Remember about a month ago…OK, more like several months ago, I promised you guys 2 things:

1) I would post my workouts once a week in the hopes of motivating you to workout yourself.

2) I would do a book report on a book called “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes. This book was given to me by an exercise nutritionist who works for a well respected weight loss program in Reno. It isn’t a beach read… and since I’ve been spending some time on beaches lately, this book was tough. I could hang with Taubes’ endless research examples early on. But after one Mai Tai I found myself reading the same line several times to fully understand it. Two Mai Tais and the book was put down! But look for yourself. I did read it. I earmarked more pages than I left unbent.


I even underlined passages that were important. The problem is, this whole book is really important. But if reading what amounts to 294 pages of scientific research (the guy has 22 pages of resources he quoted in the book! He didn’t mess around) doesn’t sound fun to you, then you’re welcome! Because I did read it and here’s my book report.


He basically debunks the modern day theory of calories in calories out. You have to expend calories that you eat if you want to lose weight. He sighted countless examples of how this simply can’t be true. One example is the Pima Indians of Arizona. Today, they have one of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the U.S. But when they were living on the land alone back in the 1850′s, a U.S. Army battalion surgeon described the Pima as “Sprightly” and in “fine health” with the “greatest abundance of food” That food was local game, clams out of the Gila River and other meat sources. By the 1870′s the Pima’s natural state of existence ceased because Anglo-Americans and Mexicans began settling in their region. The Pima entered their “years of famine.”  You would think they would became thinner, emaciated.  But they didn’t.  They grew to be obese.   They were now living on government rations of white flour, sugar and coffee. They had considerably less food to eat but they were getting fatter. So fat, by the early 1900′s anthropologists were studying them. One argued, well, they are more sedentary. But the women, who did all the hard manual labor, were the fattest of the Pima. They concluded it wasn’t the quantity of what they ate… it was the quality.  They went from a high protein diet to a diet of refined carbohydrates and sugar.  And that’s what made them fat.  This is a picture of an obese Pima woman.


For dozens more examples like the Pima, you have to read the book. I’m moving on.

Taubes says it all boils down to carbohydrates and sugar. Those are the two things that make us fat. Fat doesn’t make us fat. Protein doesn’t make us fat. Carbs and sugar make us fat. And they make us fat because of how they are processed in our bodies. Here is a combined paragraph from the book explaining what happens in our bodies when we eat carbs and sugar.

“First, when insulin levels are elevated, we accumulate fat in our fat tissue; when these levels fall, we liberate fat from the fat tissue and burn it for fuel. Second, our insulin levels are effectively determined by the carbohydrates we eat…. the more carbohydrates we eat, and the easier they are to digest and the sweeter they are, the more insulin we will ultimately secrete, meaning that the level of it in our bloodstream is greater and so is the fat we retain in our fat cells. In other words, the science itself makes clear that hormones, enzymes and growth factors regulate our fat tissue, just as they do everything else in the human body, and that we do not get fat because we overeat; we get fat because the carbohydrates in our diet make us fat. The science tells us that obesity is ultimately the result of a hormonal imbalance, not a caloric one-specifically the stimulation of insulin secretion caused by eating easily digestible, carbohydrate-rich foods: refined carbohydrates, including flour and cereal grains, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, and sugars, like sucrose (table sugar) and high-fructose corn syrup. These carbohydrates literally make us fat and by driving us to accumulate fat, they make us hungrier and they make us sedentary.”

So there you go!  According to Taubes, it’s as simple as that.  In my next post, I’ll give you his meal plan for a day.  Plus I’ll post a GREAT recipe for chicken nuggets… A lot of you have been asking me for it!  

Let me know your thoughts on this book.  This should open a fascinating conversation! 



About Wendy D

I was born in San Francisco and ended up marrying a rancher in Reno, Nevada. I have a big city job anchoring the 5 o’clock news but come home to the country where my husband’s family has ranched for 5 generations.


  1. Erica says:

    I have this book on my shelf. Got it from the library a couple weeks ago and could not get in to reading it (not in to the textbooky thing) so thank you for the book report! Sounds like it basically says what another book I’ve been reading says.

    Thank you! Now I can just return this ;)

    • Wendy D says:

      No problem Erica! I actually like this kind of book… they just take me a long time to read:)

  2. Jen Hall says:

    Wendy- great synopsis. Thanks so much for sharing it. I’ve always thought the link between carbs and the rise in obesity we’ve seen in the last several years has to be strong. This gives that theory a lot of credence!


  1. [...] Gary Taubes. He’s the author of “Why We Get Fat.” You can read my book report here. He sights so much research, dating back to the 1800′s, I have a hard time not believing what [...]

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