1) We have the wrong way of thinking about getting fat.
‘We have been told that we must not take in more calories than we burn, that we cannot lose weight if we don’t exercise consistently,’ he wrote. ‘That few of us are able to actually follow this advice is either our fault or the fault of the advice.’ Malcolm Gladwell The New Yorker 1998
‘Undereating isn’t a treatment or cure for obesity; it’s a way of temporarily reducing the most obvious symptom. And if undereating isn’t a treatment or a cure, this certainly suggests that overeating is not a cause.’ Bruce Bistrian
2) The model of calories in, calories out, says nothing about why we get fat. If we want to know why we get fat, we need to specifically look at what regulates fat accumulation.
“Obesity is fundamentally a disorder or excess fat accumulation…then the natural question to ask is, what regulates fat accumulation?”
“The science tells us that obesity is ultimately the result of a hormonal imbalance, not a caloric one. “
3) We can learn a lot by applying many of the same principles to growing fat as with growing tall.
“Had we been discussing disorders of growth – why some people grow to be more than seven feet tall and others never make it to four feet – the only subject of discussion would be the hormones and enzymes that regulate growth. And yet, when we’re discussing a disorder in which the defining symptom is the abnormal growth of our fat tissue, the hormones and enzymes that regulate that growth are considered irrelevant. “
(Taubes referring to his growing son) “He didn’t grow because he consumed excess calories. He consumed those excess calories—he overate – because he was growing. “
4) When it comes to getting fatter, the most important hormone we have is insulin. The easiest way to control insulin is by controlling carbohydrates.
“You secrete insulin primarily in response to the carbohydrates in your diet, and you do so primarily to keep blood sugar under control. “
“When insulin levels go up, we store fat. When they come down, we mobilize the fat and use it for fuel.”
5) Increased insulin not only drives the storage of fat, but it also drives hunger.
“Just by thinking about eating (bagels and other carbohydrate-rich foods), we secrete insulin.”
“Avoiding carbohydrates will lower your insulin level. Given time, this should reduce or eliminate the cravings.”
6) Government and health officials would like us to believe that obesity is a mental issue, a fault in our own character.
“So long as we believe that people get fat because they overeat, because they take in more calories than they expend, we’re putting the ultimate blame on a mental state, a weakness of character, and we’re leaving human biology out of the equation entirely. It’s a mistake to think this way about any disease.”
7) Obesity is more closely related to malnutrition than overnutrition. It’s not the quantity of the food we are eating, it’s the quality.
“Put simply, if we want to prevent obesity, we have to get people to eat less, but if we want to prevent undernutrition, we have to make more food available. What do we do?”
8) Fattening carbohydrates are largely a recent phenomenon that didn’t exist for most of human history.
“Just two hundred years ago, we ate less than a fifth of the sugar we eat today.”
“The essential point, as this 2000 analysis noted, is that the modern foods that today constitute more than 60 percent of all calories in the typical Western diet – including cereal grains, dairy products, beverages, vegetable oils and dressings, and sugar and candy – ‘would have contributed virtually none of the energy in the typical hunter-gatherer diet.’”
9) Lowering carbohydrates also lowers cravings. This makes a low carbohydrate lifestyle much easier to sustain.
“When you eat sugar…it triggers a response in the same part of the brain – known as the ‘reward center’ – that is targeted by cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, and other addictive substances….sugar seems to hijack the signal to an unnatural degree, just as cocaine and nicotine do.”
“When you restrict fattening carbohydrates, however, you don’t have to restrict consciously how much you eat; indeed, you shouldn’t try. You can eat all you want of protein and fat….the biggest challenge is the craving for carbohydrates…the craving for carbohydrates is more like an addiction.”
10) Low carbohydrate diets are about more than just losing body fat. But losing body fat alone will almost always improve a ton of important health markers along with it.
“The fatter we are, or at least the more obese we are, the more likely we are to get virtually every major chronic disease.”
“The argument that a diet that restricts fattening carbohydrates will be lacking in essential nutrients – including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids – does not hold up. First, the foods that you would be avoiding are the fattening ones, not leafy green vegetables and salads…Moreover, the fattening carbohydrates that are restricted – starches, refined carbohydrates, and sugars – are virtually absent essential nutrients in any case. “