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on 30 December 2010
I recommend this book if, like me, you have spent time, effort and money trying to figure out how to remove your excess weight and have better all-round health.

This book is the second from Gary Taubes that I have read. The first `Good Calories, Bad Calories' (or The Diet Delusion here in the UK) is long, at nearly 600 pages, expects a knowledge and understanding of science, is occasionally repetitive and sometimes poorly edited, but makes the point about the wrong road we have been following in pursuit of weight loss and better health extremely well to my mind.

This is a shorter book and took a lot less time to read. It is clear to me that Taubes has tested and honed his arguments and has learned how to get them across better. To my mind the book flows easily. There were one or two technical sections but he led me up to these with background so by the time I got there I was able to understand the point he was making. In GCBC this was not the case and there were some sections that I didn't `get' and had to read a number of times to understand.

The book acknowledges but does not deal with the consequences to the environmental and moral questions that it raises. This is left for others to debate. Here the science behind fat metabolism is the focus of attention.

There is new information in here too. There is a description of Insulin Resistance that I found very useful in furthering my understanding. The unanswered question in the whole book for me is: Can Insulin Resistance be `cured' and if so how long does it take?

`Why We Get Fat...' is not really a diet book. Since starting the diet as prescribed here, though, I have lost 28lbs without hunger or any discomfort.

Thank you Gary for this book and for your perseverance in dealing with the establishment and with the established Diet writers who seem to me to be more interested in defending their own fiefdoms than in solving the issues of weight, diabetes, heart disease and cancer that is the natural outcome of this work. I hope that politicians and the medical establishment will read the book with an open-mind and change the message to benefit us all. Now where's the Lard...

Update August 2013:
It is now three years since I stared my low carbohydrate diet. In that time I have been able to continue to lose weight gradually. I have improved my blood markers (I cannot remember them all - but all the ones that count, LDL, HDL,Triglycerides, blood pressure,etc.) . Over the three years I have lost 65 lbs and I feel better than I have in years. My doctor wanted to put me on Statins as I am over 50 but when he saw my blood test results decided that it was unnecessary.

