M

    I just got my Reader’s Digest, and the cover article is on Taubes. The picture is almost the same as the one you parodied, Tom, with the two eggs and bacon making a face. They have “smile” bacon, not “frown” bacon. It’s an interview that looks favorably towards the low-carb lifestyle. Yay!

    Of course, as I read the rest of the magazine, I saw they also had a section talking about different “good” brands of whole wheat pasta…

    It’s a good start, even if they’re still pushing pasta.

    Reply
  6. Lori

    Thanks for posting this interview. It inspired me to get a copy of WWGF to learn more about the science of nutrition. As much as I’ve learned over the past year from books web sites like this one, there’s so much I still don’t know.

    What strikes me about the low-carb blogs I visit is that the emphasis is on science and logic. I used to follow a diet and exercise program that worked for a while, then caused weight gain and a gaggle of health problems. Had I scrutinized it more closely, I’d have seen the leaps of logic and emphasis on motivational techniques. (I’ve applied more critical thinking to other areas of my life as well.) Yet it’s never occurred to me to go to the web site or blogs about the program and say “This is why you’re wrong” or attack the founder personally.

    I think people who troll blogs for the sole purpose of attacking ideas they don’t like are … (how to put this?) … well, let’s just say they have issues. I believe the people who promote veganism as the key to superior health are wrong, but it would never occur to me to visit all the vegan blogs and leave contentious comments.

    Reply
  7. TonyNZ

    1. Beer can have fructose in it depending on the yeast and fermentation conditions (most modern commercial beers won’t though, as the bottom fermenting yeasts commonly used metabolise it completely).

    2: “The truth is thin people probably fidget more because they have energy to burn” – I fidget constantly and can maintain my weight whilst gorging. Actually, I find it pretty impossible to gain. The only way I ever gained was 4 kg during a month drinking protein shakes, 4-500g meat a day and 6x weekly resistance at the gym for a month. 2 weeks after slowing this down I was back to original weight. (Though much stronger and feeling much better)

    3: “…there are more fat six-month-olds now than in previous generations”
    Comparison of breast milk (wikipedia) and baby formula (google)

    Breast milk: Sugars (Lactose, 7g/100mL, Oligosaccharides, 0.5g/100mL [No Sucrose]), Fats (4.2g/100mL, PUFA 14%)
    Abbott Infant Formula: Sugars (Sucrose, 4.5g/100mL, Starch 2.3g/100mL [No lactose]), Fats (3.7g/100mL, Omega-6 29%)

    Hmm? So these nitwits think they can “enhance” on what nature makes to feed babies. Keep in mind that Breast milk is the only thing in the world that is naturally destined for human consumption.

    4: “SAVOR FOODS WITH NATURAL FATS”. Aside from my feelings on ALL CAPS EMPHASIS, how on earth can this be used to say that Taubes supports franken-oils?

    Apparently in the minds of some people, if you merely point out that corn oil may promote cancer but don’t specifically make an exception for corn oil when you write “dietary fat is not the cause of heart disease or cancer,” that means you’re actually telling people corn oil is better for us than yams.

    The master of twisted logic wrote another comment accusing people who reject his twisted logic on the grounds that it’s twisted of following a guru (Taubes? Me?) instead of thinking independently. I’m assuming “thinking independently” means “accepting twisted logic as logical.” Rather than waste any more effort trying to use logic to convince someone who isn’t logical that his logic is flawed, I remembered what I promised myself in my ‘Arguing With Idiots’ post and chose to just delete it.

    Reply
  8. Debbie

    Great article! I’m one of those who absorbs the written word much better than the spoken word, so it’s wonderful to see an interview like this. I admire Jimmy Moore’s podcast show but I just have a devil of a hard time listening to podcasts. I’d rather read.

    I did get a bit bummed about that “last 20 pounds” question, and can relate so well to Galina’s comment:

    “About that last 20 lb. I think all of as who stopped at that point, may consider ourselves very lucky. It could be more. Imagine somebody with 300 extra lb to loose. How far from the reasonable weight the very obese person may stop loosing?”

    Yeah, I can relate. I started out with over *200* pounds to lose, just to get in the ballpark of normal (still nowhere near “thin”) and I find myself giving up hope of ever getting close. I lost the first 110, though even losing that much still puts me on the borderline of “morbidly obese” and have been stuck ever since (for nearly 18 months now) with still a good hundred pounds, and nothing seems to want to shake the pounds. I don’t want to be a size 2, or even a size 10. I’d just like to get out of Plus sizes and into the high end of normal sizes!

