Insulin is the Devil

I read Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It by Gary Taubes after reading this very enthusiastic review in Skeptic Magazine's e-issue. As you can see, sceptical dude there thinks this book is pretty great.

In the book, Taubes talks about what's currently circulating as common knowledge about fatness: that it all hinges on the disparity between the number of calories we take in and the number we burn, and that eating fat makes you fat. He dismantles those theories pretty completely with counterexamples, logic and science, and at the same time explains why fat people eat more and exercise less. (Hint: our fat makes us do it!)

Then he lays out some more science, this time about how fat works, or more specifically how insulin works. Turns out insulin is evil: it inhibits the use of fat as an energy source, it forces fat cells to take lipids from the blood and store them as fat, it causes the body to create new fat cells. And what makes your body release insulin? Carbs! Ergo carbs are also evil.

This is where he gets into the Atkins/paleo-diet stuff which I have always associated with fat-obsessed loonies who will do anything to be thin, so my hackles are up. And then he says you don't need carbs at all. And fruit is bad for you! And then in the last chapter he lays out a diet which is basically plateful after plateful of meat. Mmmm. (Ick.)

So. This was an interesting book, and certainly compellingly argued. Not that it has any scientific value, but my personal experience certainly dovetails with Taubes's arguments. (The only time I lost any significant amount of weight and kept it off was when I cut carbs (although I didn't think of it that way): I stopped drinking juice and buying a dozen bagels every week.) There are counter-arguments to Taubes's conclusions on the Internet which I have yet to read, but for the most part the book rang very true and has definitely changed the way I think about fatness and nutrition. Although I won't be switching to that all-meat diet any time soon.


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