I am very pleased that in these three years Gary Taubes and Peter Attea have set up NuSi ([...] I very much support this idea as it seems the only way we will build a consensus and people will stop looking down their noses at me when I reach for the salt / fatty foods / cream that I love! Hopefully in a further three years the conversation will have moved on - I am sure my wife will be relieved when that is the case :-)
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on 25 August 2013
In my 65 years on this planet, I've spent a good proportion of them trying to lose weight.
I love all that's bad for you. Pies, chips, alcohol, chocolate, you name it. Denying myself the pleasures of eating what I enjoy seemed to be an integral part of any and every diet I've ever tried, (and I've tried a lot).
At a conservative estimate, I'd say I've dieted off some 25 stones over around 45 years. A stone here, two stones there, with the inevitable result that sooner rather than later, the weight-loss eating regime wouldn't last. It never did.
In december 2012, I clocked my heaviest weight ever at 17st 5lbs, (110kg). I'm 180cm, 5'11", and decided another diet beckoned. By serendipity, I came across Gary Taubes' book and gave it a read. The message seemed clear (if a little laboured in places) though it could have been conveyed in 100 pages fewer, so why not give it a try?
The eating regime (not really a diet as such) was easy to follow and I stuck to it religiously for 6 weeks (no alc'), no deviations from the rules. The results were astounding. A stone and a half 'fell off' with any minor feelings of denial of 'treats' being utterly outweighed (no pun intended)by the euphoria of the achievement.
I'm now 8 months down the line and 26kg lighter (13st 2lbs). I'm still losing, but only at the rate of 1kg/month, because I've relented of some of the stricter rules and woven some 'treats' into my eating/drinking habits. For instance, I have several G&Ts a week (5 or 6 large ones), plus a bottle of red wine. I have a bar of chocolate at the weekend 100-200g depending on what I fancy (high cocoa content), none of the sugar-free rubbish. I exercise regularly too, partly because I can, now that I'm 4st lighter, but primarily because I enjoy it. (Cycling for an hour on the Med's flat coastal roads is no hardship).
I haven't had potatoes, pies, rice, pasta, beer or bread for 8 months and realise it'll have to stay that way (except perhaps for the very occasional mega-treat). To be honest, I enjoy being fit and 4st lighter more than I miss the carb-loaded foods I've been filling myself with over 64 years.
Gary Taubes, I salute you.
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on 10 August 2011
I was tempted to buy this book following the number of positive reviews and because I wanted something which explained the science behind the weight-loss plan. I am 38, 2 small kids, 5 ft 6.5 and weighed 11 st 11 on Mon 1 Aug; this is the weight I naturally gravitate to, but I am going on hols in 2 wks with my glamorous size 8 ex-air-hostess friend so had been trying to lose weight since April, with only 1.5 lbs lost in 4 mths. I was v disheartened and had been cutting down cals to 1600 a day of "healthy" food, and doing 4 hrs of hard exercise a week, which took a major amount of effort and could not understand why the weight wasn't coming off, as I was eating better than I ever had and doing a major amount of exercise. Then the guy at the gym told me I was eating too many carbs, and so I bought this book to read up on the science, which I had previously thought was ridiculous and was a firm believer in balanced diet/lots of fruit/exercise/low fat - how wrong I was! I am now 11 5 after 10 days!!! This is amazing for me - I have never lost so much weight in such a little time and most importantly not felt hungry. The diet itself is a life-style choice, as you have to take time in the mornings to cook eggs etc where you might normally just have cereal etc, but I love the fact you can snack on cheese! It effectively shows that Atkins was right, and many people's bodies cannot metabolise the amount of carbs we eat nowadays as they are shoved into loads of processed foods (e.g. skimmed milk and yogurts!). I felt tired on days 1/2 on thsi but since then been fine - it's good as before I felt all this pressure to exercise to lose weight whereas he says that doesn't make a difference to weight loss, just fitness. I think this book is great for someone like me who needs to see the science behind something to believe it - especially such a radical departure from current thinking on weight loss - and I'm thrilled with the results to date.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 January 2011
A very easy read - clear, concise, you'll get the point first time every time.

I'm rereading it, from cover to cover as it's so good, and I want to make certain I've not missed anything.

In a nutshell, if you eat sugar, flour and other hi carb foods, you generate a lot of insulin.

Insulin is a very powerful hormone, that has the following effect...
1. Its stops you burning fat instantly, so if you eat carbs, you literally cannot lose weight.
2. Insulin is known as the hunger hormone, so you're starving and overeating.

Current Dieting advice is to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg. If you eat 4 meals plus 5 fruit, you'll be realising Insulin 9 times a day... so you'll be permanently starving and worse, unable to burn any fat... so won't lose weight at all.
Insulin triggers our overeating.

It's a constant cycle.
This advice breaks that cycle and gives you masses of research to back up it's arguments. It's a stunning piece of work, that blasts government advice for the folly that it is.

All current diets miss the key factor - the influence of hormones.
This book introduces the concept that Obesity is "malnutrition", it's caused by poor quality foods in sugar and flour not by overeating or lack of exercise.
1111 comments161 of 170 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
If you are like me, you like to read a cross-section of reviews. Positive reviews, after all, rarely say anything about the negatives of a product. The negatives about this book will often say "Oh, this is just Atkins rehashed". It isn't. This isn't a diet book; it's a book about nutritional science.

The negatives will also tell you that Taubes has been debunked; he hasn't been. One or two cite the China Study, a promotion of vegetarian / vegan diet that has been debunked as bad science. Many will tell you "there are no long term studies..." And some will tell you that this is rubbish because X diet (usually the "balanced" diet) is obviously the healthy one, so anything that contradicts that must be bunk.