    I guess what bums me out is that when I first went low carb – after reading the Eades’s Protein Power back in 1997 – I lost a lot of weight initially, but then stopped and stalled at the same weight I am right now, and stuck there for 2 1/2 years before I finally gave up and fell face-down into the carbs again and gained it all back, of course then some.

    This time I’m hanging in for health reasons, regardless of the scale, but I have trouble accepting that a BMI of 40 may be my “optimum weight”!!!!

    Losing more than 100 pounds is a major accomplishment. If you’re stalling at the same weight again, then perhaps that’s as low as your body wants to go. Hang in there; this is about health, not reaching a magic number for weight or BMI.

    Reply
  9. Sarah

    Dude! You gotta pick up the Reader’s Digest with the eggs and bacon on it! There’s a Gary Taubes article in it! I’m freaking out happy!

    I’ll have to pick up that issue.

    Reply
  10. Ricardo

    I thought you didnt see it but ya i find Insulin is kinda the darth vader of hormones and is just a misunderstood hormone

    Reply
  11. Ricardo

    But i guarantee that if doctors were to check Growth Hormone and Testosterone levels of most of their patients it will change the life of the patient and most likely fix all their disorders since Growth Hormone and Testosterone are Anti-Aging Hormones i my self have benefited from more Testostrone and Growth Hormone from intense squatting

    Reply
  12. Ricardo

    Tom lets talk a little about Insulin. Now Insulin is a hormone that’s sorta central to energy metabolism in the body its vital to human health and life and i think its also a fairly misunderstood hormone. Now i know Insulin is sorta tied in with fat-loss and its gets sorta tied in with the fat-loss story. Now i assume most people know that Insulin changes by how much food you eat generally from the carbohydrate and protein portions of foods and is measured in milieu units per liter. Now if your fasting and i mean like a complete 3 day fast your gonna be looking at a Insulin level of i imagine 5 and 10. But typical anythings that’s under 30 is considered the fasted state but between 30 and 70 is something after a normal decent meal and anything over 100 is something you would find in diabetics or research. Now Tom what i think most people should know about Insulin even at very low insulin between 5 to 10 you would still not get increased lipolysis if your Growth Hormone levels are low. You see Insulin and Growth Hormone actually work together to promote fat-loss so even though insulin is very very low you wouldn’t be releasing as much fat from your body fat stores as if insulin was low and growth hormone was higher which is what you find in a true fasted state. The other thing you should know is that Insulin is very or rather lipolysis is very sensitive to insulin. So while a 5 to 10 milieu of insulin is true fasting while the 30s is still in the fasted state as you climb that small climb even a 30 mileometer you can still see a very quick blunting body-fat release. So just to give you an idea while Insulin is a integral part n your physiology its not the only thing needed for fat loss it does not matter about just having low insulin our physiology and hormones and metabolism are like a spider web kinda everything is interconnected. I mean you can have Insulin really low without GH increasing your not releasing body-fat stores and im sure there are 4 or 5 other hormones the we know and probably another 10 or 20 that we don’t know of. So just remember your metabolism is incredibly complex. But the thing we do know that if one wants to lose weight there gonna half to eat little bit less and there gonna half to move a little more and while all these hormones are important getting caught in just 1 hormone being sorta of the key hormone typically blinds us to the important effects of other hormones.

    Is there a reason you posted this comment twice?

    Reply
  13. TonyNZ

    1. Beer can have fructose in it depending on the yeast and fermentation conditions (most modern commercial beers won’t though, as the bottom fermenting yeasts commonly used metabolise it completely).

    2: “The truth is thin people probably fidget more because they have energy to burn” – I fidget constantly and can maintain my weight whilst gorging. Actually, I find it pretty impossible to gain. The only way I ever gained was 4 kg during a month drinking protein shakes, 4-500g meat a day and 6x weekly resistance at the gym for a month. 2 weeks after slowing this down I was back to original weight. (Though much stronger and feeling much better)

    3: “…there are more fat six-month-olds now than in previous generations”
    Comparison of breast milk (wikipedia) and baby formula (google)

    Breast milk: Sugars (Lactose, 7g/100mL, Oligosaccharides, 0.5g/100mL [No Sucrose]), Fats (4.2g/100mL, PUFA 14%)
    Abbott Infant Formula: Sugars (Sucrose, 4.5g/100mL, Starch 2.3g/100mL [No lactose]), Fats (3.7g/100mL, Omega-6 29%)

    Hmm? So these nitwits think they can “enhance” on what nature makes to feed babies. Keep in mind that Breast milk is the only thing in the world that is naturally destined for human consumption.

