Fat and the screwed up medical community

Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes provides a much more in depth explanation of the dynamics of fat storage than was in my last posting, but it goes well beyond that as well. Taubes is pretty scathing in his description of how off track the medical community got with respect to diet since World War II, and to the great detriment of the average American’s health.

If you believe, as most people seem to today, that carbs are the chief culprit, it’s absolutely shocking to look with fresh eyes at the food pyramid. Introduced less than 20 years ago, the explicit recommendation was for 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta vs 3-5 servings of vegetables! No surprise that the FDA replaced it in June with MyPlate, a much saner guide though still probably off for someone trying to lose weight. In the meantime the obesity problem has achieved epidemic proportions.

A lot of smart people got caught on the wrong path with two overly-simplistic models: Cals in v. cals out, and If you eat fat, you get fat. And, implicitly, if not explicitly, they cultivated the view that obesity is a symptom not a cause. Of what? Why of gluttony, sloth, and a lack of willpower, of course.  The reality is that some people have a tendency to get fat and some don’t. Most of us who are over 40 know that our current selves are in the former, and that our former selves didn’t have to think about diet. Why is it so hard to believe that a fat guy has an inherent problem, not a lack of willpower. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet in the book. If you tend to fat, you can’t eat carbs; if not, you can.

The implications are pretty well aligned with the diet I’ve suggested for losing weight. But there are a couple of differences. First of all Taubes would take issue with my suggestion that counting calories can accelerate weight loss. I’m not sure I buy it, but he poo-poos that whole notion. And, while he suggests that exercise is great for a bunch of other reasons, diet it the dramatically dominant factor in weight loss. One of the key dynamics he cites is the relationship between exercise and eating. Most people eat more when they exercise more which offsets the weight loss benefit. Finally, he’d have you eat more meat than I was suggesting; no reason to limit at all. I suppose I could test all this by putting 40 pounds back on and giving it another go…nah!

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12 Comments on “Fat and the screwed up medical community”

  1. chuckcotton Says:

    did taubes get into why the change occurred around WWII?

    • Phil Odence Says:

      Yes. In short, the German medical community had figured out that carbs were the issue, but in the wake of the War nothing German was too popular, so this science was ignored or perhaps actively rejected.

  2. chuckcotton Says:

    interesting – thanks

  3. thomasiameck Says:

    i agree calorie countin does not work.a certified nutritionist,usually helps finding foods that are good to eat,and burn fat.thomas

  4. John Says:

    Thanks for sharing this article. I am a Massage Therapist and I have believed in the importance of physical activity. I now have some research to back my rationale to implement at least 20 minutes per day of aerobic activity. I am going to search for some supplemental to jogging, jump ropes and kids aerobic dance dvd’s so that I advise my clients to try incorporating exercise as a lifelong habit! I love the ideas of using stationary bikes, dance dance revolution type games etc. Thanks so much for your blog.


  5. Exercise is important, but so is diet and I think counting calories does work for some people and not for others. Exercise makes me feel good and I’m always striving to eat better when I’m exercising regularly. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Kevin rogers Says:

    The reason why people gain weight when they exercise is the timing of the wrong carbs. Once the burn is done they need to limit the carb intake and eat more protiens especially at night before bed. Keep carbs below 10 grams 2 hours before bedtime.


  7. Great article to share. I personally do excercise regularly and also take care of my diet. This help me keep fit and healthy.


  8. Excellent food pyramid. This I was looking since a long time. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Get Fit Now Says:

    Yes yo are 100% correct. Getting fit and loosing weight is not only possible, but as you point out… anyone with the determination and a good plan will succeed. Great post. I will be back and will send my friends to this awesome site as well.

  10. Jen Oglow Says:

    Even if you eat a lot of healthy food, good diet but proper exercise is not paired, fats would still accumulate and be stored in your body.

  11. S-recipes Says:

    There are two points which I’d like to comment: First, people over 40 tends to put on weight easier than they were before because of the slowdown in metabolic rate. Second, Many people increase more weight even they exercise a lot. The main reason for this is because they eat food immediately after their workout sessions. In fact, this is the time when our stomach is most active – digest and absorb the most. Therefore, if you want to lose weight, don’t eat anything within one hour after you exercise.


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