Why We Get Fat

In April, I kicked off a six-week program of very low carb eating. My mission was two-fold. I wanted to zip my jeans again after a vacation (that happened within a week) and turn a two year “pre-diabetic” diagnosis around. After the first pre-diabetes report, I quit eating sugar. No more desserts. For me, that was huge. I love chocolate and sweets of all kinds. After the second test, one year after giving up sugar, my numbers were better, but I was still pre-diabetic. My doctor suggested cutting carbs that turn to sugar in the body. The white stuff: flour, potatoes, pasta.

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This is tricky for a vegetarian. I love cereal, bread, and potatoes. Pasta is a staple. It is almost impossible to eat in a restaurant without either meat or grain. Soon into my new program, I found myself adding a little meat back into my diet. I didn’t like the idea, but my health is primary so I did it, telling myself it would just be for six weeks, until I got my test results. Then, if nothing changed, I could go back to being a vegetarian who relied heavily on grains and legumes for my protein needs.

I am a questioner, so I needed more to go on than just my doctor saying to stop eating “refined carbs.” I mean, I was a vegetarian who mostly ate whole wheat pasta, brown rice, multi-grain bread. The healthy stuff. I’d been eating that way all year. So I knew it was going to take more than just cutting “refined carbs” for me. Auspiciously, at just the right time, I found the book that changed my life and my health forever. Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. I figured I’d give Taubes’ findings a try, and see what happened.

After about a week of adjustment, my digestion got much better. No more bouts of IBS. And best of all, I no longer had craving or the urge to binge. Freedom from the tyranny of food! Feeling in control of what and how much I put in my body is incredible. For the first time in forever, I can be around cookies, bread, rice, potatoes, crackers, muffins, donuts and just say no. I can even occasionally indulge in pizza or potato salad, but I don’t particularly crave these foods. I don’t even want chips anymore, and they used to be my favorite food.

According to Taube, humans evolved to be meat-eaters. Our earliest ancestors relied on a diet of mostly meat protein, green leafy vegetation and a few berries in season. Our bodies still carry that basic DNA. Grains were only introduced a few thousand years ago, not long enough for our complicated and ancient physiology to catch up. At least for some of us. I love Taube’s analogy: just as not all smokers will get lung cancer, not all carb eaters will end up with pre-diabetes. The research is not in on exactly why, but genetics seem to play a role.

Six weeks later and my test results are in. Good news! I am no longer pre-diabetic. My blood sugar has stabilized. My cholesterol and other numbers, including calcium and some other former deficiencies, are off the charts wonderful. This is what Why We Get Fat predicted. I talked to my doctor about the books’ premise and the changes I’d made in my diet because of it. When she gave me the good news, she commented that my new diet is working wonderfully and to keep it up. Music to my ears.

12 Comments on “Why We Get Fat

  1. That is great. Not enough people take the state of their health as a result of their lifestyle. As a medical provider I see it everyday. So I applaud your efforts and say keep it up.

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    • Thank you Sharon! It was very difficult at first, especially reintroducing meat into my diet after so many years. But I love feeling in control of what and when and how much I eat. I love feeling normal. And my body does too. That’s why it’s really not so difficult to sustain.

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  2. Glad you found something that actually works, Cyn, and more imortantly, works with your psyche. I will be reading this book, hopefully it’ll work for me too. Thank you for the recommendation…

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    • You will be amazed by what you read Jaye, He wrote an earlier book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” which was bursting with research data and too scientific for most regular folks. So he wrote “Why We Get Fat” and tried to simplify things. There is abundant research from the medical community that backs up what he says, he explains every study that has been done of heart disease and insulin resistance, he talks about the physiology of obesity: why and how it became an epidemic. Everything is backed by studies and science. This is not just another diet, it is proof. And I’m an example of it.

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  3. Well done. I too have been on a clean eating plan no bread, chips, sugar, anything processed. I actually cleared my kitchen of all the things that I shouldn’t be eating. My cholesterol level was 8.6 i am obese my heart attack risk was high. After 5 weeks i have lost a stone, i’m not bloated and i don’t feel hungry or crave any food group. Hopefully in a week when I get my numbers checked they will be lower than they were. It’s definitely a life change we need and not a diet. I have become nutritionally aware and everything now put in body has a result. I still have a way to go but at least now I know what i am doing is working.

    Great blog 🙂

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  4. Cynthia, I have not yet read this book but I already agree with it. I, too, am a recovering vegetarian/pescaterian, and I had to retrain my taste buds, and especially my mind, to start liking meat. By drastically reducing (and even cutting out completely for a few months) starch, I “cured myself” of fibromyalgia (thanks to my late, great nutritionist Rob Williams). Unfortunately, it did not reduce my alarmingly high cholesterol count. Statins did not suit me, so I learned to live with those numbers…
    How I feel is the most important thing: energetic and pain free.

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    • Elisabeth, I’m so pleased for you! Yay! And you are so right! It’s how we feel that is most important. And the book gives plenty of evidence that bad “cholesterol” is not the horror story we think it is. All the science data for the past 50 years points to the fact that high “bad” cholesterol will not increase chances of a heart attack or any other disease. There have been studies conducted by the most esteemed medical and health institutions in the world…it’s just slow getting out to the public who have been trained to worry about fat. Fact: eating high-fat food is not the problem. Eating high-glycemic food is. And that would be starches.

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  5. That’s fantastic news about your results, and also very interesting in general. I’m reading “Wheat Belly” right now, but will add Taubes’ book to my pile. The author of Wheat Belly basically says we were all fed (pun intended) a crock of poop when we had the USDA food pyramid hammered into our heads, along with the “whole grains are healthy grains” line.

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    • I wondered about reading Wheat Belly. I didn’t want to believe it, but yes, that’s what all the research says. This guy is rigorous with his research methods, scientific using published data from the best medical facilities in the country, heart surgeons, experts in all kinds of diseases, and even the USDA. They all concur. Some more reluctantly than others, but they all admit grains are making some of us obese. Laura, I love making bread, and I’m still going to investigate sourdough, which has some special properties that don’t raise insulin levels. Also I love it!

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