    4: “SAVOR FOODS WITH NATURAL FATS”. Aside from my feelings on ALL CAPS EMPHASIS, how on earth can this be used to say that Taubes supports franken-oils?

    Apparently in the minds of some people, if you merely point out that corn oil may promote cancer but don’t specifically make an exception for corn oil when you write “dietary fat is not the cause of heart disease or cancer,” that means you’re actually telling people corn oil is better for us than yams.

    The master of twisted logic wrote another comment accusing people who reject his twisted logic on the grounds that it’s twisted of following a guru (Taubes? Me?) instead of thinking independently. I’m assuming “thinking independently” means “accepting twisted logic as logical.” Rather than waste any more effort trying to use logic to convince someone who isn’t logical that his logic is flawed, I remembered what I promised myself in my ‘Arguing With Idiots’ post and chose to just delete it.

    Reply
  14. Debbie

    Great article! I’m one of those who absorbs the written word much better than the spoken word, so it’s wonderful to see an interview like this. I admire Jimmy Moore’s podcast show but I just have a devil of a hard time listening to podcasts. I’d rather read.

    I did get a bit bummed about that “last 20 pounds” question, and can relate so well to Galina’s comment:

    “About that last 20 lb. I think all of as who stopped at that point, may consider ourselves very lucky. It could be more. Imagine somebody with 300 extra lb to loose. How far from the reasonable weight the very obese person may stop loosing?”

    Yeah, I can relate. I started out with over *200* pounds to lose, just to get in the ballpark of normal (still nowhere near “thin”) and I find myself giving up hope of ever getting close. I lost the first 110, though even losing that much still puts me on the borderline of “morbidly obese” and have been stuck ever since (for nearly 18 months now) with still a good hundred pounds, and nothing seems to want to shake the pounds. I don’t want to be a size 2, or even a size 10. I’d just like to get out of Plus sizes and into the high end of normal sizes!

    I guess what bums me out is that when I first went low carb – after reading the Eades’s Protein Power back in 1997 – I lost a lot of weight initially, but then stopped and stalled at the same weight I am right now, and stuck there for 2 1/2 years before I finally gave up and fell face-down into the carbs again and gained it all back, of course then some.

    This time I’m hanging in for health reasons, regardless of the scale, but I have trouble accepting that a BMI of 40 may be my “optimum weight”!!!!

    Losing more than 100 pounds is a major accomplishment. If you’re stalling at the same weight again, then perhaps that’s as low as your body wants to go. Hang in there; this is about health, not reaching a magic number for weight or BMI.

    Reply
  15. Sarah

    Dude! You gotta pick up the Reader’s Digest with the eggs and bacon on it! There’s a Gary Taubes article in it! I’m freaking out happy!

    I’ll have to pick up that issue.

    Reply
  16. Ricardo

    I thought you didnt see it but ya i find Insulin is kinda the darth vader of hormones and is just a misunderstood hormone

    Reply
  17. Ricardo

    But i guarantee that if doctors were to check Growth Hormone and Testosterone levels of most of their patients it will change the life of the patient and most likely fix all their disorders since Growth Hormone and Testosterone are Anti-Aging Hormones i my self have benefited from more Testostrone and Growth Hormone from intense squatting

    Reply
  18. gollum

    0. What an interesting state of affairs that true scientific debate now happens in Some Guy’s blog.

    1. I do not know about the “it is the fructose that does the harm” theory. Maybe it does, maybe it does not. (The 10+-pounder newborns had mother-induced fructose poisoning?…) The liver has the capacity to store about 10 MJ of glycogen (adjusted for body mass and other factors, probably). If they are full, they are full, I would suppose the tolerance/adaption is about 50% max (if more, shouldn’t we see it with athletes or the like?). More, if you happen to pour that many carbs in, any fats in the diet will hit the insulin. Further storage in the liver is called “fatty liver”…
    Yes, it is all theorizing – we do not know without experiment – but where do carbs go when all stores are full? (I think I read on Peter’s blog about poor mice that have, congenitally, zero fat tissues. ALL of them are diabetic.)
    Certainly you may argue that maybe there is an effect that causes you to stop gluttony if your liver hits 120%. But I am not so sure it works, because with a high-carb low-protein diet you may still experience “protein hunger”.

