Day 165 (T, 110614) — Why We Get Fat Review Part 3; Slow Carb Snacks and a Dessert

I added some new recipes today: 

Check ’em out and enjoy. =)


Why We Get Fat Review (cont.).  On Sunday, I began my review of Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It. I talked about how we went from seeing obesity as a physiological problem to treating it as a behavioral (and thus moral) problem.

Yesterday, I talked about insulin resistance and insulin spikes.

Today we will discuss Taubes’ solution to all of this.  Yep, you guessed it: a low-carb diet which avoids sugars and starches.  Whodathunkit?!? 😉

Gary review the literature and takes us back in time to when medical and nutritional science treated obesity as a physiological disorder.  From long ago, people realized that certain carbohydrates were linked to obesity.

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, in his 1825 masterpiece The Physiology of Taste Meditation XXI. – Obesity, recognized through years of conversations with fat people that they invariably ate similar diets.

….I elucidate a theory I have formed about the human race, viz: Greasy corpulence always has, as its first cause, a diet with too much farinacious or feculent substance. I am sure the same regime will always have the same effect.

Carniverous animals never become fat. One has only to look at the wolf, jackal, lion, eagle, etc.

Herbiverous animals do not either become fat until age has made repose a necessity. They, however, fatten quickly when fed on potatoes, farinacious grain, etc….


From the preceding observation, the causes of which any one may verify, it is easy to ascertain the principle causes of obesity.

The first is the nature of the individual…. there are beyond doubt persons predestined to obesity, the digestive powers of whom elaborate a great quantity of grease.

This physical fact, of the truth of which I am fully satisfied, exerts a most important influence on our manner of looking at things.

….The second of the causes of obesity, is the fact that farinacious and feculaferous matter is the basis of our daily food. We have already said that all animals that live on farinaceous substances become fat; man obeys the common law.

The fecula is more prompt in its action when it is mingled with sugar. Sugar and grease are alike in containing large quantities of hydrogen, and are both inflammable. This combination is the more powerful, from the fact that it flatters the taste, and that we never eat sweet things until the appetite is already satisfied, so that we are forced to court the luxury of eating by every refinement of temptation.

The fecula is not less fattening when in solution, as in beer, and other drinks of the same kind.

Since WWGF is not a diet book, he doesn’t lay out a specific plan but rather general principles to apply.  He recommends the diet found in Raymond Greene’s 1951 endocrinology textbook The Practice of Endocrinology. Greene’s diet for obesity:

Foods to be avoided:

  1. Bread, and everything else made with flour….
  2. Cereals, including breakfast cereals and milk puddings
  3. Potatoes and all other white root vegetables
  4. Foods containing much sugar
  5. All sweets….

You can eat as much as you like of the following foods:

  1. Meat, fish, birds
  2. All green vegetables
  3. Eggs, dried or fresh
  4. Cheese
  5. Fruit, if unsweetened or sweetened with saccharine, except bananas and grapes

Sound familiar?  Like so many low-carb diets I’ve read about, from Atkins to South Beach to 4HB Slow Carb, the general principles here are long-established and were once conventional wisdom.

Taubes also give an interesting theory about why the nutritional establishment changed to recommending a high carb diet and has stuck to it despite major evidence that it is harmful.

One last thing before we close this chapter in the tale of WWGF: a quick summary of the effects of low carb v. high carb diets on cholesterol and heart disease.

Many things affect heart disease (heart attacks, atherosclerosis, etc.).  Among the most important risk factors are the amounts of HDLs (“good” cholesterol), LDLs (“bad” cholesterol), and triglycerides in the bloodstream as well as the size of the LDL molecules.

When HDLs are up, that’s a good thing.  Ditto LDLs and triglycerides down.  The larger the LDL molecules, the better, and vice versa.  (This may be more important than the total amount of LDL present.)

How do low carb and high carb diets compare on these risk factors?

Comparing Low Carb and High Carb diets for heart disease risk factors

Comparing Low Carb and High Carb diets for heart disease risk factors

While this oversimplifies Taubes’ lenghty review of the studies done on low carb v high carb diets and their effect on heart disease risk factors, it is basically correct.

Why We Get Fat and What to do About It is a well-researched book which makes a persuasive case. 

(For another person’s summary of WWGF, read this top-rated Amazon review.)

I am open to counter-arguments if anyone would like to present them, so long as they include support for the points made rather than state an opinion.


I ran this morning. Stats for today:

  • Distance: 5.86 mi
  • Duration: 1:09:42
  • Average Pace: 11:53 / mi
  • Average Speed: 5.05 mph
  • Calories Burned: 989
  • Elevation Climb: 262 ft

A good run this morning considering I was tired and walked a little.  That means I was moving faster than normal when I was moving.

I forgot to take my normal dose of Purple Wraath and Jack3d before I ran and I think that helps account for some of the fatigue I felt. I did manage to finish strong, however, with my final mile coming in at a sub-11 minute pace.


Breakfast: coffee

Lunch: bouillon with hot sauce and a dash of soy sauce

Dinner: (will be) a normal SCD dinner

Other food throughout the day:


2 responses to “Day 165 (T, 110614) — Why We Get Fat Review Part 3; Slow Carb Snacks and a Dessert

    • Not so much a fan as I’m not afraid of them. For me, at least, artificial sweeteners do not seem to cause fat loss problems when used in moderation.

      I’ll post about Taubes when I get a chance to look at the book.

      Neither WWGF nor GCBC mentions them. I did, however, find a blog post containing a statement by Taubes about artificial sweeteners:

      Fourth, the artificial sweetener issue. I believe they’re far better than caloric sweeteners — sugar and HFCS — but I also think that we’re better off not eating them, not because of whatever back-to-nature sensibilities I hold, but because I think it’s better to lose one’s sweet tooth than keep it around to increase temptation we might have to other foods not so artificially sweetened. Then there’s the issue of whether we secrete insulin or have some other meaningful endocrinological or enzymatic response to the artificial sweeteners that might inhibit weight loss on an otherwise sugar(s)-free diet. Again, I’m not willing to go so far as to say that we shouldn’t put anything in our mouths that was made in a factory. It sounds reasonable, but more like a statement of a religious belief than a scientific one.

      Here’s another Taubes quote about sweeteners from just the other day:

      11:16 Gary Taubes: Whether artificial sweeteners promote an insulin response or have an effect on insulin signalling is an interesting question and I haven’t yet found research that addresses this in any meaningful way. I do know that many of the people I know, or who contact me, and for whom carb-restriction doesn’t work are people who refuse to give up their half a dozen diet sodas a day. (Lorne? Are you listening)… So it’s quite possible that there is a Pavlovian or cephalic (in the head) response to these artificial sweeteners and the body is fooled into responding as it does to sugar…

      11:17 Gary Taubes: As for what’s the best sweetener, this is not an area that I have done sufficient research on this subject, but here I defer to my friend Mike Eades (co-author with his wife Mary Dan of “Protein Power”.) Mike is a very smart physician and this is what he said when I asked him this question:

      “It’s Reb-A, short for rebaudioside-A, one of the glycosides giving stevia its sweetness. Stevia itself is a little bitter if you use too much, but the glycosides causing the sweetness have been isolated and have now been approved by the FDA for use as sweeteners. You can buy Reb-A under the trade names PureVia and Truvia. Both are Reb-A, which is a zero-calorie, heat-stable sweetener that is safe for cooking. You can get it at most upscale grocery stores and all health food stores. It comes in all kinds of packaging including little green and white envelopes like sugar and artificial sweeterners. We use it all the time. I love the taste. It’s sweet but somehow a little lighter tasting than sugar.”

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