This is not a diet book; it's a book about nutritional science. Despite the advances in scientific method over the last century, nutritional science is still in its infancy. There are very few long term studies of any sort of diet. Such studies need decades before they can make any justifiable conclusions. As Taubes suggests, many studies seem to focus on one particular aspect of diet, apparently without taking into account how that aspect can be affected by other factors in diet or general environment. Finally, scientists are just as prone to narrow-mindedness as anyone else, despite their supposed rationality. No-one likes finding out that everything they've learnt, believed in, and have built their professional lives around is, in fact, bunk. Einstein was ridiculed in some quarters when he proposed his theories of Relativity. It turns out he was right (mostly).

Taubes is not a scientist. He's a science journalist. That doesn't make him more or less qualified to lay down dietary law. He undoubtedly has his beliefs - they're here in this book. Is he right, is he wrong? There are many opinions about nutrition, but this is a book well worth reading. Taubes makes many interesting points in it. The main one is that, given that agriculture was invented only an evolutionary eye-blink ago, we could not have evolved eating the "balanced" diet of largely grain-based carbs that has only held sway since the 60's.

Will it change the way you eat? Perhaps. There are many positive reviews that will tell you how great people feel having changed their habits. They out-weigh the negatives. What it should do is make you THINK. Some of the more intelligent negatives point out that there are many facts inconvenient to Taubes' view that he leaves out. This is also true. But he does present a lot of information worth thinking about.

In the end, it comes down to do your own research, make up your own mind. This book offers you a lot of information; well presented, easily understandable; that is well outside of the standard, anodyne, saccharine nutritional advice that you normally are offered. Read this with an open mind, investigate, experiment, draw your own conclusions. But don't dismiss this. It IS worth your time & money.
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on 7 December 2013
This book purports to explain the reason why for some people, like myself, a combination of diet and exercise won't shift weight.
In the 1950's fat, meat, eggs were the healthy options but, subsequently, high blood cholesterol became associated with heart disease. The simple assumption was that eating fat would increase cholesterol levels and the low fat diet was more recently seen as a healthy option. High blood cholesterol is associated with laying down body fat.

Now it is suggested that carbohydrates are a more significant source of blood cholesterol so restricting starch, grains, sugar etc. will reduce levels To keep the calory intake normal, protein has to replace potatoes and bread. So Taubes is suggesting that not all calories eaten have the same effect on body weight. A sort of Atkins-light diet with a lot more eggs, meat, nuts, greens will reduce cholesterol and body fat.

Certainly works for me. A high protein diet and giving up potatoes and most bread and with no extra exercise at all, has lost me 16 pounds weight in 6 months and I never went hungry.
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on 29 May 2013
I bought this book because my adult daughter and her husband live by the advice given in this book, and in the original, more scientifically explicit book by Taubes entitled Good Calories, Bad Calories, and I've seen their lives changed by following what Taubes explains about how the body put out insulin to digest carbohydrates, and how that insulin goes on to make most of us fill up and create more fat cells. This book was written for those who don't want to get deep into the science of it all, but who nevertheless want a clear and trustworthy explanation. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is that I wanted to know even more when I had finished reading it. Maybe I need to buy the original book now.
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on 27 September 2011
Shifting paradigms (fundamental ways of thinking) seems to have become a way of life for me, at least over the last 12 months. This is basically what Gary Taubes is attempting to do. Having had stents fitted after a heart attack nearly 11 months ago I was left several months later wondering how the hell I was going to recover from feeling as though I was getting older by the day, piling on even more weight (I had gone up from about 15st 4lbs (214 pounds) to 16-2 (226 pounds)), forgetful and unable to concentrate. In the excess weight stakes I appreciate that I am relatively low, but never the less the same principles apply. The hospital had put me on 5 tablets a day and my local GP had continued repeating the tablet prescription which of course included statins (Lipitor). To cut a long story short I asked my GP if he would help me come off at least the statins. "They are for life' was his response. I had already started my own 'lay' research into the statins for I was aware of some controversy in their use. This I continued after my visit to the GP until I bought a number of books on cholesterol and saturated fats. The two seemed to go together but I eventually ended up at Gary Taubes book, and subsequently listened to the audio of this title. Being armed with his research added considerably to what I had learnt from Barry Groves and initially Malcolm Kendrick (on cholesterol). Sufficiently so that I decide to take things into my own hands, reduce the statins and embark on a low carb regime and increasing my fats (especially saturated fats). You will appreciate at this point some pretty hefty life long beliefs being thrown out the window here. I had had another visit to my GP which had ended up a bit of a battle on the good advice stakes, resulting in my totally losing confidence - but leaving me feeling rather vulnerable to say the least. Belief in a doctors advice when your life? seemed at stake?? Shifting paradigms I would suggest. His extensive research has kept me hopeful during a difficult period. More than that. I have lost 27 pounds. I have lost the spasms of eczema which had bothered me for around 5 years. I am now far fitter, think more clearly and have embarked on a mission.