    2. How to test it – before the advent of sugar cane and beetroot and the techniques for refining sugar, about the only sugary stuff that was available to Europeans was honey (and fruits). We could, like, retro-test it. However, fruits and honey are high in fructose, and Europeans at that time were generally starving (at least compared to now).
    Didn’t Ancel Keys remark something like “the women were fat” about Italy? Pasta and bread, but lacking data about refined sugar..

    3. I think beer is not a good idea (to drink, and to test this issue with). It is made from some wheat relative, and contains stuff similar to female hormones, has sedating effect in general. The “beer belly” is unfortunately too true. I hear they make a stronger version of it, which contains less of grains and probably hormones, it is called uisge beatha.

    4. I read the “insulin myth” that was linked to in a comment to an earlier post, but never got around commenting on it. Of course I have not reproduced the studies, but it looks convincing. (At least some) free amino acids go directly to the insulin system. Here is the catch – if you eat a pure protein meal your blood sugar would plummet with all this insulin action. To prevent that, lots of other hormone gets secreted too that makes your liver release glucose. In other words, this mechanism pumps, forcibly, glucose out of your liver, emptying the stores! This would explain why you feel so satiated from proteins (I always suspected there is another mechanism for that, but maybe it is that simple) and why protein tends to make you lean. (It may also explain why that delicious full-fat cheese is going straight to your belly, at last for the moment)

    Reply
  19. Jo

    Fab interview. As I was reading through the comments I thought to myself, Tom remember about not arguing with idiots, and then you said it yourself. LOL.

    Like Lori, I’m finding I’m applying more critical thinking in other areas of my life too, although not everyone sees it that way. I suspect that some people who are too polite to say so think I am gullible because I am getting my information from the internet. (OK with me since I have implemented my new knowledge to lose 30lbs after 20 years of failing to do so despite following the advice of my doctor and the government).

    By the way, got the DVD yesterday and watched it immediately. Really loved it. I had seen clips on Youtube but it is much better seeing it from beginning to end.

    Thank you for ordering the DVD. Yes, I’m trying to remember my rule about arguing with idiots.

    Reply
  20. gollum

    0. What an interesting state of affairs that true scientific debate now happens in Some Guy’s blog.

    1. I do not know about the “it is the fructose that does the harm” theory. Maybe it does, maybe it does not. (The 10+-pounder newborns had mother-induced fructose poisoning?…) The liver has the capacity to store about 10 MJ of glycogen (adjusted for body mass and other factors, probably). If they are full, they are full, I would suppose the tolerance/adaption is about 50% max (if more, shouldn’t we see it with athletes or the like?). More, if you happen to pour that many carbs in, any fats in the diet will hit the insulin. Further storage in the liver is called “fatty liver”…
    Yes, it is all theorizing – we do not know without experiment – but where do carbs go when all stores are full? (I think I read on Peter’s blog about poor mice that have, congenitally, zero fat tissues. ALL of them are diabetic.)
    Certainly you may argue that maybe there is an effect that causes you to stop gluttony if your liver hits 120%. But I am not so sure it works, because with a high-carb low-protein diet you may still experience “protein hunger”.

    2. How to test it – before the advent of sugar cane and beetroot and the techniques for refining sugar, about the only sugary stuff that was available to Europeans was honey (and fruits). We could, like, retro-test it. However, fruits and honey are high in fructose, and Europeans at that time were generally starving (at least compared to now).
    Didn’t Ancel Keys remark something like “the women were fat” about Italy? Pasta and bread, but lacking data about refined sugar..

    3. I think beer is not a good idea (to drink, and to test this issue with). It is made from some wheat relative, and contains stuff similar to female hormones, has sedating effect in general. The “beer belly” is unfortunately too true. I hear they make a stronger version of it, which contains less of grains and probably hormones, it is called uisge beatha.

