Why We Get Fat?

It is amazing, in an age where nutritional advice is far from scarce, that obesity rates continue to rise. It is time to turn back the clock and isolate the cause of the obesity epidemic and unwrap the mystery behind our expanding waistlines. Many references will be made to Gary Taubes most recent publication “Why We Get Fat”. Taubes states that weight gain is not as simple as energy in = energy out, in other words eating less energy than you expend. This article sums up a few of his key points.

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When Did We Become Overweight?

We would love to believe that fast food brought with it the rise in obesity rate. It is an easy explanation, however, it is incorrect. There have been many studies documenting the rise in weight of many different societies throughout history, dating back as far as the Pima population between 1901 and 1905. The Pima are a Native American tribe in Arizona. Gary Taubes most recent publication (Why We Get Fat) referred to a study where Frank Russell (anthropologist) studied the Pima and commented on how extremely fat they were, especially the women.

Surely 100 years ago the Pima population didn’t have access to Mc Donald’s Quarter Pounder’s or Burger King Whoppers… The hypothesis that I Taubes argues in “Why We Get Fat” is that the introduction of a western diet, high in refined carbohydrates such as sugars and white flour, increased the obesity rates of this specific population. Prior to the western impact on their diet, the Pima were a hunter-gatherer society and were renowned as being athletic and healthy.

Why Do We Gain Weight from Eating Carbohydrates?

Taubes documented that prior to the Second World War, many European nutritionists and scientists studied the impact of hormones on fat retention. It is commonly known that hormones control every process in the human body, so It is a safe assumption that they also control fat tissue. This was the premise that these scientists were working under. Unfortunately the War took with it these scientists and most of their work.

The Fat Regulating Hormone, Insulin – secreted from the pancreas, Insulin essentially controls the amount of fat the human body stores (Adipose Tissue).

So why are we retaining more body fat than we should if our friend insulin is here to help us out?

  • The answer is that carbohydrates, particularly refined ones, spike insulin and cause it to store fat in the adipose tissue.
  • If we are constantly spiking insulin, you can imagine what happens.
  • This can eventually result in insulin resistance, meaning you cannot regulate your insulin levels, resulting in diabetes, hence the overwhelming percentage of diabetics today.

Along with Obesity refined carbohydrates bring with them many other evils, which are commonly grouped and refered to as western diseases.

What Can You Do?

  • This is in no way a promotional piece about Gary Taubes. You should however read his most recent publication “Why We Get Fat” because it underpins everything I have spoken about.
  • You can relent from drinking sugary drinks and heaped plates of pasta; instead have an enormous steak with a glass of red. Trust me you will forget that coca cola ever existed.
  • Don’t kid yourself and clean out your pantry, we have no self-control. Trust me I learnt this the hard way.

Jasper Boyschau

Hi, I am a 21 year old Professional Volleyball Player/Entrepreneur. I have been playing Volleyball Professionally in Europe for the past 2 years. In my free time, my friend and I began one of the top driving schools Logan has to offer: We have a premium service of the best driving lessons Wynnum can provide. My other interests include Health and Fitness as well as online marketing and economics.

8 thoughts on “Why We Get Fat?

  • September 26, 2011 at 10:11 am


    Your mistake is assuming “energy balance” in the body has anything to do with the calories listed on the box. Nobody (including Taubes) is arguing that people who gain weight don’t intake more energy than they expend. The point is that the type of macronutrient you consume has an effect on what your body does with that energy. Carbohydrates raise insulin levels, which cause your body to store energy in fat cells. Therefore, someone who eats a lot of carbs will need to eat more. You’re also assuming the variables of energy balance are independent of each other. They are not. I can’t go into it now, so I suggest you read “Good Calories, Bad Calories.”

  • September 16, 2011 at 9:44 am

    You have done your part and given the readers the best advice possible based on an obviously well researched work. It took me years to come to the same conclusion. Some people will insist on continuing the “low fat diet” myth and “reduced intake, increased activity” to little or no effect. The only truly effective approach with long term results is to control carbohydrate intake and restrict insulin secretion in doing so. The problem seems to be that it is a lifestyle change and not a “quick fix diet” option (though the results are probably quicker and also lasting). Let those that protest continue on their merry way, the results speak for themselves, and they will not have comparable fat loss.

  • September 15, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Glad you mentioned that bit about sugary drinks. This can be a silent killer for people trying to lose weight. I know people who have claimed to be eating healthy, and within their calorie restriction, only for them to later discover they were way over their budget due to fruit juice drinks. Nice article!

  • September 13, 2011 at 5:31 am

    the link purportedly to an article with the key points of gary taubes book leads to a hivehealth article submission page.

  • September 12, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    People are always going to have their opinions on the matter. I think it was a bit hasty of you to say “you fail to understand..”. I have shown a mear portion of Taubes book. If you want to go along, ignorantly as it may be, and believe that obesity is as simple as the law of thermodynamics like the rest of the conventional nutritionists we are in all sorts of trouble. You need to go and look at the facts (scientific studies of thousands of people) and realise that it DOES NOT WORK. As much sense as the Law Of Thermodynamics makes to Nature. There are other processes in the human body i.e. Hormones, that control our body fat. Read Taubes book and come up with some points which you think have ligitimate flaws and come back and argue, but dont argue by sending me to a link with no data set, or scientific studies. waste of time IMO. cheers john

  • September 12, 2011 at 8:44 am

    What you are describing is the first law of thermodynamics, which is the basis of conventional nutrition. My article is unconventional for a reason. That reason is that our health advice has gone down such a wrong path, due to misinformation and poor scientific research, that we dont even know ho we got there. In reply to your comment regarding the Law of Thermodynamics – Taubes covers this part of conventional nutrition extensively, including his explanation as to how we are losing sight of “Why we get fat?” and instead focusing on an law of nature which says absolutely nothing about why we get fat. I will leave you with a quote from Taubes latest publication.

    “The experts who say that we get fat because we overeat or we get fat as a result of overeating—the vast majority—are making the kind of mistake that would (or at least should) earn a failing grade in a high-school science class. They’re taking a law of nature (1st law of thermodynamics) that says absolutely nothing about why we get fat and a phenomenon that has to happen if we do get fat—overeating—and assuming these say all that needs to be said. This was a common error in the first half of the twentieth century. It’s become ubiquitous since. We need to look elsewhere for answers.” (Taubes G, 2011, Why we get fat.)

  • September 12, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I think it is the sedentary lifestyle which is cause of obesity. due to sedentary lifestyle we eat more than we spend, so it keeps accumulating in body and we become fat.
    Our calorie consumption should be like our bank balance, money in and money out are same or in negative side. Make your food habit same as your bank accont to remain fit.


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