I am sitting at my desk staring at my copy of Gary Taubes’ book Why We Get Fat. I recently finished this follow up to his book Good Calories, Bad Calories and once again it left me vexed, frustrated and with more passion to educate than ever.
Technically speaking, there is nothing different in this book than Good Calories Bad Calories (see my review of Good Calories, Bad Calories). I would actually refer to it as the simplified version of the previous book, with a lot of the research removed and the arguments condensed to be less dense and more understandable to the average reader.
The problem is, by doing so, he’s written just another diet book. Another book that harkens back to Atkins and the other “cut out all but the barest trace of carbs from your diet” books. Another diet book that presents a plan that may work but is hardly livable. Another diet book that says I have the absolute answer and serves to just add one more source of confusion to the average American’s quest to get healthy.
My frustration is based in the fact that he’s on to something. He’s core ideas are right:
Sugary and refined carbs are responsible for increasing obesity and malnutrition.
We eat too much processed food.
Food quality matters
But he then he goes off track, shifting to the extreme position. He presents data that, on the surface makes sense but if you look closely you’ll find the flaws in the argument. For example, he presents data against exercise, how it doesn’t help you lose weight. He discusses the inability of dedicated runners to maintain a healthy weight. He says if someone is running miles a day, and can’t lose weight, than what’s the point? Yet he doesn’t account for what these runners are eating. I always say you can’t out train a bad diet. Of course running won’t help you lose weight if your recovery meal is a muffin and Frappuccino.
Further, he talks about the Women’s Health Study. Women were asked to follow the standard low fat heart healthy diet yet didn’t appear to be any healthier or lighter for it. What about exercise? Of course you can eat a heart healthy diet and gain fat. You can eat too much of anything. To maintain lean mass you’ve got to strength train.
My mission, my passion for a livable approach to health and fitness, just solidifies every time I read about extremes. I know, there are some who might call my lifestyle extreme. But it’s a lifestyle that has evolved over time. You can just as easily let a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle evolve over time. We get fat because instead of making a conscious choice to live healthy and fit, we let the food industry, sedentary jobs and the needs of others take over. We get fat because we don’t demand better of the food industry, assuming they have our best interests at heart and believing their overinflated health claims. What I am passionate about is educating people so they can make conscious choices about how they live their lives. Those choices may lead to small changes each day or perhaps to a true extreme makeover.
Since I reviewed the first book has anyone else picked it up? Have you read Why We Get Fat? How do these books make you feel? Vexed? Frustrated? Passionate?