    4. I read the “insulin myth” that was linked to in a comment to an earlier post, but never got around commenting on it. Of course I have not reproduced the studies, but it looks convincing. (At least some) free amino acids go directly to the insulin system. Here is the catch – if you eat a pure protein meal your blood sugar would plummet with all this insulin action. To prevent that, lots of other hormone gets secreted too that makes your liver release glucose. In other words, this mechanism pumps, forcibly, glucose out of your liver, emptying the stores! This would explain why you feel so satiated from proteins (I always suspected there is another mechanism for that, but maybe it is that simple) and why protein tends to make you lean. (It may also explain why that delicious full-fat cheese is going straight to your belly, at last for the moment)

    Reply
  21. Laurie

    Gary Taubes saved my life and sanity with GCBC. Now I have WWGF to give out to anybody in my circle who is yet to be convinced by my constant nagging and harping about GCBC.
    My friend, Stephanie Seneff, and you should check out her postings about health at
    http://people.csail.mit.edu/seneff/, sent me this link http://www.naturalnews.com/030976_mental_illness_Jared_Loughner.html#ixzz1B8E051Q3 “How Congress Helped Create the Very mental Illness that resulted in the Giffords Shooting.” I bring this up because I would have never made a connection about the SAD diet and low Vitamin D and mental illness BT (before Taubes) and because I met Stephanie Seneff because of your blog Tom by way of one of the comments that mentioned her writings.
    Anyway, please check out the ‘Congress’ article, I think you will find it intriguing, but also in the comments, I found this statement:
    “I wonder how many people that commit violent crimes were eating meat prior to committing a crime”
    Well, this irritated me and got me thinking. There are 225 million adults in America. It’s likely Loughner is a meat eater because there are only a paltry 5 million practicing vegetarians here ( 2%). So why blame meat eaters? Because on January 8, 2011 there were 220 million meat-eating American adults (minus 1) who were not committing acts of violent mass murder anywhere on the continent or on the extra continent (HI AK), or we surely would have heard about it. Only 5 million non-meat eating American adults weren’t being violent. I’ll hitch my wagon to the vastly greater numbers of peaceful meat-eaters thank you very much. And besides it would be a matter of a simple blood test of Loughner to confirm or refute the hypothesis that he is Vitamin D deficient. What type of test does accusation slinging commenter envision to confirm or refute the hypothesis that meat-eaters are violence prone?

    Yeah, they love that meat-causes-violence angle. I just remind them that Hitler and several high-level Nazis were vegetarians.

    Reply
  22. Tracee

    Thank You, Thank You for posting this interview! I have been fascinated by this subject, not from the weight aspect, but from the health aspect. I’ve been an avid armchair researcher ever since our son’s health issues were resolved with diet (the medical community is still ignoring the diet/autism link) so it’s nice to see someone taking on the lack of attention to the actual research. I was excited to hear Gary is working on a sugar/HFCS book. I hope he continues this path!!!! I would love to see him take on the role of food and mental health.

    That would be an interesting book.

    Reply
  23. Laurie D.

    I noticed Taubes’ new book alongside Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution on a front table at my local Borders! Since this is a place that usually features vegan cookbooks prominently throughout the store, this is quite an accomplishment. I’ve read GCBC last year and I have the new book waiting on my shelf in my queue of “to be read” books. Thanks for the interview!

    Outstanding. Like he said in the interview, if this book becomes a best-seller, it’ll be harder for the medical establishment to just ignore.

    Reply
  24. Ricardo

    Im definitely looking forward to getting Gary Taubes new book. I read all of Good Calories bad calories and every since i heard about the whole carb thing i dropped pasta rice and other or most starches from my diet just to because i care about his arguments