I also believe that forms of stress have a part to play in all this for if we were perfectly attuned with our bodies (which we are rarely) then we would naturally sense what was good for us. I know that this puts a 'cat amongst the pigeons' but this should surely be part of much needed further research. If the reader wants to start at the beginning with the guy who in Victorian times incredulously said similar things to Gary Taubes then look up William Banting on Google. His book about what a low carb diet did for him sold for a shilling, it went to 4 editions and he gave the proceeds all to charity! There must be, a great deal more to this story to come. Many lives must be at stake! There are over 300 reviews to Gary Taubes book on Amazon.com and over 200 of them have 5 stars. Personally I believe that little further research is required to get the ball really moving, not until there are many more on board, and I am convinced that it will come, can a comprehensive research programme be initiated. There are many many many health issues here, indeed it has the potential to rewrite the medical books. Like all 'medicines', this is not for all or all at the same dose but I believe that there are many millions who would get benefit from finding their own 'lower' carb regime and to benefit so many ways not just weight loss. Further reading (again I bought the audio version coz the paperback isn't due out yet) is Wheat Belly' where the author puts the issue firmly at the feet of mega over indulgence of modern day refined wheat products. Genuinely best wishes to all who need that little help, many of you will find it here.
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on 3 May 2012
As a professional in the health and fitness industry I enjoy reading these books like fiction, but I like looking for those books which anyone can enjoy and understand! And this is one of them...

Gary Taubes puts forward his message in a practiced, concise and enlightening way.

He focuses his message on refined/ starchy carbohydrates elevating insulin levels and keeping you fat or making you fatter. He has built and constructed his argument well and sheds a lot of light on;

* The flaw in science behind calories in Vs calories out, and how the real results are in the management of insulin.

* How the foods we have been told are healthy (refined/ starchy carbohydrates) are actually detrimental to our health. How this used to be common wisdom up to the 1960's (and the dietary fat causes heart disease hypothesis)

* How we have been misguided by poor science and (Un)healthy campaigns and how this has contributed to a obesity epidemic.

* Then finally how to put into practice a lifestyle free of refined/ starchy carbohydrates.

This book is great for making it easy to understand the effect of refined/ starchy carbohydrates on insulin and the effect insulin has on our weight. It also provides a detailed account on the history of dietary advice and how it hasn't always been in our best interest.

If you have found this review helpful please check out [...] for further reviews.
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on 9 April 2011
This book has quite simply changed my life.

Plain English, scientifically sound advice that turned everything I THOUGHT I knew about dieting on its head.

After ten years of trying to shed weight, I have now gone from 224 lb (16 stone) to 182 lb (13 stone)in three months.

I can't recommend it strongly enough. Read it cover to cover. The go back and use a marker on the most important bits. Then (once you've educated yourself to fully understand *why* you're doing it)change your way of eating to watch the pounds melt off.

Since buying this book I've bought four copies for other members of my family including my parents. For anyone who is struggling with obesity, it could literally be life saving.
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