    Reply
  25. Laurie

    Gary Taubes saved my life and sanity with GCBC. Now I have WWGF to give out to anybody in my circle who is yet to be convinced by my constant nagging and harping about GCBC.
    My friend, Stephanie Seneff, and you should check out her postings about health at
    http://people.csail.mit.edu/seneff/, sent me this link http://www.naturalnews.com/030976_mental_illness_Jared_Loughner.html#ixzz1B8E051Q3 “How Congress Helped Create the Very mental Illness that resulted in the Giffords Shooting.” I bring this up because I would have never made a connection about the SAD diet and low Vitamin D and mental illness BT (before Taubes) and because I met Stephanie Seneff because of your blog Tom by way of one of the comments that mentioned her writings.
    Anyway, please check out the ‘Congress’ article, I think you will find it intriguing, but also in the comments, I found this statement:
    “I wonder how many people that commit violent crimes were eating meat prior to committing a crime”
    Well, this irritated me and got me thinking. There are 225 million adults in America. It’s likely Loughner is a meat eater because there are only a paltry 5 million practicing vegetarians here ( 2%). So why blame meat eaters? Because on January 8, 2011 there were 220 million meat-eating American adults (minus 1) who were not committing acts of violent mass murder anywhere on the continent or on the extra continent (HI AK), or we surely would have heard about it. Only 5 million non-meat eating American adults weren’t being violent. I’ll hitch my wagon to the vastly greater numbers of peaceful meat-eaters thank you very much. And besides it would be a matter of a simple blood test of Loughner to confirm or refute the hypothesis that he is Vitamin D deficient. What type of test does accusation slinging commenter envision to confirm or refute the hypothesis that meat-eaters are violence prone?

    Yeah, they love that meat-causes-violence angle. I just remind them that Hitler and several high-level Nazis were vegetarians.

    Reply
  26. Tracee

    Thank You, Thank You for posting this interview! I have been fascinated by this subject, not from the weight aspect, but from the health aspect. I’ve been an avid armchair researcher ever since our son’s health issues were resolved with diet (the medical community is still ignoring the diet/autism link) so it’s nice to see someone taking on the lack of attention to the actual research. I was excited to hear Gary is working on a sugar/HFCS book. I hope he continues this path!!!! I would love to see him take on the role of food and mental health.

    That would be an interesting book.

    Reply
  27. Laurie D.

    I noticed Taubes’ new book alongside Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution on a front table at my local Borders! Since this is a place that usually features vegan cookbooks prominently throughout the store, this is quite an accomplishment. I’ve read GCBC last year and I have the new book waiting on my shelf in my queue of “to be read” books. Thanks for the interview!

    Outstanding. Like he said in the interview, if this book becomes a best-seller, it’ll be harder for the medical establishment to just ignore.

    Reply
  28. Jeanne

    I bought two of the Reader’s Digest, just to take to work. Three of my co-workers are starting Weight Watchers; I want them to see what helped me lose 20 # recently.
    But I have to let go of being upset if they ignore me. It’s happened before.

    I relate. I have friends who eat low-fat, grain-based, vegetarian diets and are suffering from autoimmune diseases, but refuse to believe there’s a connection.

    Reply
  29. Ricardo

    Im definitely looking forward to getting Gary Taubes new book. I read all of Good Calories bad calories and every since i heard about the whole carb thing i dropped pasta rice and other or most starches from my diet just to because i care about his arguments

    Reply
  30. Jeanne

    I bought two of the Reader’s Digest, just to take to work. Three of my co-workers are starting Weight Watchers; I want them to see what helped me lose 20 # recently.
    But I have to let go of being upset if they ignore me. It’s happened before.

    I relate. I have friends who eat low-fat, grain-based, vegetarian diets and are suffering from autoimmune diseases, but refuse to believe there’s a connection.

    Reply
  31. Felix

    One thing I’d like to know from Gary is what he thinks about the effects of stress or lack of sleep on obesity. Since obesity is one of the diseases of civilization, and civilization usually means getting up early and working all day, I think that there may be a cause-and-effect scenario there. Basically, you get stressed out chronically about your own survival. Hence you seek comfort food to relieve the stress, which is usually something sugary or carb-rich, as this tends to lift your mood, at least short-term. Similar to dieting, which poses a different stress and thus raises the set-point and causes a more-than-regain. There’s something called the Gabriel Method that claims to work along these lines. This would be another hormonal explanation. For example, people who take cortisol (similar to stress-hormone cortisone) tend to accumulate fat and lose it once the cortisol is no longer taken. I’m sure by now that it’s a hormonal fat-accumulation thing with calories being a secondary side-effect. I’m not sure, however, that it’s insulin, at least not that alone. While insulin is a core component of the final result of obesity, the causes (and cures) could very well be varied from my point of view.

    I’m curious what Gary thinks of this.

    He wrote about cortisol in the new book. I don’t want to transcribe the whole page, but in a nutshell, he says cortisol promotes fat accumulation when insulin is elevated, but promotes fat mobilization when insulin is low … which is perhaps why stress causes some people to gain weight and others to stop eating and lose weight.

    Reply
  32. Felix

    One thing I’d like to know from Gary is what he thinks about the effects of stress or lack of sleep on obesity. Since obesity is one of the diseases of civilization, and civilization usually means getting up early and working all day, I think that there may be a cause-and-effect scenario there. Basically, you get stressed out chronically about your own survival. Hence you seek comfort food to relieve the stress, which is usually something sugary or carb-rich, as this tends to lift your mood, at least short-term. Similar to dieting, which poses a different stress and thus raises the set-point and causes a more-than-regain. There’s something called the Gabriel Method that claims to work along these lines. This would be another hormonal explanation. For example, people who take cortisol (similar to stress-hormone cortisone) tend to accumulate fat and lose it once the cortisol is no longer taken. I’m sure by now that it’s a hormonal fat-accumulation thing with calories being a secondary side-effect. I’m not sure, however, that it’s insulin, at least not that alone. While insulin is a core component of the final result of obesity, the causes (and cures) could very well be varied from my point of view.

    I’m curious what Gary thinks of this.

    He wrote about cortisol in the new book. I don’t want to transcribe the whole page, but in a nutshell, he says cortisol promotes fat accumulation when insulin is elevated, but promotes fat mobilization when insulin is low … which is perhaps why stress causes some people to gain weight and others to stop eating and lose weight.

    Reply
  33. Lori

    Felix, in some people, a cortisone shot sends their blood sugar over the moon. (My aunt, a type 2 diabetic, had a reading of over 500 from her last one.) That, as you know, requires…insulin.

    Reply
  34. Anon

    I’m reading WWGF and it’s excellent. I love GT’s writing style. My biggest complaint with the book, however, is the title! I have a number of colleagues who would benefit so much from this book that I’d love to put a copy in their hands. The trouble is, we’re not really friends enough that I can hand them a book that’s entitled “Why We Get Fat” without the risk of offending them!

    One of them is my boss! Talk about a career limiting move!

    Ha, I hadn’t thought of that.

    Reply
  35. Ricardo

    You know this kinda no way for human beings to live. All these high fat low carb diets are so complicated they always have you juggle one macro-nutrient. I think we all should eat more vegetables some fruit and healthy fats like avocados and avoid all or most of the worst stuff of westernized civilization like trans fat and to some degree saturated fats and refined carbs and other processed sugars like coke

    I eat meat, fish, eggs, nuts, vegetables, a wee bit of low-sugar fruit, and an occasional tuber. Considering that’s pretty much what humans ate for most of our time on earth, I don’t see how it’s “no way for humans to live.”

    Reply
  36. gollum

    Of course I forgot this one bit…

    Considering nuts and cheese, I have often seen that when I live off storage, i.e. mostly vegetarian (cheese/quark and peanuts, nuts, almonds) I seem to lose energy and become somewhat passive after a while. Of course this is anectdotical evidence. Could also be that when I get out more, I tend to buy meat.

    Anyway, there is a chemical called creatine, which is something like a catalysator for burning stuff better. Bodybuilders and athletes take it. It comes from fresh (not conserved) meat and fish, though our liver makes it in small amounts, also. Maybe that could explain it.

    Could be.

    Reply
  37. PHK

    My Korean colleague said in a few years since he came to US,
    he gained 20 lb just by eating American food. he said he is not the only. we conclude American food simply make people fat!

    I think Americans actually eat more carbs than Asians (if you count all the sugary snack people tend to forget (soft drinks, juices, chips, cookies, crackers, donuts, candy bars, ice cream, etc)

    Traditional Asian diets really had none of those. Sadly, now they’re catching up w/ civilized diseases as well.

    regards,

    We eat more carbs overall and a LOT more sugar.

    Reply
  38. Ricardo

    I mean these diets where they always have you juggle on macro-nutrient are all based off restriction. They always have you restrict carbs restrict fats restrict no animal in wildlife knows what calorie counting is or runs around with nutrient charts under their claws or something and don’t suffer from degenerative diseases or knows what calorie counting is but don’t suffer from obesity. What human beings need is not some prescribed-diet or complicated diet plan but a reestablishment of their own basic instincts so that we can go back to radiant health with discipline with pre-described diet plants all by just following whats right for us and avoiding the most toxic things in most western society.

    For those of who don’t tolerate carbohydrates well, restriction is the correct choice. By dumping grains and sugars from my diet, I am in fact eating more like an animal eats … I eat until I’m not hungry instead of counting calories.

    Reply
  39. Marcy

    I know you work out because you mention it on a regular basis, but are you focusing on building a lot of strength? That seems to give the most results in terms of body composition (after diet). I just noticed you and Gary both mention being at higher weights than you’d prefer.

    I have run into this more with women since they tend to be more critical of those last 5-10 lbs, but once they start a strength-oriented program, they start to see their stomach flattening.

    Health and longevity are important, but sometimes a little vanity can be very motivating.

    Yes, I do a slow-burn program. My strength has gone up quite a bit.

    Reply
  40. Ricardo

    I mean these diets where they always have you juggle on macro-nutrient are all based off restriction. They always have you restrict carbs restrict fats restrict no animal in wildlife knows what calorie counting is or runs around with nutrient charts under their claws or something and don’t suffer from degenerative diseases or knows what calorie counting is but don’t suffer from obesity. What human beings need is not some prescribed-diet or complicated diet plan but a reestablishment of their own basic instincts so that we can go back to radiant health with discipline with pre-described diet plants all by just following whats right for us and avoiding the most toxic things in most western society.

    For those of who don’t tolerate carbohydrates well, restriction is the correct choice. By dumping grains and sugars from my diet, I am in fact eating more like an animal eats … I eat until I’m not hungry instead of counting calories.

    Reply
  41. James Gegner

    Tom, great interview with Taubes! I also picked up a copy of Reader’s Digest at a local Kroger store yesterday. While the article with Taubes is a good read, and although it backs up what he discusses in Why We Get Fat about refined carbs, he doesn’t bother to mention another source of health problems for Americans: the widespread use of processed vegetable oils. Ironically, in the pages preceding the article, there’s a multi-page ad for the cholesterol drug Lipitor.

    He mentioned the possible connection between corn oil and cancer in Good Calories, Bad Calories, but since the latest book focuses on weight loss, he didn’t go into it.

    Reply
  42. James Gegner

    Tom, great interview with Taubes! I also picked up a copy of Reader’s Digest at a local Kroger store yesterday. While the article with Taubes is a good read, and although it backs up what he discusses in Why We Get Fat about refined carbs, he doesn’t bother to mention another source of health problems for Americans: the widespread use of processed vegetable oils. Ironically, in the pages preceding the article, there’s a multi-page ad for the cholesterol drug Lipitor.

    He mentioned the possible connection between corn oil and cancer in Good Calories, Bad Calories, but since the latest book focuses on weight loss, he didn’t go into it.

    Reply
  43. Elenor

    Boyo, I hope the 500+ comments on each of his first two blog entries hasn’t scared Gary Taubes right out of blogging! (It would fer shure stop me!) Granted, a lot of it was “welcome to blogging” on the first one, and then a lot was two guys bickering back and forth {eye roll}… but I hope he does something like Dr. Kurt (Harris) does — where he has approved commenters whose comments flow right in — and then, for all of me — he can just block everyone else!!

    Not as much fun as being able to comment and actually get an answer from Gary (kowtowing worshipfully in his direction), but I’d rather he spend his time writing entries and skip the playground monitoring!!

    I hope he doesn’t get scared off. At least he can be sure he’s got a big audience out there.

    Reply
  44. Elenor

    Boyo, I hope the 500+ comments on each of his first two blog entries hasn’t scared Gary Taubes right out of blogging! (It would fer shure stop me!) Granted, a lot of it was “welcome to blogging” on the first one, and then a lot was two guys bickering back and forth {eye roll}… but I hope he does something like Dr. Kurt (Harris) does — where he has approved commenters whose comments flow right in — and then, for all of me — he can just block everyone else!!

    Not as much fun as being able to comment and actually get an answer from Gary (kowtowing worshipfully in his direction), but I’d rather he spend his time writing entries and skip the playground monitoring!!

    I hope he doesn’t get scared off. At least he can be sure he’s got a big audience out there.

    Reply
  45. Carol Bardelli

    Gary Taubes accomplished writing Good Calories, Bad Calories – a monumental project involving loads of research and well thought out writing- so I doubt blogging will faze him, 500 comments per post or not.

    I sure he keeps at it.

    